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London: THE

Printed By PEWTRESS & Co.,

Steam Printing Worki,

15, Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, W.C.





JANUARY, 1880.

A Roundabout Paper For 1880.


{HE attention of all classes has been attracted to the depression of trade, a depression 'which affected not one alone bat all branches of commerce, those dependent upon one another having more especially suffered. The bad grain and hop harvests probably represented an absolute loss of thirty millions of pounds sterling. The cause of the late depression could be traced and satisfactorily explained by a Senate or Council composed of representatives of persons and bodies engaged in the separate branches of commerce involved. Failing the report of such a representative body, explanations far from satisfactory or comprehensive have been given; and at the present time, on the broad question of the general depression, little beyond the fact that it has been universal can be said. It would be a great help, therefore, at the present time, when everybody is hoping "things are better," if leading men would dispassionately, through the press, give their opinion as to the causes of the depression in their own business, whatever it may be. The manufacturers of iron and steel, and the brokers in the metal, the colonial, and the corn trades, for instance, could give their views of the causes of the late stagnation and dulness in their businesses,



and if Aa inmnr^noic Uiaan. Toa Ltfaiis, perhaps, wraid W mff «»it in* iniKCnm s} a* eonsuiermi ins^eats ami anurr: ibjrr wanui invars .•nnwitirisnn if ag snnrnsaiiin. rf ^rrmitm -uaxkets and ia <ni»mi» aeeesatrr sor macmiiHT Kinirati &i Jojiklsg* a»i iir Tm; ag awriT !na~j'"ii .if pnas ij marciianis or aaacarjuiirs. soil siit resttkted ad-ruees :t aazuEB?. ami saay other pains wimsi. indireeSiy rntf;umiir» inch. auansaaaaK, Tiis 'rmas of Tii.TinT-ug igvn ecaid g£ie cudr raw*. cxcLumi^r paaass. :h« vsxnd rwscujna whick ana* frm srikas. V; >piiuaia an. hAp 3sl aaaat, aerhaaa. Be on* cr tvj brandies.. Sir So* country is ianniij nut prepared to ream so prjttesimx. *gifw so* aacuie mrirfi-i *y tact* lost toe math, money to Atsrm •&* sptris <a wiLd gj«in_iia;a to reappear, and r.an-mt hare karat a kssec rrcai SKtiaad ami the Wis; :c F.nr~;i"d that viH azaka taesi exercise a *«TTr;,-n a« to tfaa ase of their eiknss' aicney. From th* high prases of cool a fcw years ago. it is pc«s£iie that too many new ^rTurw were opened, aci a demand arose far coal ia ail parte of the world area at the then high prices, which prcciKed the ayimng of eolhkrka in Jap-in, India, Aastraha, America, aad Germany. Ha Ting otiee been set g^g »i*T *re Bow aik to juxply their own wants as well as those ci their neigb. boars. swreby limiting the demand for Ilngiish coaL T:"g1;,«*1 eoal mixed with foreign, howeTer. improves tie quality of the latter, aad admits of it being barn: wiiu greater economy, and this sisst always ensure a certain demand for English coal. We should also iearn how far the advance in science made by engineers has redneed the consumption of fuel required by steamers, aad the consequent effect, on the demand for coaL In the hope of inducing others to follow our example, as regards the dissemination of useful deductions concerning their own particular fccLiinesses, we venture to put forward some remarks on the depression in our own, basing our views upon an acquaintance of nearly thirty years of the shipping trade, in its different branches and aspects.

The depression in shipping and the unremunerative freights prese"' * large field for inquiry; and for those readers not r "• knowledge of shipping property we combine with

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our explanation some few general cautionary remarks. They may be of use, as so few of the general public, although many are shareholders in ships, really understand shipping business and the working of ships. They have invested in ships without any consideration of the manner in which shipping management is carried on. By that good "general public" investments of late years have been made both in ships and in steam-boat companies. A member of the outside public taking a share in a ship may, if he is more than ordinarily versed in shipping matters, know some general facts, such as that, before steam was so universally known, the splendid sailing ships of Messrs. R. and H. Green, Messrs. Money Wigram and Sons, and Messrs. T. and W. Smith, now remembrances of the past, chiefly took the Indian passengers and goods. Shipowners' societies have their existence everywhere for protective purposes, and Lloyd's Register of Shipping ensures, by its superintendence of the building of nearly all steamers and ships, sound workmanship and complete equipment, and duly registers those so built. The Board of Trade carries out most efficiently the various Acts of Parliament regulating the complex machinery necessary, and providing restrictions to secure the safe navigation of vessels, and protection as far as practicable to life and property. A ship or steamer is held in 64 shares, and any person, being a British subject, may hold one or more, but the number of registered owners must not exceed 82. Any owner may split up one share into smaller shares, but no fraction of a share can be registered. The managing owner is supposed to have the largest interest, and to be chosen by all the co-owners, as he is responsible, prima facie, for the debts of the vessel. Members of the outside public thus investing cannot however be expected to know that though in theory every bill of sale should appear at the Custom House on the register of the vessel, great abuse exists as to registration, which misleads persons having to deal with ships, and is unjustifiable under any circumstances. The only official record of title is the entry in the register books, but private and unregistered bills of sale are given even for half shares, and managing owners often appear on the official books to hold more shares than they actually have, thereby deceiving persons at home and abroad who, relying upon the correctness of the register, which is their only source of information, give credit to the vessel and her registered owners. Private bills of sale are doubtful securities to the holder until registered, but they can be registered at any time, therefore if a managing owner gets into trouble, his co-owners may find that his entire number of shares has been sold to and registered by persons quite unable to pay the debts of the ship, when those of the remaining registered owners who can pay are obliged to defray the ship's debts. In a case which lately happened, an owner of two shares had to pay not only his own share of debts, but those of his co-owners. Mortgages again are often given and not registered, although non-registration imperils the security, as in the case of bills of sale; and there is nothing to prevent money being advanced on shares, if the register makes the ship appear as if owned by a person and wholly unencumbered though he may have given private bills of sale unregistered previously. If the holder of a bill of sale gets it registered first, he defeats the mortgagee's security, and vice versa. So many cases have come to light of securities being doubly pledged, that the fraud we have suggested is anything but imaginary. On sound commercial principles, no man of business should hold a bill of sale of, or mortgage on, any vessel without having it instantly recorded in the register book at the Custom House, for it is unjust to others as well as dangerous to himself to neglect this. Moreover the liability of holders of private bills of sale is more extensive than many people suppose, and frequently an unregistered owner can be made liable for supplies to the ship. Trustees and executors would do well to bear this in mind. But assuming that holders of private bills of sale can be held liable under certain circumstances for the ship's debt, yet it is for the creditor to establish the liability, which is most unfair; and the only legislative remedy would be to compel the registration of the name of every holder of a bill of sale or mortgage; then the creditor would only have to look to the register to ascertain who is responsible to him. This is the intention of the law now, and all that is needed is that the intention be fulfilled. Turnbull's Register of Shipping for the East Coast gives particulars of the registered holder of each share, and it is a pity such a book

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