This section is from the "Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1914" book, by Sara F. T. Price. Also see Amazon: Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1914.
When one clique of men gets control of the visible supply of wheat, there's a corner - but not necessarily a shortage. There is panic and a wild unevenness of prices.
When a supply is apparently cut off on chemicals, when there is uncertainty and when, wisely or not, certain people, in order to provide for the future send out buying orders in one month for more than they had ever before purchased in a year, the situation is somewhat similar. There's panic and unevenness and there is good reason to construe as a genuine shortage what is really "spottiness."
Prices on chemicals are up - too much up, but are not as high as some people imagine. Sources of basic supply are still uncertain, though the situation is improving. Things are not as spotty as they were. We are supplying Hydrochinon at triple the former price, and Elon at an advance of 50 %. The Tozol price has doubled, and we are selling Pyro at 25% advance. Other chemicals have advanced, somewhat, say from 10% to 25%. Of course another month may see a change in either direction. We cannot tell, prices may go down nearly as fast as they have gone up.
But there is one point that we want to make clear, and that is that there are dealers who, in order to protect their regular customers, paid extravagant war prices for developers, and who in turn necessarily charged in proportion. Be careful, before condemning your stock house man of extortion. He may have had your interests in mind as well as his own when his purchases were made. When a man has failed at two or three points to get a staple article at any price, he is pretty likely to be willing to pay an extravagant price when he does find it.
A really serious chemical famine would have come if we, and others, had not refused to fill in full the extravagant orders that were rushed in by mail, phone, and telegraph a month ago. The flurry seems to be over. Prices are up but it must be borne in mind that even the goods that are now made in this country are produced under conditions that are far from economical. On such as are still imported freight rates are up and insurance is up. We shall raise prices only as we have to and shall reduce them at the first opportunity. Speculation in chemicals is not to our taste. We are more interested in steadily serving our customers, with papers and plates with which the chemicals are used.
After all, the advance in the price of chemicals adds so little to the cost of a picture as to be negligible. We shall continue our policy of endeavoring to so distribute the goods that immediate wants will be taken care of. We do not believe that any photographer anywhere will have to close his studio on account of a lack of chemicals. We hope that prices are not only now at their highest, but that, through substitutions and new sources of supply, the trend to prices before many more months will be downward, even though the war continues for a year or more.