1902 Encyclopedia > Paris > Industries and Commerce

(Part 17)

Industries and Commerce

Returns issued by the chamber of commerce for 1872 estimated the industrial production of Paris as in the following table: -


The larger manufacturing establishments of Paris comprise engineering and repairing works connected with the railways, similar private works, foundries, and sugar refineries. Government works are the tobacco factories of Gros Caillou (2000 workmen) and Reuilly (1000), the national printing establishment (1000), the mint (where money and medals are coined by a contractor under state control), and the famous tapestry factory and dye-works of the Gobelins. The list of minor establishments is a very varied one; most of them devoted to the production of the so-called articles de Paris, and carrying the principle of the division of labor to an extreme. The establishments which rank next to those above mentioned in the number of workmen are the chemical factories, the gas-works, the printing offices, cabinetmakers’ workshops, boot factories, tailoring establishments, has factories, and works for the production of paperhangings.

Among the workers are included 189,401 women, girls, and boys, and 123,369 masters-this last a figure which shows how great is the number of the small establishments. The total value produced was estimated at 134,763,717 pounds in 1860, and must have since increased enormously. (Compare Table IV. p. 278). In 1881 the average day’s wages paid in the petite industrie were estimated at 4s. 5d. for the men and 2s. 5d for the women. Since 1878 an increase has taken place year by year, at least for the men. Clerks in warehouses earn about 48 pounds per annum, shop women 32 pounds, shop girls 16 pounds, male domestics 24 pounds, and female, domestics, 20 pounds.

In 1882 2400 new houses were built and 1883 old houses enlarged; on the other hand, 997 old houses were entirely demolished and 777 partially. The last official industrial valuation of rental is for the year 1876. At that date there were 76,129 houses containing 1,038,124 separate establishments, 699,175 being used as dwelling-houses at a rental of 13,981,836pounds, and 338,949 pounds for industrial purposes at a rental of 10,049,542 pounds.

Between 1872 and 1881 the navigation of the Seine doubled in importance. It has been free from all dues since 1880. There are three divisions- the navigation of the upper Seine and the Marne (above Paris), that of the lower Seine and the Oise (below Paris), and that of the Canal de l’Oureq with its terminus at the La Villete basin, whence the St Denis Canal branches off to the lower Seine and the St Martin Canal to the upper Seine.


The good arriving by the upper Seine are chiefly building, sand, paving-stones firewood, timber grain, coal and coke, pyrites, charcoal, and wines; those by the lower Seine, coal and coke, sand, paving-stones, wines, building materials, grain, and timber; and those by the Canal de l’Ourcq, building materials. By the upper Seine Paris desptaches mainly and manure; by the lower Seine, manure, pyrites, grain, and refined sugars; by the Canal de l’Ourcq, agriculture produce and manure. To the traffic of the river ports situated within the city must be added that of the ports along the canals, and especially that of La Villete, the third port of all France, judged by its commercial activity. The following table (IX) shows the tonnage of the merchandise that passed through each of the canals in 1882 (the same merchandise may sometimes figure on two canals, or may have also been entered for the ports within the city):-


The Ourcq Canal brings down wood, building stones, bricks flour, and especially plaster, and takes in return coal, manure, and night-soil for the Bondy manure-works. The St Denis Canal brings up coal from Nord, Pas de Calais, Belgium, and England; freestone from the valley of the Oise, sands, from the lower Seine, wood for industrial purposes, grain, sewage for the works at Aubervilliers, colonial wares for La Villete, &c., and the most important articles taken down are sewage for Aubervilliers, and the various wares embarked at La Villerte for Rouen or La Havre. Along the St Martin Canal on the upward passage, sand, gravel, paving-stones or blocks, firewood, lime or cement, freestone, bricks, tiles, slates are discharged, and sewage especially is taken in for Aubervilliers. On the downward passage are discharged plasters from the Ourcq Canal, coal, and stones and sand from the Oise and the Ourcq. There is besides a large transit traffic.

Five of the great railway companies have a terminus at Paris. The "Nord" and the "Paris, Lyons, and Mediterranean" lines have each only one station; the "Ouest" has two, St. Lazare and Montparnasse; the "Est" two, one of which, Bastiile, is only a passenger station for the use of the Vincenes line and its prolongation; the "Orleans" two, of which one, Barriere d’Enfer, is restricted to the short line from Paris to Sceaux and Limours.

The following table (X). shows the number of passengers and quantity of goods that left Paris in 1880:-


Some goods are registered and pay dues at the Paris customhouse; but many pay these dues at the frontier. The following returns (Table XI.) must therefore be considered only as showing the importance of the Paris custom-house, and not the extent of the trade of the city:-


The "special" trade is for home consumption. The duty paid on the imports was 3,774,407 pounds.

Till 31st December 1897 the Bank of France has the exclusive privilege of issuing bank-notes. Notes are at present issued for 1000, 500, 100, and 50 francs (40 pounds, 20 pounds, 4 pounds, and 2 pounds); at different times there have been notes for 5000, 2000, 25, 20, and 5. The Bank of France, which has already been described in BANKING (see vol. iii. p. 337-39), has 90 branch offices in the provinces. In 1877 the bank received bills and stock to the value of 56,022,532; pounds its advances on securities amounted to 15,038,072 pounds, the change of bank-notes into gold caused a movements of 33,288,000 pounds.

The other chief financial establishments in Paris are the Caisse des Depots et des Consignations, which receives voluntary deposits or those which are obligatory in certain cases fixed by law; the Credit Foncier de France, which gives advances to landowners on real property; the Comptoir National d’Escompte, which carries on the same branches of business as the bank, with the exception of the issue of notes.

Among the great private joint-stock banks must be mentioned the Societe Generale, the Credit Indistriel et Commercial, the Credit Lyannais, the Banque de Paris et des Pays Bas, the Societe de Depots et Comptes Courants, the Banque d’Escompte, &c. The Bourse or Exchange is open from noon to 3’ o’clock for the negotiation of public stock, and from 3 to 6 for commercial transactions. The former is effected by means of brokers (agents de change) named by ministerial decree, and possessing the exclusive right of dealing in public stocks and bills. Brokers for the purchase and sale of goods enjoy freedom of trade, but the tribunal of commerce issues a list of the brokers who have taken the oath. These brokers meet to decide the prices current of the various goods.

The conseils de prud’hommes settle difference between workmen and workmen, or between workmen and masters; the whole initiative, however, rests with the parties. There are four of these bodies in Paris (for the metal trades, the chemical trades, the textile trades, and miscellaneous industries), composed of an equal number of masters and men. They succeed in settling without litigation 95 per cent of the disputes submitted to them.

The tribunal of commerce, composed of business men elected by the "notables" of their order, deals with cases arising out of commercial transactions; declaration of bankruptcy are made before it; and it acts as court of appeal to the conseils de prud’hommes. In 1882, out of 75,660 cases brought into this court, judgment was given in 66,156, of which 20,696 were cases of first and 45,460 cases of last instance; 4584 cases were compromised. In the same year 1696 bankruptcies were declared, 10 applications made for rehabilitation, and 7 such application granted by the Paris court of appeal. Money due to bankrupt estates is paid into the Caisse des Depots et des Consignations. In 1882 the tribunal of commerce registered 1963 deeds of partnership, 1167 dissolutions of partnership, 1340 home trade marks, and 175 foreign trade marks.

The chamber of commerce (under the honorary presidency of the Seine prefect) consists of twenty-one elective members, of whom a third are renewals every two years. Its duty is to present its views on the means of increasing and developing Parisian commerce. The Condition des Soeis, as its name indicates, has to determine exactly the quality of the silk purchased by the dealers. The Chambre Syndicate de Tisus, a non-officials association, is the recognized mouthpiece of the textile industries and trade in their dealings with the public administration.

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