Hello, Welcome to another issue of Bill’s History Corner. This is the place where we discuss all things about the Coppes factory. We will also try to answer questions that you have. With this week’s find, I think we can finally answer the question “where did the sheet metal flour bins and bread drawers come from?”
At least we have one example of the answer. As we are eager to do, because everything we find is a new discovery, we were searching through the boxes of old company receipts that somehow survived the various office moves and company cleanouts that former employees have told us about. I’m just speculating here, but I think several former employees at different times (and not necessarily acting together) stored or hid old factory records at various places in the factory so they would not be destroyed. I don’t know who these guys were, but we all owe them a big thanks for what they preserved.
Where the metal components of the Dutch Kitchenets came from has long been an unanswered question. For example, did the factory have its own sheet metal shop that made the parts that were needed? Flour bins and sifters, bread drawers, and various small shelf racks inside cabinet doors were some of the different metal parts needed to complete a Dutch Kitchenet. I can tell you as one that sorted through the trash in the factory that there were no scraps of sheet metal or broken tools that would have been used to make the sheet metal components. It has been my opinion that the factory didn’t make its own metal parts, but where did they come from? We can now answer that question with some certainly, but did the Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co. have an inhouse metal fabricating shop to build the parts or were they a middle man company?
The Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co., Indianapolis was one of the major providers. We found several receipts related to metal parts for Kitchenets. This batch of receipts is dated 1911 & 1912. The Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co. was huge. You can get an idea of the products and services they provided by studying the billhead. This time period in American history saw the development of several huge stores in Midwest cities, of which the Van Camp Company was one. I fully expect we will discover receipts from other hardware businesses as we keep digging into boxes of paper.
Let’s Look at the Receipts. . .
The first receipt I want to show is dated Jan. 26th, 1912. This is for “1- SAMPLE BREAD BOX XXX”. I think the XXX means that the Van Camp Company made one sample bread box at no charge, fully expecting a large order to follow. Someone has written on this receipt what must have been the estimated cost for each bread drawer at $.43c. The 2nd receipt is a follow-up order.
The receipt dated 8/12/12 is for “2009 – BREAD BOXES 47 (each) $944.23.” There is additional information we can gather from this receipt. One example is this line, a discount for “Less FW (freight, ???) $39.69, ” which means less by that amount of freight cost. However, there is also a B & O Rail freight receipt pinned to the back of this for “ 1 Car, Bread Boxes – $135.00”. Seems like it took a full train car to ship the 2009 bread boxes. I don’t understand it. What was that discount for? Also, C, Z & M Co. subtracted a 2% discount ($18.18) for prompt payment, even though it took 17 days to make the payment. Clearly, on the receipt, it states “TERMS, 2% for cash in 10 days”. Wonder if this was standard practice with C, Z & M Co.: pay late, but also take the 2% discount for payment in 10 days, unless the company complains. Likely most companies would not complain for late payment. They may be happy just to get the payment. There is an additional note indicating ½ of order sent/billed to C ( factory C, where they built kitchen cabinets) and ½ to B. I wonder what they made in factory B that used bread drawers.
The next two receipts go together, I think. They are also from Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co. and refer to “HOPPERS,” which I think are the flour bins.
The first one dated June 5th, 11, is for “1 – “9 ¼ X 9 7/8 HOPPER – 32 –32.” Someone has written “Sample – for new cabt”. I feel for sure this is an example of the company ordering one sample to see if it will work. This sample cost $.32. The 2nd receipt is for “500 – HOPPERS – 32 – 160.00”. On this receipt, someone has written “ small hopper for 1556 cabt” & also “C Purchase” meaning the order was going to building “C” and charged to the expenses of building “C” where they were making the cabinet. The final picture I want to show you this week is a scan of a No. 1556 Coppes Cabinet. As you can see, the flour bin is mostly wooden with a funnel-shaped “HOPPER” and sifter at the bottom. See ya right back here next week. Stay Cool.