Ayer’s Sarsaparilla, J. C. Ayer Company, Lowell, Massachusetts

 

The founder and initial proprietor of the company was James Cook Ayer.

Always located in Lowell, Massachusetts, his business began in a little apothecary shop and by the time of his death in 1878, had culminated in an immense patent medicine manufacturing establishment.

His success and notoriety were eloquently  summarized in a newspaper article, written near the time of his death, in the March 24, 1878 edition of the Boston Globe.

The name of Dr. James C. Ayer and his various compounds for nature’s ills are known throughout the whole length and breadth of the land. It may be safely said that there is not a second during the whole twenty-four hours but what, in some part of the inhabitable globe, the sun is shining upon his printed name…

Dr. Ayer was very justly recognized as one of the leading business and commercial men in Lowell and it is not any exaggeration to say that no single individual has ever done more to contribute to the city’s prosperity and renown.

The article went on to describe the general premise on which he based the business.

Thirty years ago, when Lowell was in its commercial infancy, Dr. Ayer commenced his business career as a drug clerk, and it was while serving in this capacity at a moderate salary that he struck upon the idea of curing the sick without the aid of physicians. At the time the settlement of the Western country had just commenced, and the Doctor argued to himself that in those wild sections there would be much sickness and very few physicians to deal with it, and that cheap and effective medicines for the common complaints of humanity would at once spring to popularity.

Ayer’s business career began in 1841 when he bought the apothecary shop of Jacob Robbins where he had been working as a clerk since 1838. The start of the business was described in the “History of Lowell and its People – Vol II,” by Frederick W. Coburn, published in 1920.

In April, 1841, he bought the Robbins drug store, borrowing from his uncle, James Cook, the purchase price – $2,486.61, thus beginning business life at the age of twenty-three with borrowed capital. But he had an asset even beyond his learning and youth. The drug store, which stood on Central Street, corner of Hurd Street, had been practically in the young man’s charge for some time, Mr. Robbins going to Europe. While in charge the young man experimented considerably, and had compounded the remedy for pulmonary complaints, which was afterward placed upon the market as Cherry Pectoral. He had induced physicians to try it in their practice, and the favorable reports received convinced him that he had found a valuable remedy. This fact nerved him to make the purchase and burden himself with a debt which he agreed to pay off in five years. It was paid in three.

His first remedy, Cherry Pectoral, was sold as a cure for coughs, colds, hoarseness, bronchitis, whooping cough, croup, asthma and consumption. Although it was being compounded by Ayer in his shop in the early 1840’s, newspaper advertisements for it did not begin to appear until 1845. These early advertisements from the late 1840’s/early 1850’s, like most Ayer advertisements over the years, were followed by written testimonials.

     

As the demand for his Cherry Pectoral continued to increase, so did the need for more space to manufacture it. Consequently in 1852, he built his first factory. According to Colburn’s “History of Lowell:”

For a time he continued at the old Robbins shop but the demand for his Cherry Pectoral increased so fast that he needed more room to install necessary machinery. He rented quarters in the Hamilton building, corner of Central and Jackson Streets. There he remained until 1852 when, driven out by the insistent demands of his trade, he moved to the large brick building he had caused to be erected on Jackson Street, adjoining the Fiske block.

Lowell city directories of the time confirmed this progression. He was listed at the original Robbins shop at Central and Hurd up through 1844 and subsequently the Hamilton building, at 84 Central, from 1845 to 1851. By 1853 the directories listed James C. Ayer & Co., Central, corner of Jackson where he remained  listed through 1858.

Shortly after establishing the new Jackson Street facility, Ayer’s introduced sugar coated pills called “Ayer’s Cathartic Pills” or sometimes just “Ayer’s Pills” as a second Ayer product.

Introductory newspaper advertisements, including one from the December 10, 1853 edition of the “New England Farmer,” described them as:

A new and singularly successful remedy for the cure of all Bilous diseases – Costiveness, Indigestion, Jaundice, Dropsy, Rheumatism, Fevers, Gout, Humors, Nervousness, Irritability, Inflammations, Headache, Pains in the Breast, Side, Back, and Limbs, Female Complaints, et., etc. Indeed very few are the diseases in which a Purgative Medicine is not more or less required, and much sickness and suffering might be prevented, if a harmless but effectual Cathartic were more freely used… Hence a reliable family physic is of the first importance to the public health, and this Pill has been perfected with consummate skill to meet that demand…

The addition of Carthatic Pills contributed to the growth of the business such that Ayer needed help, so, sometime in 1855, Ayer’s brother Frederick joined the business and by 1856 they had formed an official copartnership. A notice announcing the copartnership was printed in the December 4, 1856 edition of the “Burlington (Vermont) Weekly Sentinel.”

Around the same time two new “Ayer” preparations appeared on the market in rapid succession. Colburn’s “History of Lowell” identified them as:

….In 1855 Extract of Sarsaparilla was placed on the market, ague cure following in 1857.

Newspaper advertisements for both began appearing in and around 1858.

Their Sarsaparilla was described in advertisements as:

a combination of vegetable alteratives – Stillingia, Mandrake, Yellow Dock – with the Iodides of Potassium and Iron, and is the most effacious medicine yet known for the diseases it is intended to cure.

Its ingredients are so skillfully combined that the full alterative effect of each is assured, and while it is so mild as to be harmless even to children, it is still so effectual as to purge out from the system those impurities and corruptions which develop into loathsome disease.

Those diseases intended for its cure were many.

“Ayer’s Ague Cure,” was warranted as a cure for:

Fever and Ague. Intermittent Fever, Chill Fever, Remittent Fever, Periodical or Billious Fever, etc., and indeed all the affections which arise from malarious, marsh or miasmatic poisons.

According to Colburn’s “History of Lowell,” the manufacture of these remedies taxed the Jackson Street building beyond its capacity and in 1857 they erected a large building on Market Street. Later, in 1872, they purchased a school building on Market street and included it as part of their facility. Lowell directories listed the addresses of these locations as 103-105 Market Street and 98 Middle Street respectively. During this period, they began manufacturing Ayer’s Hair Vigor (1869) and acquired Hall’s Hair Renewer by purchase (1870).

On  July 3, 1877, J. C. Ayer passed away at the age of 60 and subsequently, on October 16, 1877, the business incorporated with Frederick Ayer named as the company’s first treasurer and general manager. Under his leadership the business continued to prosper through the 1880’s. A retrospective look  back at the year 1885, printed in the 1886 New Year’s Day edition of the Boston Globe provided this snapshot of a growing company that had become a world-wide operation.

At the J. C. Ayer Company about three hundred persons had employment in the office, laboratory, printing room and bindery. The managers claim that forty thousand persons do business with them and their sales have been greater this year than ever. To advertise their business the company prints almanacs in ten different languages and the last edition issued was over 14,000,000. Pamphlets are also issued in twenty different languages, and 40,000,000 circulars are also printed.

According to the biography of Frederick Ayer, included in the “Biographical History of Massachusetts,” he held the office of Treasurer until 1893 when the pressure of other interests forced him to resign. (According to his New York Times obituary, he was one of the organizers and for several years Treasurer of the Lake Superior Ship Canal and Railway and Iron Company and at the time of his death he was a Director of the Columbian National Life Insurance Company, the American Woolen Company, the International Trust Company, the J. C. Ayer Company, the Tremont and Suffolk Mills, the Boston Elevated Railroad Company and the Lowell and Andover Railroad Company.) After 1893 the Lowell directories, listed him as president of the Ayer business  but he had obviously left the day to day management of the business to others.

In 1894, it appears that the company either moved or expanded again, changing their main address listing in the Lowell directories from 98 Middle Street to 176 Middle Street. By this time they apparently owned a significant amount of property in the block between Middle Street and Market Street.

At the turn of the century, the company was still making additions and improvements to the their facility and operations. On April 23,1900 the company hosted a full day celebration to showcase one such series of improvements. An article describing the day’s festivities was printed in the April 24, 1900 edition of the “Boston Globe.” The article’s author participated in a tour of the Ayer facilities and his description of that tour, quoted below, provides a first hand perspective of the business at the time. So now sit back and enjoy the tour!

From the main office the sightseers were conducted downstairs to the printing office, which is prepared, as the foreman said to the reporter, “to turn out anything from a visiting card to a Bible.”

The next stopping place on the march was the new engine room on the Market Street side of the building, one of the handsomest engine rooms in the state. It was brilliantly lighted by more than 60 incandescent lamps. The engines of 80 horsepower each were the center of attraction.

Upstairs again following their guides, the guests found themselves in the first office of the fine new building on Market Street where Dr. Stowell presides over the medical department. This office as well as the one connected with it is in charge of Mr. Robinson.

Above these offices are two similar rooms, the sanctums of Mr. Kirkland, under whose supervision the renovating process has been brought to completion, and of Mr. Frank G. Rose, head of the publication department. Another flight took the visitors to the electrotyping department, where all the plates used in the advertising are cast.

Then followed a sight of the storeroom, drug mill, built exclusively for the company, the old tank room now superseded by the new, through passage and apartment, amid the clink of bottle and whir of machinery to the mixing room, the head center of the house of Ayer. The great room contains 7,000 square feet.

In one corner is the experimental laboratory – sacred to chemist Flynn, who said that last year they found it necessary to add over 13,000 gallons to the capacity, which now aggregates over 28,000 gallons.

A visit to the pill room on the same floor gave the visitors a glimpse at a business-like machine which mixed away at the compounds for dear life, turning the product over to a neighbor which rolled and cut the soft mass, delivering it in the form of handfuls of pills, black as the traditional hat, and pouring by thousands into the receptacle at the base. Thence the pills are placed in huge copper cylinders, where they roll into coats of sugary whiteness, to be withdrawn, hardened in the drying kilns, recoated smoothly and sent along to be packed.

The filtering room, where the sarsaparilla and pectoral compounds from upstairs are filtered and cleansed from sediment was seen. In the bottling room below, the Ayer products, sarsaparilla, cherry pectoral, ague cure, etc., are made ready for the market – bottled and labeled with careful swiftness. An inspection of the hair vigor department was next in order.

A further descent revealed the advertising exhibit, showing Ayer advertising in 21 different languages as one of the novelties. Through the stock room, piled high with boxes containing the finished product, the visitors were led, downstairs to the shipping room, where the methods of sending out goods for foreign and local markets were set forth. Each trade has its own style of packing, and each preparation as well.

In the basement are stored in one part rows upon rows of barrels filled with drugs, and in another hundreds of cases of glassware in which the preparations are packed. Then the guests were lifted again to the office level. They were quite ready for a rest. The house of Ayer contains a floor space of 107,000 square feet, and they had traveled a considerable part of it.

After Frederick’s death in 1918, J. C. Ayer’s son, also named Frederick, was listed in the directories as president until 1924 when he also passed away. At that point, Charles F. Ayer (a son of the elder Frederic (as best I can tell) was named president.

The company remained listed at 176 Middle Street in the 1939 Lowell Directory. Also listed in 1939, at the same address, was the Mass Pharmaceutical Corp. In 1943 (the next directory I have access to) The Mass Pharmaceutical Corp. was still listed at the same address but the Ayer Company had vanished from the directory. In 1944, neither company name was listed.

Advertising was one of, if not THE, key to the success of the company over the years. J. Walter Thompson, a famous advertising executive, whose company worked with the Ayer company for over 20 years beginning around 1870, was interviewed around the time of Frederick’s death in 1918. In the interview, presented in the March 21, 1918 edition of “Printers Ink, he mentioned both their almanac, which began publishing in 1852, and newspaper/magazine advertisements as focus points of their advertising.

J. C. Ayer & Co., were one of my first clients and continued with me for more than twenty years. I probably did not meet Frederick Ayer more than two or three times during this entire period, although he was the directing force of the business. The man I dealt with was Mr. Whyte – I think that was the way his name was spelled – who had charge of the advertising and made the contacts with agents and publishers.

Ayer’s Almanac was, I believe, the first and most widely distributed advertising medium employed by the firm. I have seen a statement somewhere, that the sum of $300,000 a year was annually spent on this publication. It was issued in some forty different languages and dialects, the several editions aggregating several million copies.

      

The Ayer remedies were extensively advertised in the newspapers as well as in the magazines. Mr. Whyte himself, used to go about the country, making contracts with the newspaper publishers. The rates he paid were down to bedrock and were ofter ridiculously low. The contracts were prepared a sufficiently long time in advance to have them include every possible provision that would insure their exact fulfillment. I do not remember the amount spent bt the Ayers in advertising in the magazines and newspapers, but it was not less than $200,000 and may have run as high as $500,000.

Their newspaper advertisements were supported by a large number of written testimonials that attested to the success of their products as well as endorsements from well-known individuals. This early advertisement, printed in the November 21, 1857 edition of the “New England Farmer” included endorsements from the Governor of Massachusetts, the Catholic Bishop of Boston and a professor of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City among others.

Another, printed in the April 7, 1860 edition of the “New England Farmer” included endorsements from over 25 named mayors of both U. S. and foreign cities.

The “Printers Ink” interview went on to say that Ayer was one of the first companies that provided their goods to retailers on consignment.

It was Frederick Ayer who inaugurated what was at the time a brand new system of distribution. He was not satisfied with the old methods – they were shown to be inadequate. He believed that there were hundreds of stores in the smaller towns not covered by his salesman that ought to sell the Ayer products. After studying the situation thoroughly he hit upon a plan that enormously increased the business. A large number of handsomely painted and decorated wagons, drawn by one and two pairs of fine looking horses and carrying large stocks of Ayer remedies were sent out along the highways into nearly every state. The salesman who accompanied the wagons called on every retailer, whether grocer, druggist or general store keeper, in every town, and, whenever possible, left with him an assortment of goods. The coming of these wagons, which because of their snappy smart appearance created great interest wherever they went, was an event, and the dealers in front of whose stores the teams stopped felt highly honored. The remedies were left on consignment. Three months or perhaps four months later, when the distributing wagons made their next trip, the retailers paid for the goods sold since the last visit. In this way Ayers built up a great distribution. You could hardly find a town anywhere in which the firm’s products were not sold. This sales plan was employed for many years , but was finally abandoned when transportation facilities became abundant.

Today, the building at 176 Middle Street almost certainly dates back to the time of the business. A sign denoting the “J. C. Ayer Co.” is still prominently visible on the side of the building that fronts Middle Street. Now, converted to condominiums the building is now called the “Ayer Lofts Condominiums.”

     

The bottle I found is a mouth blown sarsaparilla bottle that matches the bottles shown in advertisements from the late 1800’s.

 

Wm Jay Barker, New York, Hirsutus

Wm Jay Barker was listed in the New York City directories for over 100 years from 1847 until sometime in the mid-1950’s. During this time the business was listed with a wide range of classifications including hairdresser, barber, wigs, wigs and human hair, human hair merchant, patent meds and toilet goods. Many of the listings also included the name of the hair tonic that the business manufactured called “Hirsutus.” My daughter, who has a minor in Latin, tells me “Hirsutus” is a Latin adjective and can mean “hairy” or “shaggy”

Barker was first listed in the 1847 NYC Directory at 349 1/2 Broadway. The business remained on or near Broadway for almost 50 years utilizing many different addresses. In 1851 they were located at 459 Broadway and by 1857-58 they had moved to 565 Broadway. In the 1859-60 directory their address was listed as 622 Broadway where they remained through 1871. The 1867-68 NYC Directory included an expanded listing for the business.

In 1870 they opened a second location at 1275 Broadway. The opening of this location was announced in the June 22, 1870 edition of the New York Herald.

They maintained both addresses for just a year or so, dropping 622 Broadway in the 1871-72 Directory. In 1876-77 they moved again, this time to a location four doors off Broadway at 36 West 29th Street.

After leaving Broadway they were located at 112 Fulton Street (1895 to 1903); 106 6th Avenue (1903 to approx. 1930) and 1826 Park Avenue (approx. 1930 to the mid-1940’s). By 1948 they had moved to 160 East 127th Street where they remained listed through 1953. They were no longer listed in 1957.

The business was run by William Jay Barker until his death sometime prior to 1894 after which it appears that the business remained in the family. NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories between 1901 and 1919 listed  the business as “William Jay Barker (Mary Barker Fareira, only)” and a February 7, 1918 New York Times article,  named his son, also William Jay Barker, as president of the company until his tragic death, at the time of the article, in a Connecticut house fire.

Management of the company after Mary Fareira’s death sometime in the 1920’s is not clear.

Company advertisements stated that their hair tonic “Hirsutus” dated back to the start of the business in 1847, however the first mention of it that I can find was in an April 12, 1869 advertisement in the New York Herald.

This advertisement from 1902 claims that dandruff, thin failing hair, baldness, scrub, scalp humors and itching scalp were all relieved with one application of “Barker’s Hirsutus.”

Another 1902 advertisement went further, stating:

Thousands of persons are today scratching their heads and saying they would give anything in the world if they could only get some kind of a remedy that would relieve or cure them of dandruff and other scalp diseases, a large number not knowing of a wonderful remedy which has been in existence over half a century, called Barker’s Hirsutus, which is a positive and well known cure used by the most fashionable people of the world, and if they would use it would never be troubled by these diseases.

Hirsutus is a vegetable preparation, free from grease and poisonous chemicals. Positively cures dandruff, failing hair and all scalp diseases. Grows hair on any bald head if directions are faithfully carried out.

Hisutus is indispensable to ladies and children. By its use they can keep the scalp free from scruff and dandruff, thereby creating a healthy condition of the scalp , and promoting a soft, pliant and luxurious growth of hair. This preparation costs more than most other remedies of this nature, but IT DOES MORE. Anyone troubled with scalp diseases, takes no chances in using HIRSUTUS. It positively does all that is claimed for it.

It’s not clear how long the Hirsutus hair tonic was actually on the market. NYC phone books included the word “Hirsutus” with company listings right up through the 1950’s but I don’t see it advertised or included in drug store listings after 1936.

As far as I can tell, none of the buildings occupied by the business still exist today.

The bottle I found is mouth blown (maybe 8 to 10 oz) with a tooled finish. It’s sun-purpled indicating the presence of manganese dioxide which was predominantly used as a decolorizing agent prior to 1920. It’s shape and embossing are similar to a labeled example recently advertised on e-bay that exhibits the 6th Avenue address utilized by the company between 1903 and 1930.

  

AR Winarick, New York

 

The AR stands for Arthur Winarick, the first of three generations of Winaricks associated with the cosmetics industry. A feature on his grandson, Tom Winarick, in the July 16, 2016 issue of Beauty Store Business Magazine tells Arthur’s story.

Arthur Winarick was a Russian immigrant who settled on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and became a barber who would go on to create one of the most iconic beauty products in America – Jeris Hair Tonic. Known for its neon green-formula, Jeris was formulated in the bathtub of Arthur Winarick’s apartment. He began selling it to local barbers within the Russian and Jewish communities, and eventually produced hair tonic and shaving lotions when he founded A R Winarick, Inc. Jeris is still produced today under Clubman. After World War II, (Arthur’s son) Jules Winarick became heavily involved in A R Winarick, Inc. and began expanding and acquiring several beauty brands.

Census records and NYC directories both support and add to the above story. According to 1930 census records, Arthur Winarick was born in Poland to Russian parents in 1890 and immigrated to the United States in 1911. The first listing I can find for him was in the 1917 NYC Directory as a perfumer located at 1 Willett Street. Then in the early to mid-1920’s he was listed at 19 Cannon Street with the occupation “barber supplies.” Both Willet Street and Cannon Street were located south of Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

It looks like he established AR Winarick, Inc., sometime around 1930. The 1933 NYC Directory listed them as a New York Corporation with capital of $1,000,000. Arthur Winarick was named both president and treasurer, Joseph A. Gallagher, vice president and Nathan Winarick secretary. Nathan was most likely Arthur’s brother. Four years younger, he was also born to Russian parents and immigrated to the United States in 1914. The corporate address was listed as 797 E 140th Street in the Port Morris section of the Bronx.

After World War II it appears that Arthur’s son Jules was named president and Arthur became chairman of the board. According to Arthur Winarick’s obituary, printed in the November 22, 1964 issue of the New York Times, he was still chairman at the time of his death. By then the New York office had moved to Park Avenue South and the company had opened another office in Los Angeles. They also had plants in Brunswick and Newark, New Jersey and Long Island City, Queens. Sometime in the mid 1970’s, the New York office relocated to New Jersey.

The trademark for Jeris, their signature product, was registered May 29, 1923 (Registration 0168573, Serial No 71167153). Registration information stated that it was first used on September 15, 1921.

I didn’t find many Jeris advertisements from the 1920’s and those that I did find were store related items like signs and mirrors. Interestingly, of the few early advertisements I’ve seen, several, including the one below, were focused on women.

At some point it looks like Jeris became exclusively a men’s product. An early 1950’s advertisement spells out the merits of the green colored hair tonic and leaves no doubt that their target audience was now male.

Especially formulated for men who dislike greasy, oil dressings. Jeris is recommended by 9 out of 10 barbers; is America’s largest selling, greaseless, antiseptic hair tonic.

Jeris never leaves hair with a plastered-down look: never stains hat bands, linen or furniture. Jeris and massage stimulate the scalp, help improve circulation, kill dandruff germs on contact.

Women admire its clean crisp, masculine fragrance.

Another advertisement I found appealed directly to the G.I. returning from World War II.

During the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Jeris was seriously committed to magazine advertising. One of their advertising approaches had a number of Hollywood stars endorsing Jeris while also mentioning their latest movie project. The 1951 advertisement below, found in Life Magazine, combined Ronald Regan’s praise for Jeris with a mention of his latest movie “Bedtime for Bonzo”

Other stars participating in this campaign included Kirk Douglas (Ace in the Hole), Fred McMurray (Come Share My Love), John Garfield (Force of Evil) and Ray Milland (Circle of Danger).

Today Jeris can still be purchased from Pinaud Clubman. It’s still has its green color and the marketing message remains the same.

It refreshes and stimulates the scalp

The bottle I found is machine made. The sides are not embossed but embossing on the base states “Loaned By AR Winarick.” The spout on the bottle was still attached. Printed on the spout is AR Winarick, N.Y. It most likely dates to the earlier period of the business, probably the mid to late 1920’s, before they incorporated.

On a final note, Arthur and Jules Winarick were also intimately connected with the Concord Hotel in New York’s Catskill Mountains. According to Arthur Winnarick’s New York Times obituary he founded the Concord Hotel.

In the early nineteen thirties Mr Winarick visited the Catskills. He decided to become a host there and he acquired the Kiamesha Ideal Hotel, changed its name to the Concord and guided its growth and development.

The hotel, of which his son-in-law, Raymond Parker, is managing director, has a coliseum size nightclub, and a swimming pool, rink and other facilities on a mammoth scale. Mr. Winarick enjoyed mingling with his guests. His remarkable memory permitted him to greet a surprising number by name.

According to Jules Winarick’s obituary, he was also involved with the Concord.

He also dedicated part of his life to the development and growth of the Concord Resort Hotel in the Catskills. Under his guidance, the hotel went from being a summer getaway destination to a year round resort, which featured one of the largest nightclubs at the time and drew the most famous entertainers of the day.

 

Parfumerie Monte Christo, Beaume Mamma Dura

It appears Parfumerie Monte Christo is actually a line of toilet articles associated with L Shaw’s Hair Emporium and later with the Monte Christo Cosmetic Co., both located in New York City.

In an 1899 interview, published in the October 25 Issue of Printers Ink, the L Shaw business manager, Albert Edelstein, stated that the business had been started 37 years prior by Madame Shaw. This would put the start of the business around 1862, but the first listing I can find was in the 1871/72 NYC Directory: “Louise (sometimes Louisa in later directories) Shaw, real and imitation hair, 352 Bowery.”

Around 1873, the business address moved to Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village and then in about 1876, they relocated to 54 West 14th Street which served as their retail location through the early 1900’s.

The business was the predecessor of what we would call today the beauty parlor or spa. In his 1899 interview, Edelstein described the range of services provided at this location.

These four stories and the basement are devoted to all the details pertaining to the hair, hairdressing, dyeing, shampooing, scalp treatment, manicuring, facial steaming and care of the complexion. As advertised it is the largest hair store in the world.

In the interview he stated that they were also the leading wholesaler.

…while in another part of town we occupy another entire building for our wholesale trade, being also the leading wholesaler. We import our hair direct, and in fact are the only house doing so, and probably supply more hair goods to retailers than all other wholesalers together.

The firm’s clientele and primary target of their advertising was the wealthy woman. Edelstein stated that they began to advertise about 15 years prior (1884) and primarily used daily papers and the theatre programs. At the time there were eight New York newspapers and he preferred the morning papers to the afternoon ones. His reasoning leaves no doubt about who his target audience was.

We believe that people have more time to read them, and read them more closely. And especially is this the case with ladies, whom we catch at just the right time, we think for good results. It is seldom that a lady reads an evening paper closely, even on those evenings where she may stay at home. But in the morning, after breakfast, she generally has an hour or two of lounging, even before going out shopping – a time when seeing our ad makes a substantial impression on her.”

In fact, the second floor of the West 14th Street parlor was restricted to women only – “No man is permitted entry.”

The business marketed a wide range of hair and cosmetics items including several under the name Parfumerie Monte Christo. Sounding French it was probably named this way for appeal to the wealthy woman and her preference at the time for French toiletries and perfumes.

It’s not clear when they started using the Monte Christo name but items with this tag were being mentioned in advertisements as early as the mid-1880’s when the business started advertising. One from 1886, advertised “a complete assortment of beautifying cosmetics by the Perfumerie Monte Christo.

Another in the July 1891 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine mentioned “all toilet preparations of the celebrated Parfumerie Monte Christo.”

The business changed hands around the turn of the century. The 1901 Copartnership and Corporation Directory lists the business for the first time as the Firm of L Shaw, with Gerson Hyman and Manuel Oppemheim listed as the principals. Around 1905 the business moved from their longtime 14th Street location to 506 Fifth Avenue. Hyman and Oppenheim remained listed as principals through 1909. The directories also listed Albert Edelstein, the business manager, at the L Shaw business location through 1909.

In 1910, ownership changed again and it appears that the Parfumerie Monte Christo piece of the business was split off. In the 1910 Copartnership and Corporation Directory the principals in the firm of L Shaw are listed as  Leo B. and Felix A. Simonson. In the same directory, listed for the first time is a firm called the Monte Christo Cosmetic Co., located at 13 East 30th Street with Albert Edelstein as the only listed principal.

The Monte Christo Cosmetic Company continued to be listed through at least the 1925 NYC Directory. After that, I lose track, but Edelstein still lists himself as a proprietor in the cosmetics industry in the 1930 census records. The firm of L Shaw vanished from the directories around 1920.

In 1912, the Monte Christo Cosmetic Co. was convicted of violating the food and drug act with a product called Monte Christo Rum and Quinin for the Hair. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association:

The Monte Christo Cosmetic Company of New York City, which is a trade style used by one Albert Edelstein, shipped in interstate commerce a product labeled “Monte Christo Rum and Quinin for the Hair.” The claims for the product were: “Cools and Invigorates the Scalp. Prevents the hair from falling out. Removes and prevents dandruff, imparting to the hair a delightful perfume.”

A sample of the product was analyzed by the Bureau of Chemistry and the chemists reported the following results: ethyl alcohol 18.5%; wood alcohol 42.0% and quinin 38 grams per 100cc.

The preparation was declared adulterated in that its purity and strength were inferior to the professional standard under which it was sold, in that wood alcohol had been substituted for part of the rum. It was declared misbranded because the label was false and misleading and likely to deceive the purchaser into the belief that the product was composed of rum and quinin, when as a matter of fact it was composed of rum, quinin and wood alcohol.

Interestingly, there was no mention of the product’s false and unsubstantiated claims but only its mis-labeled contents. Containing mostly alcohol, were you supposed to drink it or massage it on your scalp?

The current building at 54 West 14th Street does not date back to the late 1800’s and therefore is not the building that housed the Shaw retail operation. It’s not clear where the wholesale operation mentioned in the 1899 interview was located.

The bottle I found is six sided, mouth blown and about four ounces. Embossed on two adjacent sides at on one end is “Parfumerie Monte Christo” and on the other end is “Beaume Mamma Dura.” Mamma Dura was mentioned in a written advertisement I found in an 1888 issue of Lippenott’s:

It may be understood at once that so far as hair, switches, curls, bangs, or wigs go, any aids to the skin and hair, hands and eyes, in washes or unguents, America offers none of such value as those prepared by L. Shaw, the world-renowned alchemist and coiffeur, at 54 west Fourteenth Street, New York. Nor in fact, is there in Europe just such as house as this from which all our beautiful women procure toilet articles. Lovely actresses, as well as rulers in the social world, preserve their charms with cocoa-milk, mama dura, and the superfine Monte Christo rouge.

Maybe it was some sort of facial lotion?

I’ve seen bottles embossed “Monte Christo Parfumerie” on the internet with L Shaw printed on a paper label that’s wrapped around the neck. The bottle I found includes the slightly elongated neck required for this label.

 

 

Hay’s Hair Health

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Hay’s Hair Health was a hair product sold from the late  1880’s through the early 1940’s. Advertisements during this period indicated that it was manufactured in the late 1800’s by the London Supply Company of New York and later by the Philo Hay Specialty Company of Newark New Jersey.

The London Supply Company apparently started business in either 1888 or 1889. Newspaper advertisements for the London Supply Company and Hays Hair Health began to appear in January of 1889. The first one I could find was in the January 5, 1889 edition of the New York Sun.

Between 1890 and 1900 the London Supply Company was listed in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories at 853 Broadway. The proprietor was Freeman Hiscox.  The company was no longer listed the 1901 edition of this directory.

Around this time they apparently transitioned the operation to New Jersey. On July 3, 1900, the Philo-Hay Specialty Co. of Newark New Jersey incorporated with a capital of $210,000. Lawrence Hardham was their first president. Freeman Hiscox, the former proprietor of the London Supply Co., was Secretary and Alice L Ward was Treasurer. Philo-Hay Specialties Co. first appeared in the Newark City Directories in 1902 located at 229 Lafayette with Freeman Hiscox as manager.

The transition from the London Supply Company to the Philo-Hay Specialty Company apparently took several years. Although they were no longer listed in New York after 1900, some Hay’s Hair Health advertisements continued to reference the London Supply Co. at the 853 Broadway address up through 1904. Newspaper advertisements referencing the New Jersey company began to appear as early as November 1900.

The Philo-Hay Specialty Company remained at 229 Lafayette Street until 1906 when they were listed at 29 Congress. In 1908 their address was 30 Clinton and by 1913 their listed address was Verona Ave, corner of Clifton Ave. The business disappeared from the Newark Directories after 1922.

In addition to Hay’s Hair Health, the company manufactured a number of other similar products as well including Skinhealth Treatment, Creme Peau Sante (Violette) and Harfina Soap. Harfina Soap was almost always advertised in conjunction with Hay’s Hair Health.

The business was apparently fully committed to advertising as a way to grow the business. This advertisement in the “Interstate Druggist” was apparently aimed at drug store owners:

If you will stock and push Hays Hair Health, you will never be troubled with complaints from dissatisfied customers. The demand is always on the increase as our advertising runs continuously year after year in our ever increasing list of the best newspapers throughout the country.

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One early advertisement for Hay’s Hair Health printed in the January 5, 1901 edition of “The Literary Digest” delivered a message that is not very different from the one delivered today by the advertisers of both men’s and women’s hair products, though maybe not in the same words.

Gray hairs often stand in the way of advancement for both men and women, socially and in business. Many fail to secure good positions because the look “too old” and many women are disappointed in life because they fail to preserve that attractiveness which so largely depends on the hair.

The advertisement goes on to promote the purported benefits of the product:

Hay’s Hair Health will positively restore gray or faded hair to its former color and beauty. It is not a dye, nor a stain, but a natural restorer and tonic to beautiful hair growth. Equally good for men and women.

Another advertisement from the same era goes even further stating:

This hair food acts on the roots, giving them the required nourishment and positively produces luxuriant hair on bald heads.

An advertisement published in various forms between 1902 and 1915 used the slogan: “Hay’s Hair Health turns back time in its flight,” and actually included before and after illustrations.

The product’s trademark which included the words “Hays Hair Health” with a picture of a woman with flowing hair and a bearded man all within a circle (no. 43022) was published by the U S Patent Office on August 9, 1910 but they were using it well before that. The phrase “Hay’s Hair Health” dates back to their earliest advertisements in 1889 and the picture described in the trademark is shown in the 1901 advertisement above.

Their bold advertising claims were not backed up by the scientific community. The 1916 Report of the Connecticut Experiment Station described Hay’s Hair Health as a colorless liquid containing a yellow percipitate and with the following odor of oil of bay. The product contained glycerine, free sulphur, lead acetate and organic matter, possibly sage. They stated that:

This is simply one of the glycerine water solutions of lead acetate with considerable free sulphur. The use of any preparation, even externally, containing such a dangerous poison as lead acetate is unsafe.

Also, the Indiana State Board of Health Chemical Division’s 1917 Report of the Chemical Division of the Laboratory of Hygiene had this to say about Hay’s Hair Health:

This combination is also sold under the false claim that it is a hair restorer. It is…a mixture of sugar, lead (1.5%), sulphur (1.5%), alcohol and water. The contents of a fifty cent bottle are worth but five.

After 1922, when the Philo Hay Specialty Company was no longer listed in the Newark directories, its not clear who manufactured Hay’s Hair Health but it continued to be named in drug store advertisements as late as 1942. This advertisement printed in the May 1, 1940 edition of the Buffalo (NY) Courier still advertised it in conjunction with Harifina Soap.

Today, 853 Broadway in NYC is a 21 story building built in 1929 and therefore could not have been used by the business. In Newark the southeast corner of Verona and Clifton is occupied by a 2 story building that appears to have been converted from manufacturing to residential. It could have been used by the business.

I found two identical mouth blown brown medicine bottles embossed Hay’s on one side and Hair Health on the other side. They match a labeled bottle included in a 1913 advertisement that included an offer for a free bottle.

        

Empire Hair Regenerator Co., New York

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Piecing together information from the NYC General Directories, the Trow Copartnership and Corporation Directories and the ERA Druggist Directories, this business was active from 1905 well into the 1930’s. Prior to 1911, I’ve seen the business referred to as both the Empire Hair Regenerator Co (as embossed on the bottle) and simply the Empire Regenerator Co. In 1911 and later, the company was referred to exclusively as the Empire Regenerator Co. The Directories typically associated the business with hair dyes and hair goods. The ERA Directories listed them as manufacturers of toilet preparations.

George Gyllstrom was the company president through 1911 and William Munson was the president from 1912 to at least 1920. During this period, Klas Gyllstrom was listed as a Director so it appears the Gyllstrom family remained active in the business. After 1920, the company leadership is unknown.

The company’s long time address from 1905 through 1928 was 242 6th Avenue. Located near the intersection of Houston Street and 6th Avenue, I assume they had to move in the early 1930’s when their building was acquired and demolished to accommodate the widening of Houston Street. By 1932 they were listed at 566 6th Avenue and in 1935 they  moved again to 605 6th Avenue.

This “Empire Hair Regenerator” advertisement was included in a much larger advertisement for a  department store called the “14th Street Store” printed in the May 15, 1907 edition of the “Evening World.” It included the same “eagle” trademark that is embossed on the bottle I found.

One application and your hair is immediately a natural shade. Clean, odorless and gives to the hair the healthy, natural appearance of youth.

A 1935 advertisement in the August 22 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle exhibited the shortened company name and the 605 6th Avenue address.

It appears that the company went out of business in the mid-1930’s after the Federal Trade Commission charged them with false and misleading advertising.. According to a news article in the November 9, 1936 edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday a New York City concern and a Buffalo firm have agreed to discontinue alleged “false and misleading” advertising in connection with sale of their products.

The Commission said the Empire Regenerator Company, Inc., New York City, agreed to cease representing a hair dye designated “the Empire Hair Regenerator” would remove gray hair, restore the original color to hair or prevent hair from turning gray…

The bottle I found is a small mouth-blown rectangular medicine bottle with their trade mark eagle embossed on the front panel. “The Empire Hair Regenerator” is embossed on one side and “New York” on the other side. The fact that it’s mouth blown and includes the word “Hair” in the company name leads me to believe it’s probably pre-1912.

Imperial Chemical Mfg. Co., New York

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The Imperial Chemical Manufacturing Company was in business from the mid-1880’s until the early 1930’s. Located in New York City, they manufactured hair products that were advertised and sold across the country. An advertisement from 1915 provided a menu of several products sold  under the “Imperial” brand name.

Imperial Hair Regenerator – Recognized as the standard hair coloring for gray or bleached hair.

Imperial Vigorosis – Is a marvelous hair grower and tonic. Arrests the falling of and stimulates the hair follicles.

Imperial Shampoo – Unexcelled hair and scalp cleanser, recommended for children’s hair.

Imperial Hair Remover – A marvelous remedy for removing superfluous hair without injury to skin.

The company was first listed in the 1889 NYC Directory but was advertising as early as September of 1887.  They continued to be listed through the early 1930’s. Their first address was 54 W 23rd Street where they were listed between 1887 and 1893. Subsequently, based on directory information and newspaper advertisements over the years, their primary addresses were:

292 Fifth Avenue             Early 1894 to 1899

22 W 23rd Street               1900 to 1901

135 W 23rd Street            1902 to 1918

246 W 14th Street            1920’s

19 W 44th Street             Early 1930’s (1932)

In New York City, along with their manufacturing facility, the company sometimes listed additional addresses. I assume these addresses were associated with what the company called their “application parlors” and “sales rooms.”

They were incorporated in NewYork in 1901 and possibly earlier. W Gordon Kellogg was consistently associated with the company through the early 1930’s, usually as president. By 1933, the Imperial Chemical Mfg Co was no longer listed.

Their signature product was the “Imperial Hair Regenerator,”which they were apparently making right from the start of the business. The earliest newspaper advertisement for it that I can find was in the September 22, 1887 edition of the “Buffalo (NY) Commercial.” It addressed both a male and female audience.

Instantly restores Gray Hair, Bleached Hair, or Gray Beard to natural color: leaves it clean, soft and glossy, and no one dreams that you color it. Absolutely harmless, odorless and lasting.

The advertisement goes on to list seven standard colors: No. 1 – Black; No. 2 – Dark Brown; No. 3 –  Medium Brown; No. 4 – Chestnut; No. 5 – Light Chestnut; No. 6 – Gold Blonde; and No. 7 – Ash Blonde.

An 1895 advertisement from Metropolitan Magazine included the additional claim that:

It positively makes hair grow.

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One of their advertisements appeared in an 1899 Issue of the “Pariasian Illustrated Review” a publication that touted itself as “keeping it’s readers current with the works of the great French writers.” This leads me to believe that Imperial’s following included the entire spectrum of the population from those interested in French literature to clammers and fisherman making a living on the bay.

The “Imperial” trademark dated back to the company’s earliest advertisements and consisted of a what looks like a shield topped with a crown. The shield contained the phrase “Sans Dissimulation.”

As best I can tell, “Sans Dissimulation” is French and can be translated as “without concealment.”

The bottle I found is a large mouth blown medicine that dates to the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.