ALFRED REYNOLDS - HERMAN PENZHALZ - JOHN AYRES - C. GOODWIN - J. EDWARDS - D. GARNIER - HENRY PETRY - DAVID KEENE - SEYMOUR WELLS - F.G. SINGLETON - J.F. NUILETZ - ANT. TEUTENBERG - BAXTER (Dunedin)
New Zealand Parliament - House of Representatives - Reports of Select Committees
N0. 112. Mr. A. REYNOLDS and Others, Jewellers, to Mr. Commissioner Tinne:,– Auckland, 24th March, 1880.
I beg most respectfully to bring to your notice the following facts in connection with in trade as lapidary, and with the trade of manufacturing jewellers. I commenced business in Auckland) thirteen years ago as lapidary, for the purpose of manufacturing the greenstone of New Zealand into articles of jewellery; for some years it kept many men employed by the manufacturing jewellers, who used every exertion to meet the increasing demand, and with success. About three years ago a certain merchant‘s house in Dunedin sent to England a block of greenstone in the rough, where it was cut and mounted and returned to this country; and this led to the complete ruin of the trade here–so much so that none of the trade are now able to employ a single band, and several have been compelled to relinquish business and leave the place. I place the foregoing facts before you in the hope that the Royal Commission may be induced to take into consideration the present state of the manufacturing jewellery trade and the means best calculated to effect an improvement. If I might be permitted to offer a suggestion, I would say that the case would be met by the imposition of such a duty as would prove prohibitive to the importation of manufactured greenstone articles. I do not think that a duty of less than 100 per cent. would be of any use in bringing about the result we desire. I am the more bold to make this suggestion, as I feel that the imposition of any amount of duty on articles of such manufacture will fall only upon those who are in a good position to pay it. Any further information you may require I shall be most happy to supply.
I have, &c.,
F. G. Singleton.
J. F. Nuiletz.
No. 113. Mr. A. REYNOLDS and Others, Jewellers, to the Chairman of the Local Industries Commission – Auckland, 14th April, 1880.
We have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular of 10th inst, through T. F. S. Tinne, Esq., in answer to which we beg to enclose a copy of a communication sent to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, and beg to offer the following information and suggestions: We would ask for a 100- per-cent. duty on manufactured jewellery, and would request special attention to the working of New Zealand stones, such as greenstone, quartz, etc. We would also suggest that the following articles should be allowed to come in duty-free : Gallery-machine Work of gold in the rough, jeweller’s and lapidary's tools and materials. The demand in New Zealand being so limited that it would not warrant any one in laying down the costly machinery necessary for their production, and as they are required in the manufacturing here, it would aid in the establishment of the industry to admit them free. Trusting that you may consider these suggestions worthy of your consideration,
We have, &c.,
No. 114. Messrs. A. Reynolds and C. Goodwin, Jewellers, to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce (forwarded to the Commissioners on Local Industries) – Auckland, 6th April, 1880.
In answer to your invitation, we beg to lay before you the following facts in connection with the manufacturing-jewellery trade : The manufacture of greenstone and quartz jewellery assumed considerable importance in this city, employing a number of hands. Capital was invested, and machinery introduced, and there was every appearance of establishing a trade that would be a permanent benefit to this city and province. About three years ago a merchant's house in Dunedin sent to Europe stone in the rough state to be cut and mounted, which has led to the complete ruin of the trade here, it being found impossible to compete with the prices at which they are enabled to sell. As you invite suggestions, we would propose the imposition of such a duty as will prove prohibitive to the importation of manufactured jewellery, and are of opinion that no less a duty than 100 per cent. will avail anything. We are aware that 100 per cent. seems a very large duty to ask for; but, wherever in Europe ours is an old-established industry, machinery and other appliances are so perfected that production is accomplished by means of boy and girl labour, and at a price that precludes us from making ours a New Zealand industry, unless in the early stage of our efforts a large duty such as we ask for is imposed. No doubt, when this industry is thoroughly established here, and appliances perfected, a much smaller duty will be sufficient. The question now is, shall we make the trade of a working jeweller a New Zealand industry, by fostering it in its infancy to the necessary extent, or shall we prevent its establishment by withholding the necessary fostering measures?
We have, &c.,
(for the trade.)
No. 115. Evidence of Messrs. A. Reynolds and Seymour Watts before Messrs. Commissioners Tinne and Burns, at Auckland, 30th April, 1880.
My name is Alfred Reynolds, lapidary, residing in Albert Street, Auckland. I have been in business as a lapidary thirteen years in Auckland. Referring to my letter and complaint therein stated, I and the working jewellers request certain alterations in the Customs tariff on jewellery to the extent of 100 per cent. This is asked for as a matter of trade, and, if the importation of manufactured jewellery continues, the trade will be ruined here, if it is not so in fact now. The amount realized from the sale of jewellery manufactured in Auckland used to be between Â£300 and Â£400 per week, the greater portion of this being greenstone jewellery. This trade is now nearly extinct. A number of hands were employed at this trade ; they are now idle. I think, if a duty were imposed, the consumer would not pay any more for the article than at present, as I know that a gold chain was sold lately for Â£7 10s. per ounce. Whilst I am aware that the same chain could be made in Auckland and sold for Â£6 10s. per ounce. The difficulty is with the shopkeepers: they are able to import and sell cheaper than we can manufacture, and they have a larger profit on the imported article, but the consumer does not purchase any cheaper. [At this stage Mr. Seymour Wells, a manufacturing jeweller, entered the room, and gave evidence along with Mr. Reynolds] The trade is unable to compete with the importer at present without an import duty, as the jewellery in other countries is principally made by children at very low rates ; but we are well aware that the consumer does not derive any benefit from the imported article over the article manufactured in the colony; in fact, the consumer very often pays a higher price for an inferior imported article.
ALFRED REYNOLDS, Lapidary. SEYMOUR WELLS, Jeweller and Assayer.
No. 116. Evidence of Mr. Baxter, Jeweller, Dunedin, before the Commissioners on Local Industries, at Dunedin, 18th May, 1880.
I May say, gentlemen, that I have been fifty years in the jewellery business, and I have never seen the trade in the state it has been here during the last three years. We have, in fact, nothing to do. Indeed, even medals, or anything of that kind required by Agricultural societies, are not given to the manufacturing jewellers in the place to make, but are sent Home for, either to England or Scotland. With your permission I will read you a short statement of our grievances;
The working jewellers of Dunedin would respectfully submit the following facts for your consideration :–
1. That there are at present fifteen master-jewellers in Dunedin who have machinery to employ at least forty hands; but, owing to the low tariff imposed, it is at present lying idle, while a large number of men are unemployed.
2. That nearly all apprentices go to Melbourne (where there is a protective tariff of 25 per cent.) when out of their time, and readily obtain employment.
3. A considerable quantity of jewellery is imported from Victoria, manufactured there.
4:. Previous to protection being introduced into Victoria (1866) there were only twenty jewellers employed, and two years after there were 120 on the rolls of the Society.
5. Large quantities of greenstone annually sent to Germany rough, and imported here cut ready for setting, the stone-setting separately. Would suggest that a duty of 25 per cent. be put on stone out ready for setting.
6. Would point out that presentation cups, medals, &c., could be profitably made in the colony were an extra duty of 10 per cent. imposed.
7. Would recommend that a close inspection be made by Customhouse officers of all jewellery and fancy goods imported, and would suggest that an expert be employed for the purpose.
8. That an export duty of 2s. per pound be put on all rough greenstone exported from New Zealand.
9. That there is seventy-five thousand pounds’ worth of jewellery annually imported into New Zealand.
10. That any new pattern made in the colony, if likely to take, is sent Home by the importers and dealers to obtain quantities of a similar kind.
I may add that all kinds of testimonials for presentation, which different people in the town are well able to make, never come through our hands or chasing or to be embossed. During the last two or three years the shops sent Home all the old silver to be melted and made into presentation cups, &c., which are sent out to the colony. There is really nothing to be done here in our trade. I am not the only one in this state. Most of the jewellers here will hear me out that I am stating only the truth –nothing more nor less. The reason why we suggest that there should be a closer inspection by the Customs officials of all jewellery imported, and that an expert should be employed for that purpose, is that so many chains and different things are sent here so made up that no Customhouse officer, unless he be an expert, can tell whether or not they are gold. Perhaps they are sent among fancy goods, and pay little or no duty, just in the way that other jewellery, as brooches, ear-rings, and rings, are sent here, and all the while the colonial manufacture is at a standstill. The reason why we suggest a duty on the export of greenstone is that the local lapidary has no chance whatever, because the bulk of the greenstone is now sent either to Germany, or to Birmingham or Derby. In Derby there are plenty of lapidaries, and the greenstone is sent to them to make up in the slack season. It is sent back here ready for setting, and the local lapidary is in the same boat with ourselves–doing nothing. Here a man makes a pattern, and introduces it into the native work. There is the fern-leaf, for instance. Instead of the designer being able to command a good price for his ingenuity and skill, the house procures a copy of the design, sends it Home and has it copied; and the first thing the man who designed the pattern sees is what appears to be his pattern in all the shop-windows. This is, however, the sham character–the “ shin-plaster"–things which will tumble to pieces; whilst the colonially-made article is durable, and has a great deal more gold in it.
150. Mr. Stevens] When did the decline in the colonial trade take place ?–About three years ago.
151. Before that it was better ?–Oh, yes! We used to have something to do then.
152. How do you account for it ?–The action of the shopkeepers in sending Home for all their work has caused such a depressed state of trade. Now, as I have said, they even take our patterns and get the goods made in England from them. While we were able to keep our patterns to ourselves we had sufficient employment for ourselves and our apprentices. Now it is quite the reverse. My own son could get nothing to do here, and had to go to Victoria. In fact, none of our working jewellers have been able to keep their apprentices, but have been obliged to turn them away, and they have become diggers or gone into the bush. I could mention half a dozen different boys whom I have known as apprentices. Now I see them butchers or grocers, or some in the bush–doing anything but making jewellery. The duty is only 15 per cent., and the shopkeepers and warehouses do not consider it much.
153. They undersell the working jeweller, I suppose?–Yes; the imported work is not to be compared with the colonial. It is light, flimsy, and after six months’ use it is worthless. There is hardly any gold in it.
154. Mr. Bain.] Do you not think that the depression which the colony has been suffering from for some time has something to do with the depression of your trade ?––-No doubt; but very trifling compared with the duty.
155. Jewellery being articles of luxury, people cannot afford to spend money on those things in a time of depression ?–I have known the time here–during a gold-rush–when there were scarcely a dozen people to be met in the streets, yet we had plenty of work to do.
156. So far as I understand you, you complain that these imported articles of flimsy make are supplanting more solid articles of jewellery ?––Most decidedly.
157. That is a thing which cannot well be regulated. There is something in it, that the public do not discriminate between that which is substantial and that which is not ?–-They certainly do not. If I may he allowed to say so, it is the quantity which pays ; and it is the large quantity that is imported that makes our trade so depressed. Jewellery comes into this country to the amount of Â£75,000 annually. It is imported by the warehouses here from warehouses at Home. I may mention one house–P. Hayman and Co. There is one brother in Birmingham and one in Germany, and these men are kept buying, so as to keep getting discount. This quantity of jewellery still comes in, notwithstanding the depressed times. If we had the quantity to do that they have at Home, we could compete with and give a better article than the imported. The public would not suffer.
158. That applies only to gold jewellery ?–Yes.
159. The Chairman.] You do not do anything with silver jewellery ?–Oh, yes! we make cups.
160. Still, you have to import silver?–We have plenty of silver–cheaper than we can get it from Home. We get it at Auckland from the banks.
161. Mr. Bain.] Is it the fact that the local societies and local bodies prefer to send Home for their articles of silverware, such as medals and presentation cups ?–Yes; only a short time ago the Agricultural Society sent Home an order for a hundred and odd medals. One of the shopkeepers here got the tender for their supply; and, rather than employ local workmen, who had got the necessary machinery and everything ready for making the medals, he sends to Scotland to have the order executed. He is Scotch himself.
Another representative of the jewellers brought under the notice of the Commissioners that in India and Brazil native stones had an export duty placed on them if sent out of the country to be out. At the present time our greenstone from the West Coast was sent in large blocks to Germany, there to be cut; and the work was done at a price that placed the local lapidary and the jewellers who worked in greenstone at a great disadvantage.
162. Mr. Bain] What you want is an export duty similar to what is put on gold ?–Yes. It is usual to protect the local manufacturer, and to tax the rough stone going out of a country. Letting it out duty-free is encouraging the making of the article abroad.
Source: Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand - 1880