Austin Baldwin & Company, Inc.
AN old firm having a large place in the history r of the international trade centering in New York is that of Austin Baldwin & Company, Inc., of 44 Whitehall Street, New York.
The beginning of the business dates back to the organization of a firm which, succeeding one of still earlier date, was formed by Colonel H. S. Lansing of Syracuse, New York, and Austin Baldwin under the firm name of H. S. Lansing & Company, who established branch houses in Paris and Havre under the name of Lansing, Baldwin & Company, and made Staveley & Company, Liverpool, and Staveley, Star & Company of London their European agents. This continued for sev-eral years until in 1848, Austin Baldwin purchased Colonel Lansing's interest in the business, the firm name then being changed to Austin Baldwin & Company, while the Paris and Havre branches were made agencies under the direction of Lherbette Kane & Company.
The firm of Austin Baldwin & Company had become very prominent in the export and import business even before Civil War days, and has ever since continued to be one of the most notable and active firms engaged as export and import merchants and foreign freight contractors in New York. In 1872 Austin Baldwin & Company were made general agents in the United States for the State Steamship Company of Glasgow, and man-aged the line between New York and Glasgow until it was bought by the Allan Line, for which the firm remained New York agents until, in 1907, that line withdrew its Glasgow-New York service. Its business as agents for the Allan Line was not, however, permitted to interfere with the company's work as exporters to foreign countries, a business which has been maintained without interruption until the present day.
After the death of Austin Baldwin, the founder, his son, Austin P. Baldwin, became the head of the firm, and after his death, Radcliffe Baldwin became the sole surviving partner of Austin Baldwin & Company. In 1908 he incorporated the business under its present name of Austin Baldwin & Company, Inc., of which he became the chairman of the Board of Directors, in which position he has since remained; and at that time Harry B. Baldwin became president of the company, and John B. Kirkman joined the firm as vice-president. This continued until, in 1915, Llarry B. Baldwin, who was on his way to England in connection with an important business transaction of the firm, and who was accom-panied by his wife, became one of the victims of German ruthlessness in the torpedoing of the Cunard liner "Lusitania."
Following that event, Mr. John B. Kirkman, the vice-president, was elected to the presidency of the company, Arthur Grannis becoming vice-president, Elliott Stone, treasurer, and Mr. Radcliffe Baldwin remaining as chairman of the Board.
The methods of Austin Baldwin & Company have always been marked by progressiveness, although they have also been conservative in the sense of adhering with utmost strictness to methods that have made their reliability unquestioned and their commercial probity untarnished. Of their conservatism an illustration is furnished by the fact that their agencies in London and Liverpool are in the hands of the same firms that represented the original house of H. S. Lansing & Company prior to 1848. The firm also has a branch house in Boston at 110 State Street, a branch house in Paris with office at 5 Rue Meyerbeer, and they also have Russian and Belgian branches, the Russian house having been located in Petrograd until the Bolsheviki took possession, and now being located at Vladivostok, while the Belgian house has been reestablished at Brussels, where it had been prior to the German occupation of that city. The firm of Austin Baldwin & Company, Inc., are general export and import merchants, transacting business as it comes to them in exports to all parts of the world and imports of the products of all foreign countries. For the prosecution of this business they have the advantages of experienced methods and old established connections built up during a career of continued success and efficiency covered by seventy years of uninterrupted connection with the export and import business. As foreign freight contractors the firm contracts for and ships goods to every part of the world and is also prepared to arrange for the financing of all kinds of exports to and undertakings in foreign countries. The firm have large transactions as buyers "and sellers, keeping in touch with world-wide market connections and conditions, by means of which they are constantly enabled to make advantageous sales.and purchases in all commercial countries.
The organization is highly specialized, all of its various activities being divided into appropriate departments, each of which is under the management of a competent head and thoroughly capable of rendering satisfactory service in the particular branch of the business to which it is devoted. Among the customers and correspondents of the firm are many houses, domestic and foreign, that have held the same relation to it through many decades and successive generations. Such long-continued relations in international trade, testify to a very high standard of commercial conduct which permeates all its dealings.
Like all the houses of the Atlantic seaboard that have had a long connection with foreign business, that of Austin Baldwin & Company, Inc., has been largely occupied during the war period in supplying the needs of the Allies of the United States in the war. But with the return to the activities of peace under conditions which are now bringing to the United States a much larger share of international business than it has ever before commanded, this old but very alert firm, with its many advantages of experience and its reputation firmly established in many lands, is fully prepared for every increase and extension of business that may be called for by the new conditions of world trade. One of the features of Austin Baldwin & Company's business, which is of increasing importance, is its Engineering Department. There is a growing demand from countries abroad for the services of American engineers in the great work of rehabilitation of devastated areas, and also for other work in countries where there is a progressive need for new industrial plants. This department is prepared to submit designs and quotations for the complete installation of plants of every description.
The company also, through its Foreign Department, which has direct connections with leading industrial interests in the United States, is equipped to offer attractive quotations, both f.a.s. New York and c.i.f. foreign ports, on construction and equipment of every description.
While there are many problems and difficulties in connection with the present conditions of international trade, particularly those related to the demoralization of exchange rates and the financing of exports, the house of Austin Baldwin & Company is able to meet these problems as effectively as any of the exporting houses, and has the facilities to aid effectively in the movement to make imports measurably balance with exports and thus contribute to the stabilization of exchange rates. Its established credits in foreign ports enable the company to give valuable service in financing international commercial transactions.
In the demands of European countries for increasing quantities of American products, and in the enlarging market for American manufactures, Austin Baldwin & Company are taking a constructive part. All through its useful history the house has been active in the promotion of the international trade of the United States and the creation of a foreign demand for many articles made in our factories. In the present state of trade the firm is tireless in the endeavor to find and supply new markets for American goods in much larger variety than ever before. Through these efforts the house has greatly aided in creating the increase of American exports.
In all ports of the world the company is ably served by its agents and representatives and continues to hold and increase its business activities in all directions and in every kind of merchandise.
All of the officers of the company are men of life-long connection with the export and import business and maintain for this old house the high standing and merited prestige it has always enjoyed.
John B. Kirkman, the president of the company, gives to his executive duties the benefit of superior and accurate knowledge of the exporting and importing business. He is progressive and enterprising, and under his direction the firm is constantly adding to the trade it controls and the house is taking its full share of the international trade expansion of the United States.