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Arthur T. Emery and His BIG Book of Charts & Graphs

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Sometimes a book’s title and catalog record just don’t do it justice.  A case in point is an item I found in the stacks recently and was attracted to purely because of it size – it is just over 5 inches thick.  The rather prosaic title of this book is Emery’s Charts and Maps Showing Growth and Distribution of United States Manufactures, and it was published by Emery Brothers Consulting Statistical Engineers. What is actually in this book is quite amazing.

To start, it is basically a look at industry in the United States as of 1914, but with just enough historical information to show its growth for the previous 60 or so years. Emery used Census data, but he also used his own calculations. Most of the volume covers the various industries which are organized under tabs using the Dewey Decimal System. Thankfully, there is a rather nice “How to Use” section which made understanding the data just a bit easier.  I will try to describe the book without getting into too much detail.

“Profits on all manufactures of carriages, wagons & repairs in U.S. since 1849” “from Emery’s Charts and Maps Showing Growth and Distribution of United States Manufactures (Image Y)

Each tab, or industry grouping, covers several different aspects of the overall industry with individual pages devoted to each particular area of that group. For instance, under the Vehicles tab (4,900) there is information on the manufacture of automobiles and automobile bodies and parts as well as information on the manufacture and repair of carriages and wagons; manufacture of electric and steam  railroad cars; manufacture of motorcycles and bicycles and their parts; and wheelbarrows.

Most industries have a graph of the profits for that industry, as well as the historical numbers for industry totals in a chart including information on sales, materials, wages profits, and capital.  While the years used often vary and data wasn’t always available, the earliest is 1849 (see image Y).  Following that page is usually a page with a bubble map of the United States indicating those places where that industry made the biggest profits, along with a bar graph with the equivalent percentage numbers (see image X).

“Manufactures of carriages, wagons & repairs – Total value of products by states 1914” from Emery’s Charts and Maps Showing Growth and Distribution of United States Manufactures (Image X)

I found that in 1914 Massachusetts accounted for almost 70% of the manufacture of combs and hairpins (not made of metal); over 80% of the artificial flowers were manufactured in New York; and most asbestos products were made in Pennsylvania (Illinois a far distant 2nd). Sometimes where an industry was in 1914 tracks with where industry is in later years:

  • Chewing/smoking tobacco and snuff was big in North Carolina, Missouri, Virginia, Kentucky.
  • The manufacture of automobiles and automobile bodies was concentrated in Michigan, though it seems to also have been popular in Ohio, New York, and Indiana.
  • For distilled liquors, Illinois was the state with the biggest profits, followed by Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York. Vinous liquors mostly came from California.

There are a number of other tables that are of interest, but one other thing that is amazing is the fact that these tables are all hand-written.

  • 1200 Profit % (alphabetical by industry)
  • 1300 Employees % (alphabetical by industry)
  • 1400 Gross Profit Totals (alphabetical by industry)
  • 1500 Net Profit Totals (alphabetical by industry)
  • 1600 Employees Totals (alphabetical by industry)
  • 1700 Order Highest Profits

There is a lot of detail packed into a chart (see image Z). Each table has different data but all have page numbers indicating those pages in other charts where that industry was mentioned. Charts in the 2,100-2,900 tab revolved around industries that were important  to Civil War Reconstruction.  The presentation of this data was most often line graphs and bubble charts, but the information and its presentation vary.  It seems to have depended on what the author felt was the best presentation.  Last was tab 6,000 which included graphs on various imports from Britain.

Employee Totals chart from “Emery’s Charts and Maps Showing Growth and Distribution of United States Manufactures” (Image Z)

While researchers in the 21st century might use this volume for other reasons, there were some enjoyable pages in the “How to Use” section where the author goes into detail as to “special uses” that would have been very appropriate for people in 1919.  For example, advertisers may have wanted to use this to make better mailing lists, manufacturers might have wanted to use this to compare their budget to others in the same industry, and investors might have considered using it to pick good investments by looking at those industries that were doing well. All that for $100!

Even after spending time with this tome while writing this post, I still don’t feel that I have quite captured it completely.

Comments (2)

  1. That is absolutely amazing. Engineers in those days had to work such long tedious hours to produce something as accurate as this…..and all by hand! I’d love to peruse the pages and just marvel at the excellence.

  2. Without a spreadsheet????

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