White Granite and Semi Porcelain Association, 1894 Manufacturers' Agreement
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In August 1894, the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act was passed which significantly reduced the tax on imports. This affected a wide range of American manufactures including the potteries. As a result of the tariff act, foreign wares could be purchased for reduced prices. By May of 1895, 70% of the pottery trade was made up of wares from European countries.[1] By June, Potteries were forced to cut their prices to those of the imports, even though this meant they would lose money in doing so. [2].

On Monday, April 20, 1896, the following meeting announcement ran in The Pittsburgh Press:

The regular meeting of the White Granite and Semi-Porcelain Manufacturers' association will be held in the Monongahela house tomorrow, and on the day following the C. C. and Rockingham Yellow Ware Manufacturers' association will go into session. Both meetings will be devoted to the discussion of trade matters. The manufacturers have suffered so much from the general flatness in the market for the past year that they feel the necessity of enforcing some remedial regulation. The Wilson tariff bill, with the latitude it gives to importers, is said to be at the root of the trouble. Some of the firms about East Liverpool have suffered so severely that they have called in their salesmen from the road. The manufacturers say they are confronted with difficulties on every side. It has been suggested the factories be closed for a time in order to restrict the output, but such a measure would only throw the entire amount of current trade into the hands of the importers. At the same time the plants cannot be operated at a profit under present tariff regulations. The outcome of the two meetings will be watched with interest in the trade.
The pottery industry continued to struggle until the Dingley Act of 1897 which effectively nullified the Wilson-Gorman Tarriff Act of 1894.

The following manufacturers' agreement[3] was drafted and signed in October 1894. As a result of the tariff and inexpensive imports, the American potteries agreed not to undersell their wares. The agreement also establishes rules and penalties and spells out terms for deposits. Many familiar firms signed this document. Unfortunately, most signed the pottery company's name only rather than both the company and a person's name. Shown is Homer Laughlin's actual signature. Also of note is Robert Hall of The East Liverpool Pottery Co. which would eventually become Hall China.

[1] The Indianapolis Journal. Indianapolis, IN. May 3, 1895
[2] The Cambridge Transcript. Cambridge, VT. June 21, 1895
[3] Courtesy: The Homer Laughlin China Company

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