Engraving

Arthur Nash found himself in possession of a sweatshop in Cincinnati right after World War I. As a strong believer in the Golden Rule, he could not see himself running such a business, but couldn’t simply walk away, either. There were about 30 workers, and it was hard to know whether it was worse to keep them working for pennies or jobless. He determined that he would bring their pay up to a fair wage, and went off to manage other affairs, expecting the business to die within months, then just sell off the equipment.

But after a couple months, it turned out that the grateful workers had increased productivity much beyond the expense of the wage increases, and the factory was producing three times it’s previous business. Within just a few years, the 30 workers had grown to thousands, and the business was worth millions. Nash continued to operate with the Golden Rule as his guide, and it only continued his success. But his health was degrading, and he turned the business over to the board in 1926, and he died only days later. The business was only about 7 years old.

Block print (left: wood and Gorilla tape, right: random paint and printer paper)

Two items related to businesses such as A. Nash Company are money and stock. These are both printed via engraving. Metal plates are engraved, then using special ink and a somewhat involved process, paper is left with the ink from the indentions in the engravings (not the raised part). Other methods of printing usually transfer the ink from the raised portion, such as the block print example I’ve included with this post. Many of us learned to create a printing block in Art class with a linoleum block. My quick-and-dirty effort was similar to that, but it was Gorilla Tape on a scrap piece of plywood, cut with an Exacto knife. Instead of ink, I used some paint we had close at hand.

The cutting and “weeding” (pulling out the scraps) took way longer than I had planned for, and my design was a bit detailed for the size I made it, but otherwise I’m not disappointed. I had chosen an Art Deco style because it seemed like a good choice for a block print. As it turned out, Art Deco would have been developing about the time Arthur Nash was building his business, so that works.

In an interesting twist, in late 1929, W.E. Fox & Co. bought over 2 million dollars worth of A. Nash Company stock from Nash’s family members to take over complete control of the company. Altogether, Fox & Co held about 4 million dollars in Nash stock at the time of the stock market crash on October 29 of that year. I see nothing indicating that the Nash company survived the depression that followed.

Published by Jamie

Corporate teleworker. Small business owner/entrepreneur. Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather. Blogger. Photographer.

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3 Comments

  1. Paying the workers a fair wage and the correlation to increased productivity reminds me of the problem of socialism. People work for the wage, not out of the goodness of their hearts.

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  2. Oddly enough, they did both in this case. Since their wage was increased (not as a way to increase productivity, but out of kindness–the Golden Rule), they wanted to respond in a way that would make the business successful. This really is the promise of capitalism, because everybody wins. There is no such scenario in socialism.

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