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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. 

#5011

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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An Updated List of Hoosier Manufacturers

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner. I’ve been working on this list for while now, thought it was time to share it with everyone. Surprising how many companies jumped on the Hoosier Cabinet bandwagon in the early part of the 20th century. I’m still promoting Newspapers .com as a method for researching. Free trial, check it out.

Below is our (Coppes Commons) collected list of Hoosier Cabinet manufacturers as of Oct. 1st, 2020.  

Disclaimer-Names of Manufactures were found in many places, including EBAY listings, cabinets in antique stores, advertisements in magazines, newspapers, trade journals, etc. In most cases, I saw a likeness of a cabinet or an actual kitchen cabinet that was constructed in the style of Hoosier Cabinets. A date is the date of an advertisement. My definition of a Hoosier cabinet is A cabinet that is free standing, with distinct top and bottom sections, a work surface, and large amounts of storage.

Abernathy Furniture Co, Kansas City, MO

Acme Kitchen Furniture Co. Chattanooga, Tenn.  1917

Ariel Cabinet Company – Peru, Indiana ”Handyhelper”

Atchison Furniture Co.,   Atchison   KS   1902

Austell Furniture Company,  Austell, Georgia  

Baines, Mosier Company, Allegan, MICH.

Barnet kitchen Cabinet, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 1922

Biederman Mfg. Co.  Spencerville, Ohio

Boone Kitchen Cabinet – Campbell-Smith-Ritchie Co. – Lebanon, Indian

Borden Cabinet Co. The Indiana.  Indianapolis IN.  1922

Border Kitchen Cabinet,  Bedford, In  1920

Border Queen Kitchen Cabinet,  1913-1917

Bosse kitchen Cabinets,   1909

Brownbilt kitchen cabinet,  F. K. Cox & Co.  Newmarket, Australia

California Kitchen Cabinet co.   1883

Cardinal Cabinet co. The,   Wabash, IN ,  1913

Chambers Kitchen Cabinet, The. , Maryville, TN   1896

Chatham Kitchen Cabinet,  -Manson Campbell Co, Chatham, Ont (Detroit) 1906 

Chief Keokuk, The better Kitchen Cabinet,  Akerson-Ringstrom Co. Keokuk, Iowa,

Colonial Cabinet Co.  St. Louis,   1915

Conroy’s High-Grade Kitchen Cabinet,   1909

Crawford-Bunch Furniture Co. Statesville, NC.  1915

Culinart, Frankfort, Ind.

Curtis Cabinet Co.  “Curtis woodwork”, Cabinet 1935—

Diamond Kitchen Cabinets – Shelbyville, Ind. The C.F. Schmoe Furniture Co.

Domestic Science kitchen Cabinet,   1927 

“DORCHESTER, THE”  Reg DESIGN  733539   GMWAHC

Dulin Anderson-Dulin Varnell Co. Knoxville, KY.

Easiwork Kitchen Cabinet, 242 Tottenham Court Road. LONDON, W. 1.

Elwell- Minneapolis Furniture Co. MN

Eureka Kitchen Cabinet,  1904

Falcon manufacturing Co. Big Rapids, Mich.  1918

Famous Line Borden Cabinets, BORDEN,  IND. 

Flemming Kitchen Cabinet,   Made in Vancouver, Canada

Galax Furniture & Lumber Co. Galax, VA. “MFRS. of Kitchen Cabinets, Bedroom Suites & Chiffoniers.”-          

Galox Kitchen Cabinet  (misspelling???)  1914

Glenwood kitchen Cabinet, Eastern Furniture Co.  Bangor, Maine.—1926

Globe-Bosse-World Furniture Co. “Kitchen Cabinets”. 

Greencastle – Greencastle Cabinet Co., Greencastle, Indiana

H. C. Niemann & Co. Rockwell St. Chicago, IL  

H. J. Scheirich, Louisville, KY, and Scheirich, Louisville, Kentucky.

Haire Kitchen Cabinet, The,   The Haire Kitchen Cabinet Co. Bristol, TENN

Ham Brothers Mfg. Kitchen Cabinets.  Brandford, Ont.

Harris – Brown table Co, Greenwood, Miss — Patented item? Sept 9, 1912

Harrison’s Patent Kitchen Cabinet.  1900

Hartman’s white beauty “Comfort” Kitchen Cabinet

Hastings, Hastings Cabinet Company, Hastings, Michigan. (Alme?)

Hathaway Kitchen Cabinets,  Carbondale, Pa.   1895

Haverty,   Haverty Furniture Co. Atlanta, GA. 

Helpmate Cabinet Co. The,  Little Rock Furniture Manu. Co.  Little Rock, ARK.

Hoosier Manufacturing Co.  New Castle, Indiana  

Hoover-Bond, Store brand, Hoover-Bond store, Lansing, Mich.

HOPPER Brand Kitchen Cabinet Cupboard,  Sioux City, Iowa.

Hudson Bay Company, The. Kitchen Cabinets,   1914

Hygena, Liverpool, England. 1930

Hygeno Sanitary Steel kitchen Cabinet.   1917

Ideal – Vincennes, Indiana, Vincennes Furniture Manufacturers, Vincennes Indiana.

I-X-L furniture Co (Goshen IN)  1916

JAP Sanitary Kitchen Cabinets  “made in Cinn.  “THE CINCINNATI FLY SCREEN CO.   1911

Joering and Pelchmann Co.   St Louis, MO

John Thomas, “Manufacture of Kitchen Cabinets, Galveston, Indiana”

Justrite Cupboards & Kitchen Cabinets,  Indiana Furniture Company, Evansville, IN  1915

Kelly foundry and Machine, Goshen, IN

Kemper Brothers, Founded in Feb 9, 1926 – Richmond, IN/Cincinnati, OH. —-

Keystone, Littlestown, PA Example with clock

King Mantel & Furniture Co. Knoxville, Tenn.  

Kinkead Combination Kitchen cabinet,    B.F. Kinkead, Inventor/Mfg. Emporia, KS.  1900

Kitchen Maid, Wasmuth-Endicott, Andrews, IND.

KITCHEN ola, “THA MASTER CABINET”  “THE McDOUGAL MASTERPIECE” 

Kitchen Queen,  unknown, 1930

Kitchenaid,    The H. E. Furniture Co., Limited, “Kitchenaid” ,  Milverton, Ontario 1913

KLANKE furniture co.  New Bremen, Ohio.   1908

Klemp Furniture Co. The H. W.,  Leavenworth, Kansas.  (often misspelled KEMP)

Knechtel Kitchen Kabinet Co.  Western Ontario, Ca.  1925

Kompass & Stoll Co. Niles, MI.    1905

KOZY_KITCH   The Electric Kitchenet Co. Fort Wayne, IN  1922

Kuchins Furn. Mfg. Co., St. Louis, MO “3 K Kitchen Cabinet, Keep, Kitchen, Kleen”

Lambeth Furniture Co. Thomasville, N.C.  “kitchen cabinets”  1921

Landau Cabinet Co, St Louis, Mo  1912

Leo Kahn Furniture Co. Memphis, Tenn. “Kitchen Cabinets” 1921

Little Rock Furniture Manufacturing Co., Little rock, Ark.  1915

Manson Cambell Company, The, Chatham, ONT. Detroit Mich. 

Marion Cabinet Co. The, by Dearborn Desk Manufacturing Co, Marion, IN.

Marsh – High Point, North Carolina (Marsh Furniture Company) 1924–38

McAnsh, Dwyer & Co. Chicago, IL.  1905

McClernan Metal Products Co. Dept H. 122S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, ILL

McClure. Marion, IN  1912

McDougald   different spelling  different company  ??????   1908

McDougall Co.   “Domestic Science, cabinet line made by McDougall Co.  Frankfort, Ind.

Miller’s BULT-RITE Line, Stoneville Cabinet Co, Stoneville, N.C.                                                                                                               

MONARCH   ???????? & CABINETS  (from label on cabinet) different than below?????

MONARCH BRAND,THE, L. HARBACH’S SONS CO. DES MOINES, IOWA 1928

Mother Hubbard’s New Cupboards, The Cardinal Cabinet Co. Wabash, IN.                           

Mutschler Bros. Manufacturing, Nappanee, IN.   1928

Napanee Dutch Kitchenet, Nappanee, IN (Coppes, Zook & Mutschler, Coppes Bros. & Zook, Coppes, INC.)

National” Cabinet, The National Screen & Manu. Co. Cincinnati, OH.

None Better  1911-15

Ohio State Stove & Mfg. Co. The, Columbus, Ohio (Royal Ossco all steel kitchen cabinet)

Oxford- 1930’s, Oxford, PA

Paul Manufacturing Co. Fort Wayne, IN    “goes out of kitchen cabinet Business, 1915” 

Perfection Colonial Cabinet Co. 2616 N. 15th St. St. Louis, MO.   1915

Platter Beauty Cabinet, North Vernon, Ind.   Kitchen & bath room

Purity Kitchen Cabinet,  Louisville, KY  1924

Quaker Valley Mfg. Co.  Chicago, IL   1899

Red Wing Cabinet Co.  Red Wing, Minn.    1917

Royal Ossce, Metal Cabinet, sold in Dayton, Ohio    1916

Ruddy’s Single Step kitchen Cabinet.  Ruddy Mfg. Co. Brantford, Ont.   1926

Scheirich kitchen Cabinets “UNEXCELLED”  5 styles  1949

Schmoe, C. F., Diamond Special Kit. Cab.   Shelbyville, IN  1914

Sellers – Elwood, Indiana, had lines named Kitcheneed & Mastercraft

Showers Brothers Furniture Co. – Bloomington, Indiana

Spiegel’s kitchen cabinets.   1905

Springfield Model Kitchen Cabinet, Springfield Furniture Co., Springfield, MO

Square Rand, Chittenden & Eastman Co.   ?????on, IOWA,

Sutter kitchen cabinet,  Michigan ??? ,    1913

Tippycanoe, The, “THE TIPP BLDG. & MFG. CO. Tippycanoe City, Ohio. “Tippycanoe Kitchen Cabinets”,

Van Sciver Co. J.  B.,  Camden, N.J.  

W.B. Gifford Furniture Company? 

Wayne Cabinet, The, Sold in Dayton, Ohio. “Solid Oak”   (Store Brand ?)

White Barton Cabinet Company, ???

White House Kitchen Cabinet, The,  1914

Wilson – Grand Rapids, Michigan (sold by Sears)

Unsure of the following

Quality KIND, The,  Schmitt & Henry Mfg. Co.,  Des Moines, Iowa

Dearborn Mfg. Co.  Chicago. 1925 Newspaper ads.  used words kitchen cabinets only?

Kitchen Cabinets made by T. R. Chambers, Maryville, Tenn.  1896  

Following are possible store brands of Hoosier Style Kitchen Cabinets

“Barbara Blount”,   “our own private trademark”, Fowler Brothers Co.  Knoxville, 1933

“Kitchenola”,  Master Cabinet, The National Store, Washington D. C.  1915

“LIK-A-MAID” kitchen cabinets,   1922

Borden Kitchen Cabinet

Eagle Kitchen Cabinet,  Rhodes-Collins Furniture Co., Pensacola, FL

Ferguson Special Cabinet,  Ferguson Bros. Store, Coffeyville, KS

Gold Metal K. C.   “Mail & Breese Kitchen Cabinet Club”. Topeka, KS

Hoover-Bond,  Store brand, Hoover-Bond Furniture Store, Lansing, Mich

May-Sterns kitchen cabinets    1905

Paul Furniture Co. Fort Wayne, In   out of business 1915

Quaker kitchen cabinet    1898 – 1912

Sherman kitchen cabinets

Shryock

W. E. Kitchen Cabinet, 1914, Davis Furniture Co. Uniontown, PA

Wayne Kitchen Cabinet, From Dayton, Ohio

Related information

Kitchen Cabinet TINWARE, & HARDWARE  was  made by McCormick Bros. Co. Albany, Ind.

Ingram-Richardson Co. Frankfort, IN.  Manufactures of PORCILIRON work surfaces for Hoosier Mfg. Co.

Vitreous Products Company, Nappanee, In –  made porcelain tops for Napanee Dutch Kitchenet

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Cant Hooks and Mill Dogs

Welcome to this week’s Bill’s History Corner. I’m going to be talking about dogs and hooks. It’s not at all what jumped into your mind; we are not going to be hooking dogs. I like dogs, but I like cats better.

We are still finding paper business receipts from the early days of the company, and in this History Corner, I really mean early; 1882 & 1883 are the years for these two receipts. In 1882, the business was named “J. C. Mellinger & Co.,” with John and Frank Coppes being the “& Co.” part of the name. John Mellinger was John & Frank’s older Brother-in-law who was operating the sawmill when the Coppes Brothers joined the business in 1876. By 1880, an older brother ,Samuel, also joined the business, and in 1883 the three Coppes Brothers purchased the business portion of the company owned by J. C. Mellinger. The company name then became “Coppes Bros. Co.” During this time, the (1880-1883) company operated the sawmill, selling retail and wholesale lumber. They purchased the box factory, owned by Mr. Strom, eventually moving it to the market Street site in 1884 and building a wheat elevator on the old box factory site at the railroad tracks in 1887. It was a busy time for them.

The first receipt I want to show is from REEVES & CO., Columbus, Ind.,  manufactures of the HOOSIER BOY CORN PLOW, REEVES’ STALK CUTTER, REEVES’ AUTOMATIC GATE, and a general line of farm machinery.  

The writing on this receipt appears to be very sloppy, but really that was caused by folding the paper before the ink was dry. This receipt is dated Feb. 20, 1882. The J. C. Mellinger & Co. ordered five (A. B. Reeves Pat.) “Cant Hooks” for a price of $10.00. I’ve hunted the Patent Office web site for the A. B. Reeves Pat. cant hooks but have not found it. I’m also sure that everyone knows what a CANT HOOK is, but just in case you may have forgotten, here is a drawing from an Eric Sloane book.

The Coppes sawmill workers moved 1000s of logs each year, the CANT HOOK gave the workers more leverage when attempting to move or roll heavy logs. Likely there were dozens of these tools at the sawmill and on the log wagons. I still don’t know how they loaded the huge logs onto wagons in the woods. Any thoughts about that?

As I was hunting for the cant hook patent, I did find several interesting things about the Reeves Co. In 1882, the time of this receipt, there were three members of the company management: Albert B. Reeves (remember the Patent) and his two nephews, Marshall T. Reeves and Milton M. Reeves. Among the three of them, they had more than 150 U.S. Patents, mostly for farm-related machinery. The Reeves Company grew into a huge company, producing a line of large steam engines, hit & miss engines, automobiles, and farm machinery. The Reeves Co. is also famous for producing the 8-wheel car pictured here. Wish I had one of them. Remember, these cars were made in Columbus, Ind. Makes me proud.

A second receipt I want to show is from May 11th, 1882. J. C. Mellinger & Co. purchased 2 pair (does 2 pair mean 4? ) of Excelsior Mill Dogs at a price of $100.00. There was a 50% discount, so the total cost to Mellinger was $50.00.

Mill Dogs are the clamping part of the Saw-Mill carriage that the log rides on as it rolls past the saw blade. With each pass, a cut is made, and a board is cut off the log. The number of passes and the times the log was turned (rolled using cant hooks) on the carriage is determined by the size of lumber (boards) the sawyer wants to cut from each log.  Each time the log is turned it is then refastened with the mill dogs.

I found the patent drawing for a Knight Mill Dog, but notice the date on the patent drawing is eight months after the date on the receipt selling a patented mill dog.  The Knight’s patent mill dog apparently worked very good for the Coppes Bros. as they were promoting themselves as being agents (dealers?) for the Knight’s Patent Mill Dog in the local newspaper in 1881.

These receipts are a type of  spotlight on the business practices of the early years of the business. So far, these receipts (a box full) from 1879-1883 and some early pictures and ledgers are the only way we have of understanding the business. Other than these factual documents, there is little other information telling the day to day operation of the company. The Coppes Bros. were too busy with the day to day operations to think about their legacies. As far as I know, there are no diaries from any of the Coppes family.

I think it is safe to say, the three Coppes Bros. and their extended families greatly influenced the growth and very survival of our town. The kitchen cabinet industry has put Nappanee “on the map”.

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National Enameling

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner. Part of my job as Historian is to find out things and answer questions. Questions usually include the words how, why, who, & when something happened. Typical questions are,

“When did the Coppes Bros. or Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. or the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. begin making kitchen cabinets?”

“How many Kitchen Cabinets did Coppes make compared to the huge amount the Hoosier Mfg. Co. is reported to have made?”

One question I think I can answer with this History Corner is, “when and from whom did Coppes purchase enamelware that was supplied with cabinets as premiums or free gifts when purchasing a Coppes Napanee Cabinet?”

Selling Kitchen Cabinets in 1903-1925 was a highly completive undertaking. Cabinets were sold at that time through existing furniture stores. Each Hoosier Cabinet company that was attempting to sell cabinets needed a gimmick to get people into the stores and purchase a new kitchen cabinet. Most all cabinet companies went with the sale price of one dollar down and one dollar a week. When one company started this method, other companies needed to do the same in order to keep up.

Coppes (and other companies) also gave items with the purchase of any cabinet. Sets of dishes, sets of brushes, pots & Pans, Knife sets, Food, and enamelware, were given as gifts when a cabinet purchase was made. Often a hand mixer or a glass measuring cup with the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler, Napanee Dutch Kitchenet name was given as a gift just for coming into the store and looking at a Dutch Kitchenet. I guess the thinking was “get people into the store and see a Dutch Kitchenet and they will be an easy sell.”

This brings me to the point of this History Corner. We found receipts for enamelware in the old boxes of receipts we have been going through. Around 1902-12 Coppes, Zook & Mutschler co. was giving enamelware as a prize when the purchase of a Dutch Kitchenet was made. I am sure the cost of the enamelware was added to the price of the cabinet, but it was advertised as a gift. Below is a scan of the 1912 No. 1550 cabinet with the enamelware displayed. (clock, knife set, scales & food grinder also)

The NATIONAL ENAMELING & STAMPING CO., from Milwaukee, Wis. was the company receipt we found. In the receipt dated 1/6/11 this order was for 30 doz. # 33 COOKEY (sic) CUTTERS; 30 Doz?  # 53 1/2 D N? (what was this); and 30 Doz?  # 30 MEAS CUPS. While this receipt is unclear as to the quantity of items, it does give a clue  when it tells the weight of the order.

170 LBS of “COOKEY CUTTERS” and “MEAS CUPS” means a huge number of small light weight items in the order. While I have seen enamel measuring cups in antique stores, I do not think there is any way to identify these cups as the ones given by the C, Z & M co. However, I think I will pick up the next enamel cups I find and study then more closely.

The next receipt I want to show you is also from the National Enameling & Stamping co. Dated May 4, 1911. This order is for “1- Venetian Ware Asst” at a cost of $2.80 + $1.00 shipping. I can only guess as to what this order was. My guess is the C,Z & M Co. was searching for other pieces of enamelware that may work as prizes when a purchase of a Dutch Kitchenet was made.

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The Coppes Washing Machine & Cabinet Color Chart – 1930’s

Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. Did you ever get into a situation that you thought would end soon, but it did not? This is one of those situations.  I was excited to find this information of the Coppes Inc. Company attempting to add washing machines to their product line. “This is strange and different,” I thought. “A kitchen cabinet company selling washing machines.” Does that sound strange to you? 

In the late 1920s, the Coppes Bros & Zook Co. had a cabinet line designed for apartments. This line was promoted to new apartments, in buildings of all sizes, in any city. The company named this line “SPECIALLY DESIGNED UNIT SYSTEMS FOR ALL TYPES OF BUILDINGS.” Special catalogs were created too. This cabinet line was sold through the ‘BUILDERS DIVISION” of Coppes Bros. & Zook, Inc. Some of these kitchen cabinets had built-in refrigerators, (ice boxes). 

Refrigerators and kitchen cabinets seem to go together. Washing machines and kitchen cabinets do not go together. I don’t get it. What was their thinking? Anyhow, the company seemed to go into the washing machine sales business in a large way. Having a dedicated over-the-road sales couple and advertising in a major department store is what I would say is a large attempt at selling washing machines.

I have a picture to show you and some advertising, at the end is where this History Corner takes an unexpected turn. Hang on.

Mr. and Mrs. A.W. Klinker with their comfortable trailer home equipped with a Coppes Napanee Water Flex Washer

I suppose they set up at County fairs and such. Or they could make personal appointments to show the Flex Washer. Life on the road, take your wife and job along.

L. S. Ayers was a huge department store chain with stores is major cities. Having this quality of store handling Coppes Washing Machines was a major coupe is the sales world. How many washers were sold and how long the connection lasted I do not know. These three newspaper advertisements were the only ones I could find.  Some of the advertising pictured the washing machines that were wrapped in white porcelain, which looked much better, while at the same time period some machines were still in the black paint.

The 3rd advertisement is where this History Corner takes a turn in a different direction. The ad. is still promoting the Coppes Washing machine, but also in small print at the bottom is something else related to the Coppes Company.

Besides the Coppes Washing machine on sale for 454.98, this ad says “COPPES-NAPANEE Built-In KITCHEN ENSEMBLE     Factory List Price………..112.90

Anniversary Sale Priced     69.50

7 – Ft. straight – line Kitchen of fine Quality,      Coppes – Napanee construction. Includes 2 wall cupboards and all bases. Does not include sink, work top or instlation. All fine kiln dried hardwoods.

Tongue and groove construction. Choice of 18 colors, 5 of bakalike [bakelite] hardware.

8Ft Kitchen, List Price 143.80   ——  79.50

                                                                                    9ft Kitchen,  list Price 159.15   ——   89.50

This Newspaper advertisement is one of the first, if not the very first one, to promote the newer style of kitchens being developed by Coppes – Napanee. Coppes was still producing and selling the Dutch Kitchenet cabinet style in 1939 but were looking to keep up with the market place. The newer style kitchen was catching on fast with the American family. Keeping up with the marketplace may have been the reason for the washing machines added to the product line. I think we all know what became of the company as they began developing the newer “straight line” kitchens.

Here is the Coppes, Inc. choice of colors chart, made available in the late 30s. Which is your favorite?

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Printing Receipts From the Archives

Welcome to this week’s bill’s History Corner. This is the place where I talk about aspects of the business that we all lovingly refer to as the Coppes factory. Does that love come from a family member having worked at the factory, or maybe you have one of those wonderful DUTCH KITCHENETS that made Nappanee famous. Or possibility you lived close enough that you could hear the factory whistle morning, noon, and night.

Warsaw Is just down the road from Nappanee. In 1881, Warsaw was also just down the tracks. Wonder which was the faster method to travel to Warsaw in 1881: by train, or horse and buggy? In 1881, J. C. Mellinger ordered two types of cards printed at the R. WILLIAMS & SON, Dr.  -Proprietors-  NORTHERN INDIANIAN STEAM PRINTING HOUSE, INDIANIAN BUILDING, BUFFALO STREET, WARSAW, IND.

The 1st receipt is for “500 Notes (bound)”  (was this like a bound & printed note pad?)  = $3.50.                  

The first receipt is dated Aug. 23, 1881 and also signed Aug. 23, 1881. It reads “Received Payment. Reub (?) Williams & Son  BQW” (a clerk?).  Interestingly, these notes were ordered and paid for the same day. That means that likely the “Notes” were something the printing co. had on hand, maybe made from paper cut-offs that they sold to the general public. Does not seem like the printing co. had time to set up type and then print 500 notes in one day.

How did this transaction take place? Was J. C. Mellinger in Warsaw for some business and stopped at the printing co. and purchased the “Notes” on a whim? In 1881 THE NAPPANEE NEWS was in business with the News Paper and stationary supplies. Why not shop in Nappanee, why go to Warsaw?

The 2nd receipt, shown above, is from 17 days later. On Sept 10, 1881, 500 Postal Cards at $7.00 were ordered. This time the payment received was dated 2 days later, on the 12th. The same “BQW” Signed the receipt. Were the “500 Postal Cards” the stamped postcards that were to become popular around the turn of the century? Also, if they were the printed stamped postcards, who were J. C. Mellinger & Co. going to send them to? Postcards cost one cent to mail in 1881. What, if anything, was printed on the cards? We have not found any such cards on the antique market. Inquiring minds want to know.

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Bill Solves the Cross Wood Puzzle

Hello everyone, welcome to another exciting Bill’s History Corner. I think I have answered a mystery that I have been worrying about for several years. In approx. 2010 I copied any Coppes-related news item from the Nappanee News and put them in one book.

One of the unusual items that has puzzled me was this item from June 14th, 1883.  The small news item read “Coppes Bros have placed into their box factory a machine for stamping letters on boxes. This firm spares no means to keep their work apace with the age of modern enterprise. The machine cost over $400.00.”    What did this mean: “Stamping letters on boxes?” was that letters like A, B & C? I could understand them wanting to put their name on the shipping boxes, but one letter at a time?  Why could a machine that stamped letters cost $400.00, when a workman could do the job with a hammer and set of letter punches?

Well, I can now answer that burning question. In the last box of business receipts, we found a receipt for a printing machine that printed on wood. This receipt corresponded with the date of the newspaper item, so I knew I was closing in on something meaningful.

The CROSS WOOD PRINTING CO. from Chicago advertised signs, wood printing presses and advertising specialties. Located at 23, 25, & 27 North Peoria Street. This receipt is for one “WOOD PRINTING PRESS” sold to Coppes Bros. of Napanee (note the one p) Ind. Two other receipts accompanied this one. A 2nd receipt was for blue and red ink. Another receipt was for making  “brass Dies” (like printing stencils or printing plates) – three each for the EXCELSIOR STARCH CO. AND THE MUZZY STARCH CO.

The obvious intention was to print the starch company names onto the wooden shipping boxes that Coppes Bros. was manufacturing and selling to these two starch companies. The skeptical old man in me is thinking what the financial incentive was for printing the starch company’s names on the wood. Certainly, the printed names would make the boxes more recognizable in stores and increase sales. Did the starch companies pay extra for the printed names? Inquiring minds want to know.

I also found several receipts from the EXCELSIOR STARCH COMPANY, Elkhart, Ind. I assume the printing dies resembled this picture on the receipt. Not really sure, we are still hunting for an empty starch box from either company.

J. C. Mellinger & Co. was purchasing Gloss Starch (soap) and Corn Starch from the Excelsior Starch Co., but what they were using the soap for is everyone’s guess. Did they take it home for home laundry use, was there a use for the soap at the factory and sawmill?  A couple of the excelsior receipts have a note written on the bottom, “Starch shipped in cars” which means the boxes were placed into the empty rail road cars that were to be returned to the factory for the next load of knocked down starch boxes. Coppes Bros. had two huge box cars specially made to carry the lightweight wooden starch boxes.  I would have thought the larger box cars would have warranted a couple photographs, but so far none have surfaced. This receipt (above) is for 4 boxes of No. 1 Gloss Starch = 168 lbs. @ 6 ½ Cent/lbs., =$10.92.

And 2 boxes #1 Corn Starch, 80 Lbs. @ 6 ¾ Cents/ Lbs. =$5.40.

Free shipping, what a deal.

I hope everyone has a clean and safe week.

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The Nappanee Telephone Company with Special Guest Historian

Today’s blog post includes some great insight from local historian, Martha Owen, of the Nappanee Public Library’s Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection. Martha is the Collection Manager at the Nappanee Center, which is a phenomenal local history museum housed inside our city’s welcome center at 302 West Market Street in Nappanee. We encourage you to make sure it’s on your itinerary when visiting Coppes Commons (or your must-do list as a Nappanee resident too!) In the meantime, you can access the collection’s online database of photos and historic walking tours of Nappanee HERE.

And now, without further ado, we present to you this week’s “Bill’s History Corner!”– Jessica Flores, Media & Marketing Specialist, Coppes Commons.

Hello everyone, welcome to another exciting Bill’s History Corner. We are still sifting through the boxes of old company receipts that were found stored in the factory. What a treasure. 

This latest box is from 1908-1912. The Nappanee telephone was becoming an important business in Nappanee in 1911.

Martha tells us that the Nappanee Telephone Company was established in 1898, thanks to a campaign launched by local businessman, Claude Stoops, who had come to town in 1888 to open a jewelry store. With much talk about an exchange, Stoops appeared in front of the town board in June 1898 asking for a franchise for setting poles and stringing wires. Up until this time, only private telephone lines had been “rigged up” across town, one of which was between the Coppes Bros. and Zook flour mill and the office at the main furniture plant. It is thought that there was also a line from the Coppes Hotel (owned by brother, Samuel Coppes) to the train depot. Before this, daily records were transported by hand.

The initial installation of telephone company lines in 1898 consisted of 52 telephones with an ultimate capacity for 100 telephones. The 1st switchboard was installed in Mr. Stoops’ Jewelry Store and all the business was handled by one operator from 7:00 am – 9:00 pm. Then, with its exchange in operation, Nappanee Telephone Company made arrangements to connect to the Independent Company, stringing wires in October 1898 to Goshen.

By 1916, the phone company had experienced rapid growth with 720 telephones in service and over 12,000 feet of cable. There were 6 operators and 2 lineman employed, so the Telephone Company was able to provide 24-hour service. By this time, Mr. Stoops had given up his jewelry store and devoted all of his time to the Telephone Company.

Photo courtesy of the Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection

We have found a stack of receipts from the Nappanee Telephone Co. It appears that each prominent member of the C, Z & M Co. management team had a telephone in their office. In 1911 the rental for each telephone was $1.00 per month. Long distance calls were recorded by hand (probably at the telephone office by the operator). In the early days of the telephone exchange, long distance calls could only be made at the Coppes Hotel, which held the only toll station in town. 

Looks like the average cost for one long distance call was between .15 and .20 cents. The record does not record the length of time the call lasted, just the date, caller, to whom, place, the tolls for that call, and in the final column is either initials of the callers to indicate if the call was actually a business expense, or the building to charge the call to, or maybe a personal call. 

And here’s a photo of Nappanee’s first telephone, which now hangs in the Nappanee Center.

Photo courtesy of the Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection

Thanks again for the assistance provided by the Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection on this post!

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Getting to the Point with Bill

Good day, and welcome to Bill’s History Corner at Coppes Commons. This is the spot where I discuss topics related to the company that made the Napanee Dutch Kitchenet.

As you are aware, the company changed its name as personnel joined and left the company. The first name we were aware of was Mellinger & Co. This was John Mellinger, who was operating a sawmill in Nappanee (1875) along with the young Coppes brothers, John & Frank.  John & Frank were the “& Co.” of Mellinger & Co.  John Mellinger was the Coppes’s brother-in-law, having married older sister, Lucinda. In approx. 1880, another brother (Samuel) joined the two brothers after they bought out Mellinger’s share of the sawmill. This new company was named Coppes Brothers Co. In 1890, Samuel left, Dan Zook joined the company, and the name changed to Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. In 1902, the company had a major change: Coppes Bros. & Zook combined with Albert & Charles Mutschler at the Nappanee Furniture Co. to become the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. This company lasted till Dan Zook died in November of 1912, so we have another name change. Now the name is Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. (same as it was), but it is Harold Zook (Dan’s son) who was a company director now. This name lasted till 1936, when the company was incorporated, and the name was shortened to Coppes Inc. By this time, the 2nd generation of Coppes Men were running the factory.

During these years (62), you can imagine the changes that the people in the company were witness to. Not only the growth of the company but small everyday fractures, the telephone, transportation, even the pencil sharpener, which brings me to the subject of this History Corner.

We found a Receipt from the OLCOTT MFG. CO. makers of the CLIMAX PENCIL SHARPENER. Apparently, the company already had a Climax pencil sharpener. This receipt is for the return of a worn or dull sharpener blade. You were to return the worn blade with $.50 cents for the exchange of a sharpened blade. Then you were good to go. I found a picture of a Climax pencil sharpener on the web from these years. I love the little drawer to catch the pencil shavings.

I wonder how the company learned of this type of pencil sharpener. Did an office supply salesmen come to the factory and convince them to try the Climax sharpener? Did they see an advertisement in a paper and send off to the Olcott Mfg. company to try one out?

Thanks for visiting Bill’s History Corner, keep those cards and letters coming.

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Rolling Right Along with Historic Receipts

Welcome to one more in the exciting series of exploring actual “History” in the almost world-famous, and much-loved, Bill’s History Corner. Hope you and your family are doing well, staying safe and doing your part to prevent the spread of Covid 19. I’m working from home and about to go crazy. I think I cleaned the shop three times already, reread every book I have at least once. But so far-so good.

Today, with Bill’s history Corner I want to discuss something vitally important to furniture builders. The Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. was mainly a furniture maker when the partnership began in 1903. As a review, the Coppes Bros & Zook Co., before the partnership, was a wooden shipping box maker, sawmill operator, flour mill operator, and retail/wholesale lumber seller. The Nappanee Furniture Co. brought into the partnership the furniture-making skill set. At the beginning of the partnership, the company catalogs had 100’s of wonderful designs for 3-piece bedroom sets, tables of all descriptions, commodes, and, in 1903, approx. nine different kitchen cabinets.

What did most of this furniture have in common besides being made with white oak veneers? What was the common link? What did most of the individual pieces of furniture have in common?  They all had CASTERS. Casters are the link – the little swiveling wheels that allowed the furniture to move, the same casters that today are usually flat on one side and don’t roll worth a darn.  Big casters, heavy casters, lightweight casters – furniture in 1903 needed casters. That was the style back then. Furniture needed to be moveable, not only to quickly rearrange the room, but to clean under everything.

Where have I come across this fantastic bit of information? you may wonder. I was digging into another box of the old business receipts from the early days of Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. and found this wonderful information. In 1903 & ’04 the C, Z & M Co. was purchasing casters by the barrel full from the M. B. SCHENCK CO. Manufactures of CASTERS for Furniture and Trucks. Meriden, Conn.

What a neat looking factory. This drawing makes me want to visit. Wonder if they gave factory samples to tourists in 1903?

You can see the straight pins that the C, Z & M Co. office staff used to keep papers together. This was pre-staples.

This receipt is by far the largest order that we found. We did find 10 separate order receipts and accompanying freight receipts from this company. In this one box of receipts, we found orders for 76,200 sets of casters. The most common size caster ordered was the “Rugby Casters,” which had ¾ inch by 3/8-inch wood wheels. This number of casters is staggering. These orders amounted to a little over one years’ production in the life of the C, Z & M Co. They could have put casters on 19,050 pieces of furniture before they needed to order more.

In the above receipt some of the details are interesting. The shipment started with the West Shore R. R. “Car #7661 Big 4” then switched to the B & O line which served Nappanee. The C,Z & M Co. noted in pencil an 8% discount for cash even when other receipts from this company expressly stated no discounts of any kind will be allowed. I wonder if the Schenick company allowed the discount?

The size of this last order is staggering. The railroad freight receipt lists this shipment as “77 Brl Caster” weighting a total of 30,000 pounds.  The freight cost was $101.94 for this one shipment. Wonder where they even stored the 77 barrels when they arrived. Hopefully not in an attic.  We also have what appears to be the form where the C, & M Co. employees weighted each barrel to check if the order was short. The average weight of these barrels was 375 pounds, what a job.

Come back next week for more exciting “HISTORY” here at Bill’s history Corner.