REPORTS FROM THE CONSULS OF THE UNITED STATES IN ANSWER TO INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
At the request of a Massachusetts firm, a Department instruction was sent, under date of January 16, 1902, to the consular officers of the United States, directing them to report in regard to the trade in foreign countries in silverware and plated ware, and especially as to the possible market for articles of American manufacture. Special information was asked as to the consumption of such goods in the respective consular districts; the extent of local manufacture; the importation from foreign countries as well as from the United States; the tariff on silver and plated goods; the obstacles to the extension of American trade in this line, if any existed; the proper methods of packing, etc.
The answers follow:
Considerable quantity of plated ware is imported into this country from the United Kingdom and from other countries of Europe, and as no statistics are available it is hard to form an idea of the extent of the trade. There are several large firms here who deal in plated ware and silverware.
India is famous for the manufactures of silverware, and they are extensively used by the native princes and noblemen, and as these are manufactured by individual artisans from time to time and at different places, no reliable statistics of the quantity manufactured can be obtained.
The import duty on silver and plated ware is 5 per cent ad valorem.
S. COMFORT, Vice-Consul-General
CALCUTTA, March 13, 1902
IMPORTS AND EXPORTS
During the year 1900-1901 there was imported at Bombay from all countries silverware and silver plate to the value of $77,231, and during the same period the exports amounted to $32,248.
The countries from which these wares were imported were:
United Kingdom - $56, 827
Austria-Hungary - 721
Italy - 18
Russia - 2
British East Africa - 14
United States - 59
Aden - 435
Hongkong - 13, 606
Treaty ports - 5, 153
Japan - 247
Persia - 40
South Australia - 109
Total - 77, 231
The exports of silver and plated ware and the countries to which exported were as follows:
United Kingdom - $6, 639
France - 1, 625
Malta - 13
Spain, Gibraltar - 162
British East Africa - 14,537
Abyssinia - 32
Portuguese East Africa - 2, 219
Mauritius - 355
Egypt - 2,911
United States - 278
Aden - 318
Arabia - 16
China, Hongkong - 1,532
Philippines - 357
Straits Settlements - 1,056
New South Wales - 249
Victoria - 49
Total - 32, 248
The Indian tariff on silverware and silver-plated goods is not heavy. Silverware or silver-plated ware other than European is valued, if plain, at 1 rupee per tola (32½ cents per 180 grains), and if embossed or chased its value is placed at 1.4 rupees per tola (40½ cents per 180 grains), and the duty is taxed at 5 per cent on this value. All other sorts of silverware and silver-plated ware are dutiable at 5 per cent ad valorem.
Bombay is one of the great centers for native Indian silverware, and for which India has been from time immemorial especially famous Every state, both British and native, and in fact every city or considerable village has its particular brand of workmanship in silver. It is all worked by hand-hammered; the designs are quite artistic and frequently illustrative of village life and hunting scenes, though Hindoo mythology is largely drawn upon to furnish the main designs worked in native silverware. Some of this work is highly artistic, showing an inherited cunning of the caste of Hindoo workmen who have handed down the secrets and art of their craft from father to son for generations. The work is not only prized by the natives, but also by Europeans and Americans visiting India.
The silverware is usually made of coin pure silver; the native desires it as free from alloy as possible. It is very common all over India and is to be found in every shop and bazaar. In fact much of the native wealth of the people is to be found in the silverware of the household and in the personal silver ornaments of the members of the family.
The unit of weight by which the ware is sold is the tola (180 grains), equaling the weight of a silver rupee. The retail prices run from 35 cents to 50 cents per tola, varying according to workmanship and quality of silver.
OUTLOOK FOR AMERICAN WARE
There is no obstacle in the way of the extension of American trade in this line other than that which naturally surrounds the extension of our trade in any other line. The distance between India and the United States is great, and transshipment generally takes place in England.
There is a growing demand for silver plate and silver tableware of modern and Western design. It is more serviceable and less expensive. It will in time, no doubt, take the place in daily life, to a practical extent, of the native plate or silverware. There is no reason Why the American manufacturer and exporter should not Obtain a fair share of this trade.
American goods in foreign ships do not always receive the most gentle treatment, and hence I would advise our exporters to be exceedingly careful and thorough in packing. The articles should first of all be well wrapped in paper, then wound about with a straw rope, or packed well in excelsior packing in tin-lined, strong wooden boxes bound With hoop iron. Too much care can not be taken in packing goods for our foreign trade.
I give herewith the names and addresses of a number of jewelers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths in Bombay, both native and European: Army and Navy Cooperative Society, Esplanade road; Bhicajee & Co., Apollo Bunder; Heerjimul & Co., Esplanade road; Lund & Blockley, Esplanade road; Marcks & Co., Esplanade road; Tarachund Pursram, Meadows street; Kanjimul Bhugwandas & Co., Esplanade road.
WM. THOS. FEE, Consul
BOMBAY, March 20, 1902
Source: Special Consular Reports - Silver and Plated Ware in Foreign Countries - Bureau of Foreign Commerce, Department of State - 1902