Most pen collectors are familiar with Frank Spors & Co., and the wonderful glass-nib pens they imported from Japan. What you might not know is that Spors wholesaled many other items besides pens, everything from broadcloth shirts to the "Wonder Mitten Duster." The collection of correspondence and catalog pages shown here provide a wonderful peek behind the scenes of the company.
Frank Spors never missed an opportunity to be selling. He had special four-page stationery printed that gave him a blank page with a letterhead for correspondence, with the other three pages being a 'mini-catalog' showing an assortment of the goods they offered for sale.
Shown here is a letter from Frank Spors, signed personally, dated June 9, 1928, to the Lamson & Goodnow Mfg. Co. of Shelbourne Falls, MA, inquiring about whether they would be able to provide a stainless steel kitchen knife in bulk at a very low price. As you'll see below, they were not.
What's interesting about this letter is that Mr. Spors chose to send along a complete financial statement for the company, dated January 5, 1928, allowing us an amazing and rare glimpse into the private business financials of the company, and Mr. Spors personally.
The company had assets of $66,000, most of which was inventory, of course. Liabilities totaled $26,000, consisting of outstanding loans and the accounts payable on the warehoused merchandise, which left the net worth of the business at around $40,000. Personally, Mr. Spors owned real estate and his home, with equity valued at approximately $15,000.
The most interesting part, though, is that he then details the phenomenal growth of the company over the last four years. Gross sales in 1924 were around $48,000, which increased to $76,000 in 1925. In the next year sales doubled again, totaling $160,000 for 1926, and finally topping out at $204,000 in 1927.
Below is a small gallery of the inside pages of the catalog mentioned previously, and then another small gallery of additional correspondence between Spors & Co. and the Lamson & Goodnow Mfg. Co. Lastly, a photo of Mr. Spors himself along with his employees, taken around 1921, courtesy of Collectors Weekly.