Early company advertisements stated that the business was established in 1857 by Gilliam B Seely. It first appeared in the 1859 NYC directory, listed as soda water and located at 80 Commerce Street.
It continued to be listed as G.B. Seely up through the 1884 directory at the following addresses:
- 1859 – 1860: 80 Commerce Street
- 1861 – 1871: 281/2 Commerce Street
- 1872 – 1874: 431 West 28th Street
- 1876: 401 West 26th Street
- 1877 – 1879: 271 Ninth Avenue
- 1880 – 1883: 57 Gansevoort Street
In 1884, the business moved to 319 West 15th Street where it remained listed through the late 1920’s. A company advertisement in the 1884 directory stated that they were manufacturers and bottlers of soda water, sarsaparilla, ginger ale and root & raspberry beer.
It is apparent that Gilliam’s son, Frank, took charge of the company in the late 1880’s. The company name was listed as G.B Seely & Son in the 1887 and 1888 directories.
Then in 1889 the company name listed in the directory changed again, this time to G.B. Sealy’s Son.
Frank Seely is the only company principal named in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory in 1890. It’s not clear whether Gilliam retired or died but he was no longer listed in the NYC directories.
According to the Annual Report of the Factory Inspectors of the State of New York, in the year ending November 30, 1899 G B Seely’s Son had 50 male employees working a 60 hour week .
The business was listed as a New York Corporation for the first time in the 1914 Copartnership and Corporation Directory. Frank Seely was listed as President, Hugo Eiche as Secretary and Carl Klingelhoeffer as Treasurer with a capital of $200,000. In 1919, Hattie Seely was listed as president and Frank was not mentioned.
An early 1910’s advertisement for G B Seely’s Son states: “Drink Seely’s Carbonated Beverages and Forget It’s Summer.”
A story in the April 30, 1909 Brooklyn Daily Eagle about G B Seely’s Sons exhibit at the Food Show provided some insight into the company and their products at the time:
One of the many attractive booths at the Pure Food Show, which is being held in Prospect Hall is that of G B Seely’s Sons, dealers in carbonated beverages. Harry Coll and James Morgan are in charge of this booth and are prepared at all times to serve soft drinks to everyone attending th show. The Seely exhibit is one of the best in the entire show and well merits the praise which has been bestowed upon it. The list of beverages exhibited comprises ginger ale, sarsaparilla, lemon soda, cream soda, root beer, birch beer, orange phosphate and raspberry soda.
The modes, processes and materials used in the production of the carbonated beverages manufactured by G B Seely’s Son are explained by the men in charge who are careful to point out that everything is properly tested and found to be absolutely pure before it is made use of. The result is that a line of goods is produced which the manufacturers claim cannot be excelled for quality or purity.”
G B Seely’s Son must have been an annual participant in the Food Show. An advertisement ten years later in the March 13, 1921 issue of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” said “Sample our Beverages at Booth at the Food Show.”
Canada Dry acquired Seely’s in 1928. Under Wall Street Topics, a June 26,1928 article in the Milwaulkee sentinel stated:
June 25,1928 New York. Directors of Canada Dry Ginger Ale today voted to offer stockholders the right to subscribe to new stock at $60 a share on the basis of one new share for every ten held at present. The funds raised will be used to acquire G.B. Seely’s Son, Inc…the purchase price has not been announced.
Canada Dry was still using the Seely name in advertisements in 1929: “Seely’s Delicious Beverages, incorporated, owned and operated by Canada Dry.” Around this time they moved from their long time W 15th Street address to 625 W 54th Street but continued to be listed separately in the NYC Directories through at least 1932. It’s not clear when Canada Dry dropped the Seely name.
Today the West 15th Street addresses are incorporated in a large 20th century apartment building.
The bottle I found is machine made (28 oz) with the “Inc” embossed after the name, which puts it in the vicinity of 1914 or later. The back of the bottle is embossed with their trademark picture of a bartender pouring drinks. Frank Seely filed the trademark application on July 11, 1905 (No. 10,063). In the application he stated that it had been in use since 1870.