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The Bates Manufacturing Co. was incorporated on September 13, 1890 in New York State for the purpose of manufacturing and selling automatic hand-held numbering machines. The officers included Samuel Insull, president; Edwin G. Bates, treasurer and general manager; and Thomas Butler, secretary. On July 30, 1892, the Edison Phonograph Works assumed most of the company's indebtedness and all of its manufacturing operations. In 1895 William E. Gilmore succeeded Insull as president, Bates resigned as treasurer and general manager, and a portion of the capital stock held by Insull and Bates, amounting to 50 percent of the company's total, was transferred to the Edison Phonograph Works. During 1896 and 1897, the Edison Phonograph Works acquired the remaining interests of Insull and Bates, securing more than 99 percent of the company's stock. The Bates Manufacturing Co. continued as the sales agents for numbering machines, line-dating machines, and other office products produced by the Edison Phonograph Works. Its main offices were located at the Edison Phonograph Works in Orange, New Jersey. It also had a salesroom New York City and an office in London.
The records cover the period 1892-1927. They consist of legal documents, correspondence, and financial records. Many items relate to agreements between the Bates Manufacturing Co., its stockholders, and the Edison Phonograph Works. Included is Edison's 1895 proposition for revisions in the 1892 agreement. There are also documents pertaining to Edwin G. Bates's patent assignments; the cancellation of the 1890 agreement between Insull and Bates; and the sale of company stock to the Edison Phonograph Works. Other items include annual reports to the Comptroller of New York State, some copies of minutes from trustees' and stockholders' meetings, and a list of stockholders. There are also letters concerning of the company's accounts and financial condition, stockholders' resolutions regarding foreign patents and personnel matters, Insull's investment in the company, and the controversy over Bates's continued manufacture and sale of machines through the Bates Machine Co. of Brooklyn. A finding aid is available at the Edison National Historical Park.
Approximately 30 percent of the documents have been selected. The following categories of documents have not been selected: announcements of meetings, election ballots, proxies, routine contracts for services, and duplicate items. The selected documents for 1892-1898 appear in chronological order. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.