Bump Paper Fastener

La Crosse County Historical Society

La Crosse County Historical Society

Amy Vach

Catalog Number: 1986.040.01

While this object may appear to be a hole punch, it is much more than that. It is “a novel device that manufactures something from nothing,” as described by the company.

This environmentally green Midwest invention is a paper fastener that was meant to replace the use of paperclips and staples.

With one simple squeeze, this handy office tool fastens two or more pieces of paper together. The fastener cuts a small triangular-shaped hole in the paper, folds back the cut triangle, and then slides it into a slot cut in the paper to fasten it in place.

According to George P. Bump, in 1909, he was employed at a machine factory in Newton, Iowa. A fellow employee suggested that there would be a worldwide market for a machine that could fasten papers together without the use of clips. Bump accepted the challenge presented by his coworker and created a preliminary model of what would later become his patented paper fastener.

Bump said that he shared his patent 50-50 with a businessman from Iowa, J.C. Hawkins, because Hawkins had made a deal with Bump. Hawkins would provide the means for production and Bump the fastener, and the partners created the Clipless Paper Fastener Co. Unfortunately, Bump did not get this deal in writing. After the patent was approved, Hawkins began producing Bump’s invention on his own.

Hawkins had a contract with the Stamping & Tool Co. of La Crosse to create the fastener. Not soon after, Bump moved to La Crosse and contracted with the same company to manufacture 10,000 paper fasteners. Bump’s move and order caused a lengthy and expensive lawsuit that ended in 1914 in Bump’s favor.

The Bump Paper Fastener Co. created three models of nickel-plated steel fasteners. One was a stand fastener and hole punch for a tabletop, and a wide and narrow handheld variety like the one pictured.

In 1927, the La Crosse Tribune stated that the company had sold hundreds of thousands of units. Bump’s invention spread the name of the city of La Crosse around the world with shipments sent to foreign countries. The products produced by the company bore the text “Bump Paper Fastener Co. La Crosse, Wis.”

Bump invented and patented other inventions while living in La Crosse, including an air compressor pump, a terminal clamp, a carburetor-adjusting mechanism, a rotary engine and many others. In 1930, Bump changed his company name to the Bump Pump Co., based on his new invention. However, the company was still producing his first patented invention, the paper fastener.

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on October 12, 2019.

This object can be viewed in our online collections database by clicking here.

Wisconsin’s First Farmers’ Packing Cooperative

Image copyright La Crosse County Historical Society

Image copyright La Crosse County Historical Society

Amy Vach

Catalog Number: 2019.040.01

In 1914, La Crosse was home to Wisconsin’s and one of the nation’s first meatpacking cooperatives.

In the 1910s, many farmers were dissatisfied with the percentage of commissions that the large packing companies were taking. They felt they received little profit for their hard work.

In the late 1910s, cooperative packing companies were organized in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and the Dakotas to keep more profit with the farmers.

In 1914, the Farmers’ Cooperative Packing Co. of La Crosse was created. The La Crosse Tribune featured advertisements describing the purchase of stock in the company as “the best 6% investment ever offered to the merchants of La Crosse.”

In June 1914, Albert Miller, a local farmer and livestock buyer, purchased two $100 shares of the company. Miller’s stock certificate pictured here has a fanciful border and a scene of farm animals with the corporate seal of the packing company in the bottom left corner.

More than 2,100 farmers like Miller purchased stock in the company.

The company took over the space formerly used by the Langdon-Boyd Packing Co. at 300 S. Front St., which is the location of The Waterfront Restaurant. The area surrounding Riverside Park was very different from what we know today, with this slaughterhouse next-door in an industrial area.

At the time, revitalizing a former packing plant seemed like a wise decision for the newly formed cooperative. During the summer of 1914, the company appeared to be a great success. Each week the company slaughtered about 300 hogs, 60 cattle, 100 calves and 100 sheep.

Priority was given to shareholders, but any farmer in the area could bring livestock to the cooperative for a better price.

However, the Farmers’ Cooperative Packing Co. of La Crosse closed in December 1916.

After the purchase of the old packing plant, the cooperative found the building and its machinery were in disrepair. The new company paid nearly $125,000 for a structure that apparently was worth less than $30,000. During the first two years, the company spent a great deal of capital on maintenance and repairs. Their funds went dry in 1916.

In 1920, the Farmers’ Cooperative Packing Co. of La Crosse sued the Langdon-Boyd Packing Co. and its significant shareholders for the cost of the plant plus interest for selling the plant at an exorbitant price.

The major shareholders included some well-known La Crosse figures: George Burton, Frank Hixon, Joseph Funke and Carl Michel. Judge Higbee of La Crosse County Circuit Court sided with the La Crosse Farmers’ Cooperative.

But the defendants appealed, taking the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

There it was decided that the cooperative had multiple opportunities to inspect the Langdon-Boyd building beforehand and see that it was not worth the sale price. The defendants were found not guilty of the charge of conspiracy and fraud, and Higbee’s verdict was reversed.

The cooperative’s failure was not unique.

Many of the early 20th century packing cooperatives in the United States failed. Some of the packing companies never opened to the public, and others only lasted a few years. A few of the reasons for failure include limited capital, lack of experienced management, and irregular livestock supplies.

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on October 5, 2019.

This object can be viewed in our online collections database by clicking here.

La Crosse Seed Co. Bag

Image Copyright La Crosse County Historical Society

Image Copyright La Crosse County Historical Society

Haley Gagliano

Catalog Number: 2018.fic.846

This cloth seed bag from La Crosse Seed Co. was once part of a high-demand agricultural business that dates back to the early 1900s.

The La Crosse Seed is an independent company which distributes seed and related products to agriculture and turf dealers across the Midwest and beyond. Now owned by DLF Pickseed, La Crosse Seed Co. is located in the La Crosse Industrial Court.

Although once operating at a much smaller scale, La Crosse Seed has just marked its 100 years as a company, with roots dating back to 1919. That year, three executives from the Salzer Seed Co. incorporated La Crosse Seed Co. The business was located within the Salzer complex at Eighth and Adams streets. Since then it has grown into a nationally recognized specialty seed supplier.

This cloth seed bag dates to about 1950, when hybridized seed had become common because of its vigor and increased yields. After its introduction in the early 1930s, the demand for hybrid corn began to grow because it proved to be superior to other varieties farmers had been planting. Because of this, businesses like the La Crosse Seed Co. began to produce and sell other hybrids, like this “Certified Ranger Alfalfa Seed.”

The product was sold in one-bushel, cotton cloth sacks with The La Crosse Seed Co.’s name and logo printed on the bag. The La Crosse Seed Co. chose bright red and green text, placing focus on its seed that is “Always the Best” to attract buyers. The company also created a slogan to demonstrate its pride to provide “seed you need, when you need it” to its customers.

By the late 1950s, paper sacks replaced the previously used cloth ones, while today seed is packaged in a variety of different materials, including paper and woven-poly blends. Polyester and other tough synthetics were only beginning to be developed when this cotton bag was produced.

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on September 26, 2019.

This object can be viewed in our online collections database by clicking here.