History of advertising. Part 2. W. Duke Sons & Co (1888-1918) (294 photos)

18 January 2013
2 582

“Hi guys, I'm Duke from New York. “I have come to buy your business,” these were the first words that the future head of BAT, James Duke, uttered on September 17, 1901 in the house of his future partners. The Player brothers, owners of the large British tobacco company John Player & Sons, could not come up with anything better than to push the “arrogant red-haired American” out the door. But that was only the beginning.

Players should know that Dukes are not only arrogant, but also stubborn. James's father, Washington Duke, fought for the Southerners in the American Civil War and was captured by Union forces. In 1856, freed with 50 cents in his pocket, he walked 137 miles to his home in South Carolina. Unable to defend his views with the help of weapons, Duke decided to assert himself in the commercial field. He founded the company "V. Duke and Sons" and began growing tobacco. Business was successful, and in 1881 Duke built a cigarette factory. At that time, pipe smoking was common, and the cigarette industry was just in its infancy. Thanks to dumping, distribution of free cigarette samples, coupons and gifts to customers, the company quickly secured a wide range of consumers.

In 1885, Duke had the opportunity to significantly expand his business by purchasing a cigarette machine from inventor James Bohnsack, which worked at an incredible speed at that time - 200 cigarettes per minute (the speed of a modern cigarette line is 100 times higher). The machine replaced 125 workers who had previously made cigarettes by hand, and allowed Duke to use increased profits to buy up small manufacturers. Finally, in 1885, Duke convinced the four largest American manufacturers to merge - and thus the American Tobacco Company, one of the two future owners of BAT, was born. Washington Duke became its president.


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