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A Day in the Business Life of the Coppes Brothers Company

Note: Previously published on December 12, 2018

Sorry, no picture this week. Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. I was beginning to think I was running out of new interesting things to write about, then I thought of the company ledgers that we have in the Coppes Commons collections. At random I chose one old ledger and then one page that had several entries for one day. My idea is to discuss the entries for that one day. See if I can make sense of what I read and explain it to you.

I need to make a disclaimer here, some of the names are difficult to read. I’ll use ??? when unsure. The page I picked was June 30th, 1886.  Summer time with lots of activity. There are 13 different transactions listed for that day. 

1886 was the time when the three Coppes Brothers, Frank, John & Sam were working together to run the company. They had recently built the 1884 box factory on East Market St., they also were operating the saw mill with retail and whole sale divisions.

First transaction —  L. M. Best – by cull lumber – 3.00                

Cull lumber is lumber with defects like cracks, warps, etc. lumber not good for very much. What L. M. Best planned to do with the  ”cull” Lumber is anyone’s guess. It should be noted that in the winter the sawmill sold fire wood (side slabs, cutoffs, etc.) by the “load” for one dollar a load.

2nd transaction —  B. Uline – By resawing 955 ft. Ash @ $3.00. –   2.86.

This is most likely Barney Uline, who at this time was operating the Uline Butter Tub factory, later to become Nappanee Lumber and Mfg. Co.  A line of children’s furniture, card tables & chairs was a later product of this company. Still later they produced wooden farm silos. The @ $3.00 is the listed price for resawing 1000 ft. of lumber.  Mr. Uline only had 955 ft. resawed so the price was 2.86

3rd transaction — Muzzy Starch Co.                                By 200/1 – @14c  — $28.00                                   By 370/2 –  @ “     — $51.80                                By 300/3 –  @ “    —   $52.00                                By  340/5 – @12c —   $40.80                                By  500/6 – @ “     — $60.00                                By  1200 /4 – @6c  — $72.00By 100   Lenates?? @10c – $10.00             Total  = $341.60         

Muzzy Starch Company was one of the Elkhart companies that Coppes Bros. regularly shipped wooden boxes to from their new brick box factory on East Market St. What the first line means is that Coppes made 200 of the No 1 size boxes at a cost of 14 cents each for a total cost of $28.00 for that size box. Each line is a different size of box, these would have been shipped by horse and wagon in 1886. Can’t read the word in the bottom line but maybe it is Centers, which would make more sense.

4th transaction — L. Babcock  by 150 lb  Chop.         $1.50 Chop (I think) is horse feed.

Why the Coppes Bros. were in the business of selling horse feed is likely because they purchased chop in large quantities for the number of horses that Coppes kept as both work horses and personal teams (my estimate is 20 – 30 horses at any one time in the Coppes stables). They may have had a surplus of feed or felt they could make some money by selling chop at a higher price than they paid when buying in large quantities. Or possibility they let friends have some chop at cost because they were good guys.

5th transaction — G + G + G + G   leo  ????                                    7000 ft 3” = 24 ft sheeting                                423 ft 3” = 20 ft       ‘ ‘                   @ 20.00 —- 7423 ft     =    $148.40                                Less freight                                B  &  G   # 2742

This one is more of a puzzle. I think that LEO is a freight train station west of Nappanee. The business was selling 3-inch-thick lumber that could be put down and used as strong solid SHEETING. Either in 24 foot or 20-foot lengths. The price was $20.00 per 1000 feet for a total price of $148.40. There was no freight cost because the train company provided a train car for transportation. That train car number was 2742. You may be wondering how lumber is sold. Not by the piece, not by the length, not by the width but a combination of these dimensions. The standard unit of sale for lumber is called BOARD FEET. One board foot of lumber is equal to a piece that has 144 cubic inches of material, no matter what the shape of the board. It could be long and thin or short and thick, as long as it contained 144 Sq. In. of wood it is equal to one BOARD FOOT. The formula for finding board feet in one piece of solid lumber is (Bd Ft = T(in) X W(in) X  L(ft)  )                                                                                                                                              

6th transaction. —  Jonathan Yoder   by Oak logs  2174 ft. @ 7??   =   $15.21

I think I got this one. The company purchased Oak logs from Mr. Yoder amounting to $15.21

7th transaction. —  Frank Walker    by 7450 Clear Shingles  @ $ 2.90     =    $21. 60 T

his one is easy. Mr. Walker purchased shingles that were priced at $2.90 per 1000 for a total cost of $21.60. Clear shingles was a product that the company was reselling. The Coppes Bros. purchased train car loads of shingles at a bulk price and then sold them at a retail price. This is business one-o-one.

8th transaction. —  O. E. Fales      by 10,000  10” Clear Shingles  @ 2.50  2.40       =$25.00   $24.00

Why Mr. Fales was offered a lower price than Mr. Walker and then finally paid a still lower price for the shingles that he purchased is a mystery. Possibly this lot of shingles was in poor condition or maybe there was such a thing as friends and family pricing.

9th transaction. —  B. Uline   by sawing 1200 ft.   Ash, Reed, @ $3.00   =  $3.60

This is the 2nd time today Mr. Uline sent lumber to the sawmill to have sawing done. Business must be good at the butter tub factory. I would like to know more about what the company was cutting. Were they sawing Ash logs that Mr. Uline had or cutting lumber into smaller more useable sizes? As for the word that looks like “Reed” maybe this is a mistake on my part and they were writing, Ash Red. Anyhow the price was the same as earlier in the day, $3.00 per 1000 ft.

10th transaction. —   Bowser house      By 702 ft Cull Oak s1s   @ $12.00

The Bowser House was a Hotel in Early Nappanee. Possibly the “Cull Oak” was planned to be used as a wooden fence around a stable or back yard. The letters “s1s” is a lumberman’s term meaning the lumber was surfaced smooth on one surface. There are any number of reasons oak lumber could be classified as “Cull” lumber after it was sawed. Could be a bad or uneven color, have cracks, or twists, all of these defects are impossible to see while the lumber is still a log.

11th transaction. —   Chas. Teal     By Screen Moulding               40

I’m guessing on this one too.  I think “Screen Moulding” is the small strip of wood nailed around the edges of screen on screen doors or windows. The spelling of the word moulding is an older used style, today the word is spelled Molding. Wonder how much you could get for $.40?

12 transaction. —  Jacob Weygand    By Matching 829 ft. Beech @ $6.00

There is not a final cost recorded for this transaction, that may mean this is just the order to make the Matching 829 feet of beech. It will take some time to fill this order. I think that “Matching” in this instance means making a Tongue and groove wood joint on each piece of this lumber so it could be used as flooring or possible a grain bin where you do not want any cracks between the wood.

13th transaction. —   B. J. miller & Co.        By s2s     88 ft Bass     @ $3.00

Again, this transaction may be the order from B. J. Miller & Co.  The “s2s” is another lumberman’s term meaning smoothing 2 surfaces smooth. Bass lumber is a very soft wood often used for hand carving. Wonder what they were going to make? I was looking ahead a few days to see if I was correct about the last two transactions being ordered today for pickup in the future. I did not find any other transaction for these two accounts in the next 10 days. So, it is unclear what they did. I did find an entry in this book that I have got to tell you about. It does not seem like the Coppes Bros. were drawing a regular paycheck. There are several examples where each of the 3 brothers withdrew cash from the business like it was their own bank account. Often listed as by cash, either for personal items or business items, or nothing noted.

On July 2nd, 1886 this is the entry,  S.D. Coppes – by cash – Per Della & Lille (2 of Sam’s Daughters) – .08    Do you mean to tell me that Sam Coppes, the man that would soon purchase the Farmers and Traders Bank & also build the Coppes Hotel, did not have 8 cents to give to his daughters? There is so much fantastic information in these ledgers that we have to make them available to the public. That is our plan, to purchase an automatic page scanner machine and up load the pages to the web for you to look at. When we do that is still up in the air, but stay tuned, as they say.

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1958 Magazine Donation Provides Interesting Look into Coppes Napanee

The Indiana Business and Industry Magazine is the focus of this week’s Bill’ History Corner. Thanks for visiting; this is the place where we discuss all things Coppes. This magazine is dated October 1958, and was recently donated by Linda & Mike Bultema. As I understand it, Linda & Mike were reading the old article on Coppes Kitchens, became more interested, found our website and then decided to make a fun day visit to the factory.

This magazine, as the title suggests, is all about Indiana business and industry. The other articles in this issue are titled “Oklahoma Oil Company Acquires Gaseteria” (an Indiana oilfield); “Indiana’s Oil progress Report for 1958”; “More Oil for Indiana”; “Press Club Cavalcade”; “A Top Asset – Indiana Geological Survey”; “History of Hoosier Oil” and an article on Coppes Napanee Kitchens. There are also smaller articles and advertising for Indiana services and products. I might add, this magazine was printed by the Culver Press.

I scanned the Coppes Napanee Kitchens article and will show it here. The first picture is of the 1958 management team. Five of the seven men have the Coppes Name.

The next scan is a drawing of the Coppes factory;

and here is an example of 1950s humor.

As you would expect, this article makes the Coppes Factory appear to be the most wonderful thing in the world. Tidbits of information in the text explain that there are only 160 Coppes Dealers in the U. S., and shipping costs to the West coast usually make the sales beyond the mountains prohibitive.

Also, in April 1958 the “Lazy Susan revolving-top Island unit” appeared on the TV show The Price is Right.

Here are pages one thru four of the article. Most of the pictures of factory men working are pictures that we have seen before.

Here is an interesting detail picture from page two.

The Lazy Susan picture caption reads,

“Newest of the design innovations by Coppes Napanee is the ‘Lady Susan revolving–top island unit.’ Counter top revolves full 360 degrees, and built–in electric range and blender-mixer operate even when top is being turned. Base section has pull-out table and two benches to seat four people. Custom-built hardwood unit (as shown) is finished in white maple natural grain stain, trimmed with gold tone provincial moulding and complemented by antique brass hardware.”

If anyone has one of these units at home, be assured, we want it.

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Tree Removal on Market Street

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner. This is the place! Last fall (2019) Coppes needed to remove some large trees along Market Street. They were becoming dangerous, with large limbs beginning to fall in windstorms. I happened to be at Coppes Commons on the day the tree cutters came to remove the trees, so I thought someone should take some pictures to preserve a little part on the history of the company. This is the result of watching out of a 2nd floor window for ½ hour.

These trees were huge, the tree cutters started by trimming the top limbs into small sections and letting them down to the earth with ropes. The crew had the largest bucket truck I have ever seen. That allowed them to reach the treetops safely without climbing the tree itself. If they would have dropped the tree sections from such a height the sidewalk would have been broken and maybe a section could have bounced into the street, causing an accident with a car or truck. Very professional cutters, they were. Setting barricades in the street to protect the traffic and wearing PPEs for personal protection.

The pictures I want to show you are the last ones, cutting the large tree trunk. This picture will give you a clue as to the size of the trees. Again, remember I was watching from the 2nd floor window, so I was close to the action. When the tree trunk is down on the ground, the decay in the trunk is visible.

The company then removed the tree stump and new beautiful trees were planter along Market Street. So, let it be noted for future reference, the current trees along Market Street were planted in Sept of 2019. Like everything else that is put on the web, this History Corner will still be floating somewhere in the clouds just waiting for some future Historian to discover it.

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Elvis Couldn’t Wait, Kennedy Too Late

Virtual Tour of Nappanee Kitchen Homes

Good day, welcome to this week’s Bill’s History Corner. Hope you are safe and in good health. Here is something for you to do while you are passing the days/weeks/months till we can feel safe going about with our daily routines.  The Nappanee Public Library is responsible for THIS VIRTUAL TOUR of Nappanee’s Historic District and the houses that are associated with the kitchen cabinet industry in Nappanee. I first learned of this virtual tour with a notice in my weekly email newsletter from INDIANA LANDMARKS.

Indiana Landmarks

Indiana Landmarks is a fantastic group; besides monitoring all kinds of historic sites, they help fund restoration projects all over the state, from covered bridges to the “CENTURY OF PROGRESS” houses that were at the 1933 world’s fair in Chicago. Remember, I wrote about this before, one of the houses had a Coppes Kitchen installed when it was on display at the 1933 fair. Those houses were moved to Indiana, and you can find more information with a google search.

Missing Pieces

On a different topic, we here at Coppes Commons are always hunting for information that will help round out and fill in the gaps in the known history of the Coppes company. It seems that the company personnel were more concerned with keeping the company operating than preserving the day to day history of the company. For example, the names of employees that worked here is sketchy. There are  photos of employees, but without names. At the time, I imagine they were thinking they could just ask someone on the factory floor who that person was in the 2nd row of the employee picture. Now, one hundred years later, that thinking will not work. There are only a couple people on the factory floor in 2020, and their memory does not reach back that far.

As far as we know, the company did not purposely keep employee records, such as a listing of all the employees. We have found some interesting lists of small groups of employees. For example, we have a short list of who received a turkey or box of canned goods for Christmas, but only for one year. We have a list of some employees’ sick leave requests and if it was approved or denied, but, again, only for a short time period. The company management not only failed to keep records, but, in the 90s, directed company personnel to throw away valuable company records. This job is akin to putting together a large jig saw puzzle knowing a lot of the pieces are missing.

“The World’s Finest Kitchens”

There have been rumors that the Coppes Inc. company installed kitchens in famous peoples’ homes. There are no actual (company) paper records of this. President Kennedy’s kitchen and Elvis were but two of the street legends. How do I go about confirming these rumors? I asked long-time employees and their answer was “sure I remember people talking about Elvis, I think he got a kitchen”. Is that enough proof? Or is that just reciting the legends?

I love NEWSPAPERS.COM. In my opinion, the vintage news that made the papers had some factual basis for it being in print. Of course, in the modern era of “political news reporting” we need to read everything carefully and ask what their motive is for saying what they say and or write. I used NEWSPAPERS.COM to search for “Coppes kitchens made for famous people” and found only a few things.

In THE SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 28 Oct. 1963, I found this short notice about President Kennedy’s new kitchen. He was assassinated before he could enjoy “THE WORLD’S FINEST KITCHENS.” I think this is proof of one Kennedy kitchen, but not as the street rumors suggest: a Coppes kitchen in the KENNEDY WHITE HOUSE or at CAMP DAVID. Wonder if the President and First lady had any input in the selection of a Coppes Kitchen, or was the decision to install a Coppes Kitchen made by an architect or designer?  

Another interesting newspaper item I found talks about the installation of Coppes Kitchens in the Governors’ Homes in the states of Wisconsin, Missouri, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. This article was also in THE SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 30 July 1968. Interesting sidebar: the Pennsylvania governor’s “mansion’s china, glass and silverware will be in 45 Coppes-Napanee Maple cabinets in a French Provincial décor.” That’s quite a large kitchen, wonder if there was a smaller kitchen for the personal use of the Governor’s family. On a personal note, I distinctly remember looking at the high-water mark on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Mansion after the hurricane Agnes flood of 1972. The high-water mark was at the height of the top of the 1st floor. At that time, I had no idea I would later be interested in the brand of kitchen installed in the mansion. Wonder if the kitchen was saved or needed to be replaced after the flood.

The only reference to Elvis and a Coppes Kitchen I have found so far (still searching) is in an article that was published in THE STAR PRESS (MUNCIE, INDIANA) 28 Aug, 1958. Written by the New York Socialite, June Allison, she stated that Elvis did not get a Coppes Kitchen because he was unwilling to wait for the normal length of time it took for the Coppes Inc. Co. to build a kitchen. Seems Elvis wanted a kitchen delivered in a couple weeks instead of the usual months in the normal way kitchens were made. “Elvis couldn’t wait for Indiana kitchen”  was the story, while several “famous” people were already enjoying their “World famous” Coppes Kitchens. If all this is true, one could assume that Elvis did come to Nappanee to discuss the purchase of a Coppes Kitchen. Wonder if Elvis would have signed his name in the Show room guest book; inquiring minds want to know.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this kind of information were recorded for use to find today? If interested, you can find this article with NEWSPAPERS.COM. Search for Elvis in the The Star Press on 28th of Aug in 1958.  

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My Search for more Dutch Kitchenet Advertising

Hello, welcome to this week’s Bill’s History Corner. Stay home and stay safe, read Bill’ history Corner. Occupy your mind, even if you think you have nothing to do. This is the place where I get the privilege of talking about the Napanee Dutch Kitchenets and the factory that made them.

Facebook Fan Group

Welcome, but first, I was notified of a new (new for me) Facebook group called “give Your Wife A Hoosier Cabinet”. It’s free and easy to join; just answer two questions, and the administrator will give you access. A few people are selling cabinets, others are attempting to find out who made their cabinets. All in all, it’s interesting.

Today, I want to tell you about is an Internet word search app or program that you can use to search 1000s of vintage newspapers from across the country. It has a monthly subscription cost, but I have found beginners can have a month’s free trial. I love it. I have been using it to hunt for vintage advertising for Napanee Dutch Kitchenets. You can select a time period to search in or search by states. I used the words “Dutch Kitchenet,” and if I remember correctly, there were 250,000 results. Then I started putting limits on the time period and selected just one state to search in, much more manageable that way.

Coppes Advertising Results

The main information I wanted to find was when Coppes Bros. & Zook began heavy advertising of the Napanee Dutch Kitchenets. The earliest store advertisement was in Nov. 1914. The A. J. Parker & Co. Furniture Store in Howell, Mich. had the first that I found with Newspapers .com.

No 1.jpg

By 1916-17, there are 100s of Newspaper’s store advertisements competing to sell the Napanee Dutch Kitchenets. In the Coppes Commons historical  paper collections we have a few (5-6) of the Newspaper blank copy ads. The company would provide these to furniture stores so that the stores could insert their store name and place the advertising copy in their local newspapers.

There is a much greater variety of advertising being used for selling the Napanee Dutch Kitchenets than I ever imagined. I found full-page advertising for upcoming Napanee Dutch Kitchenet sales, advertising with time limits (a two-day sale), and a sale named the “Napanee Dutch Kitchenet CIRCLE sale.” The Circle sale was limited to the first 26 ladies to join the circle at an entrance fee of $1.00.  As an incentive to join the circle, after the circle was full, one of the 26 ladies would win a free Napanee Dutch kitchenet while the remaining ladies needed to finish paying for their cabinet. Seems like a neat trick to me. The furniture store got $26.00 for the cabinet they were “giving away” and sold 25 more at full price.

This 2nd ad. is from the SALISBURY EVENING POST ( Salisbury, North Carolina), 17 Jun. 1916.

Dutch Girl Advertising

Another key piece of information I was searching for was when Coppes began using the Dutch Girl in advertising. We still do not where she originated or who is responsible for her in Coppes Advertising. We have thought for some time that the Dutch Girl began appearing in Coppes advertising in 1916, in association with the Model A Cabinet. Here is the nice color picture of the Dutch Girl standing with a Model A Cabinet that has been used in all kinds of Coppes advertising and promotions.

The Model A cabinet and Dutch Girl first appeared in the Coppes Catalogs in 1916. I found liberal use of the Dutch girl in stores’ Newspaper advertising in 1916 and a couple in late 1915.  The H. E. Christie ad. was printed in THE ADAMS COUNTY FREE PRESS (Corming, Iowa)  9 Oct 1915.   The Denham first Co. ad. was printed in THE FAIRMOUT WEST VIRGINIAN (Fairmont, Virginia) 6 Oct 1915.

Kitchenet Selling Prices

A bonus piece of information that I found was the selling price of some cabinets in 1915. I’m almost sure the stores were setting the sale price of the cabinets, but in these two advertisements the cabinet selling price is listed in the advertisements. Model “A” cabinets were priced at regular price $45.00, Special sale price at Denham First store was $39.50. At the Christie store, Credit price was $37.50, and cash price was $32.50.

Hoosiers Nationwide

Other things that we have used for is finding Napanee Dutch Kitchenet advertising from every state in the U. S. We compiled these in a 3-ring binder in the museum. We also searched for all the other companies (that we know of) that made cabinets that I call Hoosier style Cabinets. Almost all the 65 other companies that made their own style of Hoosier cabinet had some advertising in newspapers. We also collected those and placed them in a 3-ring binder in the museum.

How Will You Use

Now what could you use for?  Interested in early baseball teams from the 1930s? Want to read about shipwrecks in 1910? Simply search for your family names in the newspapers. What were the headlines on your birthday? Give it a try, I think the first month is free.

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A Close Look at Francke Hardware Orders

This is the place where we discuss the history of the Coppes kitchen factory. I would invite you to share any thoughts or information you may have on any of the topics I write about.

Where do I start? As you know, if you have been following these posts, we have boxes of business receipts from the early 1900s. We are slowly going through them. Every piece of paper has a story. The latest box we are looking at contained several receipts from the FRANCKE HARDWARE COMPANY, 43 and 45 South Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IND. As an estimate, I would guess we found 50 receipts from Francke Hardware Co in one box, all dated 1905-06. At this rate there are bound to be more in other boxes.

I have picked out a few that I think are the more interesting ones. Maybe I think they are  interesting because I’m an old hardware store freak. I think I’ve said it before: I love anything to do with old hardware stores.

If you think about it, the Coppes companies would have needed several kinds of basic hardware to operate the business. Nails, screws, drawer pulls, hinges, cabinet locks, are but a few items that were regularly ordered from Francke Hardware Co. All the shipments were shipped to Nappanee by the B & O Railroad. Some orders went through Francke Hardware but were shipped directly from the manufacturer, and in those cases, there usually are two railway freight receipts pined with the main receipts.  

The Eagle Lock Company was one company that shipped their products directly. Francke Hardware Company was purchased by the Vonnegut Hardware Company in 1910. Vonnegut went on to become a huge hardware business in Indianapolis with several stores across the city.

Big Business vs. Local

Why the Coppes companies used a distance company (instead of a local Nappanee hardware store) for their larger orders I can only guess at. It must have been cost effective to place orders with Francke Hardware even with the added freight costs. Coppes did use the local Hardware stores, but it was for more immediate items. Often (from other receipt we have found) it seemed like an employee was sent to one of the local hardware stores to pick up an item that was needed immediately, like a repair item.

I have looked at eBay for any Francke Hardware Co. ephemera but have not located any, which makes me wonder, “How did the Coppes Co. know they could order hardware from the Francke company?” If there are no company catalogs or Francke advertising to be found on the antique market now, there must have been an over-the-road salesman from Francke Hardware Co. who made regular visits at the Coppes company. There likely would have been several of these salesmen from different companies stopping at Coppes as they traveled from town to town on the train, staying a night or two at the Coppes Hotel while making sales calls on all the businesses and smaller hardware stores in town.  What an interesting job that must have been. I would have loved it.

Francke Receipts

I had trouble limiting the number of receipts I wanted to scan and show for this History Corner, because they are all extremely interesting.  I hope the few that I picked out illustrate this company’s connection to the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co.

The first receipt I want to show you is from Nov. 27th, 1905. At this time theeceipts were being typed, which makes them much easier to read one hundred and fifteen years later. This receipt is typical of most of the Francke receipts. It has some tools (files, wrenches) then some hardware (catches) and 25 LBS. of “Bill Poster Tacks”.

As was typical of the supplies that were ordered, they were consolidated into one order and then divided among the different Coppes, Zook & Mutschler buildings when the order arrived. I would think it would have been more prudent for each building to place their own orders to eliminate the record keeping time and office time in determining and recording the cost for each building.  To illustrate this, look at the first line which reads 10 Dozen 8” Mill Files 2 Rd. (round) Edges, 5.40 /doz.   $54.00. In the left margin some one has written 3B  7A, which means three dozen of the 10 dozen files were going to building “B,” while the other seven dozen were going to building “A”.

At the bottom of the receipt is the record of the cost of this order for each item at each building. Someone had to determine the cost of the items that was going to each building for each of the line items on the entire order, factoring in the different discounts. Seems like a lot of personnel time being used unnecessarily. By the way this order weighted 705 pounds (with boxing) and cost $1.46 in B & O freight charges.  

The next Francke Hardware Co. receipt is short, only ½ doz. of one item. I’m just going to list the one line.  ½ doz. #62 – 4 ft. Straight Steel rules, Graduated 1/8 & 1/16, per Doz. 28.00   –  14.00 This order was divided among buildings as 1 to C at 1.05;   1 to A @ 1.04;    4 to B @ 4.20. I haven’t really figured out the discount rates yet. For this order of 6 steel rulers the discount is “less 50-10%,” which is written as $7.70 on $14.00. Does this mean take 50% off the original price, and then take an additional 10% of that discount? Anyhow, the final cost of these 6 steel rules was $6.30. Usually the discount is only 3% if the receipt is paid within 30 or 60 days. I would sure like to shop at this hardware store.  

Some interesting lines on other receipts (receipts not scanned) are; “2 -Doz.  14 Qt. Galv. Rd. Bott. Fire Buckets   –   3.45   –     6.90”   ( fire prevention) “½  Doz.   # 1 Double face Engineers hammers    –   5.80     – 2.90”  (Double face? ) “1   Doz. each    12, 13, 14, inch,  claw hammer Hdles   .45, .45, & .50 ea.  – 1.40″  (that’s a lot of handles) “ ½ Doz. ea   13 in. & 18 in.  1 1/8 Iron Bench Screws  – 13 in. @ 3.75/doz – 1.87: 18 in. @ 5.25/doz = 2.63″  (for making their own bench vises)  

Marvin’s Mysterious Brass Box

The last Francke Hardware scan I want to show is also very interesting, not so much for the hardware that was ordered but what this order implies. Here is what this receipt has listed. 1 –  Brass Box Lock & Pins2 – Gilt Catches4 – Brass Box Corners1 – 3 ½ “ Brass Box handle & screws1 – Pr. Brass fancy hinges,  for a total cost of $1.00.”

See the penciled in note “Chg. M. C.”   It would seem likely that (M. C.) Mr. Marvin Coppes was making himself a fancy box with fancy brass hardware. We know that the Coppes 2nd generation children worked in the factory, either as fill-ins where needed or had regular jobs as they were growing up. Did Marvin develop a personal interest in doing woodworking or did he see an inexpensive way to create a gift for someone? Marvin would have been 25 years old and married for three years when this order was placed.   Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks, please come back next week, I’m sure I’ll still be here looking at my keyboard.

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The Kozy-Kitch Cabinet

Hello and welcome to this week’s addition of Bill’s History Corner. Like most of you, I have been working from home, trying to stay safe and not spread the virus. Hope you and your family are safe.

Working from home for me involves spending time searching on the computer. Lately, my main search tool has been This is a word search program that will search newspapers from across the country. Old or new, doesn’t make any difference. Luckily, you can limit the search range by states, years and exact newspapers. I have found that this site usually offers a month free trial for new users and after that there is a monthly subscription. Try it out! Search for what the Yankees did in 1939, or the election news in your birth year.

I have been hunting for Coppes advertising from across the country. I have found different stores’ advertising for selling the Napanee Dutch Kitchenets from every state in the Union. The Coppes company supplied the selling stores with newspaper copy ads that the store could then put their own name on. Then I began searching for the earliest advertisements for such a store sale. In 1913-14, the Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. were beginning to spread the newspaper advertising campaign (for Dutch Kitchenets) across Indiana and then spreading farther away from the home area of Nappanee.

You may be aware that we have a list of 65 or so (it’s a growing list at the bottom of our “Date Your Hoosier” page) of other manufacturing companies that produced a kitchen cabinet that can be considered a Hoosier Cabinet. Our definition of a Hoosier Cabinet is a free-standing cabinet with a work surface and lots of storage space.

Another item that I have been searching for is advertisements from all those other 65 companies. Finding an advertisement would validate their being listed with other companies that made kitchen cabinets. Well, yesterday I found a new company (new to me) from Fort Wayne. What makes this new company the most interesting is the cute names they used. The name of the manufacturing company was The ELECTRIC KITCHENET CO., with the kitchen cabinet they produced called the “KOZY-KITCH”. 

The earliest advertisement for this company was dated 1917, then on the 22th of Dec. 1919, there was a full-page ad in the Fort Wayne Sentinel touting the wonderful opportunity that people could take advantage of by purchasing STOCK in this new proposed company (No buildings yet). The advertisement explained the business plan of the company, how they were going take advantage of the exploding need for kitchen cabinets in new housing and apartment buildings.  Indeed, one of the main selling points from this company was the value of having a KOZY-KITCH  installed in new apartments. Several classified type ads listed apartments having a KOZY-KITCH as a selling point.

That Dec. 22nd, 1919 advertisement said they were planning on producing 15,000 kitchen cabinets per year with a profit of $450,000.00 per year. Wow, what a sales job that was! It’s not clear if a manufacturing building was ever constructed for this company.

Another ad recommended having the cabinets produced on contract with another firm. In 1918 this company was selling “territorial Rights” to “moneyed people only” to promote the KOZY-KITCH  in a Chicago newspaper advertisement.

It seems this company was not too concerned about selling to the individual customer. I found only one advertisement explaining where to view the KOZY-KITCH  in Fort Wayne and no advertisements from stores promoting a sale of the KOZY-KITCH  cabinets. Apparently, the company business plan was to promote the KOZY-KITCH  cabinets to builders of new apartments and new homes. Here are a couple advertisements  that uphold that idea. Notice that some of the KOZY-KITCH units had a built in refrigerator. Coppes and Zook did the same thing for their line of apartment cabinets.  

Another idea promoted by the Electric kitchenet Co. was to rent a KOZY-KITCH cabinet for $2.50 per week, then after eighteen months they would give the cabinet to you: $2.50 per week X 18 months = $180.00. Wonder how many people did that?

The final advertisement I want to show is from 1933. In the South Bend tribune was a notice to dissolve the company. This company lasted approx. 15 years, from 1918 to 1933. Sure would be fun to find one of these KOZY-KITCH cabinets. Wonder if they put their name on the cabinets?

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The Vitreous Company is “Tops” for Coppes

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.

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H. Toms Furniture Co. – Dealer of Dutch Kitchenets

Hello everyone, and thanks for coming to Bill’s History Corner. This is the place where we discuss all things about the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Company, or any other name the company went by.  The company names changed as people died or left the company. 

Today, I want to tell about a new sign we acquired. This one is from H. TOMS Co. FURNITURE , from RICHLAND CENTER, WIS. Also, we were lucky enough to acquire a companion sign.  Interestingly, the H. Toms Co. was also group of undertakers. I think this combination of furniture and undertaking was more common than you might realize. After all, who was going to build the coffins that would be needed but the furniture/cabinetmakers?

It is our opinion that the Coppes Company supplied these standardized ( we now have two that are identical, but different store names) “NAPANEE DUTCH KITCHENET” metal signs to the stores that were having a Dutch Kitchenet sale in their stores. The store would be responsible for having the store name printed, and, in this instance, that would be the H. Tom’s Co. FURNITURE.

I think I have mentioned it before that we have a ledger in the Coppes collection from 1924 that I named The Shipping Ledger. It has listings of all the items sent (mailed or shipped by rail) to different stores across the country. At that time, Coppes & Zook Co had several over the road salesmen promoting the DUTCH KITCHENET CABINET. These salesmen would call or telegraph back to the factory with any orders they may have secured, or maybe they wanted the company to send promotional items to a store to help convince them that having a DUTCH KITCHENET CABINET sale would be a great thing. The free giveaways included, at different times, hand mixers, measuring cups, sets of dishes, cutlery sets, etc. Even the small porcelain-top kitchen tables were sometimes given with a purchase of a Dutch Kitchenet. The free giveaways were the exact thing that the other major Hoosier Cabinet manufacturing companies were doing. Coppes needed to complete with all the other selling ideas that other companies were practicing. 

I found this newspaper advertisement in a Chattanooga, Tennessee paper. It is not from the H. Toms Furniture Store, but it illustrates another selling idea that Coppes used. They would have a salesman familiar with selling Coppes cabinets in the store during the 3-5-day period of the sale.

The final item I want to show in this History Corner is an item I found on the internet. When you Google “the H. Toms Furniture Store,” what you find is this. It appears they were also sometime selling the Hoosier brand of cabinet. The H. Toms building is the one on the left side.

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Nappanee Loves a Parade!

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner, where we discuss all things about Coppes.

Today we are looking at pictures of parade floats. The town of Nappanee loved a good parade and still does to this day. The Coppes company, like many other businesses in Nappanee, participated by building a float for the parade. In the Coppes Commons collection we have photos of a George Lamb Company horse-drawn float,

a Mutschler Bros. truck decked out for a parade,

along with the “Vitreous on parade” float.

We also have two pictures of Coppes, Zook & Mutschler log wagons during one of the “Onion Days” celebrations in Nappanee.

Also, a picture of at least twelve horse & log wagons lined up for a picture. Was this picture during the “Onion Days” parade?

The Howenstein – Burback picture is of their parade float.

This Nappanee hardware store which was formed in 1899, was located in the building which later became Martin’s hardware.

The float from the McNeil & Higgins Company, Chicago (below), which is promoting the “None Such” brand of food products is a mystery, did they bring their float to Nappanee to participate in a parade or are we mistaken as to the location of this picture?

We have four photos of Coppes floats: two of the 1949 float pulled by a truck and one photo each of the 1921 and 1925 floats with several Coppes Napanee Cabinets on board.

If anyone has other pictures of Coppes floats or anything of interest we want to hear from you. We would like to make copies of your pictures and add them to our Coppes Commons collection.

If one picture is worth a 1000 words, then we talked a lot today. Thanks for visiting this site, come back next week for the next Bill’s History Corner installment.