BUTTER! HANDFUL OF MEN IN TINY ROOM IN
ELGIN DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL PAY FOR IT
BY HONOR FANNING
Elgin, III., Feb. 28. Whether you
had dinner today in Topeka, Kas., or
in Tokio, -Japan, the price of the but
ter you spread on your bread was
fixed in Elgin, 111.
If the czar of Russia eats buttei
with his bread, and they say he does,
Elgin decides just how many kopecks
If a farmer in Connecticut SELLS
butter, Elgin quotations influence the
price he gets; if a housekeeper in
Seattle BUYS butter she pays for it
according to quotations made in El
gin. From which you will gather that
Elgin cuts some butter in the pro
duce markets or the world and will
understand why it is called the "but
The Elgin butter board, 1,000 miles
from Wall street, tucked away,
third floor back, in a three-story of
fice building in a country town, hits
the front page every now and then
with a splurge that exceedingly an
roys the "board."
I watched half a dozen of them
Elgin dairy fanners and commission
men and a slick' young broker or two
from Chicago when the "board"
met last Saturday morning. They
bought butter and sold butter, and
when the scrimmage was over the
markets of the world were quoting
butter at the price at which Elgin
The dairy industry was brought
into Fox valley by New" England
fanners, 100 years ago.
In 1871 nineteen farmers and
cheese makers banded together to
find an outside market for their in
creasing products. In March, 1872,
they tacked up a black board in an
office building in Elgin, opened a
"call board" market and the Elgin
butter board was born.
Offerings were chalked on the
blackboard, just as they are today.
Taking Denmark's butter boards as
a model, a price-fixing committee of
five was appointed to consider all
bids offered, and decide upon the
official quotation, the "Elgin price"
that would govern butter contracts
for future delivery.
In 1910 Senator Lodge jabbed his
H. C. L. probe right into the price
fixing committee, charging it with
violation of the Sherman anti-trust
law by restraining trade. In April,
1914, the board was enjoined by the
department of justice from "quoting
prices purporting to be 'market
prices' unless such prices be those
which have been obtained on said
board by bona fide sales of butter."
The price-fixing committee was
abolished and the direct sales system
adopted. Every sale made is report
ed to the department of justice. The
Elgin quotation is now the majority
quotation made each Saturday on
the call board.
In 1872 Elgin's new board handled
30,734 pounds of butter. The same
board handled in 1914 55,231,342
pounds. In 1872 the value was $81,
000; it now exceeds $18,000,000.
The board's 300 members repre
sent almost every state.
Chicago 25, Northwestern 22.
Senn lights 18, Schurz 4.
Senn bantams 18, Waller 15.
Phillips lights 15, Calumet 6.
Phillips bantams 7, Hyde Park 6.
Crane lights 20, Englewood 15.
Bowen bantams 38, Tilden 10.
De La Salle 43, St. Rita 17.
De La Salle lights 18, St Rita 7.
Chicago "Y" 36, Dubuque 29.
W. S. Browns 40, Lewis 19.
St Simon 20, Atticas 9.
W. Panthers 37, Senora A. C. 13.
Halifax. Frederik VIII., with
Count von Bernstorff and his party,
sailed last night for Copenhagen.
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