Hello, and welcome to this week’s Bill’s History Corner. Today I’m going to talk about the Vitreous company. Nappanee’s Vitreous Company made the porcelain tabletop work surface that was on every Dutch kitchen Cabinet. Exactly when the Coppes Co. began using the porcelain tops is still in question.
Vitreous Comes to Town
In approx. 1919-20, the town of Nappanee raised funds to help the Cleveland, Ohio Vitreous Metal Stamping company to set up a branch factory in Nappanee. The Coppes Bros. & Zook, along with the Mutschler Bros. Co , were the major backers for this new company move. The Dutch Kitchen Cabinet output from the Coppes factory was using 1,000’s of these Porcelain top work surfaces each month. It is still unclear if the Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. began purchasing porcelain work surfaces from the Vitreous Company while the Company was still in Cleveland or started using the Vitreous product only after they moved to Nappanee . I’ve been researching that, but so far, no luck.
One interesting note I have found is from a 1916 Coppes Bros. & Zook catalog stating that “Aluminum tables boiled in a paraffin preparation, closing the pores in the wood so that it will not absorb moisture, consequently will not warp, swell or shrink.” Also “Porcelain tables may be had in place of the aluminum.” So apparently, the aluminum tabletops were still the standard in 1916, with the option of switching to a porcelain top if the customer wanted. Wonder how much extra it costed.
Vitreous on Parade
I have a couple pictures to show you. In the 1949 Nappanee City Parade, the Vitreous Company had an ingenious float. On one end is a small band, and on the other end are the requested pretty girls. I have two snap shots of the float. I think it was built on a company forklift truck. Look at the pictures closely. Can you see the driver of the float? In one picture, one end of the float is lifted high in the air. It seems like the float would be able to travel forward or backwards along the parade route. Maybe it switched directions. Only trouble with that is no one would know unless they saw it turn around.
I also have this photo of six vitreous employees at a 25 years of service party. I have no idea who these people are or when this picture was taken. It just points out the importance of identifying your pictures. Your pictures may be wonderful and important to someone in the future.