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I Could Use Your Help . . .

This is supposed to be Bill’s History Corner. In a way, I guess it still is but I don’t feel good about it. Anyhow, welcome to this week’s history Corner, thanks for checking in on me, and seriously, I need help understanding the receipts from this company. If you have been following this site for the past months, we have been digging into boxes of old company receipts from the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. Most of the paper is from around 1900 to 1910.

I can picture a new office employee wondering what in the world they should do with the massive volumes of paper receipts generated during the daily business activities. Maybe they thought “I don’t want to bother my boss with this, I’ll just put these receipts in a box”. And boy, are we sure glad they did just that. A full box of paper would seem more valuable than just a couple of sheets of paper, so they were stored and never thrown away. So now in 2020, we are trying to make sense out of the paper that was left behind in the factory. As I read each piece of paper most of it will make sense. Some of it I may need to think about it for a while, but it usually makes sense.

This History Corner receipt I have thought long and hard about, but I am still stumped. Here is where I need your help. I hope someone out there may know what the reason was for the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. to purchase rugs and linoleum. Certainly, the company may have wanted rugs or linoleum for some of the offices, but the quantities in this receipt are staggering.Dated Aug. 10, 1909, this receipt is from the Hallack–Deamer Carpet Co. Kansas City, MO.I’ve listed the first items from this receipt with a small amount of editing to make it read better below the image. 


50 (amt.) Dunlap Axminster Rugs  27 X 60 (size)   $1.57 ½ (price)   = $78.75 (cost) 

15 Wool Art Squares 9X12 – 180 Sq. Yds. $.50 sq. yd.   =        $90.00                

50 Pro Brussels Squares  9X12 – 600 sq. yds. $.50 sq. yd.  =       $300.00               

Register 46961 Henderson filler       107 yds.               

Register 46875 Henderson Filler   + 101 yds

= 208 yds at $.22 1/2 (per yd. for a total cost of) $46.80

So, with the first 5-line items (115 rugs & padding ) the cost amounts to $436.80 

The next group on this receipt is for 5 different kinds of “GRANITE” design linoleum; “644 yards @$122.36.”     I’m almost sure I know what the linoleum was intended for, but the rugs, such a huge quantity. Then more rugs:

“Smith-Axminster 6X9’s          Qu   5        @  $10.00  ea.  =    $50.00” 

Then   –    “Snyrna Rugs           30X60               Qu.   100         @ $1.40ea.   =$140.00”

And   –   “Dobson Velvet       9 X 12         Qu   5                @ $14.55      = $72.75”

Are you keeping up with this?  The top section of this one receipt is for (area??) 225 rugs, 100 of one type, 50 ea. of 2 others. Mostly smaller rugs, with one rug of 600 Square yards. What is going on? I can’t imagine what the purpose was for that many rugs and GRANITE pattern Linoleum.  Can you?

The rest (Bottom section) of this receipt is for different linoleums.  Apparently, the Carpet company had the skills and ability to inlay linoleum designs or patterns into a background piece of linoleum. This was designated as Cooks “A” or Cook’s “B”, or Scotch “B” Imp. Linoleum;  1,942 Sq. yd. of linoleum was ordered.  That is enough for a 17,000 Sq. ft. building. Wow, that is huge.

OK, here is my idea. When the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. began making kitchen cabinets, the only method they knew of for making the work table portion of a kitchen cabinet was to construct it from clear straight-grained (light in color) wood, with no covering. I imagine that they quickly learned this work surface did not wear well and soon became rough and impossible to keep clean. By experimentation, they discovered that linoleum would work for covering the cabinet’s work surface relatively will.

The period when linoleum was used is not set in stone, but generally, the years 1907 thru 1909 were the linoleum years. Soon to follow was sheet zinc, then sheet aluminum (food safe???) followed by the porcelain tops we know so well. The actual dates when the company may have changed from one material to another most likely overlaps. Customers could possibly order the top with Linoleum or Zinc or Aluminum at the same time. Eventually, the porcelain tops were developed and Coppes began using them exclusively.

In Nappanee, the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. helped bring the Vitreous Company to town for the express purpose of making porcelain tops for the Dutch Kitchenets. In Indiana, I have found references to several similar companies that supplied Porcelain work surfaces to other kitchen cabinets manufactures. Well, that was my idea, and I was going to stick with it until more evidence surfaced. Guess what I found on the back of another piece of paper?

I have told you of the Coppes’s incoming material inspection team. When these rugs and linoleum arrived at the factory the inspection team went to work counting each item and putting a checkmark (one check for each item) on paper as they were counted to indicate how many of the items had arrived in good condition. The backside of the company inspection sheet has some names penciled in next to some of the items. The “office” was apparently going to receive two rolls of the linoleum. Other places were listed as “A Mutschler” 3 rolls; – “J. Nley” 2 rugs;  – “N. A. Leman” 49 ½ Yd Linoleum; –  “mens club” 2 rugs; –  “ACME Co.” Rugs & Linoleum ; –  “Office” 5 rolls linoleum and 3 rugs. Clearly some of the rugs and linoleum were intended to be used as floor coverings, but there was still a huge amount to be used for something else. I still think my idea may be correct, they were intending to use the linoleum from this shipment on the work surfaces of Dutch Kitchenets. What they were planning on for the rugs? Christmas gifts for employees? I told you I needed Help with this one. All answers & suggestions welcomed. I’ve scanned this receipt and the two railroad records below. Note the weight of this shipment at 9200 pounds.

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