Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums General `Bell Stuff` Bell Manufacturers’ Association

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    • #10769
      Robert Watrous

      I’ve received some items regarding a Bell Manufacturers’ Association. There are many letters from the Association to N. N. Hill starting in January 1906 through June 1910 stating their percentage of association expenses based on their sales. Noble Jackson & Hubbard Counselors at Law 42 William St., New York with E. E. Jackson Jr. acted as Supervisor of the Association and the letters are sent from him to N. N. Hill.

      There is also one faint carbon copy of meeting minutes on thin vellum.
      The members present at this Feb 2 1909 meeting held at the Starr Bros. office were:

      The Bevin Bros. Mfg. Co. Mr. C. G. Bevin
      The Starr Bros. Bell Co. Messrs. John M. and Vine B. Starr
      Ambrose M. Starr and J. P. Lamb
      The Hardware & Woodenware Mfg. Co.
      N.N. Hill Co. , Branch Messrs. N.N.Hill, J.L. Watrous
      Gong Bell Mfg. Co. Branch Mr. A. H. Conklin
      On account of Sickness, no member of the East Hampton Bell Co. was present X At the request of Mr. George W. Goff, A. H. Conklin acted for the firm.

      A. H. Conklin was President and George W. Goff was the Secretary of the Association at the time of this meeting.

      (It’s interesting that the Watrous Mfg. Co. was not listed as a Branch of the Hardware and Woodenware Mfg. Association, and that J. L. Watrous was listed after N.N. Hill as representing the N.N. Hill Branch.)

      Another meeting minutes, for an October 6th 1910 meeting held at the N.N. Hill offices, present were:

      Bevin Brothers Mfg. Co. Mr. A. A. Bevin
      Starr Brothers Bell Company, Mr. J. M. Starr
      East Hampton Bell Company, Mr. A. H. Conklin, proxy
      Gong Bell Mfg. Company, Mr. A. H. Conklin
      N.N. Hill Brass Company Mr. N. N. Hill

      There are two Watrous Mfg. Co. letterheads from 190_ at which time they were a Branch of the National Novelty Corporation. The ink for the National Novelty Corporation Branch is in red and obviously added to the letterhead of a prior date. On one of the letterheads accounting for the year 1908 is written by hand with the categories Bell Association/ Our Sales /and Expenses. The accounting is on the back. The figures correspond to those on monthly reports from the Association to N. N. Hill, so it is accounting for N.N. Hill simply done on a Watrous letterhead.

      In 1908 Samuel J. Bailey, was Secretary, Pro tem

      The Association was setting prices, and also listing Jobbers in different categories. It looks like the Bell Manufacturers were trying not to undercut each other or in todays’ terminology, price fixing. They also listed which companies could get discounts and how much of a discount. In 1906 Sears, Roebuck and Co. received a 10% discount. Other companies got rebates after purchasing sufficient quantities. I’m not sure wheterh any non-East Hampton Companies were involved. If anyone has any additional information regarding this Bell Manufacturers’ Association I would love to hear about. see my post on my web site: http://belltoys.ning.com/

      Life is good,
      Bob Watrous

    • #13474

      This is valuable information about the bell manufacturers of East Hampton. It appears that their businesses overlapped extensively beyond the intermarriage of the various families.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #13475
      Robert Watrous

      It didn’t take six degrees of seperation in East Hampton to be related to another bell maker. I once was talking with Stanley Bevin and he said “Watrous, I’m going to sue you! When I was a kid I was sleigh riding and I went over the bank at the Watrous house on Watrous Street and broke my leg.” I protested that I wasn’t related to D. W. Watrous that owned that house, but I am related to the other Watrous family tree that included Clifford Watrous that ran Gong Bell. He said “You’re all related.” Stanley was right.

      Besides the family genetic relationships there were many financial arrangements between the companies. The Bevin family had a 49% stake in Watrous Manufacturing after they reorganized in 1913. They had a large financial stake in Gong Bell also. According to Stanley, Bevin Bros. bailed several of the manufacturers out during hard times and then eventually refused to when Gong Bell was struggling in the 1960s.There were also relationships to J&E Stevens and other outside of East Hampton manufacturers.

      Many of the companies also belonged to other “associations,” such as when some became Branches of the National Novelty Corporation, an attempt at conglomeration that failed, and later the Hardware and Woodenware Manufacturs Association which also failed. The Bell Manufacturers’ Association was an overlay during the same period as the National Novelty Corporation. I’m not sure when the Bell Manufacturers’ Association died out or why. This Summer I plan to dig into some N N Hill archives that are in the Connecticut Historical Society Library and another stack in California at the University of California in the Davidson Library. Perhaps there will be some answers there. Life is good, Bob Watrous

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