Assume it is December 7, 1946. You are planning for next year and need to order some FFA supplies. You have developed the following list of items to order. For each item, see if you can identify the supplier! It is possible to use the same answer more than once. Note: be careful not to get tricked because typically the Footnoter is nice but could be naughty. Since it is December and you are in the holiday mood, you might want to hum the 12 days of Christmas as you work on this list.
Matching (Possible answers below):
___ 1. One silver plow for the Vice President’s station
___ 2. Two images for the Treasurer’s station (Washington and Jefferson)
___ 3. Three FFA jackets
___ 4. Four FFA sweaters
___ 5. Five FFA Rings (for the fingers)
___ 6. Six FFA Emblem Decals
___ 7. Seven cloth Officer Station banners
___ 8. Eight FFA manuals
___ 9. Nine FFA caps
___ 10. Ten FFA Arm Bands
___ 11. Eleven FFA membership cards
___ 12. Twelve FFA dinner plates
- A. Amazon, www.amazon.com
- B. L. G. Balfour Company, Attleboro, Massachusetts
- C. Chapter Supply Company, Box 595, Danville, Illinois
- D. Cundy Bettoney Company, Hyde Park, Boston, Massachusetts
- E. Decalcomania Manufacturing Company, Chicago 7, Illinois
- F. Deere & Company, Moline, Illinois
- G. The Fair Publishing House, New London, Ohio
- H. French-Bray Printing Co., Candler Bldg., Baltimore, 2, Md
- I. James River Potteries, Inc., Hopewell, Virginia
- J. National FFA Supply Service, Alexandria, Virginia
- K. Staunton Novelty Co., Staunton, Virginia
- L. St, Louis Button Co., 415 Lucas Avenue, St, Louis, 2, Missouri
- M. Swift & Company, Chicago, 9, Illinois
- N. Universal Uniform Co., Van Wert, Ohio
- O. U. S. Recording Co, 1121 Vermont Avenue, N.W, Washington, D. C.
- P. There is no correct answer because this is a trick item
The answers will be revealed later in this Friday Footnote.
In the early days (1930s and 40s) of the FFA there was a demand for FFA merchandise. The FFA entertained proposals from numerous companies to manufacture and sell FFA merchandise. The FFA received a small royalty on the products sold. It was not unusual for the FFA Board of Trustees to consider numerous proposals and requests from a number of companies at a Board meeting. Many proposals were rejected.
When Dr. A. W. Tenney became the FFA National Executive Secretary in 1943 he discovered that an agriculture teacher had to contact 16 different companies to obtain FFA merchandise and materials. Service was extremely poor from some of the companies. It was obvious that a change needed to be made.
The FFA leadership visited large retail chain stores and also the Boy Scouts of America to see how they handled merchandise. Accordingly, a decision was made to start an FFA Supply Service. This recommendation came from the Board of Trustees on July 18, 1946, and was adopted by the delegates at the 1947 FFA convention. The delegates authorized a loan of $10,000 from the FFA treasury to start the operation (it was repaid in 1949).
The Supply Service was to operate out of the National FFA Camp (later to be the FFA Center) in Alexandria, Virginia. The FFA Supply Service opened for business in February of 1948. The Supply Service also handled supplies for the New Farmers of America. Despite numerous growing pains this venture was a success and is still in operation today.
So how well did you do on the quiz? Following are the correct answers along with more information about the various companies selling FFA supplies (this is not an exhaustive list, there were several others). And for you visual learners, I have appended some brochures from these companies from the 1930s.
A. Amazon–NO! I told you it was not the answer.
B. L. G. Balfour– This is the answer to question number 5. This company sold advisor pins, belts and buckles, collegiate chapter pins, trophy cups, degree pins and keys, favors, assorted jewelry, various medals, necktie chain clasps, plaques, finger rings, watch fobs and trophies. A Balfour FFA catalog can be downloaded. The image below is a Balfour ring sizing card so you could tell what size ring you needed to order. Even after the FFA Supply Service was established, Balfour continued to provide products to the Supply Service.
C. Chapter Supply Company– This is the answer to question number 7. They sold busts of Washington and Jefferson (I think they were made of Plaster of Paris), cloth officer station markers, a model ear of corn, jumbo paper mache emblems, stuffed owls (yes, you read that correctly), trophies, and a Treasurer’s flag. And I am sure they sold more than this but I don’t have one of their old catalogs. They also sold merchandise to the Future Homemakers of America.
D. Cundy Bettoney Company– This answer was not used. They sold music, specifically the FFA March.
E. Decalcomania Manufacturing Company–This is the answer to question number 6. As their name implies, they sold FFA emblem decals.
F. Deere & Company– This is the answer to question number 1. Both FFA and NFA advisors could get miniature plows for the vice-president by writing to John Deere and requesting one. The image belowis of the plow (zoom in on the nameplate if you can). The story behind this particular image is that it was sold for $1,245 dollars in 2013 on icollector.com. It was advertised as a salesman’s sample John Deere plow.
G. The Fair Publishing House– This answer was not used. This company sold fair ribbons and fair supplies.
H. French-Bray printing Co– This is the answer to question number 8 and also 11. This company sold printer cuts for emblems, electrotype emblems, emblem stickers, FFA letterhead and envelopes, favors, FFA manuals, membership cards, FFA music, napkins, newspaper mats, place cards, FFA scrapbooks, song cards, treasurer and secretary books, project record books, and other printed materials. One page from an advertising brochure is below. There is also a photo of the scrapbooks they made available. You might have one of these scrapbooks for your chapter if you are teaching in an older school.
I. James River Potteries, Inc. – This answer was not used. You could say this as a trick question. At one time they did sell FFA dishes (see brochure below). It was a tradition for the parents of the national FFA officers to receive a set of FFA dishes during the 1930s. However, the company closed in the late 1930s, so it would be impossible to order dishes from them in 1946.
J. National FFA Supply Service– This answer was not used because the Supply Service did not exist in 1946.
K. Staunton Novelty Co. – This is the answer for question numbers 4 and 10 (and possibly 7 and 9). Staunton sold armbands, banners, emblems, favors, lapel buttons, pennants, sweaters, and various felt goods. A copy of their catalog is available. The photo below is of an officer station banner in case you have never seen one. This banner is for an NFA officer and was made by Staunton.
L. St, Louis Button Co. – This answer was not used. They sold badges and buttons, favors, flags, gavels, pencil clips, prize ribbons, and project markers. What is a pencil clip? See the catalog for the answer.
M. Swift & Company– This is the answer to question number 2. Swift supplied framed images of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to FFA chapters and framed photos of Booker T. Washington and H. O. Sargent to NFA chapters. A Swift & Co Jefferson image is shown.
N. Universal Uniform Co.– This the answer for question number 3 and 9. Universal sold FFA jackets, official uniforms, a variety of caps, and I think they also sold FFA baseball uniforms at one time. Their 1930 era brochure is available. It is very interesting. How has the jacket changed?
O. U. S. Recording Co– This answer was not used. They sold electrical transcriptions of the FFA March and Hail the FFA.
P. There is no correct answer because this is a trick item. This is the correct answer for question 12 since the James River Pottery did not exist in 1946.
So, to recap, the correct answers are 1F, 2M, 3N, 4K, 5B, 6E, 7 C or K, 8H, 9 N or K, 10K, 11H, 12P.
So, if you think the Agricultural Experience Tracker is difficult or filling out the FFA chapter roster is hard, just think if you still had to order your FFA supplies from 16 different vendors. You shouldn’t really wish for the good old days. They weren’t all that good.
- When you teach the introduction to FFA unit you might pass out the various catalogs that are linked and get the students’ reactions to the items featured.
- If you are in an older FFA chapter, you might see how many items you can find that were supplied from one of these vendors.
- Have your students brainstorm ideas they would like to see for sale by the FFA Supply Service in the future.
- Have your students search for FFA items on ebay to see if they can find FFA merchandise from one of the early vendors. They will probably find some FFA Balfour rings or possibly a tie clasp. You might also see if they find any phony FFA merchandise.
Cline, R. W. & Cullison, J. R. (1945). Facts for Future Farmers. The University of Arizona. http://uair.library.arizona.edu/system/files/usain/download/azu_s533_f8_c55x_w.pdf
Tenney, A. W. (1977). The FFA at 50. National FFA Organization