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February 16, 1884
The Record and Guide,
THE RECORD AND GUIDE.
Published every Saturday.
191 Broadwray, N.
ONE TEAR, iD advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communicatioos should be addressed to
€, W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. UNDSEY, Business Manager.
FEBRUARY 16, 1884.
There ia no sense in the raid on the so-called bucket ehopa.
What would kill them effectually would be to allow dealings in
ten share lots, as on the London Stock Exchange. If this were
done the business of the Stock Exchange would at once be largely
The Cotton Exchange now permits its brokers to make what
terms they please in the way of commissions and interest with
their customers. Why not free trade at all the exchanges ? The
Stock Exchange brokers are complaining at the absence of the
public from their offices. May it not be that the outsiders think
$85 too large a commission for buying and selling a hundred shares
of stock, and regard it as extortion when asked to pay 6 per cent.
for the loan of money when the brokers borrow it for 2 per cent,?
For years past The Record and Guide has been advocating
responsible local government. We hava shown time and again
that there was no hope for the reform of our local government
ualess the Mayor had authority to appoint and dismiss heads of
departments without reference to the Board of Aldermen. We
have shown that the source of nearly all our governmental woes
was the unchecked authority of irresponsible legislators and
Boards of Aldermen, and that the proper corrective was an exalta¬
tion of executive powers so that the public would know whom to
blame if things went wrong. The programme so long ago outlined
in this paper has worked well in Brooklyn, and an attempt is now
earnestly making to confer upon the Mayor of New York the same
authority which was given to the Mayor of Brooklyn. It may fail
this session, but it will certainly succeed next year, as it is the only
way out of our municipal troubles. It is gratifying to note that an
influential section of the daily press has come round to our view of
this matter, and the meeting at Cooper Union on Thursday night
shows that our best citizens are all agreed as to the desirability of
withdrawing the confirming power from the Board of Aldermen.
Of course some check should be put upon the Mayor. If tyrannical
and corrupt, the Governor might be given power to interfere, but
the present system is simply intolerable. We say aye to Mr.
Eoaevelt's amendments to the charter.
The bi-metallists would probably be quite willing to agree to the
8toppaf;e of the coinage of the silver dollar if Senator McPherson's
financial measure was endorsed by Congress. The aim of that bill
is to utilize all the gold and silver bullion of the coantry for cur¬
rency purposes. Bars of gold or silver could, under the proposed
enactment, be taken to the mints and stamped, and certificates
issued representmg their money value; but the certificates are not
to be issued in excess of five million per month. The dispatch
summarizing this bill in the daily papers was made by some
ignorant press agent and is very confusing, for he speaks of dollars
when he means bars, and while he gives the fineness and weight of
the gold dollar he does not tell what ratio it shall bear to the silver
also to be stamped. This is, of course, the vital matter at issue. If
the bullion is stamped at the same ratio that now exists between
the American gold and the standard silver dollar, the silver
men and bi-metallists will not object. Should this bill pass
we will have the most perfect currency on earth, for every certifi¬
cate ijsued will represent the amount on its face of actual gold and
silver in the Treasury. There will then be no need for national
bank bills, or for making any provision for continuing them, in
view of the absolutely perfect currency, representing gold and sil¬
ver, whicii will in time replace them. A national bank bill rep¬
resents credits mainly; first that of the bank which issues them, then
that of the government whose evidences of debt insure the ulti¬
mate redemption. But we fear Senator McPherson's bill is too
sensible a measure to pass. Already some of the singularly misin¬
formed writers of the New York press are talking of these bullion
certificates as being a paper inflation, to wliich they Iiave no more
resemblance than a warehouse receipt or a ticket to a place of
Terra Cotta in Architecture.
A visit to the works of the Perth Amboy Terra Cotta Company
is of extreme interest to all students of architecture. It is of espe¬
cial interest as showing, young as the industry is in this country,
how far the enterprise and skill of the manufacturers have outrun the
ability of the designers, and how far the capabilities of the mate¬
rial are in advance of the power of the architects to make a good
use of it.
In sculptural decoration the museum of the works is of high
artistic interest. This it owes mainly to the work of Mr. Mora, an
artist iu decorative sculpture of the most thorough Italian training
and of the very first rank. His most successful works hitherto
have been the quaint and charming reliefs in the panels in front of
the Metropolitan Opera House. These cannot be in the least appre¬
ciated in their places. The grace and freedom even of the general
composition can hardly be perceived, while the skill and expres¬
siveness of the modelling of detail are entirely thrrjwn away upon
the spectator. The best impression of these beautiful works which
the public has had'a chance of receiving is that given by the admir¬
able engravings ot them published in the November number of
Harper's Magazine. But even these do not do the original com¬
plete justice, aa one sees when he finds in the collection at Perth
Amboy duplicates, which have been injured in firing, of one or two
of the panels. One or two of Mr. Mora's assistants are only inferior
to him in decorative work, although the works to which we have
referred are really works too ideal to come within the category of
decorative sculpture. A mantelpiece, designed for one of the
stations of the Pennsylvania Railroad, now in the modelling room,
is an exquisite piece of decoration in Italian Renaissance, the
delicacy of which would be destroyed if it were to be cut in sand¬
stone by an ordinary, or even an extraordinary, workman, but
being fixed by baking as it is modelled it is sure of retaining the
grace of detail which nothing but the actual handiwork of the
artist can give.
This is the greiit advantage of decoration in terra cotta. The
range of its application in architecture is immense. Its limitations,
although rigid, are not numerous. The capabilities and the limita¬
tions have both been pointed out with justice and intelligence by
the author of two articles in the London Builder, but it does not
seem that either the capabilities or the limitations have been at all
appreciated by the great number of architects who have introduced
it in their work. In the huge Produce Exchange, the most im¬
portant work thus far done here in terra cotta, the capacities of the
material are both negatively and positively disregarded. We
think we are within bounds in saying that, with the exception of
the slabs that cover the girders over the basement and which, to the
eye, are absolutely unaccountable, there is not from top to
bottom, or from end to end, a detail which is designed for its
material, one from which in a drawing or a photograph the specta¬
tors could confidently pronounce that it was made of baked clay.
This is what we call a negative disregard of the properties of the
material, a failure to secure its advantages by a characteristic
treatment. Of a positive disregard the huge cornice is an example.
A cornice of great projection can be made of shelves of stone over¬
lapping ea,ch|other,"and cannot be made of pieces of baked clay,
though it may be imitated by hanging pieces of baked clay over
the outer walls on poles or iron cantilevers. This is really the most
important restriction in tbe use of terra cotta, and this is defied in
the Produce Exchange by a cornice of terra cotta which would be
gross in stone. The design is a design for brick and stone, not
translated into terra cotta, but merely imitated in terra cotta.
The restrictions of terra cotta arise from the processes of its
preparation. The size of the pieces is limited by the necessity of
thorough and equal firing, and their shape and employment by the
liability to shrinkage and to torsion. These amount to one thing,
the liability to unequal shrinkage, by which distortion is produced.
The shrinkage in the bulk of the wet clay, which is modelled
by hand or pressed in the mould, to the [baked clay which comes
out of the kiln, is roughly put at one-twelfth. Most of this
takes place in the drying-room before the clay goes into
the kiln, but there is contractibility enough left to constitute
a liability to slight deformations and deflections of line. It
follows i;that continuous straight lines should be avoided in
large pieces of terra cotta. Bub nothing is commoner in
designs meant to be executed in terra cotta than long, straight and
narrow' mouldings by which' the designer so far show-i
his ignorance of his material as to provide a measure by which its
deviations, trifling in themselves, may be estimated and exagger¬
ated. When mouldings of high and complicated profiles are
employed, it is desirable, evidently, to subdivide them horizontally
into small sections, in each of wliich the shrinkage is inconsider¬
able. It is better still toavoid them, and to interrupt tbe mouldings
60 .13 to make them recurrent instead of continuous. This is exem¬
plified very effectively in the main station of the Pennsylvania
Railroad, in Philadelphia, a building in whioh the treatment of
the material is uniformly, though not invariably, admirable, by