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Selling By Signal

Selling By Signal image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
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The Chicago stockyards are unique among the great marts of the world. In no other place, say those who are most familiar vrith its daily routine, is so large au aggregate of business transacted in the lauguage of gestures and with - out the "scrateh of a pen" as in the noisy pens of the stoekyards. A whip is held high in air, across a sea of clatteriug horus the signal is answered by the momentary uplifting of a h&nd, and a "bunoh" of cattle worth thousands of dollars is sold. There is somethiug splendidly picturesque and even spectacular in these wordless transactions. They ignore the artificialities of the complex system upon which modern business relationships are almost universally maintained. Trade in the cattle pens gets boldly back to primitive simplicity. It is done on honor, not on paper. And the nndisputed transfer of millions of dollars' ■worth of the property here dealt in proves tbat a bargain sealed with the wave of the whip and an assenting gesrure of the hand is quite as safe and saered as if the whole transaction were recorded ' ' in black and white. ' ' The trader in the wheat pit is armed ■with his tally card, upon which he pauses to note the names of those -with whom he deals and the amount, nature and price of the commodities bought and sold. The broker upon the floor of the Stock Exchange places equal reliance upon the quickly penciled memoranda made at the moment when the details of each transaction were upon the lips of those oncerned in its ment ; but the trayer and seller of the yards carry whips, not pencils, and their deals are recorded in memory instead of written upon tradiug cards. As well try to picture the old knights making laborious written memoranda of their challengesasto thiuk of the#ough and ready traders of the cattle yards pausing in their saddles to jot down upon paper their purchases and sales. Such a procedure would bid defiance to the very nature of things and do violence to the magnificent unconventionality of every environment. "Is there never any trouble in this kind of dealing?" a leading commission man was asked. "If yon mean do the men go back on their bargains made by whip and hand, I can answer, never," was the trader's answer as he brought his trim black horse to a halt in the cattle alley and leaned forward in his saddle. "There isn't another place in America, or the whole world, for that matter, where so much business is done on the basis of personal integrity, without a written word to show for the transaetions, as right here, " he continued, "and the method beats all the bonds ou earth. The day's business in these pens will run about $1,500,000. And how is it done? Little talk, a considerable waving of vhips and bands and no exehange of writteu documents between bnyers and sellers. "Here is a bunch of cattle that will figure up about $10,000. Over there iu the other alley is a buyer who this morning offered me a price of $5. 10 for them. I thought that I conld do better, but the market has been a little off, and I have decided to let the bunch go at bis offer. Up to the present moment we have exchanged about a dozen words on this subject. Now, if he is willing to pay the price wbich he named in the morning I'll show you how a $10,000 bunch of fat steers is sold without word of mouth or a scratch of writing at the time the bargain is really made. ' ' The commission man then straightened up in the saddle and waited for the distant bnyer to look in his direction. A moment later this representativo of a big packing house wheeled his borse about and faced in the direction of the seller. Instantly the commission man lifted high his rawhide riding whip and held it aloft. His attitude was as striking as that of a cavalry colonel uplifting his saber to concéntrate the attention of his regiment before making a desperate charge. The pose, however, was fnll of natural grace and freedom and showed that the man was more at ease in the saddle than he could have been out of it. Only a moment elapsed before the alert eye of the buyer caught sight of the upraised whip. The next instant he raised his hand a little above his head. held 4t motionless a moment and then dropped it with a forward movement. Quickly the seller repeated the motion of assent with his whip, and then, turning to his caller, said : "That's all there is to it. To a stranger this kind of a performance looks like a long range sign talk between deaf mutes, but we understand each other perfectly. We both know how many cattle there are in the bunch and the price at which they have been sold. Had we been within speaking distance of each other the transaction would probably have been a verbal one, just for the sake of sociability, but not because it would have mae the bargain better understood or au y more binding. ' '


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News