Posted on

The Coppes Brothers and George L. Lamb

Today’s history lesson concerns the George L. Lamb Mfg. Co. of Nappanee, Indiana. The Lamb Co. is a very interesting company, which manufactured a line of “brushes, easels & novelties”. Originally Mr. Lamb was in business in Goshen, till there was a fire in his factory.  While he was searching for a new building location, he connected with the Coppes Bros., and they convinced G. Lamb to resettle his mfg. business in Nappanee. At first, the Lamb business was set up in an unused furniture Co. building, (Evangel Press building), but later when the business needed more mfg. space, they moved to the South Jackson St. location. (where the mill is now located).

Mr. Lamb was an enterprising individual, and within one year of this move, he became a sales agent for gasoline engines. Later he was also an agent for automobiles.

Lamb Brothers Lamps

In 1909, a new company was formed with G. Lamb, his brother, David Lamb, and son-in-law, H. B. Green, to form the Lamb & Green Manufacturing Co. which specialized in “art glass”. They produced an extensive line of “leaded glass” floor & table lamps, which are much sought after today. They built a new three-story brick building for this new company on S. Jackson St. in 1909.

Several Lamb & Green lamps can be seen in our museum!

This George L. Lamb receipt is from Dec. 17th, 1903, when they were still at the first location in Nappanee. The first thing you should notice is that the receipt is for almost a full year of transactions (Feb. 17, 1903, till Dec. 15th). Why the company did not submit an earlier receipt is unknown. Several of the items are questionable, why for example would the C, Z & M Co. which was manufacturing hundreds of pieces of furniture need to purchase small amounts of “wood alcohol; naphtha; 1 qt. heavy shellac; or 3 pts. W. O. stain (white oak).  Other interesting items on this receipt are the lines; “April 14 – 20 1/4 hrs. sawing – per hr. .35”; “April 28 – 28 ½ hrs. sawing  – .35”; “June 20 – 3 ½ hrs. sawing”; “and Dec. 15 – 26 ½ hrs. work – @ .15”. Why would C, Z & M Co. hire the Lamb Company to do sawing which the first company surely had the capacity to do themselves?

This mystery would seem to go unsolved unless we studied the next receipt from the G. Lamb Co. Dated Dec. 1903 and Jan. 1904.  It is apparent the G. Lamb company was constructing decorative woodwork for the interior of the Coppes Bros. new homes on East Market St. (see below).

Home of Samuel Coppes
Coppes Home
Home of Frank Coppes, located on East Market Street
Posted on

Ride “The Nap”

Nappanee News Keller bicycle AdToday we are looking at a portion of the Nappanee News from May 12, 1897 that I found in a box of paper goods from an auction. Someone had cut the paper up already, so don’t blame that on me. There are a couple interesting advertisements here. First is the Keller Cycle Mfg. Co. from Nappanee. BUY OUR WHEEL is the title of the ad. At this time the term “wheel” was the common word for Bicycle, either a high wheeler or a two-wheel model. A cut of a lady riding the “NAP” bicycle illustrates that it is easy for everyone to ride, and how much good fun riding will be.  In smaller print the extra lines are “ Snoaring is sheet music – Ride THE NAP and you – will have sweet music”. Interpret that however you want.

The picture below, from the Nappanee Heritage Center collection, is of the workman in front of the Coppes Planning mill and box factory taken around 1890. In front of the group of men is a boy, likely a Coppes youngster, standing next to a Bicycle that looks like a NAP Bicycle. On closer inspection there are actually two bicycles in the picture (one behind the other) one of the workmen appears to be holding the rear bicycle upright. Is the youngster standing there the owner of the bicycle?

Early Coppes Employees with children and bicycle

This youngster had to be a member of the Coppes family, as the workmen would not have let just any city boy crowd into their picture. John Coppes’s eldest son, Marvin, was born in 1881, and Irvin was born in 1883. Frank Coppes’s eldest son Harold was born in 1885, and Claude was born in 1889. So, who do you think he is? Also notice that there are a few children sitting for the picture. Were these children of the workmen or were they actual employees of the factory? The youngster with the Bicycle is dressed so much better than the other children.  I’m just full of questions! Do you think the two gentlemen standing on the right end could be John and Frank Coppes? And who is the well dressed man on the left end?

The other advertisements are for Henry Best Meat Market and the Farmers & Traders Bank. This was the bank owned by Samuel Coppes and Sons. Read more about the story of the Coppes factories on our History Page.