Scott’s Emulsion of Cod Liver Oil with Lime & Soda

Scott’s Emulsion of Cod Liver was originally developed and manufactured by  the firm of Scott & Platt in the early 1870’s. Soon after, it’s manufacture was taken over by the firm of Scott & Bowne. The early history of the product was summarized in Samuel W. Bowne’s 1910 obituary.

Mr. Bowne was born at Walton, Orange County N.Y., and began his business career in Newburgh. In 1865 he came to New York, entering the employ of Scott & Platt as a traveling salesman. The firm was composed of Colonel Alfred M. Scott and Henry B. Platt. Their most successful preparations were an emulsion of cod liver oil and a disinfectant. Later on the business was divided, Mr. Platt taking the disinfectant and establishing an independent business in the manufacture and sale of Platt’s chlorides. The manufacture of the emulsion was continued by the firm of Scott & Bowne.

It looks like the break-up of Scott & Platt took place sometime in the mid 1870’s. From 1870 up until 1874, Scott, Platt & Co. was listed at 1211 Broadway. Then in the 1876-77 Directory, H.B. Platt & Co. was listed for the first time at the same 1211 Broadway address and  Scott and Bowne was listed for the first time at 124 Hudson Street.

Over the course of the next fifteen years Scott & Bowne was listed at 108 Wooster (1880-81 through 1884) and later at 132 S 5th Ave (1886 through 1892). Then in 1892 the company finished construction on their new 12-story building at 411 Pearl Street called the Scott & Bowne Building.

According to a 1917 interview with then president of the firm, P.H. Fowler, that appeared in the publication “Printers Ink,” around the time they moved to Pearl Street the business was producing 1.5 million bottles of Scott’s Emulsion each year and they had facilities in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. According to Bowne’s obituary, he ran the piece of the business located in the Americas from Pearl Street, while Scott lived in London and ran the balance of the business from there.

Scott died in 1908 and Bowne in 1910. Shortly thereafter, the company moved from New York to Bloomfield New Jersey. The 1910 Montclair N.J. Directory listed them as “patent and proprietary medicine mfr’s” located on Orange Street near the D L & W Railroad. Later directories list them at 60 Orange Street. According to the Fowler interview, by 1917 the business had 63,400 distributors in the U.S. alone. Most (more than 2/3’s) were druggists, but the number also included general stores, corner grocery stores and department stores.

I have found Scott & Bowne listed in Montclair Directories up through 1941 after which I lose track.

Cod liver oil in general had a reputation as an effective treatment for consumption or “wasting diseases” that included bronchitis, scopula, tuberculosis, etc. The problem was its highly disagreeable taste and smell. According to Fowler’s interview they solved this problem through the emulsifying process that broke up the large fat particles of the oil into smaller units more readily absorbed by the system and coating them in a solution of glycerine. According to this 1889 advertisement, this made their cod liver oil “Palatable as Milk”

One early advertisement that’s shown below actually printed the emulsion’s formula: 50 percent pure cod liver oil, 6 grams of the hypophosphite of lime and 3 grams of the hypophosphite of soda to the fluid ounce.

In the 1917 Printer’s Ink interview the merits of Scott’s Emulsion were described like this:

They have plugged steadily at the theme that their product is really a prophylaxis (not in these words, though), a builder of body resistance to the ills coincident with exposure and bad weather and a general tonic under all conditions.

Advertisements from 1897 and 1917 document this approach.

 

In the 1920’s with the discovery of vitamins it was learned that cod liver oil was especially rich in Vitamins A and D. It didn’t take long for Scott & Bowne to capitalize on this discovery and build it into their advertising.

Now made by the global health care giant GlaxoSmithKline, Scott’s Emulsion is still available today and interestingly their message has remained consistent. One hundred years later, the GlaxoSmithKline web site still calls it Scott’s and states:

The emulsion helps build up the body’s natural resistance to infections and develop strong bones and teeth.

I couldn’t end this post without touching on the company’s famous trade mark of a Norwegian fisherman with a huge cod hanging from his shoulders. The trademark’s registration date was May 27, 1890. The registration documents state that it was first used on March 28, 1890 however I found it in a Bloomingdale Brothers’ Price List dating back to 1886.

Fowler’s interview talked of how the idea was born.

The idea for this figure originated with Mr. Scott. He was on a visit of inspection of the cod fisheries of Norway when he saw a fisherman coming up the beach with a leviathan cod flung over his back, just as the figure looks. The fish weighed some 137 pounds. The successful advertising mind saw in the episode material for a figure to impress the fact that the basis of his commodity is cod liver oil. Had he been casting about deliberately for a symbol of his business, he could hardly have chosen more happily.

The public began thinking of Scott’s Emulsion in terms of this fisherman and his fish, similar to GEICO’s gecko today.

At any rate, it has served to gain for the company that most priceless and elusive of desiderata – spontaneous and natural public association and acceptance of the figure as a symbol of its sponsors.

The company even had an eighty four foot high painting of the fisherman on the side of the Scott & Bowne building and later they illuminated the entire area so that it could be seen both day and night.

I’ve found two machine made Scott’s Emulsion bottles with the famous fisherman embossed on them. Embossing on the base indicates that both were made by the Owens Bottle Co. at their Glassboro N.J. plant; one in 1923 and the other in 1924.

 

 

 

McKesson & Robbins, New York

McKesson & Robbins was a predecessor to the McKesson Corporation, a global health provider that was ranked 11th of the Fortune 500 in 2014 with more than $179 billion in annual revenue.

According to the company history that’s presented on McKesson’s corporate web site the company dates back to 1833.

John McKesson and Charles Olcott, two young entrepreneurs, opened Olcott & McKesson, a drug import and wholesale business located on Maiden Lane in Manhattan. The company quickly thrived with it’s first customers – captains of the tall masted clipper ships that docked nearby. In 1853, Daniel Robbins, who originally started as an apprentice in 1833 after walking 80 miles to answer McKesson’s first help-wanted ad, became a partner and the company was renamed McKesson & Robbins.

I’ll leave open to speculation as to whether Robbins actually walked 80 miles to answer McKesson’s help-wanted advertisement, but I will point out that according to his obituary, in 1833 he was living 80 miles north of Manhattan in Poughkeepsie New York.

The limited NYC directories I can find from this period generally confirm the rest of the early story. The 1834-35 Longworth’s American Almanac – New York Register listed Olcott & M’Kesson, druggists, at 145 Maiden Lane. Charles M Olcott and John M’Kesson were also listed individually as druggists at the same address. In the 1837-38 Directory, the company name was listed as Olcott, M’Kesson & Co. and by 1847-48 the company address had changed to 127 Maiden Lane. The 1853-54 Directory listed the business as Olcott, McKesson & Robbins and then in the 1855-56 Directory it was listed for the first time as McKesson & Robbins.

Around 1857 the company moved from Maiden Lane to a new building on Fulton Street. According to “Cast-Iron Architecture in America, The Significance of James Borardus” by Margot Gayle and Carol Gayle:

John McKesson and Daniel Robbins, who had a drug business at 127 Maiden Lane, purchased property for a new building in the spring of 1853. They bought a 50 foot wide double lot at 91-93 Fulton Street and soon added two smaller lots to the rear facing on Ann Street. Probably in 1855 they commissioned (James) Bogardus to build a five-story iron front on the Fulton Street lot.

The 1857-58 NYC Directory listed them at 91 Fulton Street and 82 Ann Street where the business remained through at least the mid-1920’s.

Over the course of the next two decades, both McKesson’s son, John McKesson Jr. and Robbins’s sons, Charles A. Robbins and Herbert D. Robbins joined the business.

According to McKesson’s corporate web site, during this period, McKesson & Robbins pioneered the development of gelatin coated pills. A full page advertisement in the August  1879 issue of the New York Medical Electric (Devoted to Reformed Medicine, General Science and Literature) provided a partial list of medications that they produced utilizing this process. The advertisement stated that “these important changeable substances will be found perfectly preserved in our Gelatine-Coated Pills.” Interestingly, the list included both Cannabis Indica (medical marijuana) and Coca Exythroxylon (cocaine).

In December of 1885, Copartnership Notices published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that McKesson & Robbins had been dissolved and a new firm with the same name had been formed along with another company called the New York Quinine and Chemical Works. The notice listed John McKesson Jr. and Herbert Robbins with McKesson and Robbins. That business, described as wholesale druggists and manufacturing chemists, remained at the original location which now included 91-93 Fulton Street and 74-84 Ann Street.

Charles A. Robbins was listed with the New York Quinine and Chemical Works. Their office was located at 35 Liberty Street, but soon after they moved to 114 William Street, within a block of McKesson & Robbins. Their Eastern District factory was located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. They were described as manufacturers of medicinal chemical preparations.

Daniel C Robbins remained associated with both firms and on December 3, 1885, the Eagle published a letter from Daniel Robbins explaining the reasoning behind the need for two companies.

Some eighteen months since the great Italian factory at Milan, which manufactured nearly one-half of all the quinine consumed in the world, failed, and Dr. Charles A. Robbins, who was educated in Germany for the purpose of conducting a similar establishment in the United States, and who had for seven years superintended the chemical productions connected with the house of McKesson & Robbins, advised the employment and transfer of trained experts connected with the Milan establishment to the United States.

Fourteen lots have been purchased in the Eastern District, a factory has been built and a corps of Italians and Germans have been transferred to the United States.

Through the early 1920’s, both companies remained closely controlled by the McKesson and Robbins families and were apparently associated in some way. In fact, when Daniel C. Robbins died suddenly in 1888, Herbert Robbins was named president of the New York Quinine and Chemical Company and also continued to remain listed as a principal of McKesson and Robbins. As late as 1919, the Copartnership and Corporation Directories listed John McKesson Jr. as president of McKesson and Robbins and Herbert D. Robbins as president of the New York Quinine & Chemical Company and a Vice President in McKesson & Robbins.

Both companies were involved in the importing and manufacturing of cocaine in the United States. According to “Cocaine: From Medical Marvel to Modern Menace in the United States 1884-1920” by Joseph Spillane:

Before 1884 the New York firm of McKesson & Robbins was among the leading importers of coca and one of the few companies that offered small amounts of cocaine to its customers in that period. Although McKesson & Robbins was primarily a wholesale drug company, it also imported and manufactured some drug products, including cocaine. The company claimed to be the first and largest cocaine manufacturer in the United States, making all of its product from coca leaves imported into New York. Coca importation data from the late 1880’s confirm that McKesson imported between 20 and 30 percent of all leaves entering New York each year, usually the largest proportion of any single manufacturer. The families who controlled McKesson & Robbins also owned the New York Quinine and Chemical Works, which gradually took over the cocaine business from McKesson.

McKesson & Robbins also controlled at least two additional companies, the Tartarlithine Co., and the Galen Drug Co. Both were listed in the directories at the McKesson & Robbins Fulton Street and/or Ann Street addresses. The Tartarlithine Co. was listed in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories between 1901 and 1925. They manufactured a rheumatism remedy and I’ve seen advertisements for their products as early as 1902.

The Galen Drug Company was first listed around 1914 at 91 Fulton Street and was still listed in 1925. Based on the definition of galenical (a medicine prepared by extracting one or more active constituents of a plant) they were most likely involved with plant based remedies.

In the mid 1920’s, the McKesson & Robbins name, along with its medicinal departments were sold to Frank D Costa. The 1933 NYC Directory listed Costa as the president, secretary and treasurer of McKesson & Robbins with an address of 79 Cliff.

Costa, who’s real name was Phillip Musica, had a criminal past and operated under several aliases. He seeded the company with family members and proceeded to loot the business up through the mid-1930’s. His scheme involved fake purchase orders, inflated inventory and skimming cash from company sales. The scheme fell apart in 1938 when the suspicions of the company treasurer led to an investigation that revealed that the McKesson & Robbins balance sheet was made up of 20% fictitious assets that included $10 million in fictitious inventories and $8 million in overstated receivables.

The company survived the scandal and by 1948, the NYC Telephone Directory had McKesson & Robbins listings for their Executive Offices (155 E 44th), a  Wholesale Drug Division (3674 3rd Ave), Liquor Division (111 8th Ave), Export Division (155 E 44th), Industrial Chemical Division (155 E 44th) and a Warehouse (90 Beekman).

In the 1960’s they merged with Foremost Dairies of San Farancisco becoming Foremost-McKesson Inc., the largest U.S. distributor of pharmaceutical drugs, alcoholic beverages and chemicals. In 1970 they moved to new corporate headquarters at One Post Street in San Francisco.

As far as I can tell the McKesson and Robbins families retained the chemical manufacturing piece of the business and continued to operate as the NY Quinine & Chemical Works. The factory location was still listed in 1952 at 101 N 11th Street in Brooklyn.

The bottle I found is a small mouth blown rectangular medicine with a tooled finish. It’s embossed “McKesson” on one edge side and “& Robbins” on the other. I found a labeled sample listed on the Internet of what appears to be the exact same bottle. It contained 100 gelatin coated pills containing extract of cannibis.

D.D.D Company, Chicago, Ill.

The D.D.D. Company was started by Decatur D. Dennis who sold a patent medicine called the D.D.D. prescription that was purported to cure the entire spectrum of skin disorders. According to the July, 1897 edition of the “Druggists Circular and Chemical Gazette” he registered the “D.D.D.” trade mark (No. 30147) on June 8, 1897. At the time, he was located in St. Louis, Missouri.

An advertisement, presented to look like a newspaper article in the June 23, 1907 Sacramento Union, provides a general description of the company and it’s product.

Scientists have at last found how to conquer skin diseases. For generations medical men have been experimenting with internal treatment to cure eczema, but the progress in the germ theory has shown that the old fashioned medical schools were on the wrong track.

As it is now known that eczema, psoriasis, salt rheum, ringworm and all kinds of rashes are caused by germs which lodge in the skin, the best skin specialists have come to believe that the skin can be cured only through the skin. The application externally of oil of wintergreen, mixed with soothing ingredients, strikes right at the germs and destroys them effectually. Properly mixed this makes a powerful wash, yet so mild and harmless that it can be used as a gargle. The mixture is prepared according to the prescription of a well-known skin specialist, Dr. Decatur D. Dennis. It is compounded in Chicago and has been sold for years by druggists under the label of D.D.D. Prescription.

According to census records and various city directories, Dr. Decatur D Dennis was born in Texas in 1867 and apparently, shortly after registering the trade mark he returned there and was listed as the president of the D.D.D. Company in the 1899 Galveston, Texas Directory.

In 1900, he was still listed as president of the D.D.D. Company but by then the company address was listed in Chicago at 70 Dearborn Street. According to 1900 census records, during the same time period, Dennis was living at a nearby hotel.

The company incorporated on March 1, 1900 with capital stock of $10,000. The incorporators were Decatur D. Dennis along with William E. Bristol and John W. Baker. The incorporation notice was printed in the March 2, 1900 edition of the (Chicago) “Inter Ocean.”

In 1901, The D.D.D. Company was still listed at 70 Dearborn with John W. Baker named as president and Benjamin E. Page as secretary. Meanwhile, Dennis was back in Texas and listed as a physician on East Lamar Street in Dennison. So it looks like Dennis’s brief visit to Chicago resulted in a successful effort to sell the business.

The D.D.D. Company remained listed at 70 Dearborn with Baker as president in 1902. Then, sometime between 1903 and 1905, the business moved to 118 Michigan Street where it was listed in 1906 with Page named as president. By 1911, the company had moved again, this time to 3843-45 East Ravenswood Park Avenue. The company remained there through the mid-1920’s with Page as president, after which, I lose track.

The company must have grown quite quickly into a national and international presence. By 1913, they were advertising in most if not all parts of the country with local druggists acting as their agents. I’ve found newspaper advertisements for D.D.D. in Kingston, N.Y. (1903), Sacramento, California (1907) and Denver, Colorado (1913). In 1924, I even found an overseas advertisement for them in a New Zealand publication called the New Zealand Truth.

The company’s end date is not clear. The company was not listed in the 1930 Chicago directory but continued to advertise the D.D.D. Prescription (without an address)  well into the 1950’s. I’ve seen advertisements in Life Magazine as late as 1952.

In regard to the product itself, an early advertisement in 1903 boldly claimed that each of these skin afflictions is parasitic in nature and all of them have yielded to D.D.D.

Acne, Barber’s Itch, Carbuncles, Acne Rosacea, Dermatitis, Eczema in all its forms: Eczema in Infants and Young Children, Erythema, Impetigo, Contagious, Lupus, Lichen Planus, Herpes, Erysipelas, Ichthyosis, Pityriasis, Itching Piles, Lichen Ruber, Psoriasis in all its forms: Scrofula, Seborrhea, Mycosis, Scabies, Tinea Favosa, Tinea Circinata, Tinea Trichophytina Barbae, Lupus Serpiginous, Elephantiasis.

It goes on to say that it will clear off any parasitic break in the skin in from 3 to 60 days time. According to the directions on a labeled bottle that was recently listed on E-Bay, application was simple:

Apply the remedy with a piece of absorbent cotton or an atomizer to the parts affected two or three times daily. After a few treatments the disease will begin to dry up and form more scales and scabs than appeared at its natural stage. The patient should not remove them but let nature throw them off.

 

Throughout their history, their marketing strategy included the offer of a trial bottle. The bottle was free or simply required a nominal amount for postage and packaging. They also used testimonials quite a bit to get their message across. Here’s a typical testimonial from 1923:

I suffered for the last ten years. Every effort that I tried-most of them doctor’s prescriptions- and even injections given in my arms; and in the army, injections in my back failed to do me a bit of good.

Today I am proud to say after using a few bottles of D.D.D. I am almost cured of that hated disease.

The other day a friend of mine who was suffering from eczema came over to thank me because I told him to use D.D.D.

M Kaspar, 55 Grove St., Chelsea Mass.

D.D.D’s miraculous claims concerning the theraputic effects of their product caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who alleged they were misbranding the product in violation of the Food and Drug Act. In the late teens and early 1920’s, there were at least three instances where shipments of their products, circulars and booklets from Illinois to other states were seized for this reason. In two instances, D.D.D. chose not to appear for the property and it was destroyed. In one case, where they did appear, they were fined $2,000 and in addition had to pay for the cost of the proceedings.

Prior to that, D.D.D. had also caught the attention of the American Medical Association. The label on the bottle pictured above clearly shows the contents of the product which included chloral hydrate. Consequently, the A.M.A. used D.D.D. as an example in advocating for the use of poison labels to discourage the use of certain dangerous drugs as ingredients in patent medicines. According to the October 19, 1912 A.M.A. Journal:

Chloral hydrate is one of the drugs in the British “poison schedule.” If this drug were a constituent of D.D.D. as sold in Great Britain, the nostrum would have to be labeled “Poison.” But apparently chloral hydrate is omitted from the D.D.D. put up for British consumption…

This indicates that D.D.D. furnishes another example of how the “poison label” protects. The D.D.D. that contains chloral hydrate naturally produces in some cases what physicians commonly call the “chloral rash.” This physiologic effect is turned to account by the manufacturer as follows:

“Occasionally in bringing the disease to the surface, D.D.D. will spread the eruption temporarily over a much larger area. This is not a sign that the malady is growing more serious, but, on the contrary, it shows that the disease is being uprooted.”

No matter how greatly the American and British preparations of D.D.D. vary in composition, the purchasers in both cases are told:

“D.D.D.is no ordinary patent medicine but the preparation of a skin specialist, Dr. D.D. Dennis, who used the compound now known as D.D.D. successfully for years on all patients suffering from skin diseases.

In August 1910, a man who had used 48 bottles of D.D.D, for eczema wrote to the Journal and complained that it had not relieved his eczema. He complained that he had lost fourteen pounds in weight, had become weak and emaciated and was “generally miserable.” This example of the danger the public runs in using “patent medicines” containing such insidious poisons as chloral hydrate, emphasizes the need of a “poison label” requirement being added to the federal Food & Drugs Act.

Today, according to medlineplus.gov, chloral hydrate can be used as a sedative in the short term to treat insomnia and relieve anxiety. There’s no mention of its use in treating skin disorders.

Not surprisingly, as time went on, the word cure disappeared from their advertising. This 1937 advertisement from Popular Mechanics still stresses the fact that its made using “Doctor Dennis’ original formula,” but the focus of the ad is  now on itch relief and no longer mentions the elimination of the root cause.

The bottle I found is a square shaped medicine that contained approximately five ounces. It’s machine made and the makers mark embossed on the bottom is an “I” within a diamond, indicating it was made by the Illinois Glass Company. There are no date or factory numbers included with the mark so according to various web sites it was probably made between 1914 and 1929.

The following two advertisements serve to narrow down that range. The first is from 1923 and shows their bottle with a cork finish. The other is from 1925 and shows a screw top finish. This leads me to believe that the company switched from cork to screw top around 1924, making this the end range for the bottle’s manufacture.