Posted on 2 Comments

Van Camp Hardware Flour Bins

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.

Posted on 2 Comments

Coppes & Zook at the 1933 World’s Fair

“A Century of Progress, 1933,” or “Chicago World’s Fair,” 1933, take your pick. Each name is for the same thing. We recently purchased a 36-page booklet titled The Florida Home at A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 1933.

It seems that the state of Florida (and maybe other states as well) built and furnished a model home at the Century of Progress in Chicago with Coppes and Zook furnishing the “Scientifically Designed Kitchen.” Marvin Coppes wrote an interesting 2-page spread highlighting the benefits of the Coppes and Zook kitchen that appeared in the booklet. This booklet was likely given to people who toured the home during a visit to the World’s fair. Coppes and Zook may have furnished the kitchens for other state homes, but we don’t have that information yet. This is the first booklet from the Chicago World’s Fair that we have found.

Every piece of furniture and every item of decoration is described in detail, pointing out the designer or the manufacturing company that made it. Each piece of furniture also has a numbered picture in the booklet. They talk a lot about upcoming trends. The use of metal in furniture is one example of what they considered a growing trend, so you should be sure to purchase your next furniture with metal legs or framework that is visible.  I like this line that was used often in this booklet, “Florida, where summer spends the winter.”  

One of the last paragraphs in the booklet reads,” The many who have been thru the Florida tropical Home and secured this booklet may, upon reflection in the quiet of their home, away from conflicting reactions due to the numerous exhibits taken in—desire to purchase some of the items in the home or be desirous of building a similar house. Because of the fact that the Florida tropical home is built and sponsored by the State of Florida, we are unable to include prices in this book.”

“However, we will be pleased to give you complete information concerning all details of furniture and other items, in which you may be interested, together with prices on all articles, delivered to your station or post office. When writing, kindly give brief description of the particular things in which you are interested and the illustration number.”

The kitchen in the Florida house is of Coppes & Zook’s modern style with one countertop on several base cabinets and wall cabinets. Coppes & Zook were producing this “modern” style cabinet while still manufacturing the Hoosier Style cabinets till approximately 1944. I don’t really know when the last ‘Hoosier Style” cabinet left the Coppes factory. Sometime during the Second World War is my guess.

As a sidebar, if you do a Google search for “century of progress Chicago” you will be able to see dozens of art deco style posters from the fair, like the following one. I love this time period. Thanks for your visit to Bill’s History Corner.