The Blanchard Butter-Worker
Excerpted from The Chronicle Vol. 56 No. 3, September 2003
by Elton W. Hall
The intensity of the labor in farming and dairying is well-known to all who have ever concerned themselves with it. Little wonder then, that ingenious mechanics have perennially sought ways to reduce the labor with machines to lighten whatever parts of the work they could. One such entrepreneur was Porter Blanchard. According to Barbara S. VanVuren, author of Butter Molds and Stamps, in 1818,
Porter Blanchard opened a small workshop next to his home on Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire.
In 1867, his two sons, Charles P. and George A., joined Blanchard in the business. Since about 1870, they had been in the business of manufacturing churns, butter molds, scales, thermometers, and other tools used in dairying. Porter Blanchard died in 1871, and in 21 February 1882 the firm, which was by then known as Porter Blanchard’s Sons, was issued a patent for a new butter-worker which they believed to be better than any other device then on the market.
Their advertising flyer (Figure 1) describes the importance of working all the buttermilk out of butter once it has been churned so that it will not spoil, “Every dairywoman knows that the hardest part of her labor is to successfully ‘work over’ the regular churning. It is not only hard work, but it requires much skill, judgment, and experience. Many women cannot work butter at all with their hands, and there is a well-founded and growing prejudice against touching the hands at all to the butter.” To aid the process of working the butter, the Blanchards produced this press with which lumps of butter were squeezed between the two quarter cylinder rollers to press out the buttermilk. Their claim was that by running the butter through the press a few times, all the butter-milk would be removed. Salt was then added, the butter passed through the press a few more times, and it would be finished. The pamphlet notes, “It need not take more that two minutes to do all this.”
The machines were made in two sizes, No. 2 that would work a five-pound lump and No. 3 for ten pounds. They retailed for $8.00 and $10.00, respectively. One of the attractive features, particularly for dairies in remote locations, was that the machines were very simple, and any capable woodworker could repair any part that broke. The Blanchards offered them both at retail and wholesale with their “usual liberal discounts to dealers, or to enterprising farmers who will agree to canvass their neighborhoods.” The flyers were made available to dealers who could imprint them with their own advertisement. This one was circulated by B. F. Labaree, “Dealer in Drugs, Medicines & General Merchandise, Hartland, Vt.”
By 1887 Blanchard and Sons were manufacturing butter packages, butter carriers and butter molds had been added to the regular line of churns and butter workers. The plant burned in 1890 and the business was moved to Nashua, New Hampshire. After seventy-two years of family operation, Porter Blanchard’s Sons closed its doors about a year after George’s death in 1897.