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The United States Leather Company (1893[1]-1952), was one of the largest corporations in the United States circa 1900, and one of the original companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.[2] It was often referred to by contemporary sources as the "Leather combine"[3] or "Leather trust."[1].

History

It was originally capitalized at $130 million[1], approximately equivalent to $3.1 billion in 2009 dollars. The company was concerned, specifically, with "hemlock sole leather," which was made via a process that required extracts from large quantities of hemlock bark. It required two-and-a-half cords of wood to provide tannin for 100 hides.[4] According to the Boston Globe the combine obtained "a proprietorship of 75% of the bark property." In assessing the importance of the combine, the Globe noted that "all red leather is hemlock leather, and oak tan is used only on union leather, which cuts a very inconsiderable figure beside the hemlock-tanned product." Thus, the company "will have a pretty substantial hold on the leather industry of this country."[3]

The company was headquartered in New York, with strong ties to Boston (then an important leather center). The first president was Thomas E. Proctor of Boston, and initial financing was by New York and Boston firms. Edward R. Ladew was the first vice president.[5][6]

The formation of the company was seen as a reaction to problems in the tanning industry, and as a competitive move against the Chicago meat-packing interests.

In 1905 efforts began to reorganize the United States Leather Company as a subsidiary of the Central Leather Company. The merger was held up by several New Jersey court injunctions. On September 24, 1909, the shareholders of the companies voted in favor of the merger, meeting the court's objections and completing the merger.[7][8]

In 1927 another reorganization merged the Central Leather Company into its subsidiary, and the reorganized company again took the name "United States Leather Company."[9]

In 1952, the company was liquidated, the only company of the original twelve in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to do so (as of 2007).[10] It headquarters building, then at 27-29 Spruce Street in New York, was sold[11]. The first distribution to shareholders, $10/share, was made on January 31, 1952[12]. The company continued to hold assets of the Keta Gas and Oil Company.

References

  1. ^ a b c "The Big Sole Leather Trust," The New York Times, May 3, 1893, pg. 2
  2. ^ What happened to the original 12 companies in the DJIA?, djindixes.com
  3. ^ a b "SURE TO BE A GO. Sole Leather Combine No Longer In Doubt. All But Two Of Large Eastern Tanners Are Agreed. It Is To Be Capitalized At $75,000,000. Control Of All The Hemlock Bark Secured. Western Packers To Be Given The Cold Shoulder." Boston Daily Globe, March 23, 1893, p. 8
  4. ^ Hergert, Herbert L. (1983), "The Tannin Extraction Industry in the United States," Journal of Forest History, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 92-93
  5. ^ "The Leather Trust". New York Times. March 26, 1893. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9806EED91731E033A25755C2A9659C94629ED7CF. Retrieved 2009-12-05.  
  6. ^ "Officers of Proposed Leather Trust". Chicago Tribune. March 26, 1893. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/432458252.html?dids=432458252:432458252&FMT=CITE&FMTS=CITE:AI&type=historic&date=Mar+26%2C+1893&author=&pub=Chicago+Tribune&desc=Officers+of+Proposed+Leather+Trust.&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2009-12-05.  
  7. ^ Dewing, Arthur Stone (1914), Corporate Promotions and Reorganizations, Harvard University Press; p. 21
  8. ^ "Leather Companies Merged Temporary Injunction Restraining Deal Dissolved," The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 25, 1909, p. 15
  9. ^ "Takes Name of Subsidiary," The New York Times, May 21, 1927, p. 30
  10. ^ Siegel, Jeremy (2008), Stocks for the Long Run, 4th Edition, McGraw-Hill, ISBN 978-0-07-149470-0, p. 49
  11. ^ "East Side Housing Sold To Operators," The New York Times, August 12, 1952, p. 34
  12. ^ "First U. S. Leather Distribution," The New York Times, January 11, 1952, p. 34







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