(X fdUoruUpW


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ISBN 978-0-88692-887-2


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Edison General File Series

1911. Battery, Storage - Foreign - Bergmann, Sigmund (E-11-21)

This folder contains correspondence and other documents relating to the commercial development of Edison's alkaline storage battery in Germany and Austria-Hungary under the auspices of Sigmund Bergmann, head of the failing Deutsche Edison-Akkumulatoren-Co. in Berlin. Among the items for 1911 is a 24-page synopsis of events and agreements regarding the manufacture, sale, and organization of Edison's storage battery interests, through the German concern, during the period December 1903-May 1911. Also included are documents pertaining to an inspection of the German factory conducted by A.J. Doty of the Edison Storage Battery Co.; the resignation of H. H. Meno Kammerhoff and his subsequent employment by the Edison Storage Battery Co. in West Orange; Edison's visit to Germany in 1911- and his controversial opinions about German industry and business integrity. In addition to Edison and Bergmann, the correspondents include Emil Rathenau of Allgemeine Elektricitats-Gesellschaft; electrical engineer, illuminating company executive, and longtime Edison associate Charles L. Edgar; and electrical importer and Edison associate Philip H. Klein, Jr.

Approximately 90 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected material consists of unsolicited correspondence and duplicates of selected items.

Machine Department <55/ „pA/ /»!»«

| Bnn/%H

Thomas A. Edison Esq jy j |

Llewellyn Park,


Few jersey.

Hy dear Edison,

The time has now come when I can go no further with the Deutsche Edison Co., and I am at the end of ny tether. Kammerhoff has resigned, as he has also given up ail hope of ever being able to make a success of the concern over here.

Te have been compelled to spend our time making nlokle oxide, as we|had taken contracts for the supply of old cells which had to be fulfilled, and we have not even yet finished with them. The new battery requires muoh oapital, and we have reached our limit of three millions without any prospeot of obtaining more , as our stock* holders have refused to put any more money Into the undertaking.

Tou will have seen from our last Balanoe Sheet bow we have Invested the money, and shat Is the tangible value of what la left.

The buildings and ground, of course, have the same value as when they j


. ; . . . . _■ ... ; ,7


BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).


Thomaa A. Xdleon Bsq ., Orange.

were first 'bought, and represent about t 500,000.-. The rest has been spent In manufacturing, tools, machinery, and a good deal has been swallowed up In the loss we have incurred through having to keep the plant going. Rogers can report to you as to the condition of the tools and plant, and I wish you would let me know what, you think would be best to do with It.

Unless you help ub, the only thing for us to do Is to. liquidate and shut down the faotory, sell out, and Just save *hat we can. Have you any Idea whether this whole plant could be sold out¬ right to your Bnglish friends? Or do you yourself feel Inclined to found a new Company In Germany, for the purpose of pushing your battery all over the whole Continent, taking over the plant, Including tools for the new battery for certain outputs, which we have nearly finished, but which It scarcely seems worth while to complete, as we are not In a position to oompOte with the lead^attery.

In the latter case, of course, I shall be only too glad to help you all I possibly can, but, although I have kept up my oourage until now, I see hp way out of the difficulty, and am going to quit making batteries. it certainly seems a great pity that, after the last six years' hard struggle and work, we have come to this result, and I of course did not for one moment expect, when I took over the con¬

tract with you, that matters would end like this. In any oase, I oan comfort myself with the thought that I and my colleagues are in no way to blame for the present state of affairs, as we have all ilong spared

BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).


ThomaB A. Xdiaon Xaq Orange.

no effort and money to make this undertaking a good oommerolal eucoess, tut our tank vaa like that of shovelling mud against the tide.

Thin continual etruggle and worry hae made me haggard and grey, and I am tired of It, aa thla ie the first time In all my career that I have undertaken anything that 1 did not bring to a successful Issue; hut I do not care so much about this, my first failure - for I went into this matter with my eyes wide open, when you first proposed It to me, and am prepared to hear the oonsequenoes as far as I person¬ ally am concerned - as about the responsibility I took over when I reoommended this undertaking to my friends.

Hind, I do not intend this to be a fault-finding letter - as stated above, I am prepared to bear the consequences of my own action - but I do wish you would let me know openly whether you can suggest any solution of the difficulty, otherwise nothing remains for us to do but to shut down. 1 shall be glad to consider any proposal you have to make. Perhaps, as I understand you are Increasing your plant continual¬ ly, you would be willing to take over this plant in its entirety, and it would then be no trouble to ship It to America. As I said before, Bogers can give you details as to the condition of the plant.

Please let me hear from you by return of mall, for the matter Is most urgent.

Tofu's sincerely,


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Machine Department

jiew jersey.

My dear Bdison,

I have youra of January 21st, and, aa you wrote me that you would talk to Rogers about taking over our tools and Jigs, I have waited until now for a proposal from you in this matter, hut, as you have trot written, I thought it better to answer your letter, because, as I wrote you before, we cannot go along any longer as we are doing.

I am somewhat aurpriBed that you Bhould write me that it 1b not adTl sable to manufactured! Europe at all, but that it would be cheaper to bw the cells from you direct. Of courBe, this all de¬ pends on the price you will quote us. Please, therefore, send me prlceB for all the cells you now have on the market immediately on.



Thomas A. Edison Esq., Orange.

receipt letter, together with the guarantees which l oan

give purchasers.

Up to now, I havebeen constantly under the impression that the only way to obtain the cells cheaply In Europe and to make some money would he to manufacture In Germany, and, perhaps, later, in England or Prance. As you will »oolU8t. 1 *

with the expensive machinery for f illin^and the o ' *

until you wrote me that you could not supply me with the plates/Tas per your letter of June 21st, 1910, in which it is stated that 1 should make the flakes far cheaper here than you could do.

I should, of course, he only too glad if I could see my way clear to work under better conditione. Before, however, I stop

manufacturing entirely, I must have an answer from you to the moBt important question! Will you he able to deliver sufficient cells in due time, ifaspite of your beihg 10,000 cells behind your orders (as you have written me), and, if so, at what price can you sell us same and batteries f.o.b. Hew York, including packing?

With regard to the small celle for lighting, Bparklng etc., your Company writes me in a letter of Eebruary 10th of this year that it will be impossible to fill our orders for positive plateB for some 300 cells, type B 4 before a long time, because you are a thousand of these email cells behind. Our order was placed as early ^ September 1910, and we have not yet reoeived single plate . We have|aaked

BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).


A. Edison Es*.


you again and again to Bend ub some^but without any reoult.

If x any cells from you, it would

only he a very abort time before we should have, not only to liquidate hut also to go into bankruptcy; it would practically mean going from fire ihto hell.

The Italian wavy 18 positively prepared to give us an order for 610 big cells of a capacity of 4350 ampere hourB. As soon as the tube cells which we sent down for a trial this month have been tested, and there is no doubt they will prove satisfactory, then we are sure to get the order. We shall then need two million tubes. Please, therefore, let me know at once whether you can furnish us these tubes, as we cannot possibly produce them ourselves, as we have not the necessary facilities even for a much smaller quantity of s ame. Please also write me what they will cost. The price you have given us for the small quantity you have sent bo far is much too high, and no doubt you can do better if you get such a Big order.

As there will be a meeting of our Shareholders next month,

I shall be obliged to explain the present situation fully, and show the Stockholders, especially the Deutsche Bank, how matters stand; and unless I show them that I can accept your offer in buying batteries from you and keep the Company alive, they will force me to shut down, liquidate, and get out of business. Please, therefore, let me know by return what tools and JlgB and special machinery you can take off my hands, and I can then make you a price for the same. What you can take over is, I think, all the punches, dies, the flat pocket

BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).


Thomas A. Bdison Esq., Orange.

filling machines, the few tuhe-filling mnhihes which we have, the tube- drawing machine, the rollerB for perforating the stock, the canning machines, the rolling apparatus, the perforated strip plating machines, and the drums for flake plating. All these;. , I am sure, you can use, and Rogers can tell you that they are all very carefully made.

Your suggestion to Bhut- down and only Bell the batteries

strikes me very favourably, only we have to be sure, as I said above, that you can furnish the cells we sell here at Buch prices as will enable us to sell them and still make a little profit.

1 assure you once more that the situation is very precarious and is becoming very uncomfortable for me personally, and it must be decided definitely one way or the other at once., as I cannot pacify the people interested in this concern any longer.

Sincerely yours.

N . Y. Maroh 13 / 11

Hr. T. A. Edison Orange,

Dear Sir:



I would like to have a few minutes conversation with you on a subjeot in whloh Mr. Bergmann is interested and about whioh he has written me that perhaps you can put him oh the. righ/ft track .

I will therefore be obliged if you will let me know by mail or by telephone when I may call on you about this matter and meanwhile remain.


Stf- . ”\ /

My dear Edison,

Mr. Doddy has now teen here for some time, iftvostigatifcg the plant of the Edison Accunulatoren-Co. , and I think we have shown

him that, as we^stand at present, we cannot go on any longer.

I wish, therefore, you would make us a proposition, ae to how we can get out of this dilemma. I and our shareholders are of course willing to lose a oertaln amount of our Investment, aB it iB only a question of whether you will help us, or whether we shut down.

1 have given Ur. Doddy a list of toolB and machihery which j

are available, and whidi you, or any concern who Is willing to manu- ;

facture these batteries, can use, and Mr. Rogers can check and corro¬ borate this list, aB he aleo knove exactly what the condition of the vdiole plant ie. \ '

BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).


Thomao A. Edison Esq., Orange.

We have had an open talk with Mr. Doddy, and he can report to you exactly how matters stand.

As far as I myself am concerned, and I think the shareholders of the Deutsche-Edleon will agree with me lh thlB, I have no objection to your taking over this plant yourself, or to anyone else, whom you may designate, doing so. At all eventB, we all want to get out of this, and, as I have written you before, I cannot pacify the share¬ holders any longer. I hav^been pacifyitig hhem now for the last six years, and they claim -that neither you nor I have fulfilled our pro¬ mises.

I think that you and Mr. Doddy, who now understands the vhole situation thoroughly, together can form a plan to make our Company some proposal.

The total loss so far on the whole capital Is $ 275,000 , and the available assets, special machinery, tools, and special plant, are t 116,000.- This only Includes the special buildihg which had to be put up for the chemical plant, but not the ordinary factory build¬ ings' and the ground, the value of which you can Bee from the Statement and Balance Sheet which we send you every year.

Al* the I 750,000.- has been paid In, as you will Bee, with the exception of 15^.

Now, Edison, I wish you would take this up in earnest and

help me to get out of this dilemma as soon as possible, as nobody wants or,,, rnmev In+.n t.he concern, and. If YOU do not help me, it


BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).

Thorns A. Edison Esq ., Llewellyn Parte , Orange.

mean* simply shutting down and a bigger Iobb than if we could come to some solution of the difficulty quickly, and do something one way or the other, for the plant 1b worth more in operation than if it 1b diut, down, even if only for a short time.

I, of course, should have Bhut down long ago, if it had not been that I was still hoping that we should he able to pull through, and if it had not been for your and my reputations, as this is really the first time in my life that I have undertaken anythihg which I did not bring to a successful issue.

As you are aware, my concern (not the Deutsche Xdlson Co*^ took up the manufacture of automobiles for the purpose of introducing the Edison battery on to the market . This, of course, goes lb con¬ junction with the battery business , and, if no more batteries are made, mo more eleotrlc cars will be built.

I am, therefore, sending you a complete Bet of the drawings of the con struot ions of the® electromoblles, which I think are superior to anything you have over there. You can make use of these drawings freely at your own will, and in fact, if you wish it, I can also send

you patterns for same, as soon

3 1 have collected them from the

foundry and fixed them up, and you can also use these without any ex¬ pense to yourself.

We have altogether built about one hundred of these waggons. With regard to the big battery for submarines, Mr. Doddy has seen the first two cells, and will bring photos and data with him.

BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).

SShomaB A. Edison Esq

the two cells which we have Unlit are, as I have already written you, intended for the Italian Navy, and, If we are successful in obtaining

the order I mentioned In my last letter, v^nust see If you can perhaps or the Italian Navy furnish us^wlth the cells direct.

Hoping to hear from you by return of post, I am,

0S / \ / p C«^^,wu3

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March 24, 1911*

S. Bergmann, Esq.,

23-32 Oudenarder Str. ,

Berlin, II. , Germany.

My doar Bergmann:

Perhaps you had hotter have Kline come over and see what wo ore doing in tho battery- To-day we aro 12,000 cells bohind ordors, notwithstanding we make 365 cells per day. By April 15th we will turn out BOO colls per day, and 1 am making machinery to run it up to 2,000 oells- This is no romance: Kline con verify. We aro replacing lead bat¬ teries at $800.00 when the same people can buy the lead at §210.00 and these people have used both load and Edison.

There is no use giving you the reasons why they do so; it would take too long- Perhaps X could sum it up in tho remark made by the Superintendent of Hearn & Go. that "A few hundred dollars more or Iobb prioe|botweon two types of battery was of no onnsequence to them if they got reliability end mileage, whioh they did with tho Edison battery, and he believed that the Edison battery was much ohoapor in the end than a load battery any way."

How Bergmann, I think X had bettor not advise you what to ao in connection with the German battery situation, beoauBe I do not know all the conditions.

I havo not ohanged my mind in the slightest partiou-



3. Borgmonn- 2.

lar as to the future of the battery its ubo will ho onormous.

I havo sent you oolls and tubes, lithia, oto., to help you out, hut Klino will learn that wo had to ao it hy withholding shipments to others.

I have had figures gotten out so as to make you a prioe on iron pookots and niokol tubes, which 1b the most dif¬ ficult part of tho whole business.

By not oharging any ovorhoad expenses , I could ship weekly, if taken in quantity, at the following prices:

lubes complete, A4 typo, $43.20 per thousand.

Iron Pockets complete, A4 typo, §15.36 per thousand.

Those prioos include royalty, f.o.b. Factory Orange, paoking extra.

At these prices I only charge repairs on tools, depreciation on tools and interest, labor and material, to which I add 12?S profit no general expense- In time we will probably bo able to materially roduoo, as we are constantly experimenting to 'reduce costs.

Making those tubes horo will requiro a very consider¬ able inveBtmont of monoy on my part, should your ordors roaoh large proportions.

If you buy tubes and pockets, tho work in the Borman faotory would bo a more nothing.

I havo talked to Rogers and he says we could not use tho tools or machines you have, as our maohines have been so oonBtantly improved, as well aB methods and dies, that they would not work in our system.


S. Borgmann- 3.

As to shipping completed cells instead of tube s end pookets, wo would supply a limited numb or untJl such times as our oapacity is brought to 1000 cells daily, which will be about August*

Yours very truly.






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1 NY H 79 Collect CB New York Apl 34- T'nos A Ndison ,

r,,1Harm Wpw York wire when did you send answer to my letter March 33rd Is very urgent Am now positively compelled to give up making batteries and shut down factory after you in 24 th Have raised price for tubes over fifty »e^nM^sfiyenicentf instead of helping us If you supply tubes for two point five cents could accept orders for submarine batteries and try to keep up little longer. _ ,

Bergmann , Berlin -

813 AM

(2,$. O»r^iY«0-nin

Cable Aoorcbs* " ZY MOTIC . N EW YO



l^motnaft Cl CdiOon-,



. Hiller,


little rate for

In accordance with your instructions, I have forwarded the follow- to Hr. Bergraanh;—- .



Bergmann:- The prices quoted on tubes are the lowest possible; leaves no profit. We got hundred twenty five dollars kilowatt hour throe hour

submarines eighth inch tubes. V . .

You will note the first sentence has been slightly changed, in order to code a, but I. am sure the sense has not in any way been destroyed.

I return to you Hr. Bergrmum's cable addressed to Hr. Edison.

Yours very truly.



Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of your favour of the 27th ult., and am pleased to note that Mr. Edison le having some samples of tungste wire sent me .

I would ask you to convey my heet thankB to. Mr. Edison for same , sndjremain,

My dear Edison,

I enclose you herewith synopsis of the whole hiBtory of the •Deutsche Edison Company, with the short-comings, contradictions, and non-fulfilments of promises which you have made during the last six years. This summary has been asked for hy the Executive Committee and principle Shareholders cf the Deutsche Edison Company, and has been drawn up hy Mr. Kammerhoff

How, Edison, if you really mean]to help me out of this scrape, you must do so at once, as I am placed in a very ugly position. As you are no douht aware, I have exchanged the following telegrams with Mr. Doty, who, I presume, is your representative and is acting in your

BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).


ffrom Doty

26.4. Bavourabl e proBpectB. Purchase propoeal Satur¬ day - Doty

3.5. $ X0000, now $ 90000,

possession 60 days - Doty

5.5. Propose purchase capital stock company name price - Doty .

To Doty.

1.5. Have not received purchase proposal. Our Stockholders want to take final steps. Answer ty cable - Bdisoncell

4.5. Refer to your cablegram 3rd. Can read your tele¬ gram by code, but do not understand It. What do you expect lo buy for 100 000 Doll.? Bdisoncell.

9.5. We have Invested # 750.000 Including all property and whole plant. Are willing to lose I 250.000 and tunr over whole capital stock of $ 750,000, Biibject to approval of Deutsche Bank. Make a definite offer for my negociations.

Unfortunately, I have not yet received a reply to this last telegram,

and, until I do eo, my hands are naturally utterly tied, as 1 have no

definite proposal to lay before my Shareholders. 1 trust, therefore.

that this reply will soon come to hand, as the position here 1b becoming'

more serious every day. Iam not the man to squeel; but it is not

bo much for my own loss that I am fighting now - although X am not so

rich as to be able to bear such losses with equanimity - but it is

more for the Shareholders and for your and my reputations in the eyeB of the Deutsche Bank aid their asseiates an* other influential people

over here.

You no doubt remember, when I returned to Germany from America in 1904, with the scheme for starting an Bdison Battery Company over here, that it was only on the strength of the figures you gave me in your own handwriting that I was able to persuade the Deutsche Bank and


BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).


others to come in and form this Company. Your estimate of the coat and profits of the battery and its manufacture reads as follows "I figure out the prdfts which the German Coi: will in all ■probability make -

"If the factory makeB 300 cells <18 plate) per day, costing we fwlll say * 6. per cell and selling for $ 10.— , which iB ■the price we sell in America, the gross profit for one year "of 300 days should be 1360 000.— Deducting the royalty "of 60 cents per cell, amounting to * 54 000., there remains "• 306,00. Deducting six '.per cent dividend to the Shareholders ■on the capital, which is * 45 000., there remains $ 261 000., ■One third of this amount going to German Co. is S 87 000.- "Therefore the gross profit to German Co. is

6^ Dividend . •* 45,000

Proportion surplus profits . * 87.000


"Approximately 17-J- per cent on the stock. In my opinion, the ■proposed capital is sufficient for a factory including chemical ■Works for mfg. 600 cells daily in that case the surplus "profits going to the German Co. would be twice as great:

Dividend 6# . * 45,000

Proportion of Surplus profits . - *174.000

* 219,000

or approximately 29/£ on the Capital Stock.

Thos. A. Edison,

BERGMANN ELECTRICAL WORKS (machine department).

I you thl. Juul in c... you InU no. » copy to you,

„d .hop*. forgotten to «... » ... n,.o . ...«« hopes at the t ime*

You will doubtless also remember that, beyond the money X am losing on this Deutsche Edison Storage Battery Company, there Is also * 40,000.oo to * 50.000.oo which I paid you and Mr. Dick for the interests I hold in the European Patent Company, which has also, up to the present, been a co^lete failure . X have never mentioned this deal to you since, nor have I ever heard a wont mor^regarding same,

or any result of the investment.

Now, Edison, I am very sorry' to have to bother and worry you, but, as X have written you before, I do not know what to do, so I sincerely hope you will see your way clear to help me out of this hole. As I know that you are a flm believer in your battery, and as, in fact, I am myself sure that you will in the end come out on top, you ffiust surely be able to make use of our plant here; the prop^and buildings I can possibly dispose of, even at somewhat les^than the original cost, if you or your party do not want to carry on manufactur¬ ing over here.

Will you please telegraph me immediately oh receipt of this letter what you can do, or that you will send somebody over at once, with your instructions and with power to settle this matter up, and I should be very thankful to you and not forget that you h a, e helped me out of this scrape.

^urs sincerely,


Summary o f

Correspondence and Verbal Negoclations with Mr. EdiBon before and after the formation of the •Deutsche Edison Akkuraulatoren-Company, O.m.b.H.


Mr. Edison wrote to Mr. Bergmann on December 7th, 1903, that the last, and, at the same time, the worst existing difficul¬ ty had been overcome. The machines for filling the pockets had been put into operation on the day the letter v/as dated, and in the following week It would be possible to proceed, with the oon- vlctlon that everything was In beBt order, and that every defect in the battery had been removed.

In the meantime, up to the summer of 1904, verbal negociatlons took place between Mr. Bergmann and Ur. Edison, the result of which was that Mr. Edison authorised Hr. Bergmann, by letter dated September 30th, 1904, to form a Company In Germany to manufacture the Edison battery and exploit the patents In that country. Thie authorisation was to the effect that Mr.

Bergmann should start the German Company within seven months, dating from September 30th. Mr. Edison detailed the general terms and the Btyle of contract he would be willlhg to make with the Sennan Company. At the same time, Ur. Edison remarked In his letter of Beptenfcer 30th, 1904 that he was In a position to supply the active material for a oell of 115 empire hours, l.e., type l tor > US. B«4*» that ta a “hort

time to be able.to reduce this cost.

Baaed on the above-mentioned price, the corresponding price for the standard cell type H 27 made later in Germany would anoint to M. 8.19. In addition, Mr. Edison remarked that he



wouldbe prepared to supply the act immaterial to the German Company at 25^ above manufacturing cost, and for as long a period until the German Compaq should he In a position to manufacture tho activ^materlal themselveB.

In a letter of the next day, in hlB own handwriting, dated