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A composition having a mixture of the below compounds having a mole ratio of at least 1:20. Ar1 and Ar2 are independently selected aromatic groups. A composition comprising phthalonitrile compounds that comprise at least 5 mol % of the first compound below. A method of: providing a solution of a dichloroaromatic compound having an electron-withdrawing group bound to each aromatic ring containing one of the chloride groups; a dihydroxyaromatic compound or anion thereof; an organic transition metal complex or a transition metal salt; an alkaline hydroxide base; and a solvent; and heating the solution to a temperature at which the dichloroaromatic compound and the dihydroxyaromatic compound react to form a dimetallic salt of an aromatic ether oligomer. The molar ratio of the dihydroxyaromatic compound to the dichloroaromatic compound is greater than 2:1. Water formed during the heating is concurrently distilled from the solution.