Remembering The Wool Page

R.H. Lindsay Company has done a lot of things in the Wool Trade over our 87 year history. While selling wool has been our number one goal, we also had an enduring interest in the wool community from wool growers, warehouses, traders and mills that have been part of the wool infrastructure over the years.

Last month, Grace and Phil went to Fort Worth Texas for the American Sheep Industry Association’s annual convention. Nearly 500 folks gathered from all around the country and Phil had a great time reviving old connections and friendships while Grace was doing some serious networking.

The biggest surprise greeting Phil and his long past efforts was folks asking about The Wool Page, which R.H. Lindsay published until 2000. The Wool Page evolved from the historical weekly paper called The Commercial Bulletin. We’d moved off Summer Street to cheaper digs around the corner and after a while a new neighbor was Marine Guide Publishing that owned two weekly papers The Marine Guide and The Commercial Bulletin. The Marine Guide still lives as the Atlantic Journal of Transportation.

The Commercial Bulletin folded in the mid-1990s. Its mission was to report on the Lumber and Wool industries. It was founded as a wool news paper by former Massachusetts Governor Curtis Guilde when the first intercontinental telegraph was established in the 1800’s. The Bulletin was able to get the results of the Thursday Bradford (UK) Wool Sale by Saturday morning, instead of the two weeks or so it took a boat to sail over with the news. Talk about speeding up communication! The Wool Page was an effort to innovate to match what was happening at the time. Lap top newsletters were on fire!

We had a blast producing the Wool Page. It kept Phil organized as he had to turn out 48 issues a year and keep it current and sensible. Oddly it gave us great gravitas with folks who hardly cared about R.H. Lindsay Company or what we were doing. How many times I heard, “did you hear……??? don’t tell anyone you heard it from me”. It opened doors to many a wool buyer’s office.

While Phil produced most of it, John D. (Toppy) Lindsay was the publisher and he produced what was probably our most popular piece we called, The Road Report. Toppy would set off to scour the midwest and the rest of the country for greasy wool. He would report on what he paid for gas, what the weather was doing wherever he was and what the wool looked like and whether it sparked his interest. Two folks in Fort Worth fondly recalled Toppy’s Road report.

Sadly The Wool Page folded in 2000 even though we’d added a weekly fax newsletter and online site for our newsletter that had over 200 readers from around the world. Phil broke his leg around then and he claimed the break gave him writers block. The reality was Phil got another job and wool consumption in 2000 had dropped from over 190 million pounds to 50 million pounds in just four. In other words, there wasn’t much to write about.

While the mood at ASI wasn’t a little low with meat and wool prices bad at the same time, we sensed an underlying enthusiasm and hope that the USA may find a way to succeed in wool and sheep. It surely inspired us to see folks who might normally do what their predecessors have always done, thinking about another way to approach their business.

So… here we are recalling our past with an eye toward the future. While we can’t recreate the past we can use what we learned to create new options. We hope this reflection is the start of our efforts to provide a consistent update on our view of the world and American wool community.