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A Lightbulb Moment at CZM - 1909

Bill Warner
January 09, 2020
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Hide Leather & Belting Co.

This week we are looking closely at a couple receipts from the Hide, Leather & Belting Company from Indianapolis. This batch of receipts are from the 1909 -10 period. Coppes, Zook & Mutchler Co. ordered extensively from this company. We have receipts for large orders at least every month of this year.  The sales receipt lists the company products as the following, "Mfg. of the Volt and other oak tanned leather belting, also rubber belting, hoses, and steam packing. Also, agents for Rainbow packing, Eclipse, Gasket, and Dodge Wood Split Pulleys, and Buckeye Electric lamps, Shafting and Hangers, Steam, Water and Air Hoses." I would think that the C, Z & M Co. had a need for most of this companies’ products.

The 1st receipt I want to show you is a straightforward purchase of a length of “VOLT” style belting. The receipt is for 68 ft. of 10-inch-wide Dble Volt belting with 1 foot added for the lap joint, making it an endless style of belt. This belt weighed 98 pounds and was shipped by railroad from Indianapolis. I’m assuming the term “Dble” means double thickness, making this a very large and strong belt for driving a mainline shaft from the power source.  The price of this belt is listed as $67.62. The company received a 2% discount on this order. Next to this receipt is the Railroad Company shipping receipt. We do not know when the order was placed, but the receipt was typed up on May 11th, also shipped by the rail company on the 11th, arrived in Nappanee 3 days later on the 14th and then the receipt marked PAID by Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co on May 27, 1909.


On March 18, 1909, the C, Z & M Co. ordered 100 – 115 / Volt 40-Watt Tungsten (lightbulbs) at $110.00. There was a $30.80 discount on this order, making the total cost for 100 bulbs $79.20. So far so good, but for some reason, the factory that manufactures these light bulbs also sent a shipment of 100 of the same kind of light bulbs. Both shipments are on Hide, Leather & Belting Co. paper, so clearly someone made a mistake. What did C, Z & M Co. do about this mistake? First, they contacted the Leather company asking for a credit Memorandum on the number of bulbs they didn’t order. They received the credit on the order and a business letter from the company explaining the mistake (click images to enlarge).

What the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. did with the 100 extra 40-watt light bulbs is explained in the penciled in notations on the receipt. The Nappanee hardware store of Howenstein & Burbach was contacted, and the bulbs were sold to the hardware store.

We have found several business receipts from the Howenstein & Burback Co. to the C, Z & M Co. It was likely that the hardware store kept a running charge account for the C, Z & M Co. We have found receipts where there is a purchase and charge every business day, some days more than one. It would have been so handy for someone to walk to the hardware store and pick up whatever was needed at the time. Then at the end of the month, a bill was submitted to the company. This is typical of business life at the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Company in 1909.