Asked whether or not they handled American wares, one of the members of an Edinburgh wholesale firm dealing extensively in implements and sundry articles of steel, iron, and wood answered: “O, yes; largely; come into our warerooms and see for yourself.”
Leading the way, he pointed to rows of boxes in the first room we entered, remarking: “These are American axes—the best and the cheapest in the world.” Around the wall, standing ten deep, were ranged forks of all descriptions for the farmers’ use, and heaped on the floor were thousands of handles for hayforks, hoes, picks, axes, spades, and shovels. Observing a notebook in my hand, he said: “If you put down everything in our place that is American, you will fill the book.” This was soon apparent.
Going into another room and directing my attention to shelves bending with the weight of packages, and to dozens of boxes at either end, he informed me that this was a recent importation, something new for his firm—10 tons of bolts and nuts from the United States. In every part of the great establishment most of the articles were American made, including hay knives, lawn mowers, saws, files, wheels, hubs, spokes, rims, spades, shovels, rakes, washing machines, washboards, and wringers.
Picking up a turnip hoe, he said: This is English. We used to get all these hoes from the United States, but the Manchester makers not long ago reduced the price and now have the market. The barbed wire we have in stock is English, but the American wire is quite as good and as cheap. The American lawn mower is lighter and better than anything of the kind made on this side. In fact, nearly all implements produced in the United States are superior to ours, and many of them can be sold here at lower prices.
On the same street is a merchant having the largest stock of tools and mechanical novelties in the city. Here I found American made auger bits, angular bitstocks, bench screws, hand stops and vises, bicycle wrenches, hones, brackets, breast drills, expansive bits, block planes, bull-nose planes, carpet stretchers, saws of all kinds, glass cutters, hammers, hatchets, hand headers, hand drills, lathe chucks, oilstones, plane irons, ratchet braces, ratchet screwdrivers, spiral screw-drivers, shears, iron spoke shaves, squares, tool handles, wing compasses, chisels, etc.
American tools are preferred by workmen to either English or German. They are tempered harder, are more serviceable, and have a finish that is lacking in the others. Tools of German make are somewhat cheaper, but are softer and do not stand use as well as the American. Moreover, dealers in all sorts of goods frankly say that there is just now a lively prejudice here against anything German.
Workmen do not readily “take to” combination tools. They prefer the single tool, failing to appreciate the convenience of a combination device which occupies less space and weighs much less than the two or three tools it represents. Doubtless they will, after a while, see the advantages of the new space-saving and time-saving devices, some of which are marvels of ingenuity.
Rufus Fleming, Edinburgh, October 24, 1898. Consul.
Consular Reports Vol. LIX. No. 220.
Government Printing Office – January, 1899