W2569 TO ISAAC B. MCQUESTEN ESQ. from William Dunn
Oct 18 1883
From: Cooper Institute, New York
I.B. McQuesten Esq.
I would not tax your generosity as much as I know I have done Nor would I in the present instance. But there is no denying the part I am in a decidedly unpleasant fix. Though not through any particular fault, excepting expecting [sic] to do what I found upon time to be a failure to a certain extent.
As almost all who commence the manufacture of a new article. I found the cost of preparation to greatly exceed what I anticipated. The cost of the machine was not much more but the expense of getting in a position was.1 When I left Buffalo I had only about $20 a large portion of this was at once expended in Car Fare hence arrived here with about $10. The difficulties and prejudices I had to contend with were not anticipated and before I could realize I was in a straight. And had to borrow to carry me on [sic]. This I recouped after having found out the opposition I realized I had a hard road to travel. But could not retrace my steps having entered into the matter I brought with me 26 machines. 6 of those I sold at wholesale and sent the proceeds to take up a note of which I wrote you once. After selling to those of whom I gave you a list. I thought I would try the East. The result was not satisfactory selling but 4 machines which gave good satisfaction.
I should have gone on further to more wood working districts but my funds ran out. In fact before I started I had to borrow to enable me to do so. In a word, although I have expended about $400 or so in other words 19 machines. The replacing which would cost [under??] about $120. I found that it would be impossible to get a reliable agent to handle the machine exclusively as I found by experience that it would require funds to meet expenses prior to the receipt from the machines. To meet such expenses I went to the expense of getting up these small articles of which I wrote. Had it not been for this object I would not have done so. Articles of small price that can readily be shown are safer to travel with than those that have to be sold subject to approval. And agents are more ready to take hold of them. From personal experience I found the difficulty and seeing the way of overcoming it proceeded to carry it to an accomplishment. I have also been offered the sale of Frank & Co Machinery at a commission of 25 percent And am now in communication with a party requiring a lot having been recently burnt out. Out of this I am in hopes of making something and can make a business of it in connection with the others.
I have not gone into the Fair2 yet as I am busy getting out the Brazing Forges And deem it best to have them ready before going there. In fact I am not in position to go there because for want of funds [sic]. Having had to borrow to live independent of paying for the work being not ready. As soon as I have these things ready I shall try and get a good man to canvas for them. But would much prefer if you could come across some competent person to conduct the sales as I do not like it and will never like it. This I have found is a better point to manufacture than Buffalo because anything can be bought here without delay. And wages does not appear [sic] to be brighter and there is a greater number to start from. I do not know of anything else to write about excepting I have sent for a number of machines and expect them here in a few days. But what to do for the present puzzles me. I am getting out new Circulars that have to be paid for besides the other work getting done. And I have not a Dollar on hand to pay it with. Also borrowed funds. It may look as though I would not have gone into the expense of getting out these new articles. Nor would I have done so but seeing the necessity of something to carry while selling the Setts and thinking it better to be ready than delay started. The profits on this Forge will be of some moment as they require no fitting and Machinery only requiring good casting and a few holes drilled and topped. And is a far superior article to that which it somewhat resembles. And from which the idea was taken. The circulars & cuts for the 3 Machines of which I wish to post a a [sic] larger number will cost me $40, The 50 forges will cost me about $40 exclusion of patterns which cost $22 and I owe for room borrowed &c about $40. The Circulars I want to distribute liberally as the cheapest medium of advertising.
If you will send me $[70??] by Telegraph and let me share [$65??] within a week or so. This time I am certain of recouping it without delay. As the way appears to be open for getting on my feet, after a struggle. And the Fair will afford an opportunity that has not been within my grasp before. It is useless for me to make excuses and apologies. I feel that you have reason to complain but I cannot help it more than by relating the plain truth.
1 Isaac had invested money in Dunn's patents for train car couplers, seal locks and other devices which he had either invented or improved. However, although Dunn often asked for money, he never seemed to make any and apparently was unable to repay what he owed Isaac. Eventually Isaac considered launching a lawsuit to recover some of his money. See W2554a.
2 Dunn is here referring to an exhibition of machinery in New York. In several letters he mentions the possibility of entering his own machines in hopes that the publicity will help him sell his patents. See W1709 for an advertisement of this fair.