Price Increases 1937 Style

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 331 - November 2000

Following is a communication, referred to by Cambridge as a Circular Letter, sent to all their agents on October 2, 1937 and referenced as Circular Letter #17. [Ed. Note: I have yet to determine how the company assigned numbers to the letters. They certainly were not continuous sequential numbers, at least not by year and perhaps not even during a given month. More research needs to be done to figure out the numbering system.]

Circular Letter #17
October 2, 1937

We want to call your attention in our new price list to some of the prices that it was necessary for us to make.

Take salad plates. We have priced the etched plates at $16.00 per dozen, list, which will net $7.20 less 5%. These should really have been made a little higher but we have made an arbitrary price so that the customer can still continue to sell these at $4.00. There is very little package charge and freight on a salad plate so you should insist that they do not mark these over $1.00.

It has been necessary to make a slight advance in etched stemware so the list price now $13.50 or net $5.40 less 5%. As we understand it, the customers have been selling our etched stemware at any place from $10.00 to 10.80 a dozen. We do not believe with the slight advance that we have had to make in our selling price that there should be any advance made in the retail price by the customer on his etched stemware and would insist on his letting it remain at the same prices. Or if he does have to make a raise not to let it go above 90 cents each.

In going through the price list you will find several items priced at $7.20 and $6.60 less 5%. We have tried to make everything we could in our price list in a range from $6.00 to $7.20 so that as many items as possible could still remain in the $1.00 retail bracket. Perhaps the store will say they cannot retail items at $1.00 for which they pay 60 cents each. Please smash this argument with the buyer right away by calling to his attention the great number of luncheon sets, beverage sets, etc. for which he has paid and is paying the tank factories 65 cents.

Don't overlook our Vanity Set #3400/94/97. Some of our representatives who concentrate on this sell quite a few of them and we believe that if you will put forth an effort on this set you will also reap results. Note the price is $35.00 per dozen list, or $1.20 per set less 5% for the plain and $2.25 per set less 5% for the etched.

Another set that is quite popular that is being overlooked by some of our representatives is the #3500/119/1439 Tom and Jerry Set. We want to call your attention to this both in the plain and etched. The plain lists at $8.75 per set and the etched at $17.75 per set. Put a little effort behind this set and you will see you will get some nice business both plain end etched.

Now another set on which you are going to get some nice business, if you will get busy and show the customers the possibilities in it, is the #1402/64 bowl with the 1402/29 plate, the 1402/l40 mugs and the 1439 ladle. This is a real set and is one that has a great many talking points. In addition to it being a Tom & Jerry Set of the correct size, it can also be used for a small punch set. Now, bear in mind that sets of this type can only be used about a couple of times a year. Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season and possibly for a party or two at other seasons of the year but you can show the customer and he can show the ultimate consumer the advantage of buying this set. The bowl can be used for a salad bowl, fruit bowl or centerpiece. The plate can be used as a Sunday Evening Supper Plate, while the handled cups can always be used for ice cream, sherbets, fruit salad etc. Therefore, the customer is buying a set, the parts of which can be used the year around. If you will get busy on this and put forth your arguments, we think you will see some business.

Yours Truly,
W. C. McCartney

The vanity set referred to consisted of two of the 3400/97 2 oz. perfume and one of the 3400/94 3 inch puff box and cover. The cup for the 3500 Tom & Jerry set is the regular 3500/1 cup from the cup and saucer set, while the bowl is the 3500/119 13 inch punch bowl. I am so far unable to determine what a 1439 ladle is. The Tally Ho set is self-explanatory. All of these pieces, with the exception of the 1439 ladle, are shown in the 1940 catalog reprint.

3400 Catalog page