Spaces of Cream

While cataloging some new items I came across the term “spaces of cream” in reference to a Superintendents Report to Patrons (dairy farmers) from the Glens Falls Creamery Company.

The term “spaces of cream” piqued my interest.

The 1894 Connecticut Experiment Station Report pp. 215-216, gives the following definition:

Most of the cream gathered by creameries is raised by the submerged, deep-setting system, and is paid for by the “space”.  The “space” is a volume of a cylinder 8 1/2 inches in diameter and 19/64 of an inch high, and the number of “spaces” in each can of milk is read off before skimming, by means of a strip of glass set in the sides of the can on which the space graduations are marked.  The unit for payment is therefore a given volume of cream which, to make the system perfectly equitable, should always contain the same quantity of pure butter-fat.

Butter is a mixture of butter-fat, its essential, most abundant and most distinctive ingredient with – more or less water, salt and curd. As the quantities of these several ingredients in butter are quite variable, accuracy and simplicity are best secured by basing all calculations in the quantities of butter-fat.

Attached are three monthly reports from the Glens Falls Creamery Co. sent to Aurora R Harris of Queensbury, NY in 1889. They show the calculation of payment for cream he supplied to the Glens Falls Creamery Co.


April 1889 report.  2020.019.315


May 1889 report.   2020.019.316


Note the variation in the “spaces of cream” that made a pound of butter and the variation from month to month of cents paid to patrons per “space”.


June 1899 report.  2020.019.317



The Connecticut Experiment Station Report of 1894 also notes that the “space” does not always contain the same quantity of butter-fat and that the differences in quantity of butter-fat in it are often large enough to make this system of payment unfair.

The next time you head to the store to buy some butter I hope you’ll think of all the calculations that go into producing and pricing that pound of butter.


edited by Tom Lynch, Collections Manager

contact: [email protected]

Source: Eleanor Oudekerk Collection # 27 , Warren County NY Historical Society.