TARIFF REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION
TOGETHER WITH APPENDICES AND MINUTES OF EVIDENCE Presented to both Houses of Parliament by His Excellency's Command
Melbourne : John Ferres, Government Printer, 1883 ________________________________________________________________________________________
EXTRACT FROM OHTA JOURNAL JULY 2000, pp. 16-24
We are pleased to publish excerpts from the significant 1882 Victorian Tariff Commission in which the organbuilders William Stone, George Fincham and Alfred Fuller are extensively interviewed. This is an immensely important primary source and reveals much information about their work not obtainable elsewhere. It also demonstrates the importance of the Tariff to the success of the local builders. Elsewhere in Australia, and particularly in New South Wales, the local organbuilders were unable to flourish to the same extent, in the absence of protection, resulting in a large influx of imported organs. We are certain that readers will find this information fascinating and informative.
William Stone sworn and examined.
13th Dec. 1882.
41823. By the Chairman. -- What are you? -- Organ builder.
41824. How long have you been following that business in the colony? -- About seven years.
41825. Have you been in the colony longer than that? -- About ten.
41826. Were you brought up to the business of an organ builder? -- No, I was introduced to it simply as an amusement.
41827. At home? -- No; I served my time in London, but I commenced in the neighboring colony, Tasmania.
41828. Where is your place of business? -- Patterson street, St Kilda, on the West beach.
41829. How many hands do you employ? -- Only myself and my two sons.
41830. Do you make complete organs or only parts of organs? -- We import the metal pipes only.
41831. You make all the rest? -- We make all the rest.
41832. Have you constructed any organs of any size in the colony? -- Yes.
41833. Can you name any one? -- In two churches I have them, and I have one in the shop standing now, which is sold.
41834. Two churches? -- Yes, one in St Kilda and one in Emerald Hill.
41835. Does the present tariff assist you at all in your business? -- I think it is objectionable; as far as I am concerned it is against me.
41836. In what way does it operate against you? -- The metal pipes I have to pay a duty of 25 per cent. upon and there is 10 per cent. put upon the invoice beforehand, that is equivalent to 27? per cent. In doing so I have to compete with a manufacturer who makes them here, Mr Fincham, and besides that I have to pay 25 per cent. in expenses, for they are packed in specially prepared cases, so that they cost me from 60 to 70 per cent. upon the price in England.
41837. Is it not possible to buy metal pipes from the colonial manufacturer? -- Mr Fincham might supply me, but you would not expect me in the ordinary way of business to go to a competing maker.
41838. Does the tariff operate against you in any other way? -- I think that the same should be given to organ builders as is now allowed to pianoforte makers. I introduced organ key-boards and imported them at one time, but I had to pay a duty upon them, while the piano key-board was imported free, and they are exactly the same article, except that one has seven octaves and the other five, but because I was honest enough to say it was for an organ I had to pay it. I think it specially excludes organ key-boards.
41839. Keys are exempt? -- I was charged then, and a special question was asked me at the time.
41840. You want the key-boards for organs admitted free, the same as key-boards for pianos? -- Yes.
41841. Are not those key-boards made in the colony? --I have to make them myself, because I cannot get them made well enough unless I make them personally myself.
41842. Then is it not better to have a duty upon them? --No, I could buy them cheaper and sell my organs at a cheaper rate. I have had opportunities to sell and lost them because I could not sell cheaper.
41843. You wish the parts of an organ to come in free? -- All that is termed key-boards and action work.
41844. By Mr McKean. -- And pipes? -- And pipes, and that may be limited to metal pipes as far as I am concerned.
41845. By the Chairman. -- What other parts are there that you want to keep duty on? -- The labor on metal pipes is a very small part of the labor in building an organ.
41846. Have you anything further to add; does the tariff affect you in any other way? -- I think we could do a trade with the other colonies to advantage if we could import these. Personally I know I could. I have lost opportunities of trade in that way.
41847. I ask if there is anything else you have to say? -- No, I do not think there is.
41848. That includes all you have to put before the Commission? -- Yes.
41849. If you get the concession you expect to get a larger business in the colony and to extend your business outside the colony? -- I do, as it is almost a monopoly. Mr Fincham has the advantage of 50 per cent. upon the metal pipes alone.
41850. He makes them? -- Yes.
41851. And the duty was put on to encourage that manufacture? -- I do not know, I was not in the colony when it was done. I think Mr Fincham can only employ one man, and perhaps a boy, the year round at that one branch. He can correct me if I am wrong.
41852. By Mr Bosisto. -- Do not you do a deal of repairing? - Not much; we do tuning.
41853. Not repairing organs? -- We do it, but not much.
41854. Are you not sometimes called upon to repair church organs? -- Yes, we are.
41855. What is the chief part you are called upon to repair? -- I have not had much of that, but I wish to be honest about it, and say it is comparatively to me a new business here.
41856. But I ask when you are called to repair an organ what is the chief part that seems to go wrong? -- The sound board would be the first and most likely to go wrong with an imported organ. It is a very great difficulty to make it stand the climate. There is no doubt that that alone would be sufficient reason why the instrument should not be imported, and in many cases should, I think, fix it. I believe they cannot make them to stand our climate.
41856b.Is there any other part that seems to go wrong? -- I think that is the chief. The wood pipes may give way, but that is not much.
The witness withdrew.
Adjourned to to-morrow at Two o'clock.
THURSDAY, 14TH DECEMBER 1882.
James Mirams, Esq., M.L.A., in the Chair;
J. Bosisto, Esq., M.L.A. | D. Munro, Esq.
F.S. Grimwade, Esq. | A.L. Tucker, Esq., M.L.A.
The Hon. J. Lorimer, M.L.C. | J.A. Woodward, Esq.
J. McKean, Esq., M.L.A. | E.L. Zox, Esq., M.L.A.
George Fincham sworn and examined.
14th Dec. 1882.
41857. By the Chairman. -- What are you? -- An organ builder.
41858. Your manufactory is in Richmond road? -- Yes.
41859. How many years have you been engaged in the business in this colony? -- About twenty.
41860. How many hands had you employed when you commenced here? -- None beyond myself when I started.
41861. Were you brought up to this business at home? -- Yes, apprenticed in London.
41862. You followed the business in England till you came out here? -- Yes.
41863. How many hands are you employing now? -- Eighteen.
41864. Do you take any apprentices? -- Yes.
41865. How many of these eighteen are apprentices? -- I suppose about eight perhaps.
41866. Have you trained your hands yourself? -- Yes, they have all been apprentices, excepting two. All my establishment is made up of men who have been my apprentices, and have served their time, except two. One is a case maker, and one is a hand from Walker's in London.
41867. Have you had any difficulty in securing youths in the colony to train? -- No, no great difficulty. I find that the youths here are not quite so attentive as they are in England -- they have not got so much energy in them; they have more energy for play and less for work.
41868. Is that because they get better wages here, do you think? -- No, I think it is because they do not know the value of food. They are fed well, and clothed well, and live well, whether they work or not.
41869. That makes them more independent? -- That makes them more independent.
41870. What wages do the journeymen earn with you? -- From ?3 to ?3.12d. and ?3.15s.
41871. Do you pay the apprentices from the first year? -- Yes.
41872. Upon what terms? -- Three shillings the first year; 4s. the second; 6s. the third; 10s. the fourth; 15s. the fifth; 20s. the sixth, and 25s. the seventh.
41873. That is a seven years' apprenticeship? -- I do not take them for less.
41874. Does the tariff affect your industry in any way either advantageously or adversely? -- I think it has helped the business. It has kept out cheap organs, and again it has given me some (in some cases, I must admit, compulsory) patronage, a good deal of patronage, in some cases compulsory, simply because the expense of importing was so much added on to the cost.
41875. You had no duty on when you commenced? -- No, I think not. I am not aware whether there was or not.
41876. No, 10 per cent. was put on in 1867 -- that is not quite twenty years ago? -- Just so.
41877. When you first commenced, what was your work principally confined to? -- Building and tuning.
41878. Do you mean building large church organs? -- Yes.
41879. In what year did you build the first church organ in the colony? -- I am not sure whether it was in 1863 or 1864, but just about that time -- 1863 I think.
41880. Did you do all of that yourself, or had you to engage hands to help you? -- I did most of it myself. The help that I was obliged to resort to when I was obliged to get help was joiners and cabinet-makers, not very useful help in our business.
41881. All the special organ building portion of that work you did yourself? -- Yes, every portion of it.
41882. You say you think the tariff assists you? -- Yes.
41883. Do you attribute the increase of your business at all to the tariff? --Yes, mainly.
41884. In what period did your trade make the most increase, then? -- I cannot name the special year; it has been increasing gradually ever since I started.
41885. Has the last increase in the duty affected you beneficially or otherwise, do you know? -- I am not able to say. I have not experienced anything that would justify me in saying yes or no.
41886. Do you know when the last change in the tariff took place? --No, not correctly. I think it was about six or seven years back, six years, or something of that kind.
41887. The last increase was from 20 to 25 per cent, and that took place in 1877? -- Yes.
41888. Do you wish to propose any alteration in the tariff in any direction? -- No, I do not desire any alteration.
41889. You are satisfied with it as it is? -- Yes.
41890. Do you do any business in any other lines? -- Yes, I export pipes considerably.
41891. That is the metal pipe which you cast? -- Yes.
41892. Is there a duty upon metal pipes? -- There is a duty upon all portions of organs; everything that pertains to an organ.
41893. And you manufacture the metal pipes? -- Yes.
41894. And you have a market for them in the other colonies? -- Yes. I have exported to New Zealand, to Sydney, and rather largely to Adelaide, because I have a branch business there.
41895. And you do that in spite of the fact that you have to compete in those markets with pipes from England? -- Yes.
41896. Could you manufacture those pipes here without the duty? -- No, not very well; we are handicapped to some slight extent even by the alteration in the value of tin in this market and the home market. For instance, Australian tin can be bought now at home, and has been, at about ?95. You have to pay ?105 in this market.
41897. For Australian tin? -- Yes.
41898. You can buy it at home for less than you can here? -- A great deal. It is a strange thing, but I assure you it is a fact. I have realised it on many occasions.
41899. Can you account for it at all? -- I cannot, unless it is the fact that the supplies in the home market are of course large, comparatively, with the supplies in this market, and of course consumption there is large, and this market is really very small. A small amount of tin will go a very long way here, and it enables them to have a greater pull upon the market than they have at home; perhaps there are fewer holders here than there are at home.
41900. If you could compete with the other markets in the other colonies with the English-produced article, and outbid them, and outsell them, so as to secure a market for your own, why cannot you do that in this market? -- I cannot say that I do it in other markets. I am not aware of the reasons that induce them to send me orders. It may be that they have not time to send to England.
41901. By Mr Grimwade. -- An organ gets injured and they want fresh pipes for it? -- I can only assure you that I have very recently sold in Sydney and New Zealand.
41902. By the Chairman. -- You supply the organ builders in other colonies with these pipes? -- Yes.
41903. And do they give you more for these pipes than they would be able to purchase them for from England? -- I believe they do. I believe for the quality -- that is spotted metal -- my price would be something higher than the price at home.
41904. And still they purchase from you because of getting them nearer? -- I assume that that is the inducement.
41905. Do you do an export business at all in organs as well as in pipes? -- Yes.
41906. And does the tariff interfere with that part of your business in any way? -- No. I have been able to compete very successfully with the home firms -- the established firms I speak of now, the London firms.
41907. In the construction and erection of organs complete? -- Yes, I have been able to compete very successfully with them.
41908. In the other markets? -- Yes.
41909. Then we are to understand that you, individually, are satisfied with the tariff as it is? -- Perfectly satisfied.
41910. By the Hon. J. Lorimer. -- Which is the largest organ you have built here? -- The Exhibition.
41911. The one you showed in the Exhibition? -- The one I built for the Commission.
41912. Was that built altogether of your material or were any materials imported? -- All but 218 pipes. There were 4,726 pipes in the organ.
41913. Will you tell us why you imported the pipes? -- I imported the large pipes because I had not sufficient time; that was the great inducement to me to get them from home. You can understand that my factory is not large enough for me to build ordinary work, and then suddenly add such a large order as the Exhibition organ, I had little or no room more than I wanted for the other portion of my work, so I sent home for these pipes. Now I may tell you that I did no more in that case than the London builders would do. They would send to a zinc firm for those large pipes.
41914. In your ordinary organ building business do you use any imported materials? -- No, not an iota beyond what every person would use; my screws and nails and iron are imported.
41915. Are there not particular stops in nearly all these organs which it is almost necessary to import, merely for their superior quality? -- No.
41916. Of course you know the Scotch Church organ? -- Yes.
41917. That was built here? -- Yes.
41918. Can you tell us why a lot of the stops in that organ were imported? -- All the stops in that organ were imported.
41919. Not all? - All the metal ones, except a few pipes they had from me, to make up some of the mixture.
41920. Why did they import them? -- Because they could not make them themselves, I suppose.
41921. If they could get them from you of the same quality, they were not restricted in any way to import the stuff? -- No, they were not; but of course I did not run after a rival to ask him to get his stops from me.
41922. Those we had out the other day, which you have been putting up, could they have been got of the same quality here? -- Yes; I say, yes, most unhesitatingly.
41923. How do you account for the organist or anyone else making us import them and making us pay this 25 per cent? --It is nothing but prejudice.
41924. It is nothing but prejudice? -- I am sure it is nothing but prejudice.
41925. In your opinion then these imported stops are not superior in quality to those you could make here? -- No.
41926. What would be the difference in price with this 25 per cent. duty; could you supply them as cheap? -- I could supply those pipes quite as cheap as you paid for them, because they came from one of the dearest firms in London.
41927. From Hill, the largest house? -- Yes.
41928. You think you could have supplied them at the same price and of equal quality? -- I could have supplied them I may fairly say at something less.
41929. By the Chairman. -- Something less, after the duty was paid? -- Yes.
41930. By the Hen. J. Lorimer. -- You think it is sheer prejudice that induces people to import these stops and pay the high duty? -- Yes; if you will allow me I will tell you a circumstance that occurred the other day. An order was offered to me the other day, and it was stipulated that a reed stop should be imported. I made no objection; but, in explanation, the committee volunteered an excuse for inserting that. They said, "The organist told us that a friend of his had recommended him to have this stop imported." I said, "Yes." "You have no objection?" "No, I have no objection." "I suppose it will be a grand stop." I said, "An ordinary stop, in fact." I said, :"A reed in an organ is just what the regulator makes it. You must not assume that a reed made and voiced in London can be put into any organ anywhere else, not even in Hampstead or any of the suburbs, by any person else, or even by the voicer himself, and turn out a success, without he devotes sufficient time to regulate it up to a success; so that I say again that a reed is what the regulator, in other words the voicer and tuner, makes it." I did not press them, but they said, "Well, it seems almost unnecessary for us to stipulate that it should come from home." I said, "You can do as you like, but I can tell you this, I am exporting reeds to other colonies, to New Zealand and Sydney, and if you like to have faith enough in me to construct it I will tell you what you can do, you can insert a clause in the agreement that if you do not like the reed when the organ is built you can then have it imported;" and that is the arrangement made.
41931. Were the reed stops in the Exhibition organ imported? -- No, very few.
41932. Do not you think there are any materials you would prefer the duty off? -- No.
41933. You prefer the duty on all the materials? -- Yes, I can make the whole of them, even those large pipes. There is no difficulty in making them, the difficulty would be in getting the material here, because that is a special material, an extraordinarily heavy zinc. If you import the material there is no more difficulty in making them here than there is in London. In fact, at the Exhibition and at the Town Hall we had to make the most important joints in the pipes, because they were too long to bring out -- 36 feet or 38 feet; they were brought out in sections and then joined here.
41934. I think you said to the Chairman that you were not aware that the last increase of duty had any perceptible effect in increasing your business? -- No, I am not aware of it.
41935. Do you think a reduction in the duty now would affect you? -- I do not think it would.
41936. I suppose people prefer having an organ built here to having an imported one if they can get it at a reasonable price? -- No, I think not. I think there is a great prejudice against the colonial organ.
41937. Is it not much easier to get it kept in constant repair by the maker? -- Yes, and the organ is much more reliable, and will last better.
41938. Is not the advantage of getting it on the spot almost sufficient to enable you to go on without this very high duty of 25 per cent? -- I believe in my case it would.
41939. Now that your business is fairly established? -- Yes.
41940. Which is the largest portion of your business, keeping organs in repair and tuning, or building them? -- Building is the largest portion.
41941. By Mr Bosisto. -- Were you not bound to have the Exhibition organ ready in a certain time? -- Yes.
41942. And did you state to the Commissioners that you would have, in consequence of that, to send home for these large pipes? -- Yes, I stated so.
41943. Then was not the reason why it was not ready at the end of December the difficulty you had in getting some of these things out? -- No.
41944. I thought it was? -- No, the hindrance arose simply from the difficulty I had in convincing the Executive Council that they were liable to supply me with pressure -- that was the difficulty.
41945. By the Chairman. -- Pressure to work the bellows? -- Pressure to work the bellows, pressure to generate the wind.
41946. With reference to the number of stops in the organ, how many stops were there; do you remember? -- I think there are seventy sounding stops.
41947. Is it not somewhat above the ordinary organs made in England? -- Yes, it is a very great deal above the ordinary organs.
41948. Did not you put in one or two new pipes with reference to the sound of the vox humana? -- Yes, that is an old established stop.
41949. Did not you put in one or two new stops in that organ? -- Yes, I applied an experiment, a new use for the stops in the organ. This was the direction of it: the Town Hall organ in Melbourne has two stops on very heavy pressure, 10? in. pressure, and they are both reeds. I have seven stops at the Exhibition on 10? in. pressure, two of them are reeds and five of them what we call flue pipes; 10? in. pressure I suppose, I may say, is about 100 per cent. increase upon the heaviest pressure that such pipes have ever been subjected to previously -- in fact it is quite a feature in the organ.
41950. Since you have made that organ you have not been called upon, have you, to put in any new material -- anything that has warped or anything gone wrong? -- No, not a particle.
41951. I think you superintend the Town Hall organ? -- Yes.
41952. Have not you been called upon two or three times to make repairs in consequence of the wood warping? -- I have had absolutely to re-make two of the sound-boards, not to repair them, but absolutely to re-make them.
41953. That arose from what? -- From the climatic influences.
41954. By the Hon. J. Lorimer. -- Were those sound-boards imported? -- Yes.
41955. Our sound-board, you know, has gone wrong, and that was not imported? -- I know that.
41956. By Mr Bosisto. -- Were not you called upon to attend to that portion of the organ at a very early time after the organ was built? -- Yes, it was discovered to be unsound very early, in fact, both solo sound-boards, the first summer after the erection of the organ.
41957. By Mr Grimwade. -- That is the Town Hall organ? -- That is the Town Hall organ.
41958. That may happen to any organ? -- Yes, in fact, it is a common thing.
41959. By Mr Bosisto. -- Now, I want to ask you, what was the timber employed in the Town Hall organ? -- Honduras mahogany.
41960. And the timber you employed at the Exhibition organ, what was that, chiefly? -- Chiefly Sydney cedar and Queensland or Brisbane pine.
41961. Do not you find the colonial woods, then, to be as serviceable in organ building as is the case in English-made organs with other kinds of woods? -- Cedar, in my opinion, is superior to Honduras mahogany, and Queensland pine is equal to Honduras.
41962. Were you here yesterday? -- Yes.
41963. Did you not hear a gentleman say here that the colonial woods would not do for making pianos? -- Yes.
41964. From your knowledge of organ building, do not you think we have woods equally suited for pianos and organ building, to those woods used by English builders? -- Yes, in my opinion we have woods here quite equal to the occasion.
41965. By Mr Grimwade. -- To what occasion - to pianos? - Yes. In fact, my opinion is that, as to the Brisbane pine, judiciously seasoned and picked out, it would be impossible to get a better material for what they call small work in piano actions.
41966. By Mr Bosisto. -- So that all the difference between the timber here and in England arises from the drying -- is that so? -- Yes.
41967. And the seasoning and cutting? -- Yes; and, of course, the choice of the timber. Of course that you know applies quite as much at home as it does here. They choose their timber very carefully.
41968. My chief object in asking you is, because I presume you are a judge in these matters, and it has been stated here that we have no woods adapted for pianoforte making; and the evidence, I think, is to the contrary? -- Yes, most decidedly, with regard to the general portions of the instrument, but there is one portion of a piano that it would be necessary to keep distinct, that is the plank. The plank of a piano is the main timber at the top which contains all the pins holding the strings, and it is very difficult indeed to name any wood that is so reliable for that portion of a piano as the English beech.
41968a.With reference to the metal, I think you have a piece there. I want to ask you, does not the crystallization form of the metal show the same quality or equal to the quality used in England for organ pipes? -- Yes, quite equal.
41969. Does not the outward appearance of the metal set forth that fact without your evidence? -- Yes, it does, because the only method known of producing that appearance is the purity of the metal.
41970. That is known by the formation of that crystalline form? -- Yes. In the mixing of that metal, if I were to put in a piece of zinc an inch square it would destroy the spot at once, and the only way I could eradicate that influence would be by burning it out.
41971. By Mr Grimwade. -- You spoke about apprentices? -- Yes.
41972. Do you get a premium with them? -- No. I could not suggest it at first, and as a matter of fairness to those in the establishment I declined premiums subsequently. I have been offered a premium, but I declined.
41973. You get plenty of apprentices without a premium? -- Yes, I never find any very great difficulty. I generally have to refuse, rather than to seek for them.
41974. Do not you think that if you insisted upon a premium you would get a better class of lads as apprentices? -- No, I do not think so.
41975. More intelligent and better educated? -- I do not think there is any deficiency of intelligence.
41976. When you were apprenticed a premium was paid for you, was it not? -- No. My intelligence was equal to it. When I was apprenticed at the age of fourteen I had been two years serving.
41977. Is it not a fact that in England in most of the good organ building establishments or musical instrument factories it is the custom to get a premium? -- It is.
41978. And you do not think you would get a better class of lads here if you insisted upon a premium? -- I might. I might get a better choice, but I do not think the mere fact of my asking a premium would ensure me intellect.
41979. You have to pay duty upon a lot of the things you import for your organs, have not you? -- Yes, ironmongery -- screws for instance, and nails.
41980. Keyboards, do you make them here? -- Yes, I made some in the factory; and if it is inconvenient for me to make them I send them over to Mr Stephens, in Chapel street, Prahran.
41981. You do not import keyboards? -- I do not import keyboards.
41982. There is a duty upon them of 25 per cent, is there not? -- Yes, there is a duty upon everything pertaining to an organ -- so I understand the tariff. If I build a ?1,000 organ to-morrow I have no hesitation in saying that ?5 would cover all the work pertaining to that organ that I have done outside my factory. I will tell you what the items are: perhaps the turning of the knobs and the engraving. Even my own ironwork we do in the shop.
41983. It is generally considered, I think, that one of the advantages of buying an organ from you is that naturally enough you have to keep it in repair, and you take more interest in the organ you built than in an organ you know nothing about? -- Just so.
41984. And I have been told that one of the advantages in getting an organ from you is that you have an interest in keeping it working well. Do not you think that that would be sufficient for you without the duty? --You see experience operates when a transaction has culminated, but you could not expect it to operate to induce persons to give me an order. You would not remove any prejudice that a person has.
41985. I am one of a committee of a church that are going to buy an organ shortly, and one organist told me the other day, "It is the greatest mistake in the world to import an organ, for if you buy an organ here Fincham will keep it all right for you, but if you get an English organ it is always going wrong and there is no interest in keeping it right." It may be exaggerated, but is there anything in it? -- It is not exaggerated, for I guarantee all my organs for five years.
41986. You would not guarantee an imported organ? -- No; I would not guarantee an imported organ for five months.
41987-8. Is not that such an advantage that you could do without the duty? -- I say I believe I could run the business without a duty, but perhaps it would be a dangerous experiment, as it is doing no harm, and all the organs that have been imported these last few years I think you might say are three; that is about the number, and they were peculiar circumstances. For instance, Mr Henry Miller ordered an organ from me. I did not get it done as soon as he thought I ought to have done, in fact he wanted me to put work aside to finish his, but I worked them in rotation, and I manufactured an organ for him, and the same organ is in the Presbyterian Church at Elsternwick, and is very much admired, but he put up his back at it and got dissatisfied and sent home for an organ. In another case, Sir James McCulloch wanted me to put the Exhibition organ aside, so that I could build one for St George's, East St Kilda. Of course I could not do that, and I had to throw it up, or rather I gave him permission to do as he liked.
41989. In that case he wanted an organ for a church? -- Yes, but he rented an organ from me, and I assure you the rent of that was about ?41 before they got this organ out that they ordered.
41990. You think you could do without the duty? -- I think I could.
41991. By Mr McIntyre. -- Are you the only organ manufacturer in the colony? -- No, there are two or three others.
41992. You are the principal manufacturer? -- Yes.
41993. You have got nearly a monopoly of the organ manufacture? -- No, not by any means. The other firms have built a great deal more since I have built the Exhibition organ than I have.
41994. How do you account for that; was not the Exhibition a very good advertisement to you? -- No, quite the other way. I was dropped down so low, and so disgraced by the doubts cast upon the transaction, that I assure you it pretty nigh shut me up. I am pretty well recovering from it now, but I can assure you it was so.
41995. By Mr Grimwade. -- It was a bad advertisement? -- It was a bad advertisement.
41996. By Mr McIntyre. -- It was in consequence of your character that you got in connexion with the Exhibition organ that your business has gone back? -- Yes.
41997. You suffered from it? -- I suffered from the want of faith.
41998. Was it a want of faith, or a want of the organ's operation? -- You can judge of that yourself now. They are using the Exhibition organ now every night.
41999. Is it a greater success now than it was at first? -- It was never other than a success.
42000. There were great complaints about it at first? -- Yes, unjustly.
42001. What size is that organ at the Exhibition as compared with the Town Hall organ? -- Very much larger.
42002. The Exhibition organ is much larger? -- Very much larger.
42003. How many stops has it? -- It has seventy sounding stops; that is something more than the Town Hall.
42004. The Town Hall has eighty stops, has it not? -- Yes, including couplers and all.
42005. Are there not eighty stops?
Mr Grimwade. -- But not genuine.
42006. By Mr McIntyre (to the witness). -- How many has yours "not genuine"? -- Never mind "not genuine." At all events the organ has at least twice the power that the Town Hall organ has. It has at least 500 more pipes than the Town Hall organ.
42007. What was the relative cost of the two? -- The cost of the Town Hall organ was about ?7,800.
42008. And the other? -- The other organ cost ?5,000.
42009. You say then that yours is a much larger instrument, and you made it for ?2,800 less than the other? -- Yes.
42010. Was there any difference in the time of the one being purchased, and the other; were things cheaper at home? -- No.
42011. As a matter of fact, you supplied an organ of greater power and more valuable at ?2,800 less than the imported one? -- Yes.
42012. You can do without the duty? -- Yes.
42013. You are sure, from that very fact, that you can do without the duty? -- No, I do not think you are justified in assuming that, for I lost considerably on the Exhibition organ. I did it with an object. You must understand it was the only chance I had in my life of putting my finger upon such a transaction; it suited me to drop some money to show that we have as much organ-building intellect as they have in London.
42014. Your expectations have not been realized? -- Yes, they have, in every way.
42015. You did not expect to suffer from it in your business? -- No, but I knew I should drop money over it. The Exhibition Commissioners are in fault for that, wholly and solely.
42016. You know the Chairman is one of them? -- If all of you were Exhibition Commissioners I would tell you straight -- the Commissioners were responsible and I was not.
42017. Most of us were Commissioners, and, no doubt, every one of us repudiates all responsibility in that? -- Look here -- would you believe it that there is still ?100 of my money held by the Government, notwithstanding that organ is run every night and acknowledged to be a success. The organists, to a man, go to it and say, "I am utterly surprised to find you can use it"; it has not been used for seven months and, notwithstanding this beastly building, with dust by barrow loads, it can be used; and yet the Government holds my money to the amount of ?100.
42018. By the Hon. J. Lorimer. -- Is it a common occurrence for sounding-boards to crack? -- It is where they are constructed at home. For instance, in this climate the home work will not stand.
42019. Have any of yours cracked? -- Yes, very likely they have, but I do not remember a case. I have never had to reconstruct a sound-board that I remember.
42020. You know the one in Scot's Church -- that is one that I know more about than any other. That is made of cedar, is it not? -- Yes.
42021. And well seasoned too? -- And very well seasoned too; but that is bad workmanship.
42022. Bad workmanship? -- Very bad workmanship.
42023. The fault of the builder? -- Yes.
42024. Not the fault of the material? -- Not the fault of the material. The material is very good.
42025. By the Chairman. -- I think you showed us to-day, when we were down in your factory, some new arrangement that you have introduced in relation to these sounding-boards to provide against climatic influence. Is that a trade secret? -- No. Though there is a rival of mine behind me I will tell you exactly what it is -- Mr Fuller is quite welcome to this knowledge. I have discovered that it is a mistake to resort to glued joints in a table, because you may well realize this fact, that timber, unless you treat it so that it can become flexible to some degree, is bound to go; in hot weather timber will contract, and I have compensated for that by putting in a considerable number of joints in the table and sealing those joints with leather.
42026. Putting a strip of leather between each joint? -- Yes.
42027. So that it gives against the leather? -- It will give in the surface without breaking underneath, which of course is almost hermetically sealed; the air is kept from it.
42028. You also were pointing out another improvement which you had adopted in relation to the louvres for sounding boards? -- Yes, that is only the principle of construction. Instead of putting a solid say 6ft. 6in. by 10in., and instead of taking out of a plank, we construct it with a frame first of all, cover it on both sides and load it with sawdust.
42029. In short pieces, the cross way of the grain? -- Yes.
42030. So that it does not warp? -- So that it does not warp and retains its form the full width -- which is absolutely necessary for a louvre.
42031. Have you anything further to add? -- No, I have nothing to add.
42032. In the absence of sufficient pressure of water, do you approve of a gas engine as a means of working an organ? -- Yes, I approve of it in preference to the water.
42033. By Mr Grimwade. -- Do you recommend everybody to have one? -- Yes, I recommend everyone where they can have a chamber and not allow it to be put into the church. They are too noisy for a church.
42034. They have silent engines? -- They are not silent. They call them "Otto's Silent Engines," but they are anything but silent.
42035. By Mr Munro. -- Do you recommend a gas engine for working a church organ? -- Yes, for I am quite sure that no Yan Yean will ever be so reliable as it has been. The Yan Yean has lost its prestige; it is not right for any church to rely upon the pressure of the Yan Yean; it is gone, and gone for ever. You may get another main down, and as soon as it is down the population increases and they use it up. The year I built the organ for the Exhibition they laid sixty-six miles of new mains and never brought another bucket of water down from the Yan Yean to meet the demand.
42036. If you could get the water would it not be better than the gas engine? -- Yes, it is more at your command.
42037. Is there not more elasticity in water? -- There is no elasticity in water.
42038-9.You can work it and regulate it better? -- You can turn it on at the keyboard. For a gas engine you must have someone to go down and light it up.
42040. You must always have another person down at the engine? -- No, the organist can start if just as well as anyone else.
The witness withdrew.
Alfred Fuller sworn and examined.
14th Dec. 1882.
42041. By the Chairman. -- What are you? -- Organ builder.
42042. Where is your place of business? -- In the Main road, Kew.
42043. How many years have you been in business there? -- About three years since I started.
42044. How many years have you been in the colony? -- About seven or eight years.
42045. Did you follow this business all the while you have been here? -- No, not all the while. I thought the colony was not ready for the business at first when I came here.
42046. How many hands are you employing? - I have four now.
42047. And yourself? -- And myself. I could employ more if I could get them. I could employ five or six more hands if I could get reliable men.
42048. Are you training up any apprentices? -- I have one lad, that is all; he is about seventeen.
42049. Would it not be advisable to take some more on in view of the increase in business, and the scarcity of reliable men? -- I find that boys' labor does not answer here; they are worse than men as far as reliability goes.
42050. They improve, do not they? -- It is very difficult to get boys to suit us.
42051. You have heard the evidence of Mr Fincham in relation to the tariff, and his opinion upon it; do you agree with his opinion in relation to the tariff? --I think if it was reduced or taken off entirely from metal pipes and action work, and parts of an organ, it would be good, but instruments complete should pay the duty that there is now.
42052. Would not that reduce organ building simply to importing the parts and putting them together? -- No, I think not, because they must send someone out to put them together, that is to say if we would not erect them here.
42053. But where would be the advantage to you in having the parts of an organ introduced free -- is it not part of your business to make them? --I want no duty upon pipes or parts.
42054. I understand you to say that action-work should be free -- that is, the internal mechanical relation between the keys and the pipes? -- I meant not upon completed instruments, I mean parts of an instrument that would work into any instrument.
42055. And is it not your business to make those parts of instruments? -- Yes, but we can get them better made from London.
42056. That is better than you can make them? -- Yes, some very small parts. There is a firm in London that makes nothing else; they supply the firms in London just the same as they would send here.
42057. Then the organ builders in London do not make every individual part of an organ as Mr Fincham does in his factory? -- Certainly not.
42058. They buy small parts from people who make a business of making them? -- Yes; they call themselves "organ turners."
42059. You, as an organ builder, desire these items to come in free? -- That is what I wish.
42060. You disagree with Mr Fincham upon that point? -- Yes, and also upon the metal pipes.
42061. You do not manufacture metal pipes? -- No, I do not at present.
42062. Is there anything to prevent your doing so? -- The point is this: I cannot get metal pipe
hands, and I think that the imported article is superior, their scales are better.
42063. Is the imported article superior? -- Their tone is better, I consider; that is the reason I imported the pipes.
42064. You mean the tone of the pipes is better? -- Yes.
42065. Were you brought up to the business in England? -- Yes, in London.
42066. With whom were you apprenticed at home? -- I was articled, or rather I learned the business with Mr Holditch.
42067. What part of London is that in? -- In Euston road.
42068. Do you do any business outside the colony? --I have sent an organ to Queensland, that is all.
42069. You had one exhibited in the Exhibition, had you not? -- Yes.
42070. Opposite the German tent? -- Yes.
42071. Behind the statue of Liberty? -- Yes.
42072. That was partially made of imported material, was it not? -- There was only London pipes in it.
42073. All colonial wood? -- Yes, except the pine.
42074. You heard Mr Fincham's evidence in reference to the adaptability of Queensland pine and New South Wales cedar for your work -- is that your experience? -- Yes, I like colonial wood. I think we can make a superior instrument here to what they can send from London.
42075. Superior in everything but tone, you think? -- Yes, that I leave out, of course; but the tone is influenced by the scales as well as by voicing. I differ from Mr Fincham there very much.
42076. Your judgment then is, that the colonial instrument is superior to the imported one in all except the tone? -- Yes.
42077. And that can be remedied by importing the metal pipes from England? -- Yes, or making pipes from the same scales we get from home.
42078. Do you differ from Mr Fincham in any other matter? - No, I do not remember that I do.
42079. You are satisfied with the 25 per cent. duty upon the finished article? -- Yes, I think that is beneficial.
42080. By Mr Grimwade. -- Do not you think that if you got all these pipes and different parts of an organ in free, you could do without the duty? -- That is the very thing I ask for.
42081. Could not you then do without a duty upon organs? -- There is a prejudice to work against, and that prejudice is protected in that way.
42082. Is not the prejudice being rapidly overcome? -- It might be.
42083. And the advantage of having the person here who erects the organ to keep it in repair -- is not that also a protection without duty? -- Yes, and there is the distance also; I admit there is that protection.
42084. You think you could do without the duty? -- Yes, upon the parts, as I said; but imported complete, the instrument should pay duty.
42085. And as much as 25 per cent.? -- Yes, I think that is the thing, to be protective.
42086. By the Hon. J. Lorimer. -- In importing a complete organ they would require some one to set it up? -- Yes, they would send some one out.
42087. They would not send some one out except in exceptional cases such as the Town Hall big organ, would they? -- No, I believe they would make some arrangement with the local builders to do.
42088. Would not the duty upon the complete instrument be too much. There is no prejudice against your setting up, is there? -- No, I am not aware that there is.
42089. You or Mr Fincham would have the setting up, would you not? -- Yes, I think so; but there are a great many prejudices. For instance, St George's -- they sent home at all costs.
42090. Lately? -- Yes, it was only erected lately; three months since.
42091. And did they import everything, or only the pipes? -- They imported everything complete.
42092. Who put it up? -- Mr Fincham, I believe.
42093. Then the duty of the whole instrument was inoperative in that case? -- Yes, they paid it. They paid, I believe, ?150 in that instance.
42094. It did not stop them? -- No, that is the very thing I say.
42095. Do you think that the quality of the metal at home and the quality of the pipes is superior to those manufactured here? -- The metal we get at home and the scales altogether and the voicing, produces a superior tone, I consider.
42096. Have you tried any colonial ones? -- I have heard them.
42097. Are there any other manufacturers besides Mr Fincham? -- I believe not.
42098. Is it in the spotted metal that there is a difficulty? -- That metal does not produce a good tone with all stops; for instance, a clarionet or cremona is not good with that metal, you cannot get the tone from it.
42099. The vox humana, what is that? -- That is done by special effects, and it is done better by plain metal than spotted metal. Of course you can get spotted metal in England, but many organists have an objection to the spotted metal.
42100. What proportion of spotted metal to plain metal is introduced in an organ? -- It all depends on what is specified in the specification.
42101. It depends upon the stops? -- Yes, some stops are good in the plain metal and some in the spotted metal.
42102. It depends upon the specification? -- Yes, it depends upon the specification.
42103. By Mr Munro. -- Supposing that the duty was taken off the parts, what would prevent you or anyone else getting out all the parts and fitting them together. I understand that you recommend that the duty should be taken off the parts but retained upon the instrument complete. What is to prevent the instrument being imported in parts? -- It would be open to that. I do not want to import any complete instrument.
42104. Could not you import all the parts and put them together here? -- I would not do that; it would not suit me at all. No doubt it would open the road to fraud.
The witness withdrew.
George Fincham further examined.
14th December, 1882.
The Witness. -- After Mr Fuller has surprised you with the fact that some stops are better in the plain metal and some in spotted, for your information I may tell you that the Town Hall organ was built by one of the best builders in London, one of the oldest organ builders in London, Hill and Sons, and without exception their clarionets are all spotted metal, in fact it is spotted metal right through the organ, except the larger pipes, which are zinc, and not only Mr Hill's organs, but, I can state with equal correctness, all the first class builders, have this first class metal. It is an expensive metal. There is a reason why the second class builders use other metals -- simply because it does not cost much more than half; but the quality of the metal is there. And in regard to the peculiar effect got out of base metal I have got to learn that that is a fact. I am inclined to think just the opposite -- that the better tone is got out of the higher class of metal.
42104a. By the Chairman. -- How long a time were you allowed for the construction of the Exhibition organ? -- Twelve months. It was built in twelve months.
42105. How long would you suppose, in the ordinary way, a firm of builders in England would take to construct an organ of that sort if left to take their own time about it? -- I do not believe that, unless coerced for some particular occasion like the Exhibition, they would do it in the time. With regard to the merits of the pipe-making and scale, etc., of course you have just heard that I put up the organ for St George's Church. All those pipes have passed through my hands, or rather may do so. If there was an advantage in their scale, it is quite easy for me to avail myself of the advantage of that scale. It would be almost an impossibility that I should not.
42106. By Mr McKean. -- Would not tubes of the same bore made of different metals give different sounds? -- Yes; for instance, lead you would not get a note out of, and tin you would get a very silvery note from.
42107. And taking pipes of a certain bore made with different metals, you would get different notes from them? -- Yes, different qualities.
42108. The higher note would be from the harder and better material? -- Yes; not necessarily the harder, because zinc is very much harder than tin, but it is not of better quality.
The witness withdrew.
Adjourned to Tuesday next at Two o'clock.