Murray & Lanman, Druggists, New York, Florida Water

Murray and Lanman’s Florida Water has been sold as a toilet water or perfume for almost two centuries. This 1885 advertisement called it the “universal perfume,” advertising it “for the handkerchief, the toilet and the bath.”

According to one advertisement, printed in the February 6, 1880 edition of the Oakland Tribune:

The pleasure of bathing is greatly increased by mixing in the tub half or even a quarter of a bottle of Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water. Instantly the whole atmosphere of the bath-room is as fragrant as a blooming flower garden, the mind becomes buoyant, and the body emerges refreshed and strengthened.

Other advertisements from the same era add that it’s also:

delightful and healthful in the sick room, relieves weakness, fatigue, prostration, nervousness and headache.

Some say that it has “magical” properties as well and it’s commonly used in Hoodoo, Voodoo, Santeria and Wicca practices for ritual offerings and purification among other things.

Murray and Lanman’s Florida Water is still made today by the firm of Lanman & Kemp-Barclay, who was featured in a February 7, 1999 article in the New York Daily News. According to that article:

Despite it’s name, Florida Water was never made in Florida. In fact, Florida wasn’t even a state when the company began. The word simply means “of flowers.”

The article went on to touch on the start of the business.

“We go way back,” says Stephen Cooper, president of Lanman & Kemp-Barclay, its makers. “Our company was founded in 1808 by Robert Murray. In the 1830’s, he got together with Lanman and that’s when they began our main product, which is Florida Water”

The earliest NYC directory I could find, Longworth’s New York Register and City Directory, published July 4, 1813, listed Robert J. Murray as a druggist located at 335 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan. The same directory also listed his brother, Lindley Murray, as a druggist at 313 Pearl Street. By 1826, and possibly earlier, they were listed together as Robert & Lindley Murray, druggists, located at 263 Pearl Street, corner of Fulton.

In 1835, it was Lindley Murray along with David Trumball Lanman, who established the partnership of Murray & Lanman. The business was first listed in the 1835 NYC Directory as druggists at 69 Water Street. Lindley Murray was also listed individually as a druggist at the same address. In the same directory Robert Murray was no longer listed, either individually or associated with the business.

Murray & Lanman was listed at 69 Water up through 1847. Then, in May of 1848, several legal notices printed in the Buffalo Courier named David T Lanman as the “surviving partner” of Murray & Lanaman, so Lindley Murray apparently passed away sometime in 1847 or early 1848.

Lanman remained listed individually as a druggist at 69 Water and apparently operated as a sole proprietor until 1853 when he formed a partnership with George Kemp called David T. Lanham & Co. The copartnership notice establishing the business was printed in the January 3, 1853 edition of the New York Times.

Five years later, another copartnership notice, this one printed in the January 1, 1858 edition of the New York Times, indicated that the name of the partnership was changed to D. T. Lanman & Kemp.

The company was listed in the NYC directories this way between 1858 and 1861, then in the 1862 directory they shortened the name to simply Lanman & Kemp. During this period, the business was apparently focused primarily on the foreign market. This advertisement, in the October 22, 1861 edition of the New York Times, called them “wholesale export druggists” further stating; “special attention paid to the execution of drug orders for the markets of Cuba, Mexico, West Indies and South Central America…”

It appears that by the early 1860’s, Lanman was no longer associated with the business. The 1862 NYC Directory no longer listed D.T. Lanman individually at the company’s Water Street address, and by 1865 the company listing in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory included the phrase “George Kemp only” as proprietor.

Lanman & Kemp remained listed at 69 Water Street until 1871 when they moved to 68-70 William Street. It was around this time that George’s brother, Edward, joined him in the management of the business and he continued to run the business after George Kemp’s death in 1893. According to Edward’s January 2, 1902 obituary he facilitated the construction of their long time headquarters at 135 Water Street.

In 1870 he became associated with his late brother George in the firm of Lanman & Kemp, his knowledge of commercial affairs and accurate judgement assisting greatly in making the business highly successful. It was he who built the fine building at No. 135 Water Street, in which the firm’s offices are now located.

The company was first listed at this location in the 1900 directory and they remained there through the mid to late 1950’s when they moved to New Jersey.  The 1957 NYC telephone book listed their general offices at 15 Grand Avenue, Palisades Park N.J., although it still included their 135 Water Street address as well. By 1959, the Water Street address was no longer listed.

They were first listed as Lanman & Kemp- Barclay & Co. in 1933. Today the company is located on Woodland Avenue in Westwood N.J.

Despite the many company name changes over the years, their florida water was always sold under the Murray & Lanman name and in fact, it’s still sold under that name today.  According to Lanman & Kemp-Barclay & Co.’s web site, the product was available in the United States as early as 1808.

Murray & Lanman Florida Water was introduced into the United States market on February 14, 1808. Immediately it gained popularity and approval from the consumer and became a woldwide, well-known cologne, not only because of it’s delightful fragrance, but also because of the more than twenty uses attributed to it.

Although the Murray’s may have been selling their florida water locally in the early 1800’s, a series of D. T. Lanman & Kemp advertisements from the late 1850’s indicate that the product wasn’t widely available in the United States until around that time. This advertisement which appeared in several Ohio newspapers between April 1857 and July 1858 stated under the heading “What Are Its Antecedents” that it was being sold in the Latin American countries for twenty years before being introduced in the United States.

For twenty years it has maintained its ascendency over all other perfumes throughout Cuba, South America and the West Indies. It has been introduced into the United States in response to the earnest demand growing out of its southern reputation.

Another advertisement from the same era stated:

Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water from its great celebrity in the South America and West Indian markets, for which for twenty years it was exclusively manufactured has been extensively imitated in the United States. Now however, the original article has been introduced throughout the Union, and as it bears the distinctive trade-mark of the proprietors, may be readily distinguished by its externals from the simulated preparations.

So, if you believe their own advertising, Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water was being exported to the West Indies and South America as early as the mid to late 1830’s, around the time the company was first established in 1835 and introduced in the United States sometime in the mid to late 1850’s. Recognizing the company’s focus on foreign markets this seems to make a lot of sense.

Like most successful patent medicines of the day, much of their popularity can be attributed to advertising.  Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water along with several of the company’s other products were advertised in their own publication called “Bristol’s Illustrated Almanac.” According to the 1999 Daily News feature:

…these products have been advertised for almost eight generations in Bristol’s Illustrated Almanac, the free booklets Lanman & Kemp give out each year. “Up until a short time before the Second World War, I think, it was published in Spanish, Portuguese, German, French and English,” says Cooper. The 1999 version marks 167 years of continuous publishing.”

And what publishing it is! Interspersed with page after page of shameless product endorsements are poems, recipes, weather predictions and jokes older than Florida water itself. “How to raise beets,” begins one seemingly serious entry in a turn of the century almanac. “Take hold of the tops and pull.”

What strikes me most about this product and the various companies that produced it over the years is the consistency of the image they have portrayed. The cover of their almanac hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Likewise, their bottle and its label have changed little, if at all.  Advertisements from 1887 and 1946 bear this out.

             

Finally, here’s today’s version.

On a final note, while it has the word “water” in its name, Florida Water has more alcohol than water in its formula. In 2004, after a woman, performing a Santeria cleansing ritual involving florida water and candles died tragically  in an apartment fire, the Daily News performed a test comparing the flammability of florida water to rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, nail polish remover and lighter fluid. According to the story, published in their February 26 edition:

In an indoor, controlled setting, Daily News reporters timed how long it took each product to turn a large cotton sweatshirt into a ball of flames.

About 4 ounces of each product was sprinkled on identical sweatshirts suspended on a wire coat hanger and ignited with a candle.

The sweatshirt doused in Murray & Lanman Florida Water was engulfed in flames in 10 seconds.

At 15 seconds, flames were shooting up 2 feet from the shoulders and by 40 seconds the sweatshirt was completely burned off the hanger.

The complete results of the experiment were published in the story.

The bottle I found is the typical florida water shape and is mouth blown. It’s embossed “Florida Water/Murray & Lanman/ Druggists/New York.” I’ve seen examples on the internet that also include the  69 Water Street address so it was most likely manufactured at the William Street location or right after the move to 135 Water Street.

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.