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A History of our Firm
Chapter XVI - Retrospective and Discursive
Early methods of Distribution


During the early periodóbefore the days of steam and the Cunard Company, and for that matter long afterwards, in the winter season of the year heavy journeys had to be undertaken by the partners to the various ports of the United Kingdom to dispose of the timber for the following season's shipment of the American concerns. Originally this fell mostly to Mr. John Pollok; later it fell to Mr. Rankin and Mr. Gilmour. At the same time there were agents appointed in the different districts of England and Scotland, working under Glasgow or Liverpool according to their geographical position; but in Ireland no agents were appointed, as the business there was always reserved for the Liverpool firm to deal with. At that period in Ireland journeys could only be made by mail coach or by a special jaunting car; and a tour right round that coast in winter was no holiday. The circumstances in some other respects were not unfavourable. The character and reputation of the firm's shipments and their methods of doing business were such that not infrequently the work could be conveniently arranged. Mr. Rankin would write the parties in advance that he expected to be in their port at a date and hour which he would name. They were asked to be on the spot to meet him on airival and state their requirements. Mr. Rankin would take a note of these, state the prices, and undertake to send the contract from a given place, where he would take a day off. The coach driver was amenable to reason (or more probably the jingle of coin) to the extent of a twenty minutes' wait; then Mr. Rankin would drive on to the next destination. This was all right for the early days, but when the turn of Robert Rankin ii came round, the customers had to be waited upon, not to wait. For three or four years I fell heir to this work, but its dimensions then were greatly curtailed; Belfast, Londonderry and Sligo only were visited. A feature of the demand in Ireland was the demand for, and the value set upon deals 12 feet long, 9 inches wide, and 3 inches thick. Practically they would have liked to get nothing else, and hardly dreamt of utilizing any other size. They had been bred on this dimension and never wanted to depart from it. For their country demand for cottages, 12 feet long, 9 inches deep suited the size of rooms and rafters. Cross-cut this size gave a 6-foot door-opening; cross-cut twice or thrice it gave a 4400t or 3400t window opening.


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