Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

an excerpt from the Southworth archives

What would you think of a man who bought a beautiful brand-new Cadillac with air conditioning, white wall tires and all the built-in luxury extras which the Company manufactures, but neglected to take out one penny’s worth of insurance for liability, property damage, fire or theft?

You would say that he was a might foolish man, and you would be so right. Well, there are many such foolish men in the world today who run the risk of disastrous situations coming about because they are penny-wise and pound-foolish.

They think that just because a paper looks attractive and makes a neatly typed manuscript it is good enough for their every office need. This is just not so. A document which has to last over an indefinite period of years, such as a will or long-term contract, should never be drawn on anything less than 100% cotton fiber paper.

Cotton Fiber is pure cellulose, which has an undetermined life span. We do know there are papers in existence made before the birth of Christ, paper that was made with pure cellulose raw material. We also know that the higher the wood content, the shorter the life of the paper. Just how long different papers will last is hard to say, but to gamble, just for the savings of a few cents, is indeed folly.

Attorneys do not gamble with the life of the documents they produce because they do not care. They do so, in large, because they are not aware that cotton fiber papers are their only guarantee against fatal deterioration of these documents. We, as salesman, have failed in our duty to educate them as to these facts.

We will grant it is quite a shock to a man who is told that he should pay more for a ream for paper then he is accustomed to paying. Let him consider what he spends to beautify his office with the most expensive furniture, draperies and fixings. Should he then use anything but the best paper available – with beauty and lasting quality for an additional cost of only a few pennies for each legal document drawn? This is the one way he can ethically advertise and build prestige for his firm.

If we do our job well, we will see to it that every lawyer customer of ours has in his office at least one box of Parchment Deed 100% cotton fiber paper to be used on every document of a permanent nature. This is our duty and a service we should render to our customers. We can be sure of one thing; they will love this paper and come back for more.


Paul W. Cheney began his long career with Southworth in 1921 as chief sales representative and went on to serve the company as Vice President until his passing in 1966. Mr. Cheney was a legend in the office products industry. Although he traveled extensively as a rep for the company, he found time to write his monthly Bulletin; a commentary on the state of the economy, salesmanship and new product information. He was an excellent communicator whether in person, or in print. He was a Blogger. There is a delightful treasure trove of Paul Cheney’s Bulletins dating from 1934 through 1966 which will be posted occasionally on the Southworth Blog. Two things are evident in his writing. That he loved selling Southworth paper, and that his wisdom and insight transcend generations.

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