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Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Man Who Changed the Face of the Australian Typewriter Business

This is George Henry Richards (born Spencerport, Monroe, New York, July 4, 1863), the Remington Typewriter Company's long-standing head of exports, whose visit to Australia in early July 1908 triggered the most significant changes in the history of the Australian typewriter business.
As head of Remington's export department from 1906, George H. Richards (seen above in Rio de Janiero in 1910) must have been one of the most travelled typewriter men in the world. He had particular responsibility for South America, but also travelled extensively to the Far East and to Australia and New Zealand. He continued to travel the world when he left Remington in 1919 to take up the same role with the Dalton Adding Machine Company.
It was Richards who negotiated the switch in franchises which led to the Chartres brothers overtaking the Stott brothers as the major importers and sellers of typewriters in this country. While the Stotts reacted quickly, initially denying they had lost all of the Australian Remington agencies, within two months they had accepted the reality of the situation and had started to recover their losses by joining forces with Underwood.
On the evening of Tuesday, July 7, 1908, the Chartres brothers wined and dined Richards as they launched their company (Chartres Proprietary Limited) in Melbourne, hometown of Richards' wife Mia Amelia Richards (born April 2, 1864). Managing director of CPL, Albert Walter Chartres (1875-1939) proposed the toast to Richards. And why not? He was the catalyst for almost half a century of future success .
Mia Amelia Richards in her 1919 passport application photograph. Oddly enough, she was born in Australia, in Melbourne (not Sydney, as believed by Typewriter Topics) in 1864, but she moved with her family to the US in 1880, when she was 16, and became a naturalised American citizen in 1890. Even more oddly, however, she died in Australia, in Sydney in May 1922, while accompanying her husband on one of his many overseas trips. George H. Richards died the next year, in 1923.
Upon Richards' arrival in Australia in July 1908, ahead of a series of meetings in Melbourne with the Chartres brothers, the Stott brothers were sufficiently alarmed to issue, on July 3, a public warning, through the Letters to the Editor columns in the Melbourne Age, about the workings of the Remington-formed Union Typewriter Company, which the Stotts unreservedly described as a trust.
Through the pages of the Melbourne Age, company founder Edwin Charles Stott issued a very strongly-worded warning to George H. Richards and Remington upon Richards' arrival in Australia in early July 1908.
"The ramifications," the Stotts wrote, "extend to the Commonwealth [of Australia]." They added the trust may have been one of the reasons typewriters were so expensive in Australia - an insinuation that the trust was pushing up prices. If the Stotts were unhappy with the cost of typewriters, that may also have been one of the reasons Richards had come to this country, looking for a change in agents. The Stotts went on to say the work of the trust was becoming "increasingly difficult" because of rivals such as Underwood, with its visible writing machine. The writing was on the wall for the trust, too, of course, since it had been unable to declare a dividend since 1907.
Head of Stott & Hoare, Leonard Sydney Henry Stott.
The Stotts said: "Unfortunately for the success of the combine [the trust], visible writing machines, notably the Underwood, the Fox, the Empire, the L.C. Smith Brothers, the Hammond, the Barlock and others outside its far-reaching influence have been ably handled, even as the others have been ably handled in Australia and New Zealand."
The Stotts had held the Remington agency in Australia since at least 1890.
In other words, the Stotts were saying: Remington and other trust typewriters have in the past been looked after in terms of sales in Australia, but now is the time for change. So, even as Richards landed in this country, the battle lines had been drawn. The Stotts were clearly well aware of what lay ahead in the battle for typewriter sales here. And they were about to side with Underwood. The Stott letter went on to nominate other brands - Hartford, Blickensderfer, Fay-Sholes, Sun, Chicago, Stearns, Williams and Royal - as "makes carrying a number of well-wishers, and controlled by expert agents" in the coming fight against the trust.
1899
Finally, the Stotts laid on the line the reason for the change ahead: "It is a well known fact that trusts, speaking generally, try to swallow up the individual trader, and have no respect for his feelings. It does not follow because these methods have been successful in America that they will be successful in Australia and when dealing with Australians, who can generally be depended on to make a good fight. Doubtless the trust will find out that the Australian people believe in fair play."
In short, let the battle commence: Chartres and Remington versus Stott and Underwood.
In the early skirmishes, following Richards' departure, the Stotts held on to some state agencies, at least in the very short-term:
The West Australian, Perth, August 12, 1908
However, by January 1909 the Stotts had lost their business schools in Sydney and Brisbane to the Chartres brothers, (operating under the business name of Zerchos), though for the sake of goodwill the Chartres brothers retained the former names of the schools. In Adelaide, Betty Caroline Leworthy (1877-1962) had in 1905 become founding principal of the Remington Training College. But with Frederick William Zercho (1867-1953) selling out to the Chartres brothers, she too departed the Stott organisation. Even before then, by August 24, 1908, Stott & Hoare had declared the war, not just along the Eastern Seaboard but also in the West, was over. "[We] were formerly sole agents for the Remington typewriter [but] are now the sole agents for the Underwood Visible Typewriter," they wrote the to Perth Daily News. "The demand for visible writing machines was so great that we were compelled to watch our opportunity to get the agency for a really first-class visible typewriter, such as the Underwood."  The Stotts added that they strongly recommended the Underwood "as our 25 years of experience enables us to judge of the merits of all typewriters." 
Yet changing Australian typewriter buying habits after more than 20 years of a predominance of Remingtons was to be a challenge. In late August 1909 the Stotts were still trying to convince Australians:
The Stotts retained some old stock of Remingtons and continued to sell them alongside Underwoods:
But by October 3, 1908, the Chartres brothers were able
to announce their first shipment of Remingtons - and they were visible writing machines!:
The Chartres stand at the Stud Sheep Fair in Melbourne in August 1908, above, and below the Stott stand at the Royal Agricultural Show in Melbourne a month later:
The story of the Stott organisation began in 1881 when Edwin Charles Stott (born Brighton, Victoria, 1861; died Claremont, Western Australia, September 24, 1932) returned to Melbourne from New South Wales to set up an importing business and acquire one of the first franchises in Australia for an American typewriter - the Caligraph (the year the Caligraph first appeared). He then transferred this franchise to his older brother, Leonard Sydney Henry Stott (born Ballarat, August 14, 1857; died Wheeler's Hill, Victoria, October 7, 1927). Sydney Stott established Stott & Hoare with William Hoare. This pair relinquished the Caligraph agency in favour of Clarence Walker Seamans' offer to take up the Remington franchise. They also founded business colleges around the country. From 1897-1902 Edwin Stott was the Remington representative in Sydney. In 1903 he moved his business to Perth, Western Australia, where he also ran the Stott & Hoare Business College.
Meanwhile, in Melbourne in 1895 Frederick William Zercho (1867-1953), a licensed shorthand writer, became manager of Stott & Hoare's Business College. The next year he joined the United Typewriter Company as head teacher at its Central Business College. In 1906 Zercho and his former CBC assistant Andrew MacDougall became co-proprietors of Zercho's Business College. MacDougall married into the Chartres family and sold his share in Zercho's Business College to the Chartres brothers. Zercho became a director of Chartres.
There were six Chartres brothers. The Chartres company was founded in Melbourne in 1894 by Frederick Aylwin Chartres (born in Walworth, England, May 1870). He arrived in this country in 1885, aged 15 and almost penniless. He became the first holder of a shorthand writer's licence from the Supreme Court of Victoria and practised law reporting in Melbourne for some years. He was joined by Albert Walter Chartres (1875-1939), Alfred Ernest Chartres (1877-1953), Arthur Harold Chartres (1883-), Sydney Lawrence Chartres (1885-1955) and Francis Allan Chartres (born in Greater London, England, in June 1890; died in Toorak, Melbourne, on May 17, 1936).

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