This is a follow-up to a previous post called 94 Years Ago Today, which detailed the seizure and sale of A.W. Faber’s American assets in 1918 as a result of the Alien Property Act. I came across an article that summarized the day’s events and also contained a couple of very interesting bits of information.
Ultimately Mr. Friedeburg’s winning bid would not be approved. In fact, it was denied in the form of an executive order from President Woodrow Wilson, stating that the bid was too low and did not represent fair market value. This is understandable, but why did it take 13 days to come to that conclusion? Furthermore, who ended up with A.W. Faber’s assets, and what was their nationality? Or more to the point, what wasn’t their nationality? Perhaps not everyone would have been happy with Friedeburg—and his surname—winning the property once owned by the “enemy”. This is pure conjecture on my part and perhaps even a little bit irresponsible, but my feeling about it was bolstered upon discovering that there were only two bidders for the property:
With all of the intense competition that existed between early 20th-century pencil-makers in the United States it seems rather surprising that there was only one other bidder. But this brings me to the other interesting bit: another pencil-maker was present at the auction, but he didn’t bid:
Perhaps his curiosity got the better of him, or maybe his schadenfreude had runneth over, but he was likely not the only person interested in the apparent demise of A.W. Faber in America. The underlined passage is very telling, though—Eberhard Faber continued to distance himself from his relatives in Stein while reminding the war-weary American public that he too was in fact an American, and that his business was “thoroughly American in character.”
The rest of the article offers some history as well as a few details regarding the approval process for the winning bid:
The First World War and the Alien Property Act presented the Wilson administration many opportunities to acquire not only goods and property, but cash and patents as well. And with all the cronyism that was going on at the time, an auction of this size having only two bidders (the winner of which was denied) makes you wonder if there isn’t more to the story.