Glycol-Thymoline dates back to the late 1800’s, when it was advertised as:
An alkaline, antiseptic, non-irritating, cleaning solution for the treatment of diseased mucous membrane, especially nasal catarrh.
The preparation had its roots with Oscar Kress, who, according to his January 3, 1895 obituary in the Pharmaceutical Record, was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States after graduating from the University of Munich.
A medical paper entitled “Chronic Nasal Catarrh and what the General Practitioner Can Do for it,” presented in May, 1893, mentioned that Kress introduced Glyco-Thymoline to the medical profession around that time.
Glycolic-thymoline is a preparation recently introduced to the profession by Mr. Oscar Kress, a pharmacist of this city. It is composed of glycerine, thymol, sodium, borax , benzoin, salicylic acid, eucalyptol, menthol, gaultheria, oleum pini pumillonia, and solvents, in proper proportions.
A druggist, Kress was first listed in NYC’s general directories in 1870/1871 with an address of 781 Seventh Avenue. Later, in the 1880/1881 NYC Directory the business was listed as Oscar Kress & Co.and two addresses were included: 1670 Broadway and 918 Sixth Avenue. According to an item in the July 15, 1894 edition of the Pharmaceutical Era, it was the Broadway location that accommodated the early manufacture of Glyco-Thymoline.
Oscar Kress of 52nd Street and Broadway, and of Sixth Avenue, is one of the most enterprising druggists in this city. He prepares a solution known as Glyco-Thym0line, which has an immense sale; in fact, he keeps six men on the road all the time. Mr. Kress is now enlarging the basement of his Broadway store to accommodate the additional apparatus needed in his manufacture. The cellar will be carried out under the sidewalk and will give him much more room on both the street and front sides
At some point prior to his death in December, 1894, Kress associated with Samuel Owen who, when Kress passed away, continued its manufacture. Ultimately on June 8, 1895, the business incorporated under the name of Kress & Owen. The announcement was printed in the June 13, 1895 edition of the Pharmaceutical Record.
The Kress & Owen Co. has been incorporated to manufacture and deal in drugs and medicines in this city. It’s capital is $100,000. and the directors are Samuel Owen, Alfred H. Kennedy, and William H. Pearson of Newark, N.J., Artur A. Stillwell, Max J. Breitenbach and Edward G. Wells of New York, Thomas W. Mullet of Jersey City and William A. Demerust of Brooklyn. The firm will manufacture its specialties at its present quarters, No. 374 Pearl Street. The “Kress” in the firm name represents the estate of Oscar Kress, the late druggist of 6th Avenue, who was interested in the concern.
Samuel Owen was named the company’s first president and the NYC directories and phone books continued to list him as president through the mid-1920’s.
The announcement referenced the initial corporate address as 374 Pearl Street but that location was apparently short-lived and by 1897 they were listed at 221 Fulton Street where they remained until approximately 1903, when they moved to 210 Fulton Street. Other than a temporary relocation due to fire, the business remained at 210 Fulton Street until 1912. The fire and resultant relocation were described in the March 11, 1907 edition of the Pharmaceutical Record.
A disastrous fire completely gutted the five-story white stone building at 210 Fulton Street, occupied by the Kress & Owen Co., manufacturers of Glyco-Thymoline on Sunday night, March 3. Though the building was so ruined by the flames that it will have to be entirely rebuilt before it can be used again for commercial purposes, the Kress & Owen Co. has not permitted the disaster to interfere seriously with its business and is now ready to fill all orders from its new location at 92 Chambers Street. The company lost almost all of its stock at the Fulton Street site but fortunately saved many of its most valuable files. The total loss by fire amounted to $75,000 but the stock, machinery, tanks, fixtures, drugs and chemicals of the company were fully insured so that it will sustain no actual loss except a temporary cessation of business.
The company rebuilt at 210 Fulton Street and continued to list it as their address until May 1912, when they moved to 361 Pearl Street.
A long time employee, Dr. Charles L. Constantinides, replaced Samuel Owen as president in the mid-1920’s. According to his August 4, 1955 obituary:
He was graduated from the Toronto Medical College in 1903 and joined Kress & Owen, manufacturing chemists, in 1906. He retired from the firm in 1949 after 25 years as as president.
The company remained at Pearl Street in New York City until the early 1950’s when they built a 14,000 square foot facility in Middletown New Jersey. By this time, Alfred Owen, a nephew of Samuel Owen was serving as president. The opening of the new plant was highlighted in the January 24, 1952 edition of the (Long Branch N.J.) Daily Record.
One of the newer additions to Monmouth County’s rapidly growing roster of industry is that of Kress & Owen Company, makers of Glyco-Thymoline, an alkaline preparation for oral application.
In operation since the new year, in a modern plant recently erected on land owned by the company on Route 35, Middletown, Kress & Owen merchandise is now being shipped from here to all parts of the world.
The June 28, 1951 edition of the (Long Branch N.J.) Daily Record included a rendering of the new building which, according to another Daily Record story around the same time, would, due to automation, employ only 12 to 15 persons.
The company remained at this location for less than twenty years. An item in the January 7, 1969 edition of the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, stated that at that time Kress & Owen no longer occupied the building and it was being remodeled for office use.
Over the years, advertisements for Glyco-Thymoline focused primarily on treatment of the nose and throat. One, from December 1899, included this quote from the March 1898 issue of the Chicago Medical Recorder.
In acute and chronic rhinitis and post-nasal catarrh it will be found specially effacious, diluted in from one to three parts of water, and slightly warmed before using. As a gargle in diphtheritic inflammations and other forms of pharyngitis , its bland and non-irritating properties render it most soothing and curative to the inflamed membrane.
Many of their early advertisements promoted the use of Glyco-Thymoline in concert with a nasal applicator called the Birmingham Douche. (A precursor to today’s Neti Pot?) This 1899 advertisement printed in the American Journal of Surgery and Gynecology was one that promoted them together under a single process.
The application of Glycolic-Thymoline (Kress) to the nasal passages with our Birmingham Douche, obviates the danger of drawing Muco-Pus into the Eustachian tube.
“An ideal little instrument, safe, cheap, effective”
In case you were wondering how the Birmingham Douche worked, this young lady from an early 1900’s advertisement, served to clarify.
Sometime in the 1920’s, their advertisements had added a nasal spray as another type of application designed to target what they referred to as “the zone of infection.”
By the mid-1940’s bad breath had been added to the list of conditions addressed by the preparation as evidenced by this March 12, 1948 Los Angeles Times advertisement.
Other than that, over the years their advertising message did not change much. The last set of newspaper advertisements I could find for Glyco-Thymoline was released in the Spring of 1967. One such ad, printed in the April 5, 1967 edition of the New York Daily News, delivered the same message as those from the 1890’s.
Apparently dormant for a while, the Kress & Own Company, Inc. is once again active and being run by members of the Owen family. Their web site, glyco-thymoline.net, lists their address as a P.O. Box in Owings Mills, Maryland and states that in 2008:
Kress & Owen Company launches the Glyco-Thymoline web site and reintroduces the 100 year old “premier” oral hygiene product. We intend to get Glyco-Thymoline back in the local pharmacy, grocery and retail stores near you. Our product has been recommended by dentists and physicians for over 100 years.
Today, you can purchase Glyco-Thymoline on Amazon.
The bottle I found is machine made with a square cross-section. Six ounces in size, it was one of three sizes utilized by the company in the early 1900’s. This December 1913 advertisement indicated that the six ounce size was originally furnished with a sprinkler top.