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A 1907 Purchase of Drawing Instruments

Welcome to this week’s Bill’s History Corner. I think it is interesting when we find information of the personal nature about the principal members of the Coppes, Zook or Mutschler Families. We literally have thousands of old business receipts from the company in the first part of the 20th century (1903-1920). Don’t know how it could have happened, but several boxes of receipts were misplaced or lost until we discovered them while digging in the factory’s junk. What a find, and are we grateful, obviously. Most of the business receipts were destroyed or we would have found other hordes of receipts. Stay tuned. Who knows what we will find.

The business receipt I want to talk about today is an item that was purchased for H. (Harold) Coppes while he was in college in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Likely the class he was taking was a drafting or engineering class. Harold must have needed some drawing tools for the work in the class, so they/he ordered a set of drawing instruments (No. 625) from the Keuffel & Esser Co., Chicago, ILL. This was a very large company that imported or manufactured a wide range of tools like drawing instruments. The set of instruments that were ordered was priced at $37.00 but there was a 20 % discount given. Likely that discount is the reason the drawing set was ordered through the company rather than just H. Coppes, as an individual. So, Harold saved $7.40 in the transaction by purchasing a top of the line drawing set.  Below is a scan of the Nov. 7, 1907 receipt.

Did he need such a high-end drawing set to do the work in the class, or could he have been just as well off with a less expensive set? We will never know the answer to that question. What we do know is that later in 1916 Harold was the motivation behind a patent application for a flour bin used in a Coppes Napanee kitchenet. How many of the skills that Harold Coppes demonstrated later in his life did he learn by using that drawing set  purchased in 1907? I have scanned a page from a K & E catalog showing a Number 625 drawing set (below).  We could speculate all day about things like this- makes history interesting.

 

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A Short Trip Through 1911 New York City and Nappanee

We recently stumbled upon this very interesting video shot in parts of New York City in 1911. A 1911 film would be interesting on its own merit, just because it is now 106 years old, but I wanted to relate life in Nappanee to the film. The first thing I noticed as I watched this film was the huge number of people. People are everywhere, walking along, riding in cars on buses and trolleys, horse-drawn Hanson cabs. Everyone was on the move, going somewhere. The second thing I noticed was the buildings, tall buildings, close together.

Nappanee at the turn of the century

In 1911 Nappanee there were 12 automobiles putt-putting in and around Nappanee. Did the people living in Nappanee then even know about what was happening in other big U. S. cities?  Were they isolated from the rest of the country, did they feel isolated? Maybe a little, but there were opportunities to learn what was happening in the rest on the United States.

One reason people didn’t feel isolated from the rest country was the closeness to Chicago, where several newspapers were published every day. Anyone in Nappanee had access to the big city by train. I know, someone is now thinking that Chicago was not New York in 1911 but the news from New York City could quickly reach Chicago and then to all the small towns in the surrounding area, where newspapers were shipped.

Magazines were another method for knowing what was going on in the world. Mass publications had started, picture magazines, then news magazines were available to the citizens of Nappanee and delivered by the U. S. Mail or purchased at a Store. All of the magazines had advertisements for the latest items.

The first public radio broadcast was on Jan. 13, 1910. 1911 was the infancy of radio. Radio in the countryside didn’t really catch on till the 1930s-40s. So, I think it is safe to assume that Little old Nappanee did not learn about New York City from the radio in 1911.

What was Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. doing in 1911?

. . . They were producing a rather large line of furniture, along with kitchen cabinets, and operating the sawmill and flour mill. In another year, Mr. Dan Zook would die and the partnership would have a friendly breakup. Albert and Charles Mutschler would go back to the plant South of the tracks and continue making furniture and later concentrate on custom Kitchens. Dan Zook’s son Harold would continue with the Coppes Bros, but they would begin concentrating on producing the Dutch Kitchen Cabinets that made them famous. In approximately 1927 Coppes Bros. & Zook opened a sales office in New York City with a small staff with the intention of developing the kitchen market in NYC.