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January 9, 1886
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
191 Broad\^7^av, IST. '^.
Our Telepbone CaU is.....JOHN 370.
ONE YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J, T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
JANUARY 9, 1886.
We devote a large amount of space this week to our annual
review of the building material market. The business during 1885
was conducted in a very conservative manner, free from specula¬
tive manipulation and undisturbed by any serious trouble with
labor, giving the markets throughout the entire season a rather
monotonous tone. As a matter of fact, however, the consumption
of standard descriptions of material—such as brick, cement, lime,
lumber, stone, etc., was undoubtedly, in the aggregate, quite equal
to 1884, a slightly lower average cost acting as a stimulant to
pushing forward of work. The mild, open weather up to the
end of the year permitted greater progress and, indeed, completion
of jobs that under ordinary circumstances must have remained
idle until spring. Dealers are divided in opinion over the pros¬
pects for the opening year, many calculating upon an excellent
trade; while quite as large a number, although admitting that under
the favorable conditions they have recently experienced there
would be every reason to expect an excellent demand for material,
express serious apprehension of extensive labor trou.bles, and there
is consequent hesitation and delay in perfecting contracts.
Details of the markets will be found in the regular columns. For
the benefit of our advertisers, a large number of sample copies will
be sent all over the country this week.
There seems to be some hesitancy in the development of the busi¬
ness of the country. Real estate reports are all re-assuring; for
there is good trading in realty in all the great centres of popula¬
tion, and the building movement for the coming spring is very
promising. But the speculation in stocks, halts. The transactions
are not half what they were in October and November last. Then
exchange is higher than it ought to be this time of the year, because
of the stoppage of our exportations of cotton, grain and provisions.
The investment demand for bonds, however, and first-class railway
securities is very large; and a good deal of the money to pay for
these purchases comes from over the water. The expected Jan¬
uary boom may even yet put in an appearance, but it certainly has
not shown itself on the first days of the new year.
A case suggestive of the importance of a strict compliance with
legal forms in partnership notices has just been decided in this
city. The plaintiff was the Manhattan Company which, years
ago, advanced to W. J. Phillips $50,000 on forged warehouse certifi¬
cates, and the defendant Mr. Richard H. Laimbeer, his partner.
The defense rested on the claim that the partnership was special
and not general, and that Mr. Laimbeer was therefore only respon
sible to the amount of his contributions to the co-partnership fund.
But it appeared that the certificate of co-partnership was filed and
not recorded in the office of the County Clerk; an informality which,
in the view of the court, rendered the instrument worthless, and
left the defendent liable to the full amount of the claim. Business
men forming partnerships should make a note of this case, and act
with prudence. In the first place their notices of co-partnership
should be published in papers that will give sufficient attention to
legal details to make sure that there are no mistakes. This is a
recommendation claimed only for such papers as the Register and
The Record and Guide; all unspecialized journals being too care¬
less in their methods to be trusted. Bat the persons forming a
co-partnership must also see to it that all legal forms are strictly
observed, and trust nothing to the carefulness of clerks or subor¬
It is being discovered at last that the volume of exchange during
years of prosperity or depression does not vary to the extent gen¬
erally supposed. Climatic conditions have more to do with varia¬
tions in the amount of agricultural products than restricted
demand. This should always have been evident; but it has not
been equally patent that the operations of productive industry in
the arts always display an activity during the hard times far in
excess of the common apprehension. But we are discovering that
the annual production of commodities keeps well up towards a
common average, the falling off never being sufficient to account
for a period of depression. The significance of this discovery is
beyond calculation. It teaches at once the importance of keeping
market prices up to a profitable standard; the difference between a
season of prosperity or depression, being made almost exclusively
by the difference in returns on single transactions. We count our
exports and imports by the dollar mark, and not by the pound,
yard or bushel. So, also, with domestic commerce. It may even
happen sometimes that the larger volume of exchange will bring the
smaller returns. There is but one way under heaven by which
prices may always be maintained on a paying basis, and that way
must be found in more general combination. The economic
theories founded on competition, and the doctrines of supply and
demand, are being exploded by the irresistible logic of events.
They can very well be spared.
The Rev. Dr. Crosby evidently desires to reconsider his unfortu¬
nate declaration, made through John Swinton's Paper, in favor of
placing a limit on the amount of property which men shall be
allowed to accumulate. To set himself right before the public, he
publishes a communication in a morning journal explaining his
position. Instead of pushing his proposal to the front as a tangible
measure, he takes a step backward, and merely reiterates the charges
of rascality against rich men and corporations, which we have
heard rung, during recent years, with many and varied changes,
and he demands legal remedies. But where is the proof of this con¬
centrated rascality in the hearts of rich men and corporations ?
Charges are not convictions; and it is curious that official investi¬
gations fail lo show the moral turpitude which is so generally sus¬
pected. The disposition to cheat is a pretty general endowment iu
the bosoms of men, not universally possessed by any means, but
shared in about an equal degree among all clashes. Dr. Crosby
makes use of a striking figure. If you saw a man a mile hi^h,
marching from the West, who had already tramped down several
cities and villages, he asks if you would not begin to look about for
the means of protection ? Well, no; not immediately. Ai the
sight of such a colossal object we should first apply to some doctor
to see if he could not detect symptoms that would justify a theory
of mental hallucination. After this precaution, if the figure still
persisted in manifesting itself, we might consent to join some
society for the prevention or restraint of phantasms a mile high.
Landlordism in America.
An English member of Parliament contributes to the North
American Revieto a very interesting article on the land question in
the United States. Many of the facts he presents will surprise the
American people. He shows that we have profited nothing by the
experience of the nations which have gone before us, and that,
sometime in the future, because of our short sightedness, we will
have to face all the problems connected with the owiiersliip of land
which has caused, and is causing, such distress in the old world.
In the census of 1880 the number of persons engaged in agriculture
was stated to be 7,670,493, and of this number 2,984,306 were regis¬
tered as owners of their holdings. But, of course, many of these
3,000,000 were large owners who did not farm their own lands,
while a very large proportion of them were so heavily mortgaged
that their hold on the land was very slight. It is doubtful if more
than 1,600,000 heads of families own and tUl their own land in
the United States. France, with a population 20,000,000 less than
our own, has 5,000,000 rural proprietors who hold less than 20 acres
each; while it has 2,000,(.00 of a class who own more than 20 acres,
or are owners of house property in the towns.
Then, again, according to this same census, there are 1,024,601
farms rented by tenants in the United States. Mr. T. P. Gill,
whose article we are summarizing, judges that the tenants have
increased for the past five years, so that there are to-day fully one
million and a quarter tenant farmers in this country. The total of
the same class in Great Britain and Ireland is but a little over a
million, so that, whatever evils are inherent in the relation of land¬
lord and tenant, we are worse off than landlord cursed Great Brit¬
ain and Ireland. Our authority says :
Probably the history of coustitutional government does not fxu-nish a
more one-sided scheme of legislation than the landlord and tenant laws
manufactured in the Western States. They are implements for extract¬
ing rent, as simple, terrible, and brutally candid in their design as
a revolver in the hands of a peremptory road agent. At any rate, they
have resulted in fixing on the free soil of the United States a land system
that belongs to the ages of barbarism. Its nearest sm-viving relative in
Europe is the metayage of France; but it is more like the zemeendaree and
ryotwar of Britishized India, than any land system now in existence.
Another fact is brought out in\a very vivid way in this article.
The amount of land available for free homestead is now reduced to
about 5,000,000 acres. Through waste and improvidence, as well
as by downright fraud, the United States has got rid of its splendid
heritage of land. By one means or another, fully 20,000,000
acres per anntun have passed into possession of private persons, who
have returned therefor scarcely any equivalent. We have laid
the basis for a system of land monopoly which will produce fright-