A Boston Printing Company
compiled by Shirley York Anderson, great-granddaughter of George C. Rand
Boston Daily Globe, 21 Nov 1872: For the third time within ten days [The Great Boston Fire occurred on 8 Nov 1872] the citizens of Boston had their fears excited last evening by the prospect of an extensive conflagration.
The building which was thus visited by the destructive element was the extensive printing establishment of Rand, Avery & Co. on Cornhill, at the foot of Washington street. The structure was six stories in height, the upper one being enclosed by one of the recently admired but now detested Mansard roofs.
The flames almost immediately made their appearance through the roof and shot up at great height, illuminating the summits of all surrounding buildings, and conveyed to spectators at a distance beyond even the reach of the alarm bells the direful intelligence that the metropolis was again exposed to imminent danger by fire.
The materials on the upper floors were of a very combustible character, being the usual variety of printers’ and binders’ stock and produced a dense black smoke and showers of sparks and cinders, which fell on every roof and in all the streets toward and below State street.
The aspect of things was terrifying at the first glance to anybody except our experienced and courageous firemen, who attacked the enemy with the utmost coolness and determination, and, as the result proved, with the best strategy.
It hardly seemed possible, at one time, that the spread of the flames through the adjoining buildings could be prevented, and in the natural apprehension that even this limit might be exceeded, there were many removals of books and papers from stores and offices in the vicinity.
At twenty minutes before seven o’clock an alarm was rung in from box No. 18. The fire originated in the fifth story, and in a very few minutes the entire floor, consisting of three press rooms, was in a blaze. There were sixteen Adams presses in the three rooms, together with a large amount of printing paper and stereotype plates.
The attic story above this contained two hydraulic presses for dry pressing, two folding machines, one Sheridan paper cutter, and a large amount of printing paper. On the same floor was a magazine composing room, in which this week’s issue of the Boston Pilot was being put in type.
These two stories were both in flames before the arrival of the engines, and a second and third alarm were sounded and promptly responded to by the firemen, who by their zealous efforts contrived to keep the flames confined to the three upper stories of the building, though the fire spread the entire width of the building occupied by Rand, Avery & Co., from No. 13 Washington street to No. 9 Cornhill.
No. 1 Washington street, occupied by Knights, Adams & Co., books and stationery, stock not less than $50,000, was badly wet and damaged to the amount of $8000.
Over this store was the counting-room belonging to Messrs. Rand & Avery, together with a press-room for printing magazines, and containing a quantity of fine ink and paper. This room was not burnt, but deluged with water. The next floor above contained a book and job composing-room, one Ruggles press and the proof-readers’ room.
The fourth floor, which was visited by the fire, contained a job press-room, in which were two Allen presses, two Gordon presses and two Campbell presses; a book press-room in which were four cylinder presses, four Adams presses and one Globe press, and a large room filled with white paper, and two screw presses.
The floors and walls of the building were not burned entirely through, as the presses had not fallen when the fire was extinguished, at ten o’clock.
The amount of damage to the printing office will probably reach $100,000, which is covered by insurance, but in what offices could not be ascertained. As the insurance was effected in Boston offices previous to the “great conflagration,” it is questionable whether any part of it will be recovered.
The fire is said to have been caused by a swinging gas-light, in the fifth story, striking against some paper hanging from the dry-press rafters. Another explanation is that a lighted paper was thrown upon the floor after the gas was lighted, and the floor, which was saturated with oil, took fire and communicated the flames to the paper in the room.
Besides Rand, Avery & Co., other occupants of the same building suffered serious loss by the water which was used to quench the fire. ...
The proprietors of the City Hotel, Quincy House and Cornhill restaurant acted in a very hospitable manner, and kept open house throughout the evening, supplying the firemen with refreshments till everything in their respective hostelries, in the eating line, was exhausted.
The printing establishment was one of the largest, if not the largest, in New England, and besides an immense amount of book-work for leading publishers, job work and the printing of serials and magazines were extensively carried on.
Among the publications which thus suffer loss is the American Homes, which was burned out of its former office on Congress street by the great fire; and here, again, it was devastated, losing twelve thousand copies of the November number. This publication will, however, appear, notwithstanding its repeated bad luck.
The same is true of the Pilot, which will be published as usual this week, though in reduced form. The Student and Schoolmate, Merry’s Museum, the Well-Spring and Oliver Optic’s Magazine are also victims.
The tons of stereotype plates of various standard works, except such as may have been on the presses, were not injured, being securely placed in vaults beneath the sidewalk.
One of the most important auxiliaries of the establishment was saved by a prompt removal. This was the registering or numbering machine used in printing the succession of numbers on railroad tickets and the like.
The essential part of the apparatus was conveyed to the Second police station. It was not [a] great affair to look at, and might easily be put into a two-quart measure. Yet it was worth at least $2000, and its duplicate it is said is not to be found in New England.
The employes [sic] of the place, many of whom were still at work, a considerable proportion being ladies, had barely time to escape from the upper stories so rapid was the spread of the fire. One of the men was unable to get his vest which contained a gold watch.
No reports of accidents of any kind were made, and this is quite remarkable, considering the immense crowds that gathered, and the frequent and rapid movement of vehicles and fire apparatus. ...
Boston Daily Globe, 24 Oct 1873: The opposite corner of Federal and Franklin streets, and on the same side of Federal, is owned by John Ritchie and others. Here a large freestone block has been erected, having a wide frontage on both streets.
It is to be occupied by the well-known printing firm of Rand, Avery & Co., and they are already in possession of the premises, though not fully established therein. It is six stories in height, including a Mansard roof story.
The principal front is on Franklin street, but the Federal street facade has the same general features. The Franklin street facade has a central pavilion finished at the roof with a galvanized iron dormer capped with a pediment. The dormer contains one double and two single openings.
The several stories of the pavilion above the first show also a coupled central window and two single side windows. Above the coupled windows of the second story is a pediment and above the fourth story windows the words, “Franklin Buildings.”
Each corner of the building on the Franklin street facade is carried up as a tower above the first story, the construction of the first story being of iron columns, carrying a granite lintel course. Each tower shows a single opening in each story, and is finished at full height with an iron dormer and pediment of a segmental outline.
Above the second story window of the tower is a pediment; and at each side of the window is a moulded pilaster, carried up as the support of the pediment. Similar pilasters appear at each story above, as the supports of belts and cornices.
The pilasters of the fifth story are fluted, and their caps are somewhat more elaborately wrought. These several features of pilasters and moulded belts appear also in the pavilion, and, in conspicuous positions on both, moulded and engraved work in stone is displayed.
The Federal street facade shows another face of the tower, the construction being the same. Over the first entrance on Federal street the features of the tower are reproduced exactly, to full height; and over the second entrance on Federal street they are again repeated at double width, so as to show two openings in each story, with a double dormer at the roof. The extreme of the facade farthest from Franklin street shows no projection.
On the Federal street facade there are three bays, not included in the projections, thus delineated, each bay having three openings in each story. On the Franklin street facade are two bays, with four openings in each story. The main cornice is prominent, and is supported by handsomely moulded brackets. Moulded belts are carried through both facades in each story.
An extraordinary construction connected with the building is of arched brick vaults beneath the sidewalks on each front. This masonry is of the most substantial character.
It is not only fire-proof, but, it is hardly an exaggeration to say, bomb-proof. The vaults are designed for the preservation of stereotype plates not only from fire, but, in case of fire, from falling walls.
Boston Daily Globe, 26 Dec 1878: Rand, Avery & Co., State printers, gave each of the married men in their employ a nice turkey for Christmas.
Newton (MA) Journal, 4 Jan 1879: THE LATE GEORGE C. RAND
Mr. Rand was until last April one of the heads of the firm of Rand, Avery & Co., of Boston.
Boston Daily Globe, 11 May 1879: Considerable excitement was created in the Ward 20 caucus on Friday evening by a defeated candidate for the legislature charging the committee to procure ballots last fall with pasting another name over his on the ballots while on their way from Rand, Avery & Co.’s printing office to the ballot distributors. ...
Boston Daily Globe, 29 Dec 1879: Since the burning of the Globe Theatre and surrounding buildings, in May, 1873, no more serious fire has taken place in this city than that which last night held the best efforts of the Boston fire department completely at bay and for a long time seemed to promise a conflagration which would rival the great fire of November, 1872.
One of the choicest blocks of buildings in the district of magnificent business structures fell before the onslaught of a fire which for a portion of the time equalled in intensity anything ever known is so small a space.
The iron shutters which enclose the large printing office of Rand, Avery & Co. in the space between the Cathedral block and the main building on Franklin street, and give it after hours the appearance of an iron fortress did excellent service last night.
The fire, when once it had attained way, had a rare opportunity for intensity, the nature of the material stocked in the ware-rooms being peculiarly adapted to feeding a flame. ...
Rand, Avery & Co.’s place was but slightly damaged. ... The fire had burned all round Rand, Avery & Co.’s, and it now appeared from the direction the flames had taken that this firm would escape, if not altogether, with but probably slight damage. ...
Boston Daily Globe, 30 Dec 1879: It has just been ascertained that several statehouse reports in manuscript were in the hands of Rand, Avery & Co., the state printers, and were destroyed, either wholly or in part, by last night’s fire.
The report of the Board of health, charity and lunacy is partly consumed, there being but few of the printed pages in the state-house, and of course all the type will have to be reset, the forms having been consumed.
The greater part of the catalogue of the library is destroyed also, and it will be necessary to set the type all over again, and that very speedily, too, as it is a long and laborious work.
Boston Daily Globe, 11 Apr 1880: Few people are aware that Boston is the headquarters for the printing of railroad tickets for this continent, yet such is the fact, and the business is controlled here by the one firm of Rand, Avery & Co.
A representative of The Globe, wishing to learn the history and extent of the business, called at their printing-house, where he was courteously received by Mr. Robert S. Gardiner, manager of the railroad department, and furnished the desired information.
The printing of numbered railroad tickets was first begun in England by John Edmondson of Manchester, who invented the original machinery for this purpose.
Up to 1852 and 1853 no such tickets were used on the roads in this country. About that time, however, the Boston and Worcester railroad procured from Mr. Edmondson some of these tickets at a cost of $2 50 [?2.50 or 250?] per 1000.
Mr. Edmondson then conceived the idea that he might as well control the business in this country, and in 1855 he sent over one of his workmen, George Bailey, with one machine, and established a ticket printing establishment at Buffalo.
But the business was then yet in its infancy, and American improvements soon blighted Mr. Edmondson’s hopes of creating a monopoly.
Messrs. Sanford, Harrow & Warren, another Buffalo firm, with whom Mr. Gardiner was then connected, shortly afterwards got up the numbered coupon tickets, and the first tickets of this description were taken by Mr. L.M. Cole of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad.
Since that time, as the railroad network, now extending over the whole country, has gradually formed, the ticket-printing business has gone on expanding, until now it is of enormous proportions.
Six and a half years ago Mr. Gardiner took charge of this department of Rand, Avery & Co.’s business, and today they have a larger amount of railroad printing than any other firm in the country, and probably more than all the others combined.
The only other establishments doing a considerable business in this line are Rand, McNally & Co. of Chicago [William H. Rand, brother of George C. Rand, was one of the founders of that company]; Woodward, Tiernan & Hale of St. Louis; and Allen, Lane & Scott of Philadelphia.
Some idea of the magnitude of Rand, Avery & Co.’s ticket-printing business may be gained from the following facts. They do the printing for all the New England roads, and altogether supply 170 railroads, representing every state in the union this side of the Rocky Mountains, Mexico, Central America and Cuba.
Of their 103 presses, fifteen are kept constantly at work to meet the great demand for tickets. The firm also prints the local tickets for the larger part of the roads which they supply with coupon tickets. The number of local tickets printed alone has run as high as 48,000,000 in a single year.
The details and processes of this immense business are of an exceedingly interesting character. They involve a vast amount of intricacy, and yet everything is so systematized that in a moment Mr. Gardiner can refer to the order and formula for any lot of the tickets printed in the half-dozen years of his connection with the firm.
Those who have travelled at all will know that railroad tickets are all numbered twice. One of the numbers stands for the form of ticket, and is for the convenience of the railroad company issuing the ticket and the printers.
The company orders a certain number of the form numbered 2045, for instance, and the printers know at once what is wanted. When the vast number of different forms is taken into account, it will be seen that no small amount of clerical work is required.
The railroad companies generally calculate to order a three months’ supply at one time. Just now the orders for the summer excursion and tourists’ tickets are coming in, and two or three presses will be run on these exclusively all summer.
A description of the machinery required to print the tickets numbered in order would be of interest, but lack of space forbids. It is, of course, generally known that the coupon tickets are printed on a beautifully engraved background.
Rand, Avery & Co. have engraving lathes for doing this which cost a small fortune, and it is worth noting that they are the only firm in the country, aside from the bank-note companies and the United States treasury department, owning lathes of this description, the cost being too great to warrant the outlay for any ordinary business.
Local tickets are, as a rule, printed on simple white pasteboard. In addition to the printing of tickets and baggage checks, Rand, Avery & Co. also print a large amount of railroad advertising matter, especially for the roads in this section of the country.
In conclusion, it may not be out of place to refer to the recent insinuation in a contemporary, that railroad general passenger agents accepted percentages on their printing from the firm to whom they gave their orders, which was promptly met by Mr. Gardiner with the square and positive statement that his firm had never paid such a percentage, nor solicited or received any work on such a basis.
The responsibilities for ticket scalping, or for the alleged railroad rings engaged in this business in a dishonorable manner, does not rest at all with the printers, who enter into contracts with the railroads the same as they would with any theatrical manager, or other individual or concern.
Boston Daily Globe, 14 Jun 1882: The question of the right of members of the Legislature to have an interest in State contracts assumes a new form in the case of Rand, Avery & Co., who have put in a bid for the State printing, their present contract having nearly expired.
There is considerable doubt as to whether the contract can again be awarded them, Mr. John C. Rand of the firm having tendered his resignation as a member of the Legislature after that body, which only could take cognizance of it, had been prorogued. The statute is very plain and imperative. What the outcome will be is a very interesting question.
Boston Daily Globe, 9 May 1883: At Rand & Avery’s eighteen of the typos employed have struck for an increase of pay on the setting of the Boston Directory. The company were paying thirty-eight cents per 1000 ems on the work.
It being piece work, and bad to set, the compositors demanded an increase of seven cents per 1000, or $15 per week. The increase was refused, and the men are out. There have been none to take their place.
Boston Daily Globe, 12 Mar 1886: The trouble in the firm of Rand, Avery & Company, the well-known printers, was brought into the Supreme Court, before Judge Holmes, yesterday, upon a motion by John C. Rand and Avery L. Rand, for the appointment of a receiver to take charge of the affairs of the concern.
The step is brought about by the desire of the petitioners to get rid of their partner, Samuel Johnson, to whom they claim they have made propositions to buy or sell, which he refuses to consider.
Mr. H.G. Nichols, of counsel for Mr. Johnson, stated that the latter had consulted Mr. B.F. Brooks on Wednesday, just as he was starting for New York, and it was desired that the hearing in the matter of the appointment be continued until Mr. Brooks’ return.
B.F. Hayes, for the petitioners, said that Mr. Johnson had, on Wednesday, said to one of the petitioners, when informed of these proceedings, that he should at once institute insolvency proceedings and have schedules of assets and liabilities ready for the partners to sign this morning.
Judge Hoar said this move was not a surprise to the defendant, and he should have been in court this morning. Counsel then went on to state the relations existing between the partners and the desire of the petitioners to get rid of the defendant.
Judge Holmes thought that the appointment of a receiver would wind up the affairs of the concern, a result not desired by the petitioners, but Judge Hoar urged that the court could order the business sold, and the petitioners would agree to furnish a bid large enough to cover all liabilities.
Mr. Hoar then referred to the fact that notes will fall due on Saturday, as well as the payroll, and the petitioners do not wish to furnish to the defendant, who is hostile to them, and manages the finances of the concern, sums of money which may not be properly used. If the receiver is not appointed attachments may be put on by creditors, and the whole concern wrecked.
Dr. Nichols said that no definite proposition had ever been made to Mr. Johnson, and he was called to decide in a few days whether he would buy or sell an interest in a concern having assets of $300,000. He did not think matters would suffer if the hearing was postponed until Monday.
Judge Holmes said he did not think it was necessary to appoint a receiver immediately, and such an appointment would not prevent the defendant from bringing insolvency proceedings if he saw fit. He should, therefore, continue the case until Monday next.
[Nothing further has been found. Perhaps the case was settled out of court.]
Boston Daily Globe, 10 Mar 1887: John Rand was lugged into the debate in the [Massachusetts] House yesterday by a member of the finance committee; so when the State printing resolve that the finance committee wanted to substitute was thrown out by a vote of 127 to 36, many of the members couldn’t help inferring that John Rand had been thrown down by a large majority. ...
The question on the resolve in relation to the State printing was on ordering to a third reading. The printing committee resolve had passed the Senate and gone to the finance committee. The finance committee had offered a substitute. ...
Mr. McEttrick of Boston, a dissenting member of finance, explained that the substitute left off the two printing committee chairmen, the men who stood between the people and the contractors. That was strange and uncalled for. The substitute, too, aimed at the industries of Boston; it might cut prices. ...
Gray Eagle Walker, alias Watch-dog Walker, a member of finance, rose to say ... In ‘72-‘76, under Wright & Potter’s contract, the State printing had cost almost $1,000,000; in ‘77-‘82, under Rand & Avery’s contract, it had cost not $500,000. ... Senator Kimball had said before the finance committee that if the substitute went through John Rand would get the contract. What did that mean?
After Mr. Walker had repeated this question three times he ... added that the whole opposition was a drive at Rand & Avery. Moreover, forty or fifty men in their establishment had petitioned that they might not be discriminated against. ...
Brother Taft got after the Gray Eagle with a big knotty club and made the feathers fly. The financier from Worcester had begun by talking about lobbying, and wound up by telling about a noon meeting of workmen, and reading from the Rand & Avery literature in his pockets. ...
Mr. Butler of Worcester ... His other objection was that the work, if let to the lowest bidder might be given to women to do; the State could not afford to be parsimonious.
Boston Daily Globe, 23 Nov 1887: G. Alfred Whitworth is a slightly revised version of Alfred Jingle. [See Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens] Mr. Jingle saw the error of his way when at Fleet street, but Mr. Whitworth’s conversion is not yet.
Tall, lank and sallow, he resembled Mr. Jingle not a little, and his occupation was very nearly the same. John C. Rand of the Rand Avery Company was Mr. Whitworth’s Pickwick. Pickwickian success did not attend Mr. Rand’s benevolent endeavors; but in another sense he has done the community quite as much good.
The story is an odd one. It may not have been forgotten that Mr. Whitworth was arrested in Boston some weeks ago for committing forgeries on the name of the well-known Franklin street firm of printers. He was engaged by it to collect orders for work, and was paid on commission.
On forged orders he made quite a record for diligence and gathered in a considerable number of dollars. When arrested he pleaded necessity as the cause of his crime, and when the police went to his lodgings on Dover street they found the family in abject want.
Whitworth had succeeded in a matrimonial venture of the kind in which Mr. Jingle had failed. His wife, he said, was the cause of a separation between the head of an aristocratic and wealthy family and this poor erring son. He came from England, having been driven from home by a wrathy father.
The case soon enlisted the sympathy of several kindly disposed persons in Boston, and instead of going to the State prison he went off to England on money raised by those friends.
Mr. Rand was instrumental in bringing this about. He saw that if the man were prosecuted the wife and children would become a charge upon the State. In the end this young man would be at large in the community, and then if he had not reformed he would give other business men just such trouble as he had caused his firm.
The poor couple went away penitent, happy, thankful and full of good resolutions. He felt quite sure that when he got home his father would kill the fatted calf in his honor.
It appears from recent mail advices of the firm that the father did not do this, but that the youth found several fatted calves at home in England, just as he had found them in this country, and forthwith proceeded to slay them.
He suddenly blossomed out in Liverpool as a merchant, and as the sole English representative of “Messrs. Rand, Avery & Company, America.”
The firm was J. Ferguson & Co., address, 34 Moorfields, Liverpool. He likewise represented W. Trafton, Jr., New York. Whitworth was no less a person than Ferguson himself. The kind of business he did may best be gathered fromthis letter which Mr. Rand received a few days ago:
It has been learned from the most reliable sources that the story of the young man’s wealthy connection had no foundation in truth. The woman to whom he was married does not bear a very good reputation, and is charged with having led the young man into bad modes of living.
By those who knew the pair in England, Mr. Rand’s interest in getting them back was not thoroughly appreciated, and it was said that it would have been much better to send them to the public institutions, but as there was no good reason why Massachusetts should take care of the scum of England his interest in the family was not entirely misdirected.
Boston Daily Globe, 15 Dec 1887: The anti-Catholic advocate, Dr. Fulton, who just now is engaged in a controversy with the Rand-Avery Company, which has refused to publish his book on account of its alleged obscene passages, has sent the firm a letter accepting their offer to leave the question to arbitration.
Dr. Fulton alleges that the action of the firm has placed him in a very bad position, as it has debarred him from finding any other publisher.
The Rand-Avery Company stated its objection to carrying out its contract in such an energetic manner that the public has been led, he thinks, to a wrong impression of the real character of the work.
The company, however, has not changed its opinion of what is its right course in the matter, and will write a letter to the author acknowledging his acceptance of its offer of arbitration. The matter has not ceased to attract attention outside of printing offices, and as many as 250 letters have been received by the firm regarding the matter.
While these letters were for the most part quite interesting, and in some cases instructive, the firm has no more time to spend in following them, and it requested a reporter to say to the public for the house that there could be nothing gained by addressing any more letters to the company. This is intended for all on both sides of the question.
Dr. Fulton is determined that the commission or board of arbitration, shall see the matter out, and has stated that no settlement is possible, at least, at the present.
Rev. Joseph Cook has been solicited, it is said, to serve on the board, but he has declined the honor. As yet no one has been more than thought of, and it will be many days probably before the personnel of the board can be authoritatively announced.
Boston Daily Globe, 21 Oct 1888: The Rand Avery Company has assigned. The announcement was made yesterday afternoon between 3:30 and 4 o’clock, and the assignee is Nathaniel J. Bradlee.
There never was a greater or more complete surprise in the business history of Boston, and it is safe to say that no class of persons will be more surprised by the news than the business community itself.
The facts of the case are peculiar in the extreme. The firm has been doing a large business and its profits have been in proportion, very large.
During the last nine months a sum of money amounting to not less that $45,000 has been cleared, and it appeared as if an atmosphere of prosperity was always going to surround this well-known publishing establishment.
What, then, was the cause of the trouble? Too much business. Simply this and nothing more.
At the present time the concern has so much work on hand that if its price was paid in advance the receipts would settle all the debts and leave a large surplus besides.
The printing contracts which the company has made are continually on the increase, and to all appearance the business has been of the most prosperous nature.
Such a heavy business required a large amount of ready capital to secure its completion, for the company had a working force of 400 people, and the other expenses were correspondingly large.
The amount of ready capital necessary was lacking, and yesterday the firm saw itself surrounded with obligations amounting to $140,000, of which $12,000 came due yesterday. This amount included a week’s wages due the help.
The assignment was made in pursuance to the advice of ex-Governor Rice and Charles M. Clapp, counsel for the company. An effort has been made to raise the required capital by a mortgage, but failing in this the decision to assign came as a matter of necessity. The assets, it is claimed, are in the neighborhood of $150,000.
A Globe reporter called at a late hour last night at the residence of Mr. Bradlee, and that gentleman confirmed the facts as above stated. Furthermore, he spoke in the most favorable terms of the company, and expressed the hope that it would tide over its difficulties.
The business, he said, would be continued as before, and the workmen would not lose through what had happened. He did not think that the creditors would force the firm into insolvency.
The Rand Avery Company is one of the largest printing and publishing houses in New England. The firm was originally Rand & Avery, and about two years ago additional partners were taken in, when the change in name was made.
John C. Rand, the president, is well known to business men, and it has been largely through his energetic work that the business has assumed its mammoth proportions. For several years they had the contract for the State printing, and they have published many books by prominent writers.
Boston Daily Globe, 22 Oct 1888: Newton, Oct. 21 – Moses King was until last July a member of the Rand Avery Company, whose assignment was announced exclusively in today’s Globe.
He is perhaps as intimately acquainted with the doings of the company as any man. Mr. King was seen at his home on Belmont street, Newton, this evening, by a Globe reporter. He talked freely about the affairs of the company.
“My indorsement,” he said, “is on $25,000 worth of the Rand Avery paper, directly and indirectly on $25,000 additional. I sold out entirely early in July to Thomas W. Lawson, receiving his notes for five years. I held $62,000 worth of the stock.
“Why did I sell out to him? Because there is no brighter man in all America. I have come in contact with many thousands of business men, but have found none brighter, abler, more industrious or more straightforward than he.
“For 46 years it has been a scramble to meet the weekly pay-roll, which at present amounts to from $3500 to $5000. When a concern gets a bad name it is hard to get people to trust it. The Rand Avery company has one of the largest and finest plants in the world, but its financial reputation is bad.
“When I went in two and a half years ago the firm had just got an extension on a debt of $81,000, and there was expended $50,000 on the old plant. I gave up a salary of $6000 at Bradstreet’s agency and organized the house on the supposition that the two Rands were able to run it.
“I thought with capital they would succeed, but I found that life-long experience does not make ability sufficient to conduct a large business successfully. I had no intention of running it myself nor had I the fitness. I always gave a hearing to parties, which had not been the custom before.
“I told the clerk who took in the orders to let me know of special chances. One day the clerk showed me the copy of a circular from a Mr. Lawson for a sale slip business. I said to him to go right over and ask Mr. Lawson to come to see me.
“The circular contained a remarkable statement in regard to a certain printing machine. After consultation, Mr. Rand and myself offered to give Mr. Lawson $100,000 for his machine and patents, together with the factories at Chicago and Roxbury, and we afterwards consolidated the two, making a model shop at Roxbury.
“The understanding was that Mr. Lawson was to come in and run the sale circular department. We soon afterwards concluded to make him manager of the entire business, and, in order to accomplish that, were compelled to buy out the interest of Avery L. Rand, who had been manager.
“J.C. Rand remained. He had never taken an active hand in the manufacturing, but controls easily a large amount of work. Thomas Lawson is only 31 years old and was born in Charlestown.
“Mr. Lawson saw at once that our way of doing business was defective, and since he became manager, 14 months ago, he has completely reorganized the methods.
“The trouble with the Rand Avery Company has been, not the want of business, but the carrying of an old load and an old reputation. While its reputation has been first-class for getting and doing work it has been bad for raising money.
“The concern has been talked of in financial circles as being in a shaky condition for the past 15 years. A.L. Rand retired 10 months ago. It is a stock company, with a capital of $250,000, and Mr. Lawson is the president.
“During the past 12 months many improvements have been made. The changes made have taken a good many thousands of dollars of actual cash, and the old reputation has operated against us. When our notes were presented at the banks they would say: ‘No, I guess we don’t want the Rand Avery Company’s paper.’
“The volume of printing during the past 12 months has been greater than for the five years previous.
“As stated, the capital is $250,000; the surplus is $50,000; the gross assets are $468,000, and the liabilities about $160,000. You can say that when Moses King withdrew from the company it was in the hope that the establishment, having got rid of the men identified with it, the concern would have an unquestioned credit.
“He had to some extent made himself objectionable in the way of managing affairs. It was never his intent to take on the management, but he was forced into it from the necessities of the case.
“When I sold out to Mr. Lawson the business was in excellent condition and the outlook very promising, and if by any means a financial credit can be secured it can be made one of the most profitable industires in the State, paying at the minimum $50,000 yearly.
“Various promises that had been made to Mr. Lawson led us to believe he would be furnished with an abundance of capital, but it did not come in sufficient amount for him to carry the old load.
“The Rand Avery Company need[s] from $75,000 to $100,000 in cash in order to carry forward its business successfully.
“Talk about the workingmen! For 14 months T.W. Lawson and Moses King have been in the office from early in the morning until 11 o'clock at night. It has happened that up to 1.65 o’clock on pay day we did not know how the pay roll was to be met.
“Last Friday a gentleman looked over our establishment, inquired about Mr. Lawson and said that if we could give him a guarantee that some one would take the establishment off his hands, provided Mr. Lawson dropped out, he would furnish the company with $100,000 in cash.
“The guarantee could not be given, and Saturday, with $12,000 in notes to meet and the weekly pay roll for the past week and with no funds at hand, the company made an assignment.”
Medford, Oct. 21 – John C. Rand of the embarrassed Rand Avery Printing Company was seen at his residence on Water street this evening. Mr. Rand stated that the published account of the company’s condition was substantially correct, and that nothing new had transpired since.
Last evening, while Mr. Lawson was having the insurance papers transferred in the interest of the assignee, the employes to the number of over 300 had assembled in the counting room, completely filling that place.
Mr. Lawson told them that for the first time in the 45 years that the Rand Avery Company had been in business the help could not be paid off on Saturday evening, and expressed the hope that the embarrassment would only be of a short duration. His remarks were received with cheers, and the assembled employes announced their willingness to return Monday and finish up the work in hand.
Mr. Rand said that the future of the concern looked bright; that the embarrassment had been brought about by the notes of the firm coming due when there was no money to meet them, and all agreed that the placing of the affairs in the hands of Mr. Bradlee as assignee was the best thing that could be done.
It was done by the advice and through the consent of some of the largest creditors of the concern.
Mr. Rand also stated that the firm had many very profitable contracts on hand and that the loss of the State printing did not have anything to do with the present difficulties. The troubles of the Rand Avery Company would not in any way affect the Rand Avery Supply Company, which was an entirely separate establishment.
Woburn, Oct. 21 – A Globe reported called on Thomas W. Lawson at his home in Winchester this evening. Mr. Lawson is president and general manager of the Rand Avery Company of Boston.
He had read the article in The Globe of today relating to the assignment of the company and was rather surprised at the information obtained, and thought it must have come from some director. Mr. Lawson said that beside being president and manager he was the owner of almost four-fifths of the stock of the company.
Referring to The Globe story, which said: “At the present time the concern has so much work on hand that if the price was paid in advance the receipts would settle all the debts and leave a large surplus,” he said, “That statement I do not understand and am not responsible for.”
Mr. Lawson succeeded Mr. Rand as president last January, and he showed by reading from a statement of the company, Sept. 28, 188[8?], that the condition was as follows: Assets $462,271; liabilities, $160,000 or $170,000. A comparison of nine months’ business showed earnings of almost $[5?]0,000.
The assignment was made by a vote of the directors, viz.: Alexander H. Rice, C.M. Clapp, N.J. Bradlee, John C. Rand and T.W. Lawson. G.V.W. Baldwin was in New York.
Mr. Lawson said they had been trying to negotiate for $100,000, but it fell through and it precipitated the trouble. He said he had put in $100,000 of his own money and had become liable for $60,000 more.
Boston Daily Globe, 29 Jan 1889: The auction sale of the Rand Avery Company’s printing and publishing establishment began yesterday morning at the Rand Avery building, corner of Federal and Franklin streets. There was an attendance of between 100 and 200.
The sale began with the stock of paper in the basement, and it took nearly all day to dispose of this. The bidding was very lively, but the prices brought are only about half the original cost. Most of the bidders were out-of-town printers, but very few Boston firms being represented.
Boston Daily Globe, 3 Feb 1889: No event of local interest has attracted more widespread attention of late than the great auction sale of the Rand Avery Company property. Not only have the printers of Boston and New England been interested, but merchants and financiers have all watched and read intently the facts regarding the big sale of printing material.
It proved to be the most successful auction sale of presses and type ever held in this country. From first to last the sale was an extraordinary occurrence. The cause and methods were out of the common run. The result was a phenomenal success. It evidences what can be done by pluck and honest work, and as a printer said yesterday, it may be summed up as one of the greatest business triumphs which ever took place in Boston.
The printer mentioned above said yesterday, in speaking of the great sale of printing materials:
Four months ago the Rand Avery Company failed and assignees were appointed. Mr. Jordan at that time made them a very fair offer for the plant, but it was declined.
Certain parties then, it is stated, got together and used various methods in bearing down upon and attempting in every conceivable manner to injure the value of the property. An auction sale was held, which was the merest farce, as only one bidder put in an appearance.
There were a number of interesting features during the sale. Friday the electrotype foundry was sold for $2800 to New York parties. The property was resold by them, in parts, they realizing but $1900, losing money by their speculation.
The closing out of the immense printing plant at auction sale, commencing on Jan. 28 and lasting through the week, attracted printers from all parts of the country.
The prices realized were excellent - in advance of general expectations - some numbers in the catalogue selling for more than the list prices for the same articles new.
The machinery was from the leading press builders, who were generally represented at the sale and the type was principally from the Dickinson Type Foundry, Boston.
The entire plant, including some 50 printing presses, paper cutters, standing presses, a complete electrotype foundry, a bindery, and nearly 200,000 pounds of type, has been scattered throughout the country, and a once famous printing house second to no other, has been wiped out and forever disappeared.
Boston Daily Globe, 27 Sep 1889: Avery L. Rand of Rand & Avery Printing Company, which failed several months ago, was arraigned in the East Boston District Court yesterday before Judge Emmons on a charge of breaking and entering the storehouse of Edward L. Fitzgerald, junk dealer, on Mill street, East Boston, and the larceny therefrom of a quantity of electrotype plates, valued at $500.
It appears that shortly after the failure of the firm their property was sold at public auction. At this auction Fitzgerald purchased goods valued at $8200, among which was a quantity of electrotype plates valued at $500.
Fitzgerald had the plates removed from the Franklin street establishment to his storehouse at East Boston. Rand, it is alleged, went to East Boston and carried away the plates, which he claims as a defence the firm of Rand & Avery had no legal right to sell. ...
Thomas W. Lawson testified that Fitzgerald bought the plates at public auction from the Rand & Avery Printing Company. The plates were once the property of Mr. Holland, a publisher in Brooklyn, New York, who was requested to pay charges, but as he did not do so they were sold.
William Allen testified that he saw Avery L. Rand break open the door of Fitzgerald’s storehouse with an iron pipe, and that Rand with three others removed from the storehouse a large number of boxes of plates which were put in a tram and carried away.
Boston Daily Globe, 12 Apr 1893: At a meeting of the employes of the Rand Avery Supply Co., held on April 10, to take action in regard to the death of Abraham Avery, Esq., president of the company, the following resolutions were adopted:
Fred A. Robinson, A.M. Prior, George C. Flett, William Flett, E.F. O’Connell, George W. Robinson, Committee on Resolutions