[Chicago: May 1858]. Single sheet, printed on blue lined paper, 28 lines of text. Old fold lines, with a few short breaks archivally repaired on verso, a few ink blots partially obscuring a few words. An open letter, addressed to "Dear Sir," and signed in type, "C.H. McCormick, by Wm S. McCormick," explaining the results of the company's unsuccessful suit against the manufacturers of the Manny Machine for patent infringements related to the McCormick reaper. McCormick states that his first patent, obtained in January 1834 had expired some years ago, allowing other companies to manufacture machines "after my original patent, except so far as my patented improvements may apply." Though they may "study to imitate my machines according to my original patent, and as nearly copy my patented improvements as possible, yet after all they cannot build or sell my identical machine." He also notes that he has kept his prices at a level favorable to the farmer.
A manuscript note is appended to the circular, approx. 120 words, addressed to John Williams, Esq. of Springfield, Illinois, stating that the McCormick company had 5000 machines nearly ready for market, expecting its agents to sell them. It says the harvest "promises to be the largest ever cut in the U.S. laborers scarce & wages high. If you find good farmers who cannot make first payment let it go over to fall & the last to spring & even to fall of 1859 if necessary to effect sales- ought to have 10 pr ct on defered payments...." It also advises Williams to "look out for a rush about harvest time & be prepared for them." The note is signed by C.H. McCormick / Walker (secretarial). Item #64771
Cyrus McCormick invented his innovative mechanical reaper and patented it in 1834. He obtained a second patent for improvements to the machine in 1845. McCormick moved from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to Chicago in 1847, and began to put his energy into developing a major manufacturing and distribution business. His brother William joined him there in 1850. According to a biographical sketch of William McCormick by Mary Frost Kroncke [Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 51, No. 3, Spring 1968, pp.189-199], William discovered his strength was in promotion and sales: "Each March when the ice broke on the canals and rivers and the coming of spring promised a bountiful harvest, William wrote by hand hundreds of letters to sales agents. In these letters he gave directives in such terms as 'now is the crucial time to sell,' 'make a decided effort,' 'pursue the task vigorously,' 'drive the work forward,' .... He instructed his agents to be 'thorough canvassing the ground,' to be 'on the alert for sales,' and to 'keep the ball rolling'.... Through cajolery, personal comments on a death or marriage, humorous jibes, through moral suasion and a sense of urgency, McCormick was able to secure the loyalty of the company's agent army." This technique was especially necessary in 1858, coming on the heels of a loss in the courts and the economic struggles brought on by the Panic of 1857.