Beyond Britannia - Grant B Schley

Beyond Britannia

The second person in this series is Grant B Schley, business partner of George H Robinson, presented in the previous post.

Grant B Schley was born in Chapenville New York in 1845. He began his career in finance at the age of 16 as a clerk. At the age of 40, he entered the brokerage business as a partner of John B Moore. Over the years, Schley had financial interests in many companies and was an active member of the New York Stock exchange. 

While his name is not as well known as J.P. Morgan, his financial influence was of the same league. The extent of this influence was to become fully recognized in the year 1907 as his brokerage firm, Moore and Schley, faced collapse because of financial market panic in the fall of that year – a panic triggered in part by Robinson’s previous employer – Fritz Heinze.  

In essence, in order to prevent the collapse of the brokerage firm Moore and Schley, J.P. Morgan negotiated an all stock trade that granted Morgan a monopoly on steel. For the deal to be approved, President Roosevelt agreed to not oppose the deal on antitrust grounds. 

The significance of the panic of 1907 cannot be understated. One of its outcomes was the establishment of the US Federal Reserve.  

For Britannia, Schley’s financial involvement was as critical to its success as Robinson’s mining acumen. Schley not only invested in the property, but also steadfastly held to continuous development of the mine even during tough economic times. This was a serious commitment considering the mine was at best marginally profitable in its first decade of operations.

Schley and Robinson had a long history prior to Britannia. Schley was an investor in Tintic, and at one point was the company’s president.  Their previous success of combining Robinson’s engineering skills and Schley’s financial skills provided a solid start for the Mine, but between Robinson’s death, the crisis of 1907, the economic conditions following the crisis, and issues with the Robinson’s initial design of the Mine & Mill, Britannia was off to a rough start.

The man that turned Britannia into an efficient and profitable operation was John Wedderburn Dunbar Moodie.