Friday, July 29, 2005

Beyond Rare 4 - Ives Paper

Here is a page from the Ives Factory Manifest. This is little page gives you an idea of what it took to make toys in the early part of the 20th Century.

A Power Press, squaring shear, surface grinder, rivet spinner. The list is page after page of stuff to make trains. Quite a few pages talk about the bill of materials for certain toys and trains. This thing is amazing.

The last 25 pages are about Ives' financial situation in 1927. Again, I have never seen documentation like this, I am not sure even Louis Hertz or any TCA Member had access to this level of detail.

Apparently the Ives Corporation was not run by the seat of anyone's pants because after you eyeball this, they had their act together even by today's standards. This says something else too. It means that their great products didn't just happen because the Ives family liked kids and toys. Or that Ives perished because of a few marketing mis-steps. Or that Josh and Crew made their lives miserable and drove them completely out of business(he did make them miserable and I think his company might be paying for it now (karma is a funny thing in business)).

This business was a machine. I just had a few minutes to check out the financial stuff. I do have a degree in Economics from a decent university, so I know my way around one or two fiancial statements (although I promised my Dean of Economics that I would never actually be an economist, which I am not).

Frankly, I have seen worse balance sheets. Their assets were substantial. Their liabilities were not as onerous as one would believe. Perhaps the key stakeholders just decided to cash out at the right time? It's hard to say from five minutes with the document however I guarantee that a good amount of time with a seriuos finance guy could yield a revelation or two.

Current toy train companies could definitely could learn something from the Ives Company's business story. Isn't it amazing how history keeps repeating itself? Competition, litigation, destruction, re-birth and so on.

I don't have any real revelations from the literature. And that isn't because there aren't any there. It's because I would need about two weeks to actually read everything and digest it adequately. The owner doesn't really want to loan it to me (I didn't ask). It's a priceless document, validating some things, probably opening up a raft of new questions on others. Hopefully some experts on Ives will come forward at some point and extract some revelations from this.

Let's just be clear: this document is an inventory and forensic financial analysis of the Ives Company in 1927 that was submitted to a bank in Bridgeport in 1928. You couldn't ask for a more detailed analysis of the company and its' contents. It's a priceless snapshot in time.

PS Won't be on eBay anytime soon.

Ask any questions you like and I will pose them to the owner.

Who'd of thought; our hobby has great toys and artifacts from the past that rear up and kick some mystery right at your front door.

I'll try to keep up with any revelations the document creates.


1 comment:

Standard Gauge Blogger said...

I actually do have a thought or two on the demise of Ives. If anyone is reading or interested....