Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root Kidney Liver and Bladder Remedy, Binghamton, N.Y., U.S.A.

Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root Kidney, Liver and Bladder Remedy was one of the late 19th/early 20th century’s most popular and, at the same time, most notorious patent medicines. A September 3, 1904 item in a publication called “The Rural New Yorker,” described it as a cure for a wide range of ailments that even included a hangover.

Dr Kilmer’s Swamp Root, the great kidney remedy, fulfills every wish in promptly curing kidney, bladder and uric acid troubles, rheumatism and pain in the back. It corrects inability to hold water and scalding pain in passing it, or bad effects following use of liquor, wine or beer, and overcomes that unpleasant necessity of bing compelled to go often during the day and to get up many times during the night. The mild and the extraordinary effect of Swamp Root is soon realized. It stands the highest for its wonderful cures of the most distressing cases.

Its manufacturer, the Dr. Kilmer Company was, at the turn of the century, Binghamton, New York’s leading industry. Originally established by S. Andral Kilmer; later it was his brother Jonas Kilmer and nephew Willis Sharpe Kilmer who ultimately catapulted the business into national prominence, becoming two of Binghamton’s most influential citizens along the way.

The extent of their wealth and power was documented in a May 11, 1912 story published in Collier’s Magazine.

Two Kilmer’s – father and son – Jonas M. and Willis Sharpe, manufacture and vend Swamp Root. It is today the leading industry of the lively and progressive little city where it is made, Binghamton, New York. The fortune derived from it is variously estimated at from ten to fifteen millions, all accumulated in the last twenty years. The Kilmer house is the most expensive in Binghamton. The two Kilmer buildings are the finest business blocks in the city, with one exception. The Kilmer’s newspaper, the “Binghamton Press,” has the largest circulation in that part of the state. The People’s Bank (Jonas Kilmer, president; Willis Sharpe Kilmer, vice president) is a strong and growing institution. Jonas Kilmer has been police commissioner of the city. Willis Kilmer has had congressional aspirations. In every phase of existence in Binghamton, except perhaps in the social phase, the Kilmer’s are powerful – and feared.

Then, pulling no punches, the story went on to say:

All this wealth, all this power, all this influence rests on a foundation of pure fraud and knavery; has been built up by a business acumen as disreputable as that of the card sharp, as ruthless as that of the burglar who will kill, if need be, in order to make his haul.

That being said, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so let’s go back and start at the beginning with S. Andral Kilmer.

The “History of the Kilmer Family in America,” published in 1897, stated that he was born in Cobbleskill, New York, in December, 1840, and began the study of medicine at the age of 18. It goes on to say:

After a successful tour of medical lectures and practice in the West, Dr Kilmer settled in Binghamton buying and building a residence on the plot where the extensive Kilmer Medicine Works are now located. He was first employed in visiting surrounding cities on advertised days, in which practice he was so famous and successful that he was soon enabled to commence the erection of his laboratory buildings for the preparation of his remedies…

The first listing I can find for him in the Binghamton directories was in 1871, when he was listed as a physician living in the Mechanics Hotel. I suspect that he settled in Binghamton around that time and initially lived in the hotel prior to establishing his residence and laboratory. Located at the corner of Chenango and Virgil Streets, this photograph of his first laboratory appeared years later as the early half of a “now and then” item published in the March 13, 1988 edition of Binghamton’s Sun and Press Bulletin.

The Kilmer History goes on to say that his younger brother, Jonas M. Kilmer joined him in business in 1878 and they became equal partners in 1881.

It was around this time that the two began to manufacture and market a wide range of remedies attributed to Dr. Kilmer. A partial list of these early remedies was included in an item promoting his medical practice that was published in the 1884 edition of nearby Syracuse University’s “The Onondagan.”

A story written years later, by Jerome B. Hadsell, a long time executive of Dr. Kilmer & Co., included this recollection of the fledgling business in the late 1880’s. The story was published at the time of Willis Sharpe Kilmer’s death in the July 13, 1940 edition of the Binghamton Press & Sun.

…it was what you might call a modest establishment. Neither J. M. nor his brother had much capital. Neither had any advertising experience or much experience in promotion. J. M. was a good salesman, but promotion and advertising were not then the sciences they have since become.

They were manufacturing everything at the time. I say everything; it seemed like everything. Swamproot, then as later, was the outstanding product. But they had cancer medicines, consumption medicine, pills, ointments – practically a full line of home remedies for all sorts of complaints.

Their merchandising methods were limited to the consignment basis. Goods were billed out and paid for as they were sold by storekeepers with remittances every 30 days. There was no particular incentive on the part of the storekeepers to move the merchandise, and collections were not exactly good.

Up to that time the advertising of Kilmer’s remedies was done exclusively on a local basis, predominantly consisting of painted wooden signs, posters and packaged circulars. The only newspaper exposure that I can find was a series of 1883 advertisements that appeared in neighboring Carbondale Pennsylvania’s local newspaper, The Advance. Each advertisement contained S. Andral Kilmer’s likeness and featured one of his remedies. One was Swamp Root; another was”Dr. Kilmer’s Ocean Weed Heart Remedy. Both are shown below.

 

Things began to change in 1892 when S. Andral Kilmer sold his share of the patent medicine business to Jonas. Now, as the sole owner, Jonas put his son Willis Sharpe Kilmer in charge of advertising. According to Hadsell this was the turning point of the business.

Jonas M. Kilmer was comfortable enough but the business was not exactly thriving. As a matter of fact the real expansion, development and prosperity of the business dated from the time when Willis Sharpe Kilmer became actively interested in it.

Hadsell’s story went on to say:

Willis began to buy space in country weeklies in this section, and to turn out, at first under his father’s direction, the sort of advertising copy which was later to make the business grow by leaps and bounds. At first just a few newspapers in the Southern Tier were used but that advertising showed almost immediate results. It was a fascinating thing for all of us to see the power and pull that could be developed by the use of ingenuity, patience and black and white type.

Within a few years, and I would say no more than eight after he started, we were beginning to ship out in carload lots all over the eastern United States.

The company remained at their original location until 1900 when a fire gutted the facility, forcing a move to temporary quarters. The fire and resultant move were reported in the August, 1900 edition of the National Druggist.

The fire which destroyed the immense Swamp Root medicine plant of Dr. Kilmer & Co., July 1, was the most disastrous which has ever occurred in Binghamton. However, the Kilmer’s resumed business next morning, though not at the old stand, which is a heap of smoldering ashes. While the firemen were yet pouring water on the burning Chenango Street establishment, the Kilmer’s were arranging to do business somewhere else.

That this great industry might not be crippled for a moment, through the courtesy of other prominent firms and citizens, the large factory and adjoining buildings on South Street were vacated for the benefit of the Swamp Root people, and possession was taken immediately, and here, by Monday, July 8, this new temporary factory will be turning out Swamp Root, the great Kidney Remedy, in quantities of about 60,000 bottles per day, and in two or three weeks’ time the full capacity of more than four times that amount will be produced. The immense demand for Swamp Root will thus in no way be interfered with.

At the same time, according to Hadsell, the new and what turned out to be long time home of the Dr. Kilmer Company was being planned.

Immediately after we burned out at Virgil and Chenango Streets J. M. and Willis made arrangements for the purchase of the Lockwood property, on the corner at Lewis Street and the viaduct, now occupied by Dr. Kilmer & Co. There was no viaduct there then, and the lot was occupied by a wooden structure which had been a residence.

While under construction, a story in the December, 1902 edition of “Farmers Review” referred to the new building as “The Largest and Most Complete Laboratory in the World.”

The story described the eight story building as “tall and towering,” and went on to say:

It will stand for centuries. It has the finest of modern steel construction, with fireproof masonry and cement arches, not a piece of wood is used in the entire structure. It is situated on the most central and commanding site in the city, and has a frontage of 331 feet on Lewis Street, 345 feet on Chenango Street and 407 feet on Lackawana Avenue; its floor space amounts to the astonishing four and one-half acres.

A convenient switch connecting with the main lines of all railroads entering the city runs direct to the doors of the shipping department.

The building was occupied in the Fall of 1903. That year this rendering of the completed structure appeared in Binghamton’s Board of Trade Publication.

Hadsell’s recollections included this description of the business at about the time the building opened.

Of course the business had expanded considerably to justify the new building which was the leading structure in Binghamton at that time and has always been one of the ranking business establishments ever since. Before we moved to South Street we had started to ship in carload quantities and the trade had spread to the general line of the Mississippi River. Tariffs established some barriers to Canadian trade, but we had a flourishing field in practically the entire eastern United States with the growing emphasis south of the Mason Dixon Line.

By the early 1900’s, in addition to their Binghamton headquarters, company advertisements also listed a Kilmer office in Chicago as well as foreign offices in Rio De Janero, Brazil and Kingston, Jamaica.

According to Hadsell, advertising was fueling much, if not all of this growth.

I should say that shortly after we moved into the new building we were doing about $800,000 worth of advertising a year, with a great many page spreads, and that the business which had started so modestly was growing more than $2,000,000 every 12 months.

By the early 1900’s newspapers in every state of the nation were running Kilmer’s advertisements, many of which were taking up more than half of an entire page. One, published in the January 30, 1901 edition of the Detroit Free Press was typical of their advertising style. It lead with an eye catching headline.

It followed that with text that sold the idea that all disease was rooted in the kidneys and that if you heal the kidneys with Dr. Kilmer’s all of your other health issues will follow suit.

Kidney trouble is responsible for more sickness and suffering than any other disease, and if permitted to continue fatal results are sure to follow. Kidney trouble irritates the nerves, makes you dizzy, restless, sleepless and irritable. Makes you pass water often during the day and obliges you to get up many times during the night. Unhealthy kidneys cause rheumatism, gravel, catarrh of the bladder, pain or dull ache in the back, joints and muscles; makes your head ache and back ache, causes indigestion, stomach and liver trouble, you get a sallow yellow complexion, makes you feel as though you had heart trouble; you may have plenty of ambition, but no strength; get weak and waste away.

The kidneys filter and purify the blood – that is their work. So when your kidneys are weak or out of order you can understand how quickly your entire body is affected, and how every organ seems to fail to do its duty.

If you are sick or “feel badly,” begin taking the famous new discovery, Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root, because as soon as your kidney’s are well they will help all the other organs to health. A trial will convince anyone.

In taking Swamp Root you afford natural help to nature, for Swamp Root is the most perfect healer and gentle aid to the kidneys that is known to medical science. Swamp Root is pleasant to take and for sale the world over in bottles of two sizes and two prices – fifty cents and one dollar.

If you still weren’t convinced their advertisements typically suggested this (later debunked) simple test.

If there is any doubt in your mind as to your condition, take your urine on rising, about four ounces, place it in a glass or bottle and let it stand twenty-four hours. If on examination, it is milky or cloudy; if there is brick-dust settling, or if small particles float about in it, your kidneys are in need of immediate attention.

The rest of the page was filled with testimonials.

   

By the early 1900’s, increasing public awareness was leading to the investigation and ultimate exposure of the patent medicine industry’s plethora of false claims. In 1906, this resulted in legislation that prohibited false representation of a medicine’s benefits, forcing a change in Swamp Root’s labeling.

According to the 1912 Collier’s story written by Samuel Hopkins Adams and published under the heading: ” The Fraud Above the Law:”

Under the interpretation of the law, forbidding false representations on the label, Swamp Root dropped from its carton the legend: “Kidney, Liver, and Bladder Cure.” The claim of cure was untrue, and the Kilmer’s knowing it to be untrue, did not dare face the issue…

In the grand parade of confession which the food and drug law set a marching, Swamp Root was a conspicuous penitent. Applying the parallel column treatment, its admitted mendacity fairly smells to the skies:

Was ever a change of claim more significant! The revised label sedulously refrains from any misstatement of fact. Incidentally, and by omission, it admits the lies that the old label carried….

An unscientific review of the Kilmer bottle as it was depicted in newspaper advertisements that were published in the Buffalo (N.Y.) Inquirer reveals that the label change occurred sometime in 1908. The first, pictured below, appeared as late as April, 1908 and exhibited the word “cure,” the second, in December, 1908; remedy.

          

The Collier’s story didn’t stop there, also listing the ingredients of Swamp Root

What is Swamp Root? Essentially it is alcohol, sugar, water and flavoring matter, with a slight laxative principle. According to its label, it “contains the active medicinal properties of Swamp Root, Field Herbs and Healing Balsams.” But these ingredients are of such inconsiderable potency in the small amount contained, that they are practically negligible. Alcohol is the chief drug constituent of the mixture, the alcoholic strength being 9 percent, about that of champagne…

Collier’s questioned recommending alcohol for liver problems and sugar for diabetic trouble ultimately concluding:

While there is nothing in Swamp Root which will cure the patient of any disease specified in its promises, there are at least two main ingredients which will, in afflictions for which the nostrum is prescribed, give the sufferer a helping hand toward the grave.

Colliers even exposed the 24 hour urine test recommended in much of their advertising as a total scam. Described earlier in this post, their advertisements stated that any deposits found in a urine sample after it was left standing for 24 hours required immediate attention. According to Colliers anyone who performed the test would conclude they needed Swamp Root.

All urine deposits a sediment after standing twenty four hours. Yet the Kilmer’s deliberately circulate this falsehood in millions of homes in this country, endeavoring to frighten sound and well people into believing themselves endangered, in order to lure into the toils the readily impressionable. And the damnable feature of the matter is that it is actually possible to scare a certain type of person into becoming ill. Hence we see Swamp Root in another phase of devil work; not only preying on the sick, but even trying to inspire disease from which to wring blood money.

By the time the Collier’s story was published in 1912 U. S. sales of Swamp Root were beginning to decrease, so you’d think that this exposure would have signaled the end of the company, but you’d be wrong. Protected by wealth and political influence, and backed by the voice of their own newspaper, the business survived in what the Collier’s story concluded was “a copartnership of quackery, blood money and fraud nurtured journalism.”

The Kilmer family remained in control of the business throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, during which time Willis Sharpe Kilmer was serving as president with Jonas having passed away back in 1912.

They continued to advertise heavily in the newspapers up through the mid 1920’s, and while the curative claims of Swamp Root had been toned down by then, the company’s advertising ethics remained questionable, as evidenced by this March 24, 1925 advertisement that connected Swamp Root with the ability to obtain insurance.

Below this headline the advertisement reported:

An examining physician for one of the prominent Life Insurance companies, in an interview of the subject, made the astonishing statement that one reason so many applicants for insurance are rejected is because kidney trouble is so common to the American people, and the large majority of those whose applications are declined do not even suspect that they have the disease. Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root is on sale at all drug stores in bottles of two sizes…

By the late 1920’s and 1930’s the company’s newspaper advertising had decreased significantly, and sales were certainly in decline. That being said, Swamp Root continued to be well represented in local drug store advertisements.

      

Ultimately, in July, 1940 Willis Sharpe Kilmer passed away and shortly afterwards his estate sold the business. The Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin reported the sale in their April 18, 1941 issue.

Dr Kilmer Co. Purchased by N.Y. Concern.

The business of Dr. Kilmer & Co., Inc. makers of the proprietary medicine, Swamp Root, was sold today by the executors of the Kilmer estate to Ardibold, Inc., a recently incorporated New York City firm.

The purchasing firm, it was announced, will continue the business in the Kilmer building which has been the Kilmer & Co. headquarters since it was built in 1903.

Their commitment to remain in the Kilmer Building was short-lived. Less than a year after the acquisition, a September 3, 1941 story in the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin reported that the company was leaving their long time home in Binghamton.

Carlova Moves Into Swamp Root Building

Carlova Co., perfume and cosmetic manufacturer, moved into the Swamp Root building at 39-45 Lewis Street today, as A. Alexander, vice president and secretary of the concern, announced plans for the employment of between 500 and 800 persons at the Lewis Street building.

Occupancy of the building will be completed about Jan. 1, 1942, when Mr. Alexaner said, International Business Machines Corporation and Kilmer & Co., which now occupy space in the building move out…

A deed transferring the property from the estate of the late Willis Sharpe Kilmer to the perfumery and cosmetic concern was filed in the county clerk’s office today. Federal revenue stamps attached indicated a purchase price of approximately $140,000.

Apparently they continued to operate under the Kilmer & Company name after the acquisition. Advertisements for Swamp Root between 1942 and 1959 located the business in Stanford Connecticut, with some including the street address of 370 Fairfield Avenue.

Their first newspaper advertisements, published in 1942, now referred to Swamp Root as a stomachic and intestinal liquid “tonic.”

This October 13, 1959 newspaper advertisement is one of the last I can find. By then their message was simply:

Chances are that Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root medicine can help you the way it has helped millions of other people.

By the early 1960’s, the business was located in Plainview, on New York’s Long Island. According to a 1968 Cincinnati Enquirer story regarding patent medicines:

We are told that “Swamp Root” is still made by Kilmer & Co. at Plainview N. Y., and costs $1.35 for an 11-ounce bottle containing 10 1/2 % alcohol.

At this point I lose track of them so it’s not exactly clear how long the sale of Swamp Root extended beyond the late 1960’s.

The Kilmer Building located at the corner of Chenango and Lewis Streets still remains to this day. Opened in 1903 it’s exterior has changed little if at all over the years as evidenced by the following two photographs. The first appeared in Collier’s 1912 story. The second is current, courtesy of Google Earth.

A reminder of its original use still exists on today’s building facade.

According to the “Then and Now” feature in the March 13, 1988 edition of the Binghamton Press and Sun, their initial laboratory location at Virgil and Chenango Streets was demolished in the 1960’s to make way for an apartment complex.

The bottle I found is mouth blown and its embossing exhibits the word remedy, not cure. This dates it from approximately 1908 when they made the change from cure to remedy and sometime in the mid-teens when I’d expect a machine made bottle.

Around this time they were advertising both a 50 cent and one dollar size bottle. I suspect that this was the 50 cents size. I’ve also found a larger size, also mouth blown, that although not embossed, matches embossed examples found on the internet.

 

This suggests that it was either a labeled version of Kilmer’s larger size or produced by a knock-off company, a common occurrence back in the day.

On a Final Note: In 1892, after selling his share of the patent medicine business, S. Andral Kilmer continued to maintain a medical practice treating cancer patients. According to his January 15, 1924 obituary in the Oneonta (N.Y.) Star:

He had for many years been a resident of Binghamton, where for several years he was associated with his brother, Jonas M. Kilmer, in the proprietary medicine business. Later he retired from this business and was from 1892 largely engaged in the treatment of cancer, at first at Sanitaria Springs, later in Binghamton, and just before his death in the new Sanitarium at Sanitaria Springs, which he opened only last Thursday.

Also a brazen advertiser, his 1904 Binghamton Directory advertisement referred to him as the “Greatest Cancer and Tumor Doctor in all the World.”

During the course of his cancer practice, Dr. Kilmer & Company continued to imply through their merchandising that he was still associated with their patent medicine business. This resulted in a court battle between the two brothers. A story in the October 31, 1911 edition of the (Elmira N.Y.) Star Gazette laid out the issues that S. Andral Kilmer had with his former business.

KILMER CONCERNS FIGHT IN COURTS

Dr. S. Andral Kilmer avers that for more than 30 years (actually closer to 20 years) he has not been associated with Dr. Kilmer & Company, but has practiced in Binghamton, and for ten years past he has made a specialty of treating cancerous growths and allied diseases.

Dr. Andral Kilmer further contends that there is no “Dr. Kilmer” connected with Dr. Kilmer & Company at present, but that the latter company opens and puts to its own use letters addressed to “Dr. Kilmer,” “Dr. Kilmer Company,” etc., which are addressed and intended for him.

Dr. Andral Kilmer also objects to the use of his signature and photograph on the cartons of the Kilmer Company’s medicines, which he says is detrimental to his business.

In 1919, after eight years of litigation, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Dr. Kilmer & Company. As late as the 1960’s S. Andral Kilmer’s likeness and signature appeared on their packaging as evidenced by this 1960’s example bearing the Plainview New York location on the label.

 

“Antidol” For Rheumatism

Antidol was a proprietary medicine advertised around the turn of the century as a headache remedy and pain reliever. Not just another quack medicine of the day, the compound contained aspirin (salicylates) and caffeine, the main ingredients in today’s pain reliever Anacin.

Application No. 20,619 for “Certain Named Remedies,” that included the word “Antidol” was filed with the U.S. patent office by a Boston druggist named Albert D. Mowry on December 15, 1891.

The product along with its uses were described in an advertisement that appeared more like a news item, published in the March 1, 1892 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era.”

ANTIDOL’S VIRTUES

The Boston Medical Fraternity are unanimous in their praise for that valuable little remedy named Antidol, as an instantaneous cure for headache and neuralgia. For several years they have prescribed it, and in treating the most obstinate cases they claim that it reduces fever, allays nervousness and pains of the most obscure origin, whether accommodated by fever or not. It is said to be perfectly harmless and does not contain opium, morphine or any of those narcotics that are so injurious to the nervous system. Antidol comes in the form of a gelatin capsule, which makes it very pleasant to take. Dr. Draper, a physician well known throughout New England, says: “Antidol as a specific for headache has no peer.” The retail price is 25 cents. Every druggist should stock this preparation. Communicate with the manufacturers, Wheeler Pharmacal Co., Boston Mass.

The patent holder, Albert D. Mowry, and the Wheeler Pharmacal Company were closely related, if not one and the same. As early as 1885 Mowry was listed as a druggist in the Boston directories and between 1892 and 1899 Mowry’s drug business and the Wheeler Pharmacal Co. were both listed with the same two addresses; 329 Warren St. and 476 Blue Hill Ave. This leads me to believe that Mowry was writing prescriptions for Antidol in the late 1880’s and by the early 1890’s had formed the Wheel Pharmacal Co. in an effort to manufacture and market Antidol, which they did locally. Advertisements in the New England Magazine and Boston Globe appeared quite regularly between 1891 and 1894. The following advertisements appeared in New England Magazine in the Fall of 1892.

 

Sold only in capsule form it was packaged in what they called small “vest pocket” bottles. A December 13, 1891 Boston Globe advertisement described the bottle like this:

Antidol comes in little pleasant tasting capsules put up in small bottles about the size of a fat, but short lead pencil.

This photograph of their “vest pocket” bottle is provided courtesy of the New Hampshire Historical Society. https://www.nhhistory.org

Medicine bottle, Wheeler Pharmacal Company, Boston, MA.

By 1900, the Wheeler Pharmacal Company was no longer listed in the Boston directories, however, as late as November, 1904, the Merck Report continued to name them as the manufacturer of Antidol in their  “Dictionary of Remedies, Synonyms, and Various Proprietary Preparations.” Mowry’s drug business continued to be listed through 1907 at which time, an item in the December 16, 1907 edition of the Boston Globe announced that he had passed away.

Another trademark for Antidol was filed with the United States Patent Office in 1920 by William Schapira. A New York City druggist, Schapira was located in Manhattan, at 182 First Avenue (corner of 11th St.) from 1898 up until his death in March, 1924.  The application claimed that it was first used in 1904, about the same time it was disappearing up in New England.

The timing fits, so it’s possible that Schapira, obtained the rights to Antidol from Mowry, however, that being said, the “Practical Druggist and Review of Reviews,” in their March, 1905 issue, included it on a list under the heading “Latest New Remedies” (3rd one on the left hand side) and indicated  it was a remedy for rheumatism as well as headache.

Based on this its not apparent whether this was a re-launch of Mowry/Wheeler’s Antidol or a new compound altogether.

What is apparent was that at some point Schapira began manufacturing Antidol in liquid form. Recognizing that the bottle I found is mouth blown and not machine made, this likely occurred within several years, if not at, its start with Schapira in 1904/1905.

Schapira was certainly manufacturing it in liquid form by the early 1920’s as evidenced by the following two advertisements. The first, aimed at the general public, appeared in the December 28, 1922 edition of the Brooklyn Citizen. The second appeared in the April, 1923 edition of the “Druggist Circular.”

An item in the April, 1924 edition of the Practical Druggist announced that Schapira passed away on March 20, 1924. The Wm. Schapira Pharmacy was still listed at 182 First Avenue in 1933 under different ownership (C. Pellicione and P. Nardi).

A compound under the name Antidol is still made today in pill form.  It’s advertised uses are not much different than they were a century ago.

ANTIDOL 500 MG COATED TABLETS

Systematic relief of occasional mild or moderate pain, such as headache, dental pain, muscle pain or back pain.

Manufactured by the CINFA Group, it’s not currently available in the United States.

The bottle I found is a brown mouth blown medicine, maybe 12 ounces in size. It’s simply embossed “Antidol” for Rheumatism. While the embossing doesn’t specifically include Schapira’s name and address, it’s similar in size, color and style to a bottle recently offered for sale on the internet that does.

     

Both bottles likely date to the first decade of Schapira’s business, say 1905 to 1915.

Schapira’s long time location in Manhattan at 182 First Avenue was located on the northeast corner of 11th Street. Today, courtesy of Google Earth, the building at that location is a 19th century walk-up whose ground floor likely accommodated the business.

Note: Streeteasy.com indicates the building at that address was constructed in 1920 but recognizing that Schapira’s pharmacy utilized the address continuously from 1899 through 1933 I suspect streeteasy is likely interpreting  a building permit for renovations as original construction.

I. Goldberg, 171 E. Broadway, Houston Cor. Clinton St., 5th Ave. Cor. 115th St., New York City, Graham Cor. Debevoise St., Pitkin Cor. Rockaway Ave., Brooklyn.

The New York City wine and liquor business 0f Isaac Goldberg began in the mid to late 1880’s at a single Manhattan location. By the time National Prohibition was enacted it had grown to include store locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx as well as a Brooklyn distribution center.

According to 1910 census records Goldberg, a Russian Jew, immigrated to the United States in 1885. He was first listed in the New York City directories in 1888 with the occupation “wines,” at 138 1/2 Division Street in Manhattan. At the time he was associated with his brother-in-law, Phillip S. Spero of Philadelphia, manufacturing wine for religious purposes.

In 1889 Spero was on trial in Philadelphia for selling the wine, some of which had fermented and contained 16% alcohol, without a license. The coverage of the trial in the May 19, 1889 edition of The (New York) Sun included some background and the early history of the business.

Phillip S. Spero of 701 South Sixth Street was yesterday brought into the Old Court House and tried before Judge Finletter on the charge of selling Passover wine without a license. Spero is a Russian Hebrew and has been in this country only three years. He is in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. Isaac Goldberg of New York City, engaged in the manufacture of what the Hebrews call “raisin wine” or “Passover wine,” which is used in the Hebrew-Russian ceremony three times on their Sabbath (Saturdays) and during the whole time of the Passover. The cannons of the church require that the wine be unfermented.

Lawyer Singer of the firm of Furth & Singer, represented the defendant. He called the accused, who testified through interpreter Samson, that he had been in the country only three years, and that he formerly lived with his father in England, from whom he obtained the recipe for making the wine. He had made it in England after his father died, and when he came to this country he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Isaac Goldberg of New York, for the purpose of manufacturing and selling this wine to the Russian Hebrews in New York and Philadelphia. He said the wine was not intoxicating, and he had no intention of breaking the law.

His brother-in law, Goldberg, next took the stand and told how the wine was made. He said it was made of California grapes, raisins, sugar, blackberries and water. He did not know whether it fermented or not.

The jury found Spero guilty but recommended mercy. The Sun story went on to say:

Mr. Singer, counsel for the defendant, made an appeal to the court for mercy on the ground that the law had not been violated knowingly or with any intent to break the law. He stated that the defendant had given up the business after the arrest, and if the Judge would discharge him on his good behavior there would be no further cause of complaint.

Assuming Spero held to his word, this marked the end of the business in Philadelphia, however, it was apparently just the start in New York where it would continue up until the start of National Prohibition.

As early as 1890 Goldberg’s clientele had certainly begun to expand beyond New York’s Russian-Hebrew community. That year he was listed at 7 Allen Street, with an occupation that now included both “wine” and “liquor.” The next year he relocated to 133 East Broadway where he remained listed as a wholesale liquor dealer through 1901.

In 1902 he moved his operation to 171 East Broadway and the following year he listed his second Manhattan location, a store at 3 Clinton Street. By the end of the decade he had added another Manhattan store at 1390 Fifth Avenue (1905), as well as two in Brooklyn; one at 1691 Pitkin Avenue (1907) and the other at 28 Graham Avenue (1909). Each of these branch stores was located at an intersection corner in an obvious effort to maximize street-level visibility.

Goldberg’s business was unique in that a significant portion of his work force was deaf. A March 18, 1907 story picked up by several different U. S. newspapers provided some details.

Isaac Goldberg, a wholesale liquor dealer of 171 East Broadway, who is prominent in charitable movements on the lower East Side, says he has solved one problem of labor.

In his bottling department the entire force of workmen are mutes and Goldberg says that they accomplish three times as much work and are 50 percent less troublesome than twice their number of ordinary workmen. Goldberg inaugurated the reform several weeks ago. About six weeks ago, Hyman Sadolsky, 16 year old, mute, went into Goldberg’s place and asked for assistance. He made known to the proprietor that he was anxious to get employment, and Goldberg resolved to try him. He was put to work in the bottling department where conversation is detrimental to the best interests of the establishment.

After the boy had been there a week Goldberg found that he did a great deal more work than anybody else in the shop, and resolved to get more like him.  There was some trouble at first between the boy and the other employees, but as a vacancy occurred it was filled with a deaf mute, until finally the entire department was operated by mutes, there being fifteen in all.

Referred to as the “Lead Pencil Club,” another story, this one published in the July 5, 1907 edition of the The Sun, related the meaning behind their name.

The reason for the name the “Lead Pencil Club” is that everyone goes about his business with a lead pencil behind his ear and carries a book. When the boss wants to send a messenger in a hurry somewhere he puts down a few words on a piece of paper and if the workman wants to ask a question down comes his pencil and he writes a question on a piece of paper.

The group even had its own internal organization within the business and was certainly treated with respect. The July 5th Sun story drives home both points with the following description of their 4th of July festivities.

The Lead Pencil Club, which is made up of deaf mutes who are employed in Isaac Goldberg’s wholesale wine and liquor store at 171 East Broadway, celebrated the Fourth quietly.

Twenty of these deaf mutes started the day by a feast in the basement of the store. At the head of the table sat the president, Abraham Eiseberg, and Sam Rosenberg, the vice-president, who read the Declaration of Independence by signs. When he showed them by signs and motions July 4, 1776, all the deaf mutes raised flags and waved them.

After the feast the deaf mutes went to Staten Island for a baseball game with the employees of Goldberg who can talk. The deaf mutes of Goldberg beat the employees who can talk by a score of 8 to 1.

It appears that the business peaked in the early-teens having added two locations in the Bronx at 878 Prospect Avenue and 1575 Washington Avenue as well as what was referred to as a distribution department on 41st Street in Brooklyn. It was around this time that the business incorporated in New York as I. Goldberg, Inc., with $100,000 capital. The 1915 N.Y.C. Copartnership and Corporation Directory named Isaac president, with sons Joseph, Samuel and Shepard named vice president, treasurer and secretary, respectively. Two years later Shepard was listed as the president and Isaac was no longer included in the company listing having either passed away or retired.

Prohibition almost certainly put an end to the business at which time the sons apparently scattered. On October 24, 1918 the New York Times published an announcement that two of Isaac’s sons, Shepard and Samuel, had incorporated a food product company under the name I. Goldberg’s Sons using the 171 East Broadway address. I Goldberg, Inc. remained listed at the Pitkin Avenue address but by 1920 their occupation was changed to “drugs.”

The bottle I found is a mouth blown fifth or quart. The main body includes eight flat panels deisgned to accommodate embossing. Five of these panels include the company name, I. Goldberg as well as the company’s three Manhattan locations (171 E. Broadway, Houston cor. Clinton St. and 5th Ave. cor. 115th St.) and two Brooklyn locations (Pitkin cor. Rockaway Ave. and Graham cor. Debevoise St.). This dates the bottle’s manufacture to no earlier than 1909 when they began including their second Brooklyn location, Graham Avenue, in the Brooklyn directories.

Three panels on the bottle are vacant suggesting that it was made before the first Bronx location was listed in the directories, sometime around 1913. This narrows the bottle’s manufacture to the roughly five year period between 1909 and 1913.

On a final note, the bottle also includes an embossed statement on the shoulder indicating that the company was established in 1873.

It’s likely that Goldberg took some marketing liberties utilizing this 1873 date, as he’s apparently referencing back to the wine making days of Phillip Spero and his father in England.

 

H. Busch & Son, 116-118 Blum St., Union Hill, N. J.

 

H. Busch & Son were the proprietors of a turn of the century bottling business located in Union Hill, New Jersey. The business, by all appearances, was a small, local operation.

Herman Busch, a German immigrant, established the business, likely called H. Busch, sometime in the first decade of the 1900’s. Prior to that, 1900 census records listed Busch as a teamster living in West Hoboken.

In 1910 census records listed Busch’s occupation as the owner of a beer bottling business and his seventeen year old son, Herman Busch, Jr., was listed as a helper in the business. Digitized directories that include Union Hill are scarce, however, one I did find, the 1915 Hudson County Business Directory, listed H. Busch & Son as bottlers at the address listed on the bottle, 116 Blum Street. So, based on this listing, Herman, Jr. was viewed as a partner in the business no later than the mid-teens. In 1920, census records listed both father and son as bottlers of soda.

By 1930 Busch Sr. had retired and Busch Jr. was a truck driver living in Jersey City so the business apparently dissolved sometime in the 1920’s.

Union Hill merged with West Hoboken becoming Union City, New Jersey in 1924. Three years later, in 1927, Blum Street was renamed 36th Street. Shown below is 116 36th Street in Union City, courtesy of Google Earth. Assuming the street numbering system remained unchanged, this could be where the business operated. According to Trulia.com the el-shaped building includes office space, warehouse space, a loading dock and a parking area in front; everything you need to operate a bottling business. Sadly there’s no information on when it was built.

The bottle I found is a 28 oz., mouth blown tooled crown that fits with the early years of the business.

Lewis Brothers, Inc. New York – Vitalis

        

Lewis Brothers, Inc. introduced the hair product Vitalis to the market sometime in the mid 1920’s but the business itself dates back to 1913 when it was first listed in the New York City directories with an address of 22 West 115th Street.

The 1914 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed the business with the occupational heading “chemists,” and named the proprietors as Morris, Max and Louis Lewis. Census records in 1910 show that Morris immigrated to the United States from Russia at around the time he was born in 1885 while the younger Louis was a native New Yorker, born in 1894. Both, along with Max, whose census records I can’t find, are consistently associated with the business throughout the teens and 20’s while other Lewis family members, Charles and Herman, appear sporadically in the directories during that time.

The business incorporated sometime in the late teens and was first listed as a New York Corporation in the 1919 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory with Morris named president and Max and Louis named secretary and treasurer respectively. Around the same time, the company moved to 125th Street where they were listed in the early 1920’s at 1 West 125th Street and later in the decade at 26 East 125th Street.

The company registered the trademark “ELBEE VITALIS” on March 25, 1924 (Serial No. 187872). As far as I can tell, the word ELBEE is the phonetical spelling of their initials L.B.

Not long after it was trademarked, drug stores began to include Vitalis in their newspaper advertisements. This advertisement for the Stanley Drug Co. of Philadelphia, published in the April 8, 1926 edition of Camden New Jersey’s Courier-Post, was one of the earliest I could find. L-B Vitalis was listed under the heading “Toilet Needs.”on the lower left (enlarged below the entire ad).

A series of late 1920’s Lewis Brothers advertisements published in the New York Daily News delivered their early marketing message.

If only you had taken care of your hair! You would have no regrets now. Vitalis cares for the hair in three important ways. It retards falling hair – it tends to eradicate dandruff – and is a perfect vegetable dressing that has no stickiness. Use Vitalis only twice a week – you will be surprised at the results.

Another ad in the series provided these directions for its use, claiming “Twice a week is sufficient!”

You who have hair troubles – here is the simplest treatment in the world. On Tuesday and Saturday mornings rub a small quantity of Vitalis into your scalp, then comb your hair. The other mornings of the week, dampen the hair with water, and comb. Vitalis will retard falling hair, tend to eradicate dandruff – and is a gentlemen’s dressing.

While these advertisements skewed toward men, the company also made a short-lived effort to develop a female following as well. Advertisements in 1930 touting it as a way to curl straight hair appeared in several New York City newspapers.

YOU CAN HAVE CURLEY HAIR

I’m not spoofing you…for I’ve seen ’em with my very eyes begin to wave and curl after the directions in “How to Care for Your Hair” had been followed. The booklet is distributed through the courtesy of the makers of Vitalis. Every step in the complete home care of the hair is given. I will send you without charge a copy of this beautifully illustrated booklet and if you add 6c in stamps I will include a bottle of Vitalis…the preparation that brings out hidden waves…or, you can purchase a large bottle at your drug store for $1 or less with booklet enclosed.

By the early 1930’s, the product’s success made it a target for acquisition by Bristol-Myers. This item announcing the acquisition appeared in the March 31, 1931 edition of the Boston Globe.

Drug, Inc., announces the purchase from Lewis Brothers, Inc. of Vitalis, the well-known hair preparation. The purchase was effected out of surplus, without the issuance of any additional stock.

Vitalis has been transferred to the Bristol-Myers Company, a subsidiary of Drug, Inc., and, after April 1, the product will be manufactured and sold entirely by the new owners. Additional advertising and sales support will be applied during the current year to this product.

Harold B. Thomas, who has been in charge of Vitalis sales and advertising under Lewis Brothers’ ownership, will be associated with the sales department of the Bristol-Myers Company in promoting the sale of the preparation.

By this purchase, the Bristol-Myers unit handles the manufacture and sale of six nationally advertised specialty products in the drug field.

The story specifically promised “additional advertising and sales support,” and advertise they did! By July  an advertisement with the heading “The Hot Sun is Severe on Hair! But don’t let it ruin yours!” was appearing in newspapers all over the country. It promoted the “2-Minute Summer Treatment.”

2-Minute Summer Treatment

Want to play 36 holes of golf…7 sets of tennis…take a long, long swim – and still have your hair manageable, healthy, neat?

Then just before you dash out for your day’s sport, massage Vitalis into your scalp. It won’t take 2 minutes!

Later that year the product’s long-time catch phrase was born when the two minute treatment was cut in half and branded the “60 second workout.” Advertisements published in the Fall of 1931 pitched it like this:

The way to handsome hair is through a healthy scalp. Your tight dry scalp can’t grow good-looking hair. It needs excercise, action, stimulation – it needs this twice-a-week schedule of 60 second workouts with Vitalis and massage.

Other advertisements around the same time demonstrated how it worked.

Twenty years later the message had changed very little as evidenced by this March 13, 1951 New York Daily News advertisement.

In 1952 things did change when Bristol-Myers  incorporated  what they called their “New Greaseless Grooming Discovery V-7” into Vitalis, now referring to the product as the “new finer” Vitalis Hair Tonic.

Vitalis Hair Tonic with V7 can still be purchased to this day on line.

The Walgreens web site describes it like this:

Vitalis liquid is specially formulated to leave your hair neat, well groomed and healthy looking. Vitalis liquid works to restore manageability to all hair types using a non-greasy formula that contains V7.

According to a book called “Did Trojans Use Trojans?: A Trip Inside the Corner Drug Store,” by Vince Staten, the Vitalis secret wasn’t, and still isn’t V7, but actually alcohol, and lots of it.

The days of secret ingredients are past. So its okay if I reveal what they really were…

Perhaps the most interesting secret ingredient is V7 itself. Its not the main ingredient in Vitalis. That’s alcohol, which, because of its drying power, has been a staple in hair tonic for decades.

In the fifties, Vitalis trademarked the name “V7” for trimetozine, a drug whose main use was as a sedative. That’s right, if you used Vitalis hair tonic in the fifties you were smearing sedative in your hair. Now you know why you slept so well back then. Your hair tonic contained the original hair relaxant.

So what’s in the modern version of Vitalis? Let’s see, the main ingredient is SD alcohol 40. In other words, alcohol. That’s followed by PPG-40 butyl ether, a compound derived from ethyl alcohol. In other words alcohol.

Then there’s water, which you know about, benzyl benzoate, which is a solvent used as a fixative in perfumes and chewing-gum flavors, and dihydroabietyl alcohol. More alcohol. That’s alcohol, alcohol, water, solvent and alcohol. No wonder winos used to drink this stuff. They knew what the real secret ingredient was.

A  list of Vitalis ingredients presented on the Walgreen’s web site is almost identical to the list Vince Staten presented in his book.

Lewis Brothers, Inc., having sold Vitalis in 1931, continued to be listed in the New York City directories up through the early 1950’s as wholesale dealers in barber supplies. They remained at 26 East 125th Street up through at least the early to mid 1930’s.

According to street easy.com, today’s building at that location was built in 1909 so it’s certainly the one utilized by the Lewis Brothers’ company when they were manufacturing and selling Vitalis in the late 1920’s. Here’s the building today courtesy of Google Earth.

Later, the company moved downtown, listing addresses at 2 W. 18th (1940’s/early 1950’s) and 822 Broadway (early 1950’s). This September 24, 1950 story in the New York Daily News confirms that the Lewis family was still managing the business at that time. It presented Charles Lewis’ opinion on the future price of a New York City haircut ($1.25!).

10-Bit Haircut Ahead?

A hair-raising prediction was made yesterday by leaders in the barbering field. Haircuts at $1.25 and 75-cent shaves are in the offing for New Yorkers patronizing union shops.

Charles Lewis, president of Lewis Brothers, Inc., barber suppliers of 2 W. 18th St., said that a survey just completed by him points to price hikes of from 25% to 50% by the first of next year.

The bottle I found is machine made and 16 ounces in size. It’s embossed “Lewis Brothers Inc.” on its side. “Vitalis, is embossed across the bottom and “this bottle property of Lewis Brothers, Inc.,” around the bottom’s perimeter. This dates it between 1924 when the Vitalis name was trademarked and 1931 when the product was acquired by Bristol-Myers.

The bottle matches the one illustrated in the late 1920’s Lewis Brothers’ advertisements in the New York Daily News.

 

M U M Mfg. Co. Philadelphia Pa.

 

Mum was the trade name for what is widely recognized as the first commercially available deodorant. Trademark records found on trademark.justia.com indicate that the name was first used as early as June 1, 1888.

“Mum” as easy to use as to say

A creamy substance applied by the fingertips, the State of Connecticut’s laboratory described the product like this:

Mum – This preparation, put out by the MUM Manufacturing Company, Philadelphia, was analyzed by the Connecticut chemists in 1914, who reported that it was essentially zinc oxide, 14.3 percent, and benzoic acid (possibly derived from benzoin), 3.3 percent, and a fatty base. Dr. Harvey W. Wiley in his book “1001 Tests,” says of it: “A harmless deodorant consisting of fat with benzoic acid and zinc oxide.” No special claims. Efficacious in some cases.”

The company’s marketing message was certainly more eloquent as evidenced by this verbiage that appeared in a 1907 advertisement:

The difficulty of keeping the body perfectly free from odors in summer can be instantly overcome by “Mum,” a pure toilet cream that neutralizes the odors of perspiration by a non-injurious chemical process.

“Mum” does not smother bodily odors by a stronger and still more offensive odor, like various high-scented preparations. Nor does it interfere with the healthy action of the pores by clogging them. Does not harm the skin or clothing; just neutralizes the bodily odors and does it in a scientific hygenic way.

There are varying stories of  Mum’s invention circulating about the internet most of which involve an unknown Philadelphia inventor who named it after his childhood nurse. What we do know is that the invention was connected in some way with Philadelphia druggist George B. Evans, who by the late 1800’s was manufacturing it under the Mum Manufacturing Company name and selling it locally in his drug store chain. He ultimately turned it into a national brand and continued to manufacture and sell it up through the late 1920’s. A deodorant bearing the Mum name is still available today.

So, with that being said I’ll begin the story with George B. Evans.

A native Pennsylvanian, he was born outside of Philadelphia, in Montgomery County in 1857. A July, 1907 feature on his business published in the Bulletin of Pharmacy recounted his early history.

He went to Philadelphia, graduated from the Philadelphia, College of Pharmacy in 1880, and meanwhile learned the practical end of the drug business in Hubbell’s Pharmacy – a pharmacy which, by the way, is generally considered to have been one of the best training schools in the country.

Three years after his graduation from the P.C.P., Mr. Evans had succeeded in saving  $865, and with the help of a silent partner he bought a small stock of goods and established himself in business on the spot where his headquarters store is now located – 1104-6 Chestnut Street.

The silent partner was a railroad executive named Aaron Fries who for many years was a director of the Pennsylvania and Northwestern Railroad. According to his obituary in the November 15, 1906 edition of the Pharmaceutical Era he and Evans were boyhood friends. An 1895 Philadelphia Inquirer business notice that announced one of several periodic renewals of their limited partnership agreement, named Evans as “general” partner and Fries as “special” partner.

As far as I can tell they quietly remained partners until the death of Fries in October, 1906 at which time the October 5th edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer announced that the Evans  stores were closed that day in his honor.

The growth of their drug store business over the first 20 plus years can be summarized in a nutshell by this item, included in the Bulletin of Pharmacy’s 1907 feature.

The first day’s business back there in December, 1883, amounted to just about $30. On the very same calendar day in 1906, twenty-three years later, the sales in the identical location were something over $3600.

Initially located at 1104 Chestnut Street, this growth began to manifest itself as early as 1887 when they acquired the adjoining space at 1106 Chestnut Street. With this expansion Evans boasted of having what he said would be the largest retail drug store in America. The boast appeared in the March 15, 1887 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mr. C. J. Heppe, the piano manufacturer, of No. 1106 Chestnut Street, is looking for larger accommodations nearer to Broad Street than his present location. He has not yet decisively selected a store, but has one under consideration. He will remove about September 1. The rooms about to be vacated by Mr. Heppe will be occupied by the drug house of George B. Evans, now located at 1104 Chestnut Street. Mr. Evans said yesterday: “We expect to increase and enlarge our business. The new store will give ample room for the purpose. When we are established in our new quarters we will have the largest retail drug store in America.”

The following photograph that appeared in the 1907 feature pictured the original store at 1104 on the left, just below the barely readable “Get it at Evans” sign, and the 1106 addition on the right, below “EVANS APOTHECARY.” If you’re interested, the office of Mr. Evans was on the second floor, third from the right.

This rendering provides a more detailed representation of the 1106 Chestnut Street frontage. Is that Mr. Evans in his 2nd floor office window?

By the late 1880’s Evans was manufacturing his own line of patent medicines, as evidenced by this March 2, 1889 advertisement in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The menu of med’s included everything from Evan’s Sarsaparilla to Evan’s Worm Syrup but there’s no mention of Mum, which, in its infancy, was likely manufactured in the store with no apparent effort to advertise it.

By the early 1900’s the Evans business, now with five retail locations supported by a separate manufacturing facility, had evolved into one of the first drug store chains in the country. Each of the retail locations was described in the 1907 feature.

I have already stated that the headquarters store is located at 1104-6 Chestnut Street. The others are to be found at 1012 Market Street, 8th and Arch Streets, 17th and Chestnut Streets and 2330 North Front Street. The store at 17th and Chestnut is in a residence district and is what might be called a “family pharmacy.” The one on North Front Street is out in the Kensington  mill locality and was established for the purpose of catching the business of the laboring men in that section of the city. The other three stores are all of them downtown and within a few blocks of each other.

Shown below is the 8th and Arch location. It included 190 feet of street level window space.

The manufacturing facility, also referred to as a laboratory, was added in 1899. A December 1, 1898 item published in the Philadelphia Inquirer announced its arrival.

WITH THE BUILDERS

Contractor Charles McCaul submitted plans to the Bureau of Building Inspection yesterday providing for the erection of the four-story brick manufacturing building at the southeast corner of Tenth and Spring Streets,  for George B. Evans…

The 1907 feature went on to offer this indication of the size of the business at the time.

Would the reader like a few surprising figures to begin with? Well in the first place, there are five of the Evans stores, and the total annual sales exceed a million dollars. About half of this enormous volume of business is transacted in the headquarters store at 1104-6 Chestnut Street…

Here are some more figures and facts: $250,000 is invested in the stock, apart from the money tied up in fixtures. There are 250 people in the headquarters store alone, and 500 or 600 in the Evans employ altogether.

The philosophy that generated this growth was recounted in a September 21, 1933 Philadelphia Inquirer story.

He capitalized two good ideas in the drug store business and it made for George B. Evans, in 35 years, a fortune exceeding $3,000,000.

Mr Evans told me that when he began he had only a few hundred dollars in cash.

“I figured,” he went on, “that no man could prosper greatly by filling doctor prescriptions in a drug store. So I decided to promote soda fountain business and what the public calls jim-crack trade” meaning sale of commodities other than drugs.

A March 26,1906 story entitled “Fountain Beverages of Today” published in the Pharmaceutical Record described his soda fountain as one of the two largest in Philadelphia.

It is believed that the greatest trade in soda water in Philadelphia is divided between the pharmacy of George B. Evans, on Chestnut Street, above Eleventh, and the Broad Street Station Pharmacy, conducted by Mr. Stoever. Both of these stores make a specialty of soda water and there is as much attention paid in them to keeping up this department as there is in any other department of the store…

The manager of Evans’ store says the largest day’s business was when 4,000 drinks were dispensed. Both of these stores average about 2,000 glasses of soda water beverages of some kind or another every day in the year.

The story went on to describe the Evans fountain as well as the assortment of drinks served.

This fountain is 40 feet long and was manufactured by Robert M. Green & Sons. It is constructed of marble, onyx, silver and mahogany.

In commenting on the growth of the soda water business (the manager) Mr. Stinson said he has always about 60 kinds of syrups to draw upon, although at times there were about 100 concoctions…At the present time Mr. Stinson said the big run was on sundaes. There were also such popular drinks as pulp de marron, walnut bisque, hot grape juice, ginger rickey, egg bisque, hot egg phosphate, cherry orangeade, hot malted milk, maple cream puff, egg and chocolate cream puff, egg and coffee, celery egg tonic, nut salad sundae, besides the regular hot drinks that are sought after at this time of year.

The jim-crack trade as Evans called it included candy, sundries, toilet articles, leather goods, candy and perfume. The flagship store also featured a gift room on the second floor that, according to an August, 1903 story in the Bulletin of Pharmacy, featured 3,000 articles in china, bisque, cut glass, etc., and over 300 photograph frames. The extent of this trade was such that according to the 1907 feature:

The large trade which Evans enjoys in the sale of side lines and sundries causes his December sales to double those of any other month.

That’s not to say that the prescription business was neglected. This photograph that accompanied the 1903 story showed their prescription department where over 100 prescriptions were filled daily.

The entire operation was supported by their manufacturing facility that opened in 1899. Located at 219 North 10th Street its where Evans made many of the articles used and sold in his drug stores; candies, soda flavors, toilet waters, talcum powders and pharmaceuticals among them.

In 1898, a year before this facility opened, Evans established the Mum Manufacturing Company. The earliest reference to it that I can find was a series of advertisements that appeared in several March and April, 1898 editions of the Philadelphia Times.

So, while Mum may have been manufactured and sold locally in the Evan’s chain during the 1890’s, by the turn of the century, with the establishment of a separate company coupled with the opening of a new manufacturing facility, they were primed to go national.

Their expansion into the national market was explained years later, in the July, 1925 edition of a druggist publication called “The Spatula.”

Mum was placed on the market about twenty years ago by George B. Evans, the Philadelphia druggist. Previous to any attempts to secure national distribution, Mum had been thoroughly tried out through the Evans drug stores, and the local success it had attained warranted the belief that it had the “makings” of a national success. Accordingly Mr. Evans appropriated about $1,000 for advertising, and ran small advertisements in women’s magazines, offering to send a package for 25 cents. It was stipulated that the inquirer should send the name of her druggist, and when the order was filled, a second package was sent free to the druggist, with a letter stating that Mrs. Blank had been sold through the mail, and had been advised that she could secure her next package from him. So, there was the package, and if Mr Druggist wanted any more he could secure it from his jobber, the prices being so and so.

This advertisement, reflecting the above approach, appeared in the July, 1907 edition of a publication called the “Trained Nurse and Hospital Review,” which, in that era was certainly considered a women’s magazine. It confirmed that the ad campaign described above was certainly up and running by that time.

The Spatula story went on to say that:

This was the only method used for selling to both the user and the druggist, but it was sufficient for the reason that it was done well. Up to the present year (1924) no salesmen had been employed, and the present great and profitable business of the Mum Manufacturing Co. has been built up entirely from the original investment of $1,000. The Periodical Publishing Association, in one of its bulletins, recites these facts and states further that the magazine advertising expenditure for Mum for 1924 will be approximately $125,000.

As budgets increased their ads began appearing in more and more of the national magazines of the day including Life, Vogue, Munsey’s, Good Housekeeping, etc. Their target audience however, remained unchanged as evidenced by the following advertisement that appeared in the June, 1924 edition of “Vogue.”

The caption at the bottom reads:

Even in crowded gatherings and in warmer weather the dainty woman can always preserve the sweet daintiness of her female charm

By this time many of their advertisements included two additional Mum Manufacturing Company products that had also gone national; “Amoray” Talc and Evan’s Depilatory, .

In 1929 Mum was sold to a subsidiary of the Sterling Products Company. The announcement appeared in the February issue of the Practical Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review.

Announcement was made that “Mum” one of the best known deodorants in the toilet goods field has been purchased by the Household Products Company, controlled by the Sterling Products Co. of Wheeling, W. Va.

Around that time Sterling Products, Inc. was owned by a holding company called Drug, Inc., that also owned the assets of United Drug, Inc., Bristol-Myers Co., Vick Chemical Co., and Life Savers Inc. Later, in August, 1933, Drug, Inc. was segregated into five new corporations; Sterling Products, Inc., United Drug, Inc., Vick Chemical, Co., Bristol-Myers Co., and Life Savers, Inc. As far as I can tell, when the dust settled the assets of the Mum Manufacturing Co. ended up under the Bristol-Myers Co.

Bristol-Myers began advertising Mum in 1933. The first ad I can find, in the December edition of Good Housekeeping, listed the Mum Mfg. Co with a New York City address of 75 West Street in Manhattan. They’re also listed that year in the 1933 New York City telephone directory. Advertisements in 1935 substituted Bristol-Myers, Inc. as the company name, so it appears that the Mum Manufacturing Company name was dropped around that time.

In 1952 Bristol-Myers  launched it’s initial roll-on antiperspirant under the Mum name, Mum Rollette. According to a post on cosmeticsandskin.com:

In 1952 the new antiperspirant lotion in its ball-point package went on sale in the American market in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Cleveland, Dayton and Columbus.

This introductory advertisement with the heading “Now in Baltimore,” appeared in the July 23, 1952 edition of Baltimore’s Evening Sun.

The cosmeticsandskin.com post went on to say:

…the early reactions were good but unfortunately the applicator seized up with use, generating a string of complaints. This caused Bristol-Myers to remove the product from sale and do further research.

The product successfully re-emerged in the U. S. under it’s now famous name, “Ban.” (Bristol-Myers continued to market it in Europe under the name Mum Rollette.)

Bristol-Myers continued to advertise the cream version of Mum throughout the 1950’s, still primarily in women’s magazines like “Good Housekeeping,” and “Woman’s Day.” The following advertisement appeared in the April, 1956 issue of “Woman’s Day.” I’ve seen Mum advertisements appear in U. S. magazines as late as 1959.

Packaging of Mum, other than the rollette version, changed very little over the years. Originally it was sold in a small milk glass container approximately 1-1/2 inches in diameter. The lower half was welled and contained the cream. The top half fit over the well and was smooth on top to accommodate a label. This early version of their packaging recently appeared for sale on e-bay.

I found a lower half, shown below on the left. “Mum Mfg. Co., Phila., Pa.,” is embossed on the base, dating it between 1898, when the company started and 1929 when it was sold. An example that includes both the top and bottom is shown on the right, courtesy of e-bay.

 

Bristol-Myers versions from the 1940’s and 1950’s are shown below. At this point the top is made of metal.

A roll-on version of Mum is still manufactured today (2017) by Dendron, Ltd. under a license from the Proctor & Gamble Co. According to their web site:

Now offering four MUM roll-on products, we offer a fragrance for every woman – even those with sensitive skin. And because we have over 120 years of experience giving women effective protection, we’re a brand you can rely on.

So, just in case you’re interested in what became of the Evans drug stores…

At around the same time that Mum was sold to Sterling Products, the Walgreen Co. acquired the capital stock of the George B. Evans drug store chain which by then had expanded from five to eight stores. The acquisition was reported in the September 14, 1928 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The merging of the eight stores of the Evans Drug Company with the Walgreen Company of Chicago was announced yesterday by Charles R. Walgreen, president of the Walgreen concern.

The deal, it is understood, was consummated at a price between $3,500,000 and $4,000,000. Mr. Walgreen declined to discuss the terms of the transaction.

The merger gives the Walgreen Company the ownership of 180 stores and the operation of about twenty others and represents its first entrance into the chain drug store business in this city. Philadelphia, with New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Rochester, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Milwaukee, Memphis, Columbus, Ohio and Louisville, will become one of the more than twenty cities now linked in that chain.

The Evans Company has been operating stores here since 1883, and it is understood under the terms of the merger, they will continue to operate under that name, for the present at least.

How long Walgreen continued to use the Evans name is not clear, however, what is clear is that by the late 1930’s they had vacated the flagship location on Chestnut Street, which in 1940 was occupied by the John Davis Co., a furrier. I can confirm that at least three of their other stores had been vacated by that time as well.

The 1104/1106 Chestnut Street buildings remain to this day. They appear below courtesy of Google Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atwood’s Jaundice Bitters, Moses Atwood, Georgetown Mass.

Atwood’s Jaundice Bitters had its origins with Moses Atwood, who originally manufactured it north of Boston, in Georgetown Massachusetts. In the early days the preparation went by a number of different names including: “Atwood’s Bitters,” “Atwood’s Jaundice Bitters,” “Atwood’s Jaundice Physical Bitters,” “Atwood’s Vegetable Physical Jaundice Bitters,”and “Atwood’s Dyspeptic Bitters.” Regardless of the name used, it was touted as a cure for just about anything and everything.

ATWOOD’S JAUNDICE PHYSICAL BITTERS!

HAVE YOU USED IT? If not go at once and procure a bottle – it is warranted in every case to cure the Jaundice, Headache, Dyspepsis, Liver Complaint, Dizziness, Worms, Loss of Appetite, General Debility, Costiveness, Fever and Ague and such other diseases as arise from a disordered state of the stomach, and impurities of the blood. It cleanses the blood from humors, moistens the skin, invigorates the whole system, and imparts new life and energy in the disease wasted frame. It is a powerful cathartic if taken in large doses.

For Sick Headache, it is an infallible cure. It has also become greatly celebrated of late for its remarkable success in curing the most obstinate cases of Fever and Ague. No family should be without this most valuable preparation.

Drug store advertisements that referenced it began appearing in the mid-1840’s, so it was certainly being manufactured and distributed locally by that time. The following newspaper advertisement for the Bennington Laboratory in Bennington, Vermont included Atwood’s Jaundice Bitters on a long list of “just received” items. The ad appeared in several March, 1846 editions of the Vermont Gazette and is the earliest newspaper reference I’ve been able to find.

In the late 1840’s Moses Atwood began to sell off certain pieces of the business and by 1855 he had completely sold out and left Georgetown for Iowa. It’s around this time that things got complicated, such that by the mid 1870’s a number of different entities were manufacturing some form of Atwood’s Bitters. They fall into the following general categories:

Carter & Dodge et. al. – Several businesses were spawned out of a partnership called Carter and Dodge. Carter and Dodge acquired their rights as a result of contracts with Moses Atwood that date back to the late 1840’s and early 1850’s. In 1875 all of these businesses were acquired by the Manhattan Medicine Company.

Lewis H Bateman –  He worked with Moses Atwood in Georgetown as early as 1842 and claimed Atwood left him the formula when he moved to Iowa. His rights were also acquired by the Manhattan Medicine Company in 1875.

L.F. Atwood – Atwood’s father, Levi and his brother Levi F, manufactured a version of the preparation called L. F. Atwood’s Bitters in portions of New England, a territory not included in Moses Atwood’s agreement with Carter & Dodge. Later, L. F. Atwood’s Bitters would continue to be manufactured in Maine By H. H. Hay & Co.

Nathan Wood and later Nathan Wood & Son – They claimed to have acquired the Maine rights to the bitters from Moses Atwood’s son, Moses F. Atwood, in 1861.

Charles H. Atwood – A Boston druggist, he began producing a product called Atwood’s Quinine Tonic Bitters around 1860. As far as I can tell, other than his name he had no direct connection with Moses Atwood. Later, Atwood’s Quinine Tonic Bitters would be manufactured by Alvah Littlefield & Company and subsequent to that, by Gilman Brothers.

Not surprisingly this situation resulted in disputes that centered around the use of the Atwood Bitters name and trade marks. One such dispute resulted in a court case, Manhattan Medicine Company v. Nathan Wood, whose records reveal much about how this early history unfolded. I’ve tried to summarize it below, beginning with an 1848 agreement between Moses Atwood and Moses Carter.

At the time Atwood made an agreement with Moses Carter to sell him certain bills outstanding against local agents, and the rights to sell the medicines in certain specified places. From the original contract, it seems that Moses Atwood retained the preparation of the medicines to himself, and the contract does not show that he did, or agreed to, disclose his formulae to Carter. The medicines were, under the contract, sold to Carter by the barrel and gallon. Among these medicines was one called Attwood’s Jaundice Bitters. When these medicines were sold to Carter, he had the right to sell them in certain named places.

Another agreement between the two, this one in September, 1852, makes it clear that by then Carter had obtained the right to put up and compound the bitters as well as to sell it in specific territories that included a large part of Massachusetts and portions of other states. To accomplish this, Carter had formed a partnership with Benjamin Dodge called Carter & Dodge. A September 8, 1853 advertisement that appeared in several editions of the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal named Carter & Dodge as “wholesale dealers” of the preparation.

Moses Atwood worked in concert with Carter & Dodge until 1855 when he sold his remaining interest in the business to them and moved west to Iowa. Around the same time Carter’s son, Charles, joined the partnership changing its name to Carter, Dodge & Company. The new company name was reflected in this November/December, 1856 advertisement, also published in the Poughkeepsie Journal. No longer just wholesale dealers, the company now referred to themselves as “proprietors.”

Several years later, in 1858, the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent and the Carter’s and Dodge went their separate ways. The Carter’s continued the business in Georgetown operating at times under the name M. Carter and Son and at others as M. Carter & Sons.

Meanwhile Dodge moved to Rowley, Massachusettes where he set up shop and sold the bitters for about five years after which he sold the rights.

…during the existence of the firms M. Carter& Sons and M. Carter & Son, Dodge sold a right to one Will B. Dorman, who also carried on the business of selling this medicine…B.S. Dodge also sold a right to Noyes & Manning of Mystic Bridge Connecticut and they also carried on the same business.

Confused? Well it gets worse! While all this was going on a man named Lewis H Bateman was also selling Atwood’s Bitters in Georgetown Mass.

All this time from the year 1855 to 1871, in the same village of Georgetown, L. H. Bateman carried on the business of compounding these bitters in competition with the Carter’s and Dodge, and when he died in 1871, his son continued the same…

Bateman’s advertisements claimed:

L. H. Bateman of Georgetown, in the county of Essex, Mass., commenced the manufacture of Atwood’s Bitters in connection with Moses Atwood, the inventor, in 1842, and has continued their manufacture to the present time.

The Carter’s challenged Bateman’s claim and brought suit against him but their request for an injunction was denied and the suit was never brought to completion.

The court records go on to say that as time went on competition between the different entities grew:

After M. Carter & Son, Bateman, Dodge, Dorman, and Noyes & Manning were all running their own businesses on these medicines, they became competitors in the business. When the different sales were made to Dorman, Noyes, Manning & Co. and when Dodge separated from the Carters, it appears that certain divisions of the territory originally owned by Carter & Dodge, were made among them. Soon, however, these territorial divisions were disregarded, by them all, and they all sold on each others territory, and wherever they could. Bateman did the same.

As you might expect, this competition was especially fierce between the Carter’s and Bateman whose operations must have been within shouting distance of each other in Georgetown. Both were listed in the 1870 Georgetown Directory, Bateman as “druggist,” and the Carter’s as “patent medicines.” This led in some cases to each calling the other’s business a fake. An example can be found in the 1874 editions of the Davenport Iowa newspapers. Advertisements run by Batemann included his claim that his relationship with Atwood extended back to 1842 and that he legally possessed the original recipe. The ads went on to say:

L. H. Bateman has continued to put the genuine Atwood Bitters in half-pint glass bottles with the words “Atwood’s Jaundiced Bitters, Moses Atwood Georgetown Mass.,” blown on the bottles. And, hereafter, to prevent all mistake, upon the directions on the label of each bottle will be printed with RED INK, a fac-similie of the signature of L. H. Bateman. All dealers and consumers are cautioned not to purchase, and above all, not to take as medicine, bitters called Atwood’s Bitters, not put up and designated as above.

M. Carter & Son responded with their own advertisement, headed with the phrase “Important for all to Know,” that claimed that their bitters was the “only genuine.”

CAUTION Fraud Exposed. Everyone should know that the market is flooded with worthless imitations, purporting to be made and put up by Moses Atwood, who has not manufactured any bitters since we bought the business of him, or lived in Georgetown since 1855. So do not be deceived by worthless imitations.

This situation continued up until 1875 when each of the entities were bought out by the Manhattan Medicine Company.

At the beginning of the year, 1875, the titles of the Atwood Medicine business stood in Luther F. Carter (a son of Moses Carter), William P. Dorman and Noyes & Manning, (said parties being the successors of Carter, Dodge & Co.), and the Bateman heirs. All those several parties, by proper instruments of conveyance, duly conveyed to the appellant (Manhattan Medicine Co.) all of their respective rights, titles and interests therein; the Bateman heirs, January 1, 1875, Noyes & Manning, April 21, 1875, William B. Dorman, March 30,1875 and Luther F. Carter, April, 1875.

This unified most of the claimants to the Moses Atwood business under the Manhattan Medicine Company umbrella. The exception was in the territory of Maine which will be covered a little bit later in this post.

The Manhattan Medicine Company was established in 1875, the same year they acquired the rights to Atwood’s Bitters, however, its roots date back to a long time New York City druggist named John F. Henry. In 1873 he enlarged his operation when he organized the firm of John F. Henry, Curran & Co. An item in the October 4, 1873 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union announced the formation of the new business.

Mr. John F. Henry has very considerably enlarged his business by associating with him in partnership Mr. Theo Curran of the firm of A. L. Scovill & Co., of Cincinnati and this city, and Henry Bowen, Esq., publisher of the Brooklyn Daily Union.

This copartnership gives the new house a working capital of nearly one million dollars, and the ownership of something like a hundred proprietary articles, including the well known list of A. L. Scovill & Co., and the control of many more, among which are Brown’s Ginger, Marshall’s Catarrh Snuff, Heimbold’s Buchu, Murray’s English Fluid Magnesia and many other standard preparations.

It is the intention of the firm to add drugs to their stock, as a profitable method of employing their surplus capital…

The business will be continued under the name and style of John F. Henry, Curran & Co.

The company operated a large New York City facility called the United States Medicine Warehouse located at 8 College Place in Manhattan (later a revision to the Manhattan numbering system changed the address to 24 College Place).

It’s pretty clear that Henry and Curran used some of their new found capital to establish the Manhattan Medicine Company and acquire Atwood’s Bitters. This 1876 advertisement named the Manhattan Medicine Company as proprietors and John F. Henry, Curran & Co. as wholesale agents.

Based on this advertisement I think its safe to say that the Manhattan Medicine Co. owned the rights to Atwood’s Bitters but John F. Henry, Curran & Co. manufactured and distributed it. Recognizing that Henry had an interest in both companies and that each company was listed with the same College Place address, it’s likely that in practice, they operated as one business.

While ownership of the bitters had changed, this 1877 advertisement in the Boston Globe revealed that the marketing message had not.

John F Henry, Curran & Co. only operated until January, 1878 when the business failed as a result of their association with a banker named E. J. Dunning. The story appeared in the January 17, 1878 edition of “The Independent.”

Another heavy failure has occurred in Wall Street. E. J.Dunning. Jr., a commercial note broker well known in the drug and chemical trade, has made an assignment to Mr. E. Y. Bell…The cause of the failure is said to be the unexpected calling in of a large loan by one of the banks. The immediate effect of the failure was to cause the suspension of Messrs. John F. Henry, Curran & Co. and Messrs. Hegeman & Co….

The business ultimately reemerged as J. F. Henry & Co. and their relationship with the Manhattan Medicine Company apparently continued. The 1890 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory still listed both companies at 24 College Place and John F. Henry was named a principal in each.

John F Henry passed away in May 1893,  and within several years J. F. Henry & Co. was no longer listed in the  NYC directories. Subsequently, likely soon after Henry’s death but certainly by the early 1900’s, the long established New York City drug and cosmetics firm of Hall & Ruckel assumed the manufacturing and distribution rights to Atwood’s Bitters.

They were still listed as the manufacturer of Atwood’s Jaundice Bitters on a 1917 list of proprietary medicines prepared by the Analytical Laboratory of the Connecticut Experimental Station.

Sometime in the late teens or early 1920’s, the manufacturing rights passed from Hall & Ruckel to O. H. Jadwin Sons, Inc., who was identified as the sole agent of the Manhattan Medicine Company in this November, 1923 item published in the Druggist Circular.

The last reference I can find that connects the Manhattan Medicine Company with Atwood’s Bitters was a November, 1926 advertisement that appeared in several editions of The (Coshocton, Ohio) Tribune. At that time, though no longer listed in the N.Y.C. directories, you could still find the Manhattan Medicine Company in New York City at 11 Vestry Street where, if you sent in this coupon, you could obtain a free bottle of Atwood’s Jaundice Bitters.

Ultimately, late in 1929 American Home Products acquired the entire capital stock of the Manhattan Medicine Company, including their rights to Atwood’s Bitters. Established in 1926, two of American Home Products’ operating entities, the Whitehall Pharmacal Company (part of the original incorporation) and John Wyeth and Brother (acquired in 1931) were both named as manufacturers on Atwood’s Bitters labels in the 1930’s.

   

“Atwood’s Bitters” was included in drug store advertisements up through the 1940’s and into the early 1950’s. By then the reference to the product was completely generic so who actually manufactured it is unclear, though it’s likely one or both of the Wyeth/Whitehall duo.  This 1940 reference was included in a 1940 Doan’s Drug Store advertisement from Ithaca, New York.

Heading back to 1875, the court records made it clear that the territorial rights to Maine and parts of New Hampshire were not included in the Carter & Dodge agreement with Moses Atwood and were instead reserved for his father, Levi Atwood, and brother, L. F. Atwood.

Localities almost without number were excepted out of the general grant, and uncontradicted proof is that the original proprietor made reservations in favor of his father, Levi Atwood, and his brother Levi F. Atwood, of Maine and part of New Hampshire.

It’s possible that L. F. Atwood was manufacturing a version of the bitters called L. F. Atwood’s Bitters  as early as the 1850’s in the Town of Fairfield, Maine (Kendall’s Mills) where he’s listed under “apothecaries”in the Maine Register as early as 1856. At some point he apparently sold the rights to a local Portland Maine druggist, named Henry H. Hay. Located at the intersection of Fore and Middle Streets, according to their 1863 advertisement in the Portland Maine directory, Hay was the wholesale dealer for a wide variety of drug related products.

By 1868, H. H. Hay & Co. referred to themselves in advertisements as the “Sole General Agent” for L. F. Atwood’s Bitters.

Meanwhile,  in 1861 Atwood’s son, Moses F. Atwood, was back in Georgetown and, while working with Bateman, sold the rights in the same area to Nathan Wood. 

That Bateman had the original recipe, and that Moses F. Atwood, the son of the original proprietor, when in the employment of Bateman as a selling agent, sold the recipe for compounding and preparing the Atwood Bitters in the State of Maine in 1861.

As early as 1844, Nathan Wood was listed in the Portland, Maine directories as a “dealer in botanic medicines.”  When he acquired his right to Atwood’s in 1861 he was listed as “patent medicines,” with an address of 135 Commercial.

By the late 1860’s H. H. Hay and Wood were certainly in competition as evidenced by two H. H. Hay advertisements that appeared in several 1868 editions of the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier.

One headed “Stop Thief,” stated in part:

The public are hereby cautioned against a base imitation of “L. F.” Atwood’s Bitters by a manufacturer of proprietary medicines in this city, who not only copied the label, in part, and adopted the same style bottle but states on his label that he has purchased the right…

Another, with the heading “The Rightful Medicine,” actually mentioned Wood by name.

I have never given information to anyone respecting my ATWOOD’S BITTERS, or the mode of compounding the same, neither did I sell my recipe, or any part of it to one “Wood,” or any other person or persons or persons whatsoever, excepting to H. H. Hay, Druggist, of Portland Maine…

As far as I can tell, both Hay and Wood continued to manufacture and sell Atwood’s Bitters well into the next century.

Nathan Wood was later joined by his son John T. Wood and by 1875 the business was listed in the Portland directories as Nathan Wood & Son, with an address of 202 Fore St.  Sometime in the early 1880’s the business changed their address to 424 Fore and by the late 1880’s was listing a factory location as well, at 464 Fore St.

The company incorporated on January 1, 1920 and remained listed in the Portland directories up through 1932. By that time Arthur Wood, possibly a third generation of the Wood family, was named as the principal.

While I can’t relate any specific newspaper advertisements to their business, Wood’s Atwood’s Bitters was included in a Druggist Circular price list as late as 1911.

H. H. Hay on the other hand, advertised their L. F. Atwood’s Bitters quite heavily. This July 14, 1876 item in the Vermont Union with the heading “Read Quickly Ye Sufferers,” proudly claimed, among other things:

…highly concentrated, is warranted to contain more Medical properties in a 38 cent bottle than any other “Invigorator” or “Sarsaparilla” sold for a dollar…

By the early 1900’s advertisements referred to it as both L. F. Atwood’s Bitters and L. F. Atwood’s Medicine. This September 21, 1903 advertisement in the Bangor Daily News specifically referenced both names.

Over the next several years the word bitters was dropped from their advertisements and in 1910 the name of the manufacturer included in their advertisements changed from H. H. Hay to the L.F. Medicine Company.

I can’t find the L. F. Medicine Company listed in subsequent Portland, Maine directories, while H.H. Hay remained listed in Portland well into the 1950’s and possibly longer, as H. H. Hay & Son and later H.H. Hay Sons. As late as 1917, published price lists continued to name H. H. Hay Sons as the manufacturer, so it appears that Hay continued to manufacture it under the L. F. Medicine Company name. Newspaper advertisements for the L. F. Medicine vanish by the mid-1930’s.

The final piece of the puzzle, Atwood’s Quinine Tonic Bitters, got its start in Boston, likely in the late 1850’s. Early newspaper advertisements naming Charles H. Atwood of 19 Central Street as the proprietor began appearing in 1860. The following appeared in the October 11, 1860 edition of the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier.

As far as I can tell, Charles H Atwood did not claim any connection with Moses Atwood. The story he’d like you to believe appeared in an advertisement disguised as a newspaper item published in the September 6, 1860 edition of Vermont’s Green Mountain Freeman.

We again call attention to the excellent qualities of Atwood’s Quinine Tonic Bitters, so well adapted to the wants of the debilitated and the dyspeptic. Mr. Atwood, who is a highly respected importer of choice chemicals, medicines, etc., at the suggestion of prominent physicians, and on their representations of the need of a judicious preparation of this character, was induced to devote several months’ time and much energy to producing a tonic stimulant which would justify the confidence of both physician and sufferer.

The newspaper item went on to take what appears to be a veiled jab at the other “Atwood’s Bitters” products without specifically mentioning them by name.

Throwing aside all empirical claims of recently discovered remedies, his researches among the standard agents of the Materia Medica, revealed the fact that many of the most highly prized stomachics and tonics of former years have been of late neglected. Combining the choicest of these with Quinine, thus securing all the virtues of the Peruvian Bark in a condensed and refined form, he has succeeded, after many experiments, in achieving a result in the shape of the Quinine Tonic Bitters, which is now rewarding him for his endeavors. The compound has already acquired a prominent position in the scanty list of reliable remedial agents, backed by the endorsements of most of the eminent physicians of our city.

At some point, likely in the mid 1860’s but no later than 1871, Charles H. Atwood transferred the rights to his bitters to a druggist names Alvah Littlefield who maintained a drug store under Boston’s United States Hotel (Beach corner of Lincoln) for upwards of 40 years. This advertisement sponsored by Littlefield ran in the May 3, 1871 edition of the New England Farmer.

Sometime in the mid-1870’s Littlefield apparently sold the rights to Gilman Brothers who are named as proprietors in this June 28, 1876 advertisement published in the (Montpelier) Vermont Watchman and State Journal.

Newspaper advertisements for Atwood’s Quinine Tonic Bitters disappeared by the early 1900’s, however, I’ve seen it included in a Druggist Circular price list as late as November, 1920.

The bottle I found is mouth blown and roughly six ounces. It has the typical twelve paneled design and is embossed:

Atwood’s Jaundice Bitters, Moses Atwood, Georgetown, Mass.

The 12 paneled bottle design dates back to the days of Moses Carter but the fact that our bottle is not pontiled or crudely made all but guarantees it was made after the Manhattan Medicine Company entered the picture in 1875. They continued using the above embossing up until at least 1883 when the United States Supreme Court ruled against them in their suit against Nathan Wood; the Court taking exception to their use of Moses Atwood’s name and their claim that it was manufactured in Georgetown, Mass when in fact it was manufactured by the Manhattan medicine Company in New York City.

The Court’s reasoning is presented below in their own words.

Mr. Justice Field speaking for the court said: “If one affix to goods of his own manufacture signs or marks which indicate that they are the manufacture of others, he is deceiving the public, and attempting to pass upon them goods as possessing a quality and merit which another’s skill has given to similar articles, and which his own manufacture does not possess in the estimation of purchasers. To put forth a statement, therefore, in the form of a circular or label, attached to an article, that is manufactured in a particular place, by a person whose manufacture there had acquired a great reputation, when, in fact, it is manufactured by a different person at a different place, is a fraud upon the public which no court of equity will countenance.”

This precipitated a change in embossing to the following:

Atwood’s Jaundice Bitters, Formerly Made By Moses Atwood, Georgetown Mass.

When exactly they made the change in embossing is not clear but I suspect it was shortly after the ruling dating the bottle no later that the mid-1880’s.

 

Eau Minerale de Soultzmatt (Soultzmatt Mineral Water)

 

The Soulzmatt mineral springs are located in the Alsace region of France near its border with Germany and Switzerland. Written records of the springs date back to 1272 and the chronicles of a Franciscan monk named Tschamser de Thann. Visitors began enjoying its thermal baths sometime in the early 1600’s when spa facilities began to develop around the springs.

This late 1700’s/early 1800’s description of the springs appeared in an 1867 document entitled “Description Geologique et Mineralogique du Department Du Haut-Rain” (Geological and Mineralogical description of the Haut-Rain Department).

These springs sprung up at the southern foot of the Vosges sandstone mountain of Heidenberg, upstream from the village of Soultzmatt. Previously, in 1779 until 1838, according to Dr. Palm, they were the number of six gathered on a very small space.They (appeared) as pools in stone, the overflow of which flowed into the neighboring river. These sources were designated by the numbers and the following names: 1. acidule source (Sauerwasser); 2. copper source (Kupferwasser); 3. sulphurous spring (Schwefelwasser); 4. purgative source (Purgirwasser); 5. source of money (Silberwasser); 6. source of gold (Goldwasser). But all these waters held the same properties and were of the same nature…

Visited primarily by the locals for its curative effects, in 1839 Louis Nessel acquired the site and under his management it ultimately developed into a destination for those seeking cures from all over Europe. According to an 1888 Travel Guide entitled, “A Travers Les Vosges,” (Through the Vosges) by Fritz Ehrenberg:

The following illnesses have been cured by drinking or bathing the waters of the Nessel spring: Inflammation, nervousness in the stomach, liver, kidneys, bladder, and respiratory organs; inflammatory rheumatism, swollen joint, female diseases, bronchitis…

This description of the Soultzmatt spa and its surroundings during Nessel’s ownership was included in an 1853 publication called “Des eaux gazeuses alkalines de Soultzmatt” (Soultzmatt Alkaline Carbonated Waters).

A few hundred of steps to the west of this town (Soultzmatt), the valley narrows between two mountains that rise and seem to defend the entrance. These two opposite mountains, which rise, so to speak, side by side, and which, by the equality of their proportions and the symmetry of their forms, appear as two gigantic twins, seem to have received two very different consecrations in the past. One to the north, is Heidenberg, or mountain of the Gentiles, the other, covering the valley to the south, bears the name of Gros pfingtsberg , mountain of the Pentacost.

At the foot of these two mountains, on a narrow horizontal space which covers the junction of their bases, the establishment of the baths rises solitary at the bottom of the valley and detaches its white walls on a magnificent curtain of greenery.

This sketch included in Fritz Ehrenberg’s 1888 travel guide adds the visual perspective to this elegant verbal description.

The 1853 publication went on to describe the spa complex.

The buildings that compose it extend on the four sides of a rectangular courtyard.

Those of the north are dedicated to the bath houses and cover the basins of the sources.

On the opposite side is the main building, it is wide spacious and convenient, its exposure to the South is most favorable to the sick. A large dining room and elegant living room occupy the grounds.

To the east, an avenue of tall and bushy trees announces and seems to veil this delicious retreat.

In the west, the center of a well distributed garden, wild vines entwining their vigorous vines form a green and shady gallery around the pool with a jet of water, which keeps this place pleasantly cool.

On December 1, 1853, at around the same time this description was written, an imperial decree authorized the bottling and marketing of Soultzmatt water under the name Source Nessel. According to an inventory of the “Vosages Valleys of the Haut-Rhin” found on the French website grandest.fr., as early as 1855 Nessel sold 55,000 bottles of his mineral water. This description of the Nessel sources, now numbering eleven, focused on the single source used for bottling. It appeared in an 1859 publication called “Des principales faux minerales de’l Europe” (Of the Main Mineral Waters of Europe)

The sources are eleven, six old and five new. The most carbonated, the main source, is used exclusively as a drink, and only supplies the exported water. It is therefore necessary to take special care of it, all the others being used for external use.

Main Source – In front of the corridor door, at the end of the courtyard of the establishment is the source, whose tap, 1 centimeter in diameter at its opening, is sealed 20 centimeters from the paving at the bottom of the wall of the part intended for the various bottling jobs. We arrive at the source praetorium, 1 meter 60 centimeters below the ground, through a glass door opening onto a sort of vestibule 3 meters long by 2 meters wide, which leads to a stone staircase of nine steps. A wooden grid painted green surrounds the courtroom area, 2 meters long by 1 meter wide, and supports a shelf with compartments for drinkers’ glasses.

The flow of the source is only 1 liter three quarters per minute, 98 liters per hour, or 2,352 liters per day. It is collected at times when the refreshment bar is not frequented, in bottles consumed in the surroundings, and especially in the many countries where there are deposits.

The water is clear, limpid, transparent, colorless, and reveals by its taste and its smell the large quantity of dissolved and free carbonic acid gas with which it is charged, and which soon settles in numerous and shiny pearls on the walls of the glass. It’s flavor is fresh, sour, very pleasant; it is also used as a drink during meals.

The Vosages Valleys’ inventory went on to say that in order to meet growing demand Nessel undertook collection work on the other side of the road at the foot of the Heidenberg rocks such that by the mid 1860’s he was selling 400,000 bottles annually.

When Louis Nessel passed away in 1875, he was succeeded by his son Jacques.  By this time they  had established a business relationship with Antoine Brun, forming Nessel, Brun et Cie. This advertisement for their waters appeared in several 1877 issues of a publication entitled “Gazette hebdomadaire de medicine et de chirugie” (Weekly Gazette of Medicine and Surgery).

Translated (courtesy of Google Translate), it reads :

The mineral source to which the just reputation of Soultzmatt waters is due is that of baths belonging to Messrs. Nessel and Brun. More Carbonated than the water sold under the sole name of Soultzmatt, it can be recognized by the following brands: “Nessel,” “Soultzatt Mineral Water,” and “Soultzatt Carbonated Alkaline Water,” at the bottom of the cork in the glass on the tar.

The bottle is sold for 60c. the bottle taken back for 15c. at the depot 18 Rue de Choisent, Lescun house, in pharmacies and depots. Require the brand.

In 1891 the facility was partially destroyed by fire after which it was purchased and rebuilt by Joseph Brun who, along with his sisters operated it under the name Brun & Cie.

This entry in an 1897 English publication entitled “Health Resorts Of Europe – A Guide to Mineral Springs, Climates, Mountain and Sea Side Stations of Europe,” by Thomas Linn, M.D., was very complimentary of the Brun & Cie product. By this time the Nessel Spring, through its various catchments was producing 15,000 quarts per day.

Soultzmatt

These bi-carbonate of soda, gaseous, alkaline digestive waters, are found in Haute Alsace, near Colmar, and were declared of public utility by the French Government in 1865. The Nessel Spring, from which they come, gives now over 15,000 quarts of the water per day, and its chemical analysis shows that it is of great purity and highly charged with carbonic acid gas; this gas is natural to the spring and is not added to the water in bottles, as is the case in many table waters.

From personal experience we can state that these waters are without a rival as Table Waters, and they are the most agreeable and hygienic that we have tasted, having nearly any metallic principles in them; this absence of iron makes them eminently digestive, and allows of their perfect conservation in bottles.

The 1904 edition of the same publication, “Health Resorts of Europe,” made it clear it was still being touted as a cure as well.

Indications. – Chronic inflammatory troubles of the stomach; nervous diseases. Very diuretic, and given in liver, kidney and bladder troubles, gout, rheumatism.

Brun & Cie was liquidated in 1921, replaced by the Societe des Eau Minerale de Soultzmatt (Soultzmatt Mineral Water Company). Around this time, the company drilled new wells and after adding carbon dioxide marketed a new product under the name Lisbeth. This place mat recently offered for sale on the internet highlighted their Lisbeth Carbonated Water as well as their Nessel Mineral Water.

Again thanks to Google Translate:

Nessel Natural Mineral Water

Nessel mineral waters are indicated in disorders of the stomach, liver intestines, kidneys and bladder.

Lisbeth Carbonated Table Water

The most pure, the most pleasant of table water which keeps gas better.

Today a company called “Sources De Soultzmatt” continues to sell sparkling water under the Lisbeth name and mineral water under the Nessel name.

According to the company’s web site, their products are currently exported to the United States as well as Canada, Australia and several European countries (United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Holand, Greece, Poland…).

The bottle I found was mouth blown in a turn mold and includes a a blob seal exhibiting one of the trademarks presented in the 1877 advertisement.

Recognizing it was blown in a turn mold, I suspect it was made sometime around the turn of the century after Brun & Cie was established.

Recognizing that I found this bottle on Long Island, N.Y. it’s likely that Nessel mineral water was being exported to the United States by the turn of the 20th century and possibly earlier. That being said, I can’t identify any specific company as their U. S. agent, nor can I find any reference to their mineral water in American medical publications or general magazine and newspaper advertisements. So, I suspect their U. S. imports were minimal, probably limited to local retailers.

 

Hicksville Bottling Co., Hicksville, N. Y., “ROXY”

 

Long Island New York’s Hicksville Bottling Company had its roots with the mineral water business of a man named Edgar Davis. When Davis started the business is not clear, however, bottles produced for the Hicksville Bottling Company in the 1940’s and 1950’s include the phrase “Since 1873,” so it’s possible that it’s inception extended back that far.

 

A September 4, 1886 local newspaper story specifically referenced Edgar Davis as a bottler so it’s clear he was up and running by the mid 1880’s.

In 1894, brothers-in-law William F. Staude and Charles Fassbender purchased the business from Davis. The transaction was announced in the May 12, 1894 edition of a Huntington, New York newspaper called “The Long-Islander.”

William F. Staude of the Roadside Hotel and Charles Fassbender, collector for the Ulmer Brewing Company have bought out the mineral water business of Edgar Davis and have leased the old Pahde property where they will carry on a bottling business on a large scale. Both young men are sons in law of August Fleischbein, proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel and are well-known. We wish them success.

As far as I can tell their initial location was near the Hicksville train depot on the northeast corner of East Marie Street and Railroad Avenue. A map, circa 1914, confirmed their plant was located there by that time.

Not just associated with mineral water, this advertisement, published in the September 21, 1907 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union also labeled them as beer bottlers and wine and liquor dealers.

The advertisement specifically mentioned Ulmer Cabinet Beer. According to Fassbender’s April 12, 1922 obituary published in the Brooklyn Standard Union he worked for Brooklyn’s Ulmer Brewery from 1880 to 1920.

During his forty years connected with the Ulmer Brewing Company, Mr. Fassbender advanced himself from clerk to personal collector for Brooklyn and Long Island. He also handled a considerable portion of its real estate dealings with its various agencies.

So, it’s no surprise that the company not only bottled Ulmer beer, but almost certainly bottled it from the start in 1894. Recognizing that their father-in-law, August Fleischbein, owned Hicksville’s Grand Central Hotel including its 600 person capacity hall, it’s also likely they had an immediate market for their products.

Staude passed away in 1917 and Fassbender ultimately sold the business in 1921. The sale was reported in the August edition of the American Bottler.

HICKSVILLE BOTTLING PLANT CHANGES HANDS

The Hicksville Bottling Co., at Hicksville, Long Island, has been purchased by Jac. Friedman, who was formerly connected with the Christ Wagner Bottling Co., of Java Street, Brooklyn. Charles S. Fassbender was the former owner of the plant, which he had successfully conducted for a number of years.

Polish immigrants, the Friedman’s apparently operated the business as a family affair. In addition to Jac (Jak), 1930 census records indicate that Eli Friedman, likely his brother, as well as Jak’s two sons, Louis and William, were all involved in the business. Census records in 1940 continued to associate the Friedman’s with the business.

It was the Friedman’s who, during Prohibition, began utilizing the name “Roxy.” They trademarked the name in 1930, but their application indicated that it had been in use since July 1, 1926.

After Prohibition they were back in the beer business as evidenced by this May 26, 1937 advertisement in the New York Daily News listing them as a Brooklyn and Long Island distributor for the Fidelio Brewery. By then the company had apparently moved, listing their address as 10-2 Lenox Avenue in Hicksville.

Another advertisement, this one published in the March 17, 1939 edition of the Nassau Daily Review named them as a distributor for New York City’s John Eichler Brewing Company as well.

The company, as well as the Roxy brand, endured well into the 1950’s and possibly longer. As late as 1957, this July 21 New York Daily News advertisement listed “Roxy – dietetic” (halfway down the second column) as a beverage made with Sucaryl.

           

The bottle I found is machine made with the Hicksville Bottling Co. name embossed on the bottom. The name “Roxy” is embossed on both sides in a style matching the patented trademark.

      

The bottle was likely made in the late 1920’s or 1930’s, and certainly no earlier than July, 1926 when the trademark application declared it was first used.

The company also used the Roxy name on siphon bottles as evidenced by this item recently offered for sale on the internet.

 

Rising Sun Brewing Co., Elizabeth, N. J.

 

The Rising Sun Brewing Company was in operation for almost 50 years during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Located in the  vicinity of 7th Street and Marshall Street in Elizabeth, New Jersey, it was one of just two major  breweries located in that city.

Established in 1887, the roots of the business date back much earlier. According to a 1901 publication called “One Hundred Years of Brewing:”

John F. Wagner commenced brewing lager beer at Elizabeth N. J., in 1865, and the continuation of the business, to which has been added the manufacture of ale and porter, is in the hands of the Rising Sun Brewing Company.

Wagner was listed in the Elizabeth directories as a brewer from the mid 1870’s up until 1883. At that point it appears that he turned the operation over to Benjamin Witter who called it the Orient Brewery.

Within a year, newspaper accounts across the nation announced that a boiler explosion had destroyed the brewery. The September 24, 1884 edition of the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times Leader told the story like this:

A BREWERY BURNED

ELIZABETH N. J., Sept. 23. – This evening an upright boiler in Witter’s brewery exploded, the fragments being thrown through the roof and 300 feet from the building. The brewery immediately took fire and was totally consumed, together with its contents. F. W. Bauer’s grocery store adjoining was also burned. The loss is about $25,000. Two men were reported to have been killed by the explosion, but the report lacks confirmation.

A year later on December 5, 1885 Camden N. J.’s Morning Post announced that the business had failed.

Failure of a Brewery

ELIZABETH, N. J., Dec 5 – The failure is reported of the Orient Brewery in this city, Benjamin Witter, proprietor, for the sum of $31,000.

An advertisement published three months later, in the February 23, 1886 edition of the Elizabeth Daily Journal, indicated that the brewery, still called the Orient Brewery, was back up and running by then. The brewery also ran this advertisement in the 1886 Elizabeth directory.

A year later, in 1887, the Rising Sun Brewing Company had incorporated and was listed at the former address of the Orient Brewery. Whether the cost of rebuilding ultimately forced Witter to sell the brewery due to bankruptcy or the new owners of the business rebuilt and operated it for a year under the old name is not clear. Nonetheless, by 1887 it was certainly under new ownership.

“The City of Elizabeth Illustrated,” published in 1888 by the Elizabeth Daily Journal, described the operation in its first year or so.

The Rising Sun Brewing Company was incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey, on March 2, 1887, with a capital of $50,000. The incorporators are citizens of Elizabeth, who are interested in the development of home trade, which they supply with a wholesome article of ale and lager beer.

In addition to their home trade the Rising Sun Brewing Company have an extensive business in Newark and New York City, which they supply with their products.

The business of the company is growing rapidly, and the present output of beer is at the rate of thirty thousand barrels per annum. The quality of the beer, which is of the finest, is equaled only by a few breweries and surpassed by none.

The 1888 feature also included a description of the physical plant along with a rendering.

The buildings are substantially built of brick, and are situated at Nos. 29 to 35 Seventh Street, corner of Marshall Street. The premises are amply  supplied with all of the modern appliances for the manufacture of ale and beer. They have a complete equipment of horses and wagons for transportation purposes. The present buildings were put up a few years ago on the site of a brewery which had been destroyed by fire, and the extensive plant presents an imposing appearance, the wagons and teams in the vicinity of the brewery presenting a scene of constant activity.

By 1890 the Elizabeth business directory listed the business under the title of both “brewers” and “beer bottlers,” so it appears they were likely bottling their own beer close to, if not at the start of the new company.

The brewery grew with Marshall Street serving as its central spine. The manufacturing plant was located on the west side of the street while the offices and distribution facilities were located on the east side. This  1930 photograph of the brewery shows Seventh Street running from foreground to background and Marshall Street across the picture. The brewery is the building  pictured on the right, with the towered office and distribution plant plainly visible across the street. According to a September 18, 1932 story in the N. Y. Daily News the beer was piped from vats located in the brewery under Marshall Street to kegs in the distribution plant.

As early as the late 1800’s you could grab a “Rising Sun – Special” on draught, “after business hours or, when at your leisure,” at Elizabeth’s  Cafe Broeker. Their beer menu, printed in the 1897 Elizabeth N.J. directory, mentioned that you could also enjoy a Salvator, brewed by Peter Breidt. Breidt’s City Brewery was the only other major brewery located in Elizabeth at the time.

Originally Rising Sun was in the hands of several Elizabeth, New Jersey businessmen including Charles Seeber who, according to his January 18, 1900 obituary, was the principal stockholder. Seeber served as president of the company up until his death in 1900. At that point, another stockholder, Phillip Schauble, assumed the presidency with Seeber’s son, George, serving as vice president.

Four years later, a story in the November 25, 1904 edition of the Central New Jersey Home News reported that the Rising Sun business had changed hands.

ELIZABEH, NOV. 25 – One of the most important real estate deals transacted in the city in recent years took place Wednesday when the Rising Sun Brewery here changed hands and is now in the control of a syndicate represented by Alderman Edward Neugent as president. The price was $300,000, all of which was delivered in cash…

The syndicate will conduct the business on a much larger scale than heretofore, and will also enlarge the facilities of the plant.

Two months later, in January, 1905, the stockholders elected George Seeber as president, a position he held up through the start of Prohibition and beyond.

In addition to Alderman Neugent, stockholders in the new company included the former governor of New Jersey (1898 to 1902) Foster M. Vorhees and the head of Citizen’s Bank, H. Hayward Isham. An October 27, 1905 story in the (Bridgewater N. J.) Courier-News, explained that this roster of influential individuals allowed them to conduct “business as usual.”

This is Plainfield and Union County politics, but it is also politics everywhere else. The Rising Sun Brewing Company of Elizabeth….owns or controls a large proportion of the saloons in Union County. Among its stockholders are men high in official authority and powerful in the councils of both political parties. It controls the granting of licenses to such an extent that brewers in other counties can hardly obtain licenses to sell their beers in Union, and it commands the saloon vote so completely that politicians and bosses are glad to do its bidding in return for its influence at election time. “The saloon in politics” is a misnomer, so long as brewers can own the saloons and crack the whip over political bosses of both parties.

Prior to Prohibition the company marketed their light brew under the name “Bohemia” and their dark beer as “Seeber.” An advertisement for Bohemia appeared in several December, 1913 editions of the Central New Jersey Home News.

Another advertisement, this one in the September 15, 1915 edition of the Hackensack (N. J.) Record, pitched a free advertising tray to be included with the sale of each case.

The sun has arisen. The Rising Sun Brewing Co., Bohemia Beer. Pure malt and hops only. $1.00 per case, 24 bottles. A beautiful tray given with each case of beer.

It’s possible that the tray pictured below, recently offered for sale on the internet, could be a surviving example of this advertised offer.

With the advent of National Prohibition the company began advertising a non-alcoholic version of both Bohemia and Seeber, now marketing them under the singular name – See-bo (light and dark).

Newspaper advertisements for See-bo began appearing in late 1919 and early 1920; the following appearing in the January 20, 1920 edition of the Passaic (N. J.) Daily News.

Around the same time another advertisement creatively delivered their marketing pitch, cleverly avoiding the fact that it was non-alcoholic.

Not a “near”-this, nor a “near” -that but the ACTUAL THING. You can’t mistake it for anything but what it really is. Touches the spot as nothing else can. Made in a plant that knows how, and bottled right here at the brewery – as good when it reaches you as when it leaves us. Just try it – order a case (light or dark, or assorted) from your dealer or grocer, or telephone the local distributor.

Within a year they had added both a “Half & Half,” and a non-alcoholic ale called “Dublin Brew” to their menu as well.

Newspaper advertisements for these products, plentiful in the early 1920’s, completely disappear by 1924. Around this time it appears that Seeber leased the brewery to others. Names mentioned in newspaper stories over the next several years mention Louis Parkowitz and later the Oneida Manufacturing Co. as lessees, however, other stories suggest that the brewery was actually being run by New York gangster Waxey Gordon. The history of the brewery during the latter half of the 1920’s serves to support this suggestion.

The brewery was certainly illegally brewing and distributing real beer as evidenced by this December 8, 1928 story in the (New York) Daily News.

Court action yesterday prevented a general smashup of the Rising Sun Brewery at Elizabeth N. J., after dry agents had made an ax-and-crow-bar raid there. And the agents needed police protection, because of the unpopularity they had achieved.

Elizabeth likes its beer, and the crowd that gathered when blows of ax and hammer resounded through the neighborhood was in no friendly mood.

Just after daybreak five agents from New York, led by W. J. Calhoon, battered their way through the gates. A truck sped through another gate and got away and ’tis said, it carried with it a full load of brew. A crowd collected about the place and its attitude was such that the Elizabeth police were summoned.

Later the agents set about to dismantle the plant. But along came a temporary restraining order from Judge Runton in Newark to spoil that sport. It seems, according to the attorney for the brewery, that the raiders had forgotten the formality of getting a search warrant.

One man, Louis Parkowitz, was found in the brewery. He was released in $1,000 bail.

The brewery survived this incident but wasn’t able to survive another incident in 1930 when an enforcement agent was shot and killed during a government raid. A September 20, 1930 Daily News article told the story; a story that brings to mind the “Untouchables” television show.

A raiding dry agent, already marked for death, was killed yesterday in a gun battle between brewery guards and Philadelphia prohibition operatives , who were trapped by the gangsters in the fortress-like Rising Sun Brewery at Elizabeth, N. J.

The dead man was John J. Finiello, ace of Philadelphia raiders, who had a reputation for being incorruptible.

“Get the rat!” said one of the gunmen, pointing to Finiello who stood with raised hands.

Sensing the peril, the agent reached for his revolver, and fired twice, but he died with eight bullets in his body. Five of the shots pierced the search warrant which was in one of Finiello’s pockets.

Later, according to an October 3, 1930 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the story got better.

John G. Smith, chief of Federal prohibition agents led a squad to the Rising Sun Brewery, followed an underground passageway and went up at the other end into a blacksmith’s shop where he found 1,500 half barrels of beer. Julius H. Russell, owner of the building was arrested and held pending an investigation.

The next day’s edition of the Daily News included a photo of the illicit beer barrels.

After well over a year of legal proceedings, the March 2, 1932 edition of the Courier-News announced that the brewery had been ordered padlocked.

Federal Judge William Clark yesterday ordered the Rising Sun Brewery in Elizabeth where John Finiello, dry agent, was killed during a raid, padlocked for one year.

Counsel for company consented to the order, ending suddenly proceedings the government instituted many months ago. The brewery was raided in Sept., 1930, but the defendant company carried the issue of the legality of the raid to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, where the bench warrant was held valid.

The padlock was removed on April 7, 1933 and on February 14, 1934 the Courier-News announced the brewery’s reopening.

Elizabeth – Formal opening of the Rising Sun Brewing Co, this city, was attended by a large number of city officials and other citizens today. The plant, closed during prohibition days, was the scene of the shooting of John G. Finiello, a prohibition agent, in September 1930, during a raid…

Shortly after the re-opening the company apparently changed its name to the Seeber Brewing Company.  The business was certainly a family affair as evidenced by the 1935 Elizabeth directory listing for the Seeber Brewing Company that named George Seeber, Jr. as manager (George Seeber Sr. passed away in 1930), Herbert Seeber as vice president, John Seeber as “brewery worker” and Phillipine Seeber as secretary. The listing also included the phrase “brewers since 1877,” so they continued to acknowledge their “Rising Sun” history.

This July 2, 1936 advertisement in the  Montclair (N. J) Times demonstrated that they also stayed true to the former “Rising Sun” brands.

Unfortunately the Seeber Brewing Company’s lifespan was short. According to the September 14, 1937 edition of the Hackensack Record:

The Seeber Brewing Company of Elizabeth, successor to the Rising Sun Brewing Company, faced liquidation today under a Federal court order.

The May 17, 1939 edition of the Courier-News reported that the plant was ultimately taken over by the Schultz Brewery of Union City N. J. but their occupancy was even more short-lived.

The Schultz Brewing Company of Elizabeth was ready today for a public sale of its assets. Federal Judge Guy L. Fake signed an order yesterday directing the sale of the company on May 25. The company which moved from Union City to Elizabeth recently to take over the Seeber Brewing Company, said it could not meet bills accumulated since last September and could not pay back $17,000 it had borrowed.

Today, a scan of Google Earth reveals that very little remains of the brewery complex. One possible exception is a brick building that includes a smokestack located at 650 Marshall Street.

Another, also brick with a modified entrance,  lies right across the street at 647 Marshall Street.

The bottle, actually found in the bay by a friend of mine, is export style and machine made. It certainly resembles the bottle shown in early 1920’s See-bo advertisements.

  

It’s likely from the Prohibition era or possibly a Bohemia or Seeber bottle from the decade prior.