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Connecting the Dots on More Old Receipts

Bill Warner
July 25, 2019
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Hello everyone, thanks for visiting Bill’s History Corner, where we discuss all things about the Coppes Companies.

Today we are looking at a receipt from the D. K. Jeffris & Co., 615 Pullman Building, Chicago. The Jeffris Company sold lumber to the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. by the train carload. This isn’t the only receipt we have found for this company. We have 12 such receipts for 1910 alone. Likely there are more for other years, but we stopped looking after one year.

Each receipt is for a full train carload of lumber. Approx. 18,000 to 20,000 Board feet in each train car, either 4/4 No. 1 Common Cottonwood, or 4/4 No. 1 Common Tupelo. Cottonwood was a trade name for Poplar lumber and Tupelo was a regional name for Black or Sour Gum lumber. Either way this lumber was not the best lumber that they could buy. In fact, it was really inexpensive, selling at $25.00 per 1000 Board Foot of lumber, or .02 ½ cents per Board Foot. My guess is that the Coppes company used this lumber for packing crates when shipping furniture or Kitchenets. If you are confused by the designation of 4/4 No. 1 Common, it means that the lumber is 4 quarters of an inch thick or one inch in thickness and it is a grade that is almost the poorest grade of lumber.

Each train carload of lumber contained lumber of random widths. Here is where this story gets interesting. The company policy of the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. was to have company workmen check the quality, measure, sort, and count each piece by making a mark on a piece of paper for each size of lumber that was in the load. This method of doing business allowed the company to know if they were being “SHORTED” in the shipments or as in the case of this receipt, dated 3/22/10, this shipment of lumber contained 835 feet more than they were charged for. We have not found if the company sent an additional payment for the extra lumber in this load. This policy was used throughout the company for merchandise that was purchased. When mirrors, door glass or hardware was ordered and then arrived at the factory, workmen sorted and marked on paper the size of the item as it was unpacked.

This tally sheet has spots for each size of board that was on the train car.

The closeup scan is for pieces of lumber that were 8, 9 and 10 inches wide.

Not only did the company have forms printed for this unpacking & counting policy, think of the amount of workman’s time that was taken up in recording every piece of lumber, every mirror, every piece of glass. In 1910, every piece of lumber was unloaded, sorted, counted, and stacked by hand. Oh, by the way, they did this for lumber coming from their own sawmill also.