MESSRS USBORNE & SON Corn factors                  

The trade of Messrs Usborne & Son, a Mark lane corn-factor was described by employee E.R.Holland to the Royal Commission on Food Prices in December 1924 and probably differs little from the trade when the firm was founded in the reign of George III. (The report in the Times is edited by J.U.)
The firm buys wheat on c.i.f. (cost, insurance & freight) terms and sells on a monthly credit system ex-ship or delivered at a profit of per cent, subject to considerable establishment charges. The shipper from whom the merchant bought would not sell small quantities -- the usual minimum being 1,000qrs of 480lbs. -- but the merchant was ready to distribute that quantity in as many as 15 or 20 lots. The small miller had always looked to the merchant to bring along the wheat for him, and the Mark lane merchant had not only succeeded in keeping the small miller supplied, but had also enabled him successfully to compete with the much larger port miller. It was a curious fact that wheat could nearly always be bought cheaper in London than in the exporting countries, and that could only be due to the fact that the available supplies of unsold wheat usually exceeded the demand. He quoted a figure of 69s 6d. c.i.f. for Canada and 66s.6d in London. He explained that it was not the shipper who bore the loss as he had parted with the wheat long ago, it was someone else. In addition to shippers and merchants there were dealers who bought in the hopes of making a profit and did not always succeed. We do not speculate; We call it anticipating the trade. When challenged over the small profit made by the factor Mr Holland replied: "We make a living. We are not out to make fortunes".