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April 9, 1892
Record and Guide.
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Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 14 & i6 Vesey St.
J. J. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
"Entered at the Post-o^ce ai New York, N. T., as second-class maÃÃer."
APRIL 9. 1892.
THE most favorable feature in the tinaiicial situation can be
seen from ratlier thaii in Wall Street. It is the apparent end
of the deoline in the prices of such fÄ©reat staples as cotton and iron.
If ia these two and their allied industries buyers show little or no
anxiety to make purcha^es, the sellers are making no more conces-
sions to induce them to. This may involve some waiting before a
ftnal opinion can be reached as to whether a new and bettercourse
of things is to be seen, but meanwliile some satisfaction can be
derived from the firmness of prices, low as thcy are. In the
stock market matters are very little dltferent. The violence of the
selling of a week ago induced a substantial reaction which, having
spent itself, is succeeded by renewed duUness. The markec is
essentially a professional one in which easy money will from time
to time exert its influence, but until more interest is taken inquota-
tions from the outside, permanent improvement is not possible.
OWING to the low rates at which money has been lending in
London, it might have been supposed that application for
capital during the first quarter of this year would have been large,
but such is not the case. Little inducement appears to have existed
for the floating of new enterprises ; and the market was not par-
ticularly hospitable to the opportunities that were offered. On the
surface the falling off from the level of previous years is not
apparent. The total applications were Â£30,943,(j00 during the flrst
quarter of 1893 against Â£29,100,000 for the same period in 1891,
Â£30,250,000 for the sa me period in 1890, and Â£56,000,000 for 1889.
Analysis shows, however, that considerably more than half the
total applications of this quarter liave been in respect of foreign
government loans, and for these the applications to English inves-
tors were more or less formal. The two items composing these
foreign government applications were the German loan of over
14I4 millions sterling, and the Dutch loan of 41^ sterling, and for
comparative purposes the amount of those two loans might almost
be omitted from the calculation. If this were done the total
applications for the quarter would be reduced to 12 millions
sterling, as compared with 29 millions in the flrst quarter of 1891
and 301-^ millions in 1890.
THE bill authorizing the Governor to appoint a commission of
three experts to draft suitable building lan s for the various
cities in this State, excepting the cities of New York and Brooklyn,
passed the Senate Ã-evtral days ago, and is novv in the Assembly.
The commissioners will be required to serve without pay, and to
complete their work within one year. The sum of $5.000 is appro-
priated by the bill for legal counsel, clerk hire, printing and other
necessary expenses in the prosecution of the work. The building
laws so formulated are to be in three classes : 1. For all cities
exceeding 75,000 inhabitants, excepting the two cities already
named. 2. For all cities exceeding 35,000, but not exceeding
75,000 inhabitants. 3. For all cities not exceeding 35,000 inhabi-
tants. No permanent State commission, nor anything of that kind,
is to be created. The building laws are to be so drawn that they
can flt into the charters of the various cities and their enforcement
is to be in the hands of the local authorities.
/"^LASSIFIED building laws, uniform in their grades, are badly
V-^ needed in this State. Other States are equally badly off.
Building laws for all cities are the urgent need of the time, and
when a proper code of such laws is adopted in New York State
other States will doubtless adopt the same. The drafting of these
laws will call for a high order of ability, and it seems too bad that
the economical ideas of our legislators should require this service to
be performed without compensation or not performed at all. For-
tunately competent men stand ready to do the work, pay or no pay.
For the past twelve years a few public-spirited men bave worked
continuously on the New York City building law without any
monied compensation whatever, and a similar gratuitous work of
equal or greater importance will have to be undertaken for this
State, in reality for the United States. For a number of years we
bave advocated the appointment of a commission of builders and
architects to formulate building laws for the small cities in this
State, and we earnestly hope that the bill which is now for the
third or fourth time before the Legislature wiU not fail to pass.
OWING to Mr. Atkinson's article in the Century and to the
commissions of inquiry that have been appointed in one
Eastern and several Western States, the subject of land transfer
â reform is now provoking a wider interest than at any time during
the last ten years. In nearly every State, however, which has
appointed these commissions those ' interested in the matter have
jumped to the conclusion that the Australian system could be trans-
planted to American soil with the same facility and success that
hasattended the introduction of the Australian system of balloting.
We have frequently pointed out the difiiculties of the transplalion
of this system to the widely varying and peculiar conditions which
obtain in the United [States. These objections are forcibly stated
by Dwight H. Olmstead in a recent number of the Counsellor. In
the flrst place Ihe Registrar of Deeds in the State of New York is a
purely ministerial oflScer elected by the people and without any
judicial power whatever. Were he to be invested with the same
functious as a Registrar under the Torrens Act a change in our
State constitution would be required, and such a change would
meet many impediments, particularly becauseitwould be thefunc-
tion of this new judge to settle important interests like titles with-
out any appeal to a higher court. Secondly, in the City
of New York there are upwards of 200,000 parcels of
If.nd separately owned, and before the Torrens system
could be put into operation, it would be necessary to
have all these titles separately examined and adjudicated after
hearing all parties intereited. The amount of work to be done
would swamp the court. Another objection to the Torrens system
is its imperfect and unscientiflc mode of indexings by the areas of
the several ownerships instead of by definite areas flxed by statute
for the purpose. The areas of such ownerships cannot for the
most part be represented by diagrams. And where it is attempted
so to represent them, the lots as owned, frequently overlap each
other on the maps, and indexing under the area of one lot would
not give notice of dealings with an adjoining parcel. Furthermore,
there are 3,426 blocks on the land map of this city, and, as before
stated, about 200,000 individual ' ownerships. By keeping the
records of the titles under blocks only 3,426 headings are required
for the entries on the indexes, but if the indexing were to be by
ownerships, upwards of 200,000 different headings would be needed.
Hence the system would be 'too cumbersome and unwieldy to be
applied to such a large volume of business as is carried on in a
Registrar's ofBce like that of New York. Mr. Olmstead also points
out thac the methods of the Torrens Act are opposed tothe customs
and habits of the people in dealing with land, and claims that the
failures in England of Lord Westbury's Act of 1862, and Lord
Cairn's Act of 1874, in which the essential principles of the Torrens
sj'stem were embodied, justify the objections made by him to that
IT must not, however, be supposed from the above that Mr. Olm-
stead objects to^the Torrens system in its entirety, or that his
purpose is any different from the purpose which the Australian
methods are designed to accomplish. The aim of land transfer
reform is the application of the principles so successfully applied to
the transfer of personal propeny to the transfer.'of land ; but these
principles contain no such devices as those of State guarantee of
title and the consequent assurance f und. It is quite possible to
obtain all the advantages of quick and cheap transfer without any
ot the violent wrenching of present methods by the introduction
of the peculiar features of the Torrens system. The process has
been frequently described in these columns. In the flrst place we
need a scientiflc and effective system of indexing whereby instru-
ments affecting titles are made readily accessible. As soon aj this
Ã8 accomplished, land transfer is materially simplifled, but search-
ing of titles still remains, and that means delay and expense. In
order to do away with searching, the title must pass not on the giv-
ing of a deed, but on the regislration of the transferâthe
deed being merely power of attorney ''authorizing the
Registrar to transfer in the books the ownership from the
grantor to the grantee." Of course, the grantor could only
oonvey the title to the parcel whicli he possesses, and in the begin-
ning the grantee would still need to search the title of the grantor.
But by means of a short statute of limitations the title flrst trans-
ferred could be made absolute, and thereafter the register and the
register only would be the evidence of title. Such is an outline of
the process whereby the advantages of the Torrens system can be
obtained, with none of its defccts. The interposition of a State
guarantee is utterly unnecessary. Whatever secures the State in
piakLng the guarantee will secure a grantee in accepting a title.