Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chapmans vs Waterman: Ferris' testimony

Perhaps the most revelatory testimony in the Chapmans vs Waterman case (background here) is that of William I. Ferris (pp. 176ff, 267ff). Ferris had been with Waterman from very early on -- 1885, by his testimony, when the company consisted of but L. E. Waterman himself and his secretary (p. 177-78). Nearly all of Waterman's key patents after 1884 were Ferris's. Nor was he a closeted inventor, as he was also in charge of Waterman's manufacturing -- though he wore other hats within the organization as well.

Ferris on early Waterman advertising:
"In the first few years the advertising was limited to a few magazines. As the business went on and grew the advertising increased from magazines into newspapers and car cards [interruption] and other display matter, and this increased gradually through the 90's . . ." (pp. 178-79)

Ferris on Waterman sales volume:
"The first three or four years [from c. 1885, presumably] we sold in the neighborhood of 10,000 pens a year. From 1890 to 1900, it increased every year. About that time we sold in the neighborhood of 150,000 to 200,000 pens a year, but from early, 1901 to 1905, or for the last ten years, the sales have been upward of a million pens a year." (p. 179)

Ferris on the first Waterman overlay ("mounted") pens:
"in the early 90's, 1891, 1892 or 1893." (p. 180)

Ferris on the first Waterman self-filler (syringe-filler):
"The first self filler we made in about 1891 or 1892." (p. 184)
"We made a piston operating pen, which we made about 1891 or 1892." (p. 188)
[This is the first and only contemporary reference to this extraordinarily rare pen that has been found to date. Only two surviving examples are known, both with cone-caps, suggesting manufacture no earlier than 1894.]

Ferris on the Waterman pump-filler:
"We make what we call the pump pen; that was made about 1895, and it was put out more generally about 1900. We experimented and sold a few of them." (p. 184)
"We made a . . . pump filling pen, which we made in 1898, and 1900 they came out more extensively." (p. 188)
[Followup query: "You soon abandoned those, didn't you?" Ferris: "We still make them; some people won't have anything else." Goading queries follow: "The pump filling pen keeps pumping after you stop pumping and pumps the ink all over your fingers, doesn't it?" and "You have to have a college education to use one?"]
Upon further questioning about the pump-filler being abandoned or currently sold in only small numbers, Ferris stated that pump-filler sales were still running at 15,000-20,000 per year. (p. 267)
[Full introduction of the pump-filler only several years after an initial trial release is consistent with the evidence of advertising, patents, and surviving specimens. Note too that Robert C. Liddell, manager of Waterman's retail department, testified that the pump-filler had been made for about ten or twelve years. (p. 340). One wonders if Ferris was exaggerating pump-filler sales, but even so, 15-20,000 was a pretty small share of a total annual pen production of over a million.]

Ferris on the Waterman coin-filler:
"We make what we call the sleeve pen which has a rubber sack in, and a coin slot pen which -- [interrupted] And a pen with a lever attachment." (p. 184)
Q. What is this coin slot pen? A. That is a pen with a slot in the side of the barrel that you use a coin or knife blade or edge that will go in and compress the sack and fill it.
Q. How long have you been manufacturing them? A. About two to three years.
Q. Since the beginning of this action in 1910? A. Yes. (p. 189)
Coin-filler included in a Waterman salesman's sample case assortment introduced as evidence. (pp. 265-66)
Q. How long have you sold those with the coin apparatus for filling? A. About four years.
Q. Since about the beginning of this suit? A. About that time. (p. 267)
[Waterman coin-fillers have been dated to around 1913, since their only known appearance in advertising was in that year. Their rarity has been taken to indicate a short period of production, but this testimony suggests that they were produced from c. 1910-15 at least, though probably not much later than that.]

Ferris on the Waterman lever-filler:
Mentioned last in a chronological account of Waterman's self-fillers (see under coin-filler above, p. 184)
Lever-fillers introduced "last year, about a year ago" (p. 188), "last year." (p. 267)
Liddell, when asked how long the lever-filler had been sold, responded "The last month or so." (p. 340)
[These dates are not necessarily entirely inconsistent, given that both Ferris and Liddell testified on February 16, 1915, and the likelihood that Ferris may well have overseen test releases some time prior to what Liddell would have seen overseeing the retail department. In any event, the trial record shows that Waterman produced its first PSF-series lever-fillers some months prior to their first appearance in advertisements in mid-March 1915.]

Ferris on the relative popularity of various Waterman pens:
Estimate that eyedroppers ("regulars") were about 50% by number of pens sold. (p. 187)
Reiterated on cross-examination. (p. 266)
Same figure provided by Liddell. (p. 339)
Q. In the beginning, at the beginning of this action in 1910, what proportion of your pens were the old fashioned kind that you filled with a dropper? A. Probably fifty or fifty-five per cent. (p. 267)
Estimate that safeties were around 15-20% of pens sold. (p. 267)

Ferris on Waterman and Aikin Lambert:
In response to questioning about the consolidation of Aikin Lambert and Waterman nib production, date of consolidation given as "1910, about." (p. 196)
Same date given on cross-examination, noting Waterman was buying small quantities of nibs from Aikin Lambert in the years prior. (pp. 274-75)
Q. When did the Waterman people first get control of Aiken-Lambert Company? [objection, overruled]
A. About 1907. (pp. 196-97)
[The timing of the takeover was discussed here; Ferris's testimony indicates that it took place quickly, despite the public denials of the parties involved at the time.]

Ferris on Waterman manufacturing:
As of 1915, the Days' hard rubber plant in Seymour, Connecticut was still independent, though nearly all of its output was for Waterman, and Waterman managers had the run of the plant. (p. 185)

Waterman's own nib factory started in 1900. (p. 185)
Previously, all nibs outsourced:  Q: In 1898 . . . you bought your pen points and your holders both, didn't you? A. We did. (p. 186)
Waterman continued to buy nibs from outside suppliers for years after starting own nib production. (p. 197)
Ferris evasive on buying nibs from other makers: "We have bought a few in the earlier years, but in the last eight or ten years we have made them all that we have used under the name Waterman." (pp. 185-86)
Q. When did you last buy any pen points from outsiders? A. Any pens with the Waterman name on, I should say it is seven or eight years. (p. 187)
[Ferris and others also testified about the process of hard rubber chasing, which I have put into another post. It is interesting that Ferris stated that nearly all Waterman pens were chased (p. 275), as that is borne out by the relative rarity of smooth hard rubber models from that era.]

Ferris on Waterman sub-brands:
Q. What other pens do you manufacture? A. We manufacture the pen under the name of Remex, Edson, Pen An Ink (sic). (p. 187) Q. You have a self filler Remex, don't you? A. We did. (p. 188)
[The Remex self-filler was a sleeve-filler with a rotating rather than a sliding sleeve, introduced around 1905; Ferris's answer suggests that it was no longer in production by 1915.]

There are a few inconsistencies in Ferris's testimony, reminding us that no source can be used uncritically. Ferris was repeatedly asked how many different sizes of pens Waterman made, and repeatedly stated that there were seven, from size 2 to size 8 (p. 183, pp. 268) -- forgetting entirely to mention the biggest of all, the 10-size pens (a #10 nib is shown on p. 54 of Waterman's 1908 catalog, and the sale of a 10-size self-filler is recounted here). In the same exchange, Ferris also responded that Waterman sold pens with plain holders, chased holders, and mottled holders, forgetting to mention red (Cardinal) holders, which were standard catalogued items by this time. Asked when safety pen manufacture began, Ferris responded "about ten years" (p. 188), even though other evidence places it firmly in 1908, not 1905. Perhaps by this time Ferris was a "big picture" manager; the Waterman 20 (and at the other extreme, the "World's Smallest" No. 000) he might not have considered a regular production item -- present rarity likely reflecting past rarity, given that the survival rate of standout items is typically much greater than for the run of the mill. 

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