R. Sprenger, 203 E 92nd St., New York

The R stands for Rudolph Sprenger who, according to census records from 1900, immigrated to the United States from Switzerland in 1882. As best I can tell he ran a small beer bottling business located on the east side of Manhattan during the 1880’s and 1890’s

Rudolph Sprenger was first listed in the 1884 NYC Directory and later in the 1885 directory as a bottler at 209 East 88th Street. Sometime in 1885 or  1886, he partnered with Henry C. Timm and moved the business to 203 East 92nd Street. Sprenger & Timm was listed at that address in both the 1886 and 1887 directories.

The partnership apparently dissolved in 1887 or 1888. In the 1888 directory Sprenger was listed individually at 203 East 92nd Street where he remained through 1897, sometimes with the occupation bottler and other times beer.

In 1898 and 1899 he continued to be listed as a bottler but had moved to 172 East 91st Street.

In 1900 he moved again, this time to the west side of Manhattan, at 1725 Amsterdam Avenue, where he was listed with the occupation liquors. The 1900 census records called him a liquor dealer.

The bottle I found is mouth blown with a blob finish that’s embossed with the 203 East 92nd Street address. This likely dates it between 1888 and 1897 when the business was individually owned by Sprenger and located at that address. Note: The 203 East 92nd Street address no longer exists. It’s now located within the footprint of a modern apartment building called the “Easton.”

The bottle was produced or at least supplied by Karl Hutter of New York whose name appears on the base.

According to a paper found on the Society of Historical Archeology’s Historic Bottle Website, written by Bill Lockhart, Beau Schriever, Bill Lindsey and Carol Serr, Hutter acquired the patent for a bottle closure called the “Lightning Stopper” and was also a supplier of bottles. He used this embossing from 1877 to 1900 which encompasses the period that Sprenger was in business.

On a final note, the name Sprenger was well connected with brewing in the state of Pennsylvania. The J. A. Sprenger Brewery, later referred to as the Sprenger Brewing Company, operated in Lancaster Pennsylvania from the 1870’s up through the start of Prohibition and again after it ended. While the name is rather unique and the timing works, I can’t find anything that connects the Pennsylvania operation with Rudolph Sprenger’s bottling business in New York.

Kirsch & Herfel Co., Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Kirsch & Herfel was established by Hyman Kirsch and Henry Herfel in the first decade of the 1900’s. The company existed as Kirsch and Herfel up until 1920 after which both went their separate ways.

Kirsch went on to become a giant in the industry and in the 1950’s was the developer and initial manufacturer of sugar-free soda. A feature on his business in the June 23, 1971 issue of the Tampa (Florida) Tribune mentioned his early years:

Hyman Kirsch learned how to formulate soft drinks before the turn of the century when he worked for a Russian family in the Crimea. After five years in the Russian army, he immigrated to England then the United States.

His obituary in the May 13, 1976 edition of the N. Y. Times (he lived to be 99 years old) picked up the story from there.

Mr. Kirsch came to this country in 1903, and the next year he went into the soft drink business in a 14-by-30-foot store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Distribution of ginger ale and other sodas was by horse and buggy, and the daily production was 25 cases, made by hand.

Census records from 1910 indicate that Herfel immigrated to the United States from France in 1882. Prior to meeting Kirsch he was sometimes listed as a grocer in the Brooklyn directories.

Later Kirsch advertisements include the phrase “Since 1905,” so it appears that the two formed their partnership around that time. The first listing I can find for Kirsch and Herfel is in the 1907 Trow Business Directory for Brooklyn and Queens. Their address, 67 Bartlett, was in Williamsburg so it’s quite possible that it’s the location referenced in Kirsch’s obituary. A year later, the 1908 Trow Business Directory listed their address as 244 Scholes Street where they remained for the next 12 years. According to the November, 1915 issue of a publication called the “New Confectioner,” the business incorporated around that time with capital of $10,000.

In this April 26, 1919 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement the company called themselves manufacturers of soda water and another beverage called Golden Dwarf Celery Tonic.

They also served as one of three local Brooklyn bottlers for Ward’s Orange and Lemon Crush as evidenced by a series of Eagle advertisements in 1920

Around this time, with prohibition just enacted, the company was feeling optimistic and broke ground on a new plant. According to this January 24, 1920 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle,

Soda Water Firm Building Big Plant

Ground has been broken for the new plant at 172-6 Cook St. of Kirsch & Herfel Co., Inc. of 244 Scholes St. The new establishment, which will be devoted to making soda water and celery tonic, will be ready to use about April 1.

The building will be 225 feet long, extending from Cook St. to Flushing Ave. The latest model machinery, purchased during the convention in Chicago in November will be installed.

No interim in the business due to moving will occur. The old plant will be kept in full operation until the new has completely taken over the load carried by its predecessor.

Due to prohibition and other causes, the company expects a bumper season this summer and is already keeping a full force at work, although it is the winter season. In some quarters the soda water companies are expecting to step in where the breweries stepped out and take over the enormous business of quenching the nation’s mid-summer thirst. Although Kirsch & Herfel do not go so far as to predict that soda water will build up great castles of industry, such as the modern brewery had grown to be, they are very sanguine of the outlook for the coming year.

Despite the optimistic outlook, five months after this story was published, an item in the June 22, 1920 edition of the New York Times announced that the Kirsch & Herfel corporation had been dissolved. Whether the dissolution had been planned all along or was the result of a recent development is not clear, but by August, the business had moved into the new plant and was continuing as H. Kirsch & Co.

The August 28, 1920 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle covered the story.

Kirsch & Herfel Now H. Kirsch & Co.

The old soda water firm of Kirsch & Herfel is now continuing the business under the name of H. Kirsch & Co., located at 923 Flushing Ave. and 172 Cook St.

It was this firm which made the old reliable Golden Dwarf celery tonic, popular even at the bar of that merry old John Barleycorn person.

The company’s business has grown since the institution of prohibition. It is now the largest soda and mineral water bottling plant in Brooklyn and maintains a large fleet of trucks to care for its boro business and out of town trade.

According to an official of the company, a great many people have been coming direct to the factory to fill their orders. The plant has been working to capacity.

Advertisements for the new business began appearing in the Eagle in early September, 1920.

The demand was such that according to this March 19, 1921 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, by the following summer they had doubled the capacity of their new plant in an effort to expand their product line.

Soda Water Plant Enlarges Capacity

In anticipation of a long spring and summer, H. Kirsch & Co. have doubled their capacity by extensive alterations and additions to their factory for soft drinks at 923-925 Flushing Avenue. These extensions are now complete and include a new washing machine capable of turning out several thousand clean and sterilized bottles per hour.

This company, taking prohibition by the forelock put on the market a drink called Golden Dwarf Orangeade, which quickly caught public fancy. Although the company specializes on soda water and celery tonics, sold throughout the Greater City, its new orange drink will occupy a large part of the old plant’s capacity.

The extension is devoted chiefly to bottle washing, this operation in the preparation of soft drinks for the market requiring considerable space, not for machinery so much as for stacking up clean “empties” waiting to be filled.

Sometime around 1930 the company expanded further, acquiring another soda manufacturer, also located in Williamsburg, called T.F. Ness & Son.

After prohibition they continued to be successful and sometime in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s they changed their name to Kirsch Beverages, Inc. By the late 1940’s they were manufacturing 16 different flavored drinks as evidenced by this 1949 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement.

In 1952, the No-Cal Corporation was formed as an affiliate of Kirsch Beverages, Inc. to produce a new line of sugar free soft drinks. Hyman Kirsch’s 1976 New York Times obituary described how the “sugar free” concept got started.

Mr. Kirsch began the commercial production of sugar free soft drinks in 1952, when he started distributing them through dietetic outlets under the No-Cal brand.

The idea for the product was the byproduct of one of his many philanthropic activities. As vice president of the Jewish Sanitarium for Chronic Diseases, he and his son, Morris, had become concerned about the lack of a sugar-free, nonalcoholic beverage for diabetic patients of the sanitarium.

They got together in the laboratory at Kirsch Beverages with Dr. S. S. Epstein, their research director, and explored the field of synthetic sweeteners. Saccharine and others left a metallic aftertaste. Then, from a commercial laboratory, they obtained cyclamate calcium, which proved satisfactory in soft drinks produced for diabetic and cardiovascular patients in the sanitarium.

No-Cal Ginger Ale was first to hit the market in March, 1952 and by the end of the year four additional flavors were being sold. This early ginger ale advertisement appeared in several June, 1952 issues of the New York Daily News and Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

By December the advertisements included Cola, Cream Soda, Black Cherry and Root Beer as well.

Originally intended for dieters and those with medical issues like diabetes, it wasn’t long before the company focused their marketing efforts on the public at large. The reasoning behind this change was explained in an April 10, 1953 story in the Long Branch (New Jersey) Daily Record.

More than a year ago Kirsch Beverages, Inc. marketed their new sugar free NO-CAL ginger ale. Aimed primarily at the dietetic and diabetic markets, NO-CAL was an immediate sales sensation.

As sales doubled and re-doubled with each passing month, the pleasantly amazed Kirsch people enlarged their bottling capacity and developed four new NO-CAL flavors, cream, cola root beer, black cherry.

In an effort to determine the “why” behind the “buy,” Grey Agency, which handles Kirsch advertising, conducted an intensive survey in metropolitan area supermarkets. The survey revealed the amazing fact that only half of regular NO-CAL buyers are on a diet. This means that a market of literally millions of non-dieting, yet weight conscious, soft drink buyers is wide open for NO-CAL

In an all out effort to capture this huge market, Kirsch is initiating this program with a quarter-of-a-million dollar “saturation advertising campaign.

Their focus on the weight conscious market is exemplified by this 1954 advertisement that appeared in the New York newspapers. With the tag line “Time to Switch to NO-CAL,” the advertisement was designed to make you weight conscious even if you weren’t!

Another series of advertisements in the mid-1950’s highlighted the star of a current movie, always slim and female, promoting both the movie as well as NO-CAL. An advertisement from July/August, 1956, which was typical of the series, featured Kim Novak and the movie “The Eddie Duchin Story.” It reads in part:

You know Kim Novak as a NO-CAL girl! You see the slender modern look…sense the relaxed “enjoy life”air. You know Kim refreshes with NO-CAL.

Other advertisements featured Mamie Van Doren in “Running Wild,” Julie Adams in “All Away Boats,” and Jan Sterling in “The Troubleshooter.”

By the 1960’s their slogan had become:

In 1969, when the United States banned the use of cyclamates in food and drink products, it could have spelled the end of the company, but according to a June 23, 1971 feature on Kirsch in the Tampa Bay (Florida) Tribune:

Our first decision the morning after the ban was announced was that we wouldn’t go out of business. That gave us just eight weeks to develop a new formula and market it.

This October 22, 1969 New York Times News service story found in the Franklin (Pennsylvania) News Herald demonstrated that they had been up to the task.

The nation’s diet food and soft drink manufacturers rushed out new-product announcements yesterday, indicating they had been prepared for the Government’s ban on the use of the artificial sweetener cyclamate in general-purpose food products.

The Government’s action was announced on Saturday. By nightfall yesterday, a number of leading soft drink manufacturers and others involved in the $1 billion low-calorie market had reported they were ready to market new, cyclamate-free beverages and other products within a matter of days or a few weeks at most…

No-Cal Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kirsch Beverages, Inc. will have a new line of No-Cal drinks on the market in about two weeks. A company spokesman said they will contain sacharrin and a small amount of sugar, adding about 10 to 14 calories to the drinks.

Both Kirsch Beverages, Inc. and No-Cal Corporation remained under control of the Hirsch family until 1980. Morris Kirsch, Hyman’s son, had joined the company in 1926 and assumed the presidency of Kirsch Beverages sometime in the early 1940’s. By 1971, according to the Tampa Tribune feature on the business, Morris’s sons, David and Lee, were presidents of No-Cal Corporation and Kirsch Beverages respectively, and both Hyman, at the age of 94, and Morris were still active on the board of directors. Around this time the business moved to a new location in College Point Queens at 112-02 15th Avenue.

Hyman died in 1976 at the age of 99 and his son Morris retired in 1980. At that time the Kirsch companies were acquired by a Philadelphia bottler named Harold Honickman. According to January 21, and March 19, 1980 articles in the Daily News, shortly after acquiring Kirsch, Canada Dry awarded him a bottling and distribution franchise and their products were added to his College Point production line of Kirsch and No-Cal sodas.

That was the beginning of the end for the Kirsch companies that ultimately fell victim to consolidation in the soda industry. The end of the line came sometime in the mid-1980’s. It was summed up like this in a July 26, 1987 story in the New York Daily News:

After years of mergers, the man who would be king today is Harold Honickman, head of Pennsauken, N. J. based Honickman Enterprises.

The leading independent bottler of Canada Dry products gradually acquired such city favorites as Dr. Brown, Kirsch, Hammer, Hoffman, Kirsch’s No-Cal brand and Meyers 1890. Though distribution is somewhat limited, all brands but Kirsch and Meyers are still alive.

The 244 Scholes Street address no longer exists and is now within the limits of Ten Eyck playground which is under the jurisdiction of NYC Parks and Recreation.The building currently located at the 172 Cook Street address is likely the building built by Kirsch & Herfel in 1920.

The College Point plant is now owned by Pepsi.

So, you ask, “What became of Henry Herfel?” Well he certainly didn’t achieve the same notoriety as Hyman Kirsch. A year after their partnership was dissolved, he established another Brooklyn soda water company named Herfel & Co. The company was listed as a new corporation, with capital of $20,000, in the April 15, 1921 edition of the New York Times. The incorporation notice named Herfel, along with J. Grodinsky and E. Heyman as directors. The initial company address was 215 Montague Street.

By the mid 1920’s, the directories listed the company address as 257 Ellory Street with Morris and Sam Shapiro named as proprietors. Herfel was no longer mentioned. A notice in the June 8, 1934 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that the corporation had dissolved.

The bottle I found is machine made and 27 oz. It’s embossed with the name “Kirsch & Herfel Co., Inc.,” which dates it between 1915, when the original business incorporated, and 1920, when it dissolved.

E. W. Hoyt & Co., Lowell, Mass., Hoyt’s German Cologne

E. W. Hoyt & Co.’s signature product was called Hoyt’s German Cologne which they began producing in Lowell Massachusetts around 1870.

The company was named after its founder and initial proprietor, Eli Waite Hoyt. His biographical sketch in the “History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, by D. Hamilton Hurd, published in 1890, stated that he was born in Alexandria, New York in 1838 and moved to Lowell when he was eight years old.

The biographical sketch went on to describe the start of the business.

At the age of about fourteen years he became a clerk in the drug-store of E.A. Staniels, on the corner of Central and Middlesex Streets, and at length was received as partner in the business. Upon the death of Mr. Staniels, in 1861, Mr. Hoyt, then twenty-three years of age, became sole proprietor.

Lowell directories from the 1860’s listed his business as an “apothecary,” located at Central, corner of Middlesex, where they also served as a sales agent for various products. The first newspaper advertisement that I can find for E. W. Hoyt & Co. named them as an agent for “Wilder’s Crow Killer.” The advetisement first appeared in the April 22, 1865 edition of the “New England Farmer.”

According to Hoyt’s biographical sketch, it was around this time, in the mid 1860’s, that Hoyt’s German Cologne was in its infancy.

About 1866 he began, in a small way, the manufacture and sale of cologne, declaring that the first thousand dollars he should earn he would devote to that enterprise. This purpose he fulfilled. In 1870 Freeman B. Shedd, who, for several years had served as clerk in the store, was received as partner, and the firm began the extensive manufacture and sale of “Hoyt’s German Cologne.”

Initial newspaper advertisements for it began appearing in 1871. The first were in Bangor, Maine where it was being sold by someone named Chas. Hight.

Very quickly the business outgrew the old Staniel’s apothecary, such that in 1873 another building was constructed on the adjoining lot. An item announcing the new building was printed in the July 17, 1873 edition of the Boston Globe.

Messers. E.W. Hoyt & Co., druggists, have recently erected a large four-story brick edition to their store, on the corner of Central and Middlesex Streets. This addition is to be used by this firm for the manufacture of their celebrated German cologne.

The new four-story building was depicted in a June 1878 advertisement published in the Druggist Circular.

Ultimately, Hoyt and Shedd sold the retail portion of the business so that they could focus entirely on the manufacture of their cologne. According to Shedd’s obituary in the March, 1913 issue of “American Perfumer:”

In 1877 Hoyt & Shedd’s German cologne had become so high in popular favor throughout the world that the drug business was given over to the two head clerks and the attention of the two partners was given entirely to its manufacture.

Based on the 1880 Lowell Directory, the clerks were named Charles H. Crowell and A. J. Harrison and the drug store continued in business on Central Avenue under the name of Crowell & Harrison.

Shedd’s obituary goes on to say that E. W. Hoyt & Co. outgrew their  Central Avenue building and in 1884 constructed a new building at Church and George Streets. By then, the company had also established a branch in Montreal, Canada.

By the mid to late 1880’s, in addition to Hoyt’s German Cologne, the company was also manufacturing several new products, the most notable being  Rubifoam for the Teeth. This advertisement, printed in the 1890 edition of “Keesling’s Book of Recipes and Household Hints,” touts both Hoyt’s German Cologne and Rubifoam.

Eli Hoyt passed away in February, 1887 after which Shedd continued to run the company until his death in March, 1913. At that point, according to a March 17, 1913 story in the Boston Globe, the estate sold the business to his secretary, Alexis D. Sargent.

(to) Alexis D. Sargent, his secretary, he left his business, to be paid for at an assessed valuation, but no charge will be made for the good will.

Around the time that Sargent assumed control of the company their address in the Lowell directories changed to 295 Central, Room 8. I assume, but cannot confirm, that this was an office address and the manufacturing continued to occur at their facility at Church and George. Between 1901 and 1914 the company also included an address in New York City where they used local perfumers named A. B. Calisher & Co as their agent.

Lowell directories continued to list Sargent as manager of the business until his death in September 1926. Afterwards, the directories associated a Mary Sargent with the company so it appears that the business remained closely held by the Sargent family. The company was listed in Lowell, with Mary as manager, up through 1952. That year it was still listed in the Lowell business directory under the heading “Toilet Preparations – Mfrs.”

Other than it’s name, the cologne had no connection with Germany whatsoever. According to the “statement of facts” in  court records associated with a trademark case that occurred years later:

The name “German”had been selected merely to give a definite title to the cologne, and they did not intend to offer it as bearing any semblance to German cologne.

The court records went on to say that:

They designed three sizes of bottles for this cologne, calling them large, medium and trial size, which retailed for $1, 50 cents and 25 cents respectively. The large and trial size they designed in 1870, and the medium in 1876.

Later, in the early 1900’s the company introduced Hoyt’s Nickel and Ten Cent colognes as well. Apparently the name was more of a size designation than an indication of cost because there were a lot of deals to be had out there. One 1908 advertisement for a store called Efird’s in Concord, North Carolina offered up nickel and dime bottles for three and seven cents respectively. Better yet in Washington, D.C., in 1911 at Goldeberg’s, you could get a ten cent bottle for a nickel and a coupon!

     

The company was a big believer in advertising through the use of trading cards and, taking it a step further, they soaked their cards in perfume. An example that recently appeared for sale on the Internet is presented below.

They apparently made these cards available to both the general public as well as in bulk to their retail agents.  One advertisement, in the June 1888 edition of “Atlantic Monthly” aimed at the general public, actually promoted  the perfume as well as the card  which they would send to you if you provided them a two cent stamp.

Another advertisement, this one, aimed at dealers and printed in “Weeks and Potters Revised Catalog of Foreign and Domestic Drugs -1879,” offered to include the dealer’s business card information on the trading card.

We will send free of charge, to any dealer who applies to us, a supply of cards advertising “Hoyt’s German Cologne,” and perfumed with it, and in order that the distribution of them may be mutually profitable, we print the business card of the party on these cards…

According to www.cliffhoyt.com the company produced over 50 unique trading cards related to “Hoyt’s German Cologne.” In addition to trading cards, over the years the company also produced calendars and cardboard fans with advertising material printed on them. Visit www.cliffhoyt.com for some great photographs and additional information on E W Hoyt & Co. and their advertising materials.

The cliffhoyt website goes on to say that around 1918 the company dropped the word “German” from the name of the cologne, changing it to Hoyt’s Eau de Cologne.

This was certainly done in an effort to disassociate the product from its perceived German connection as a result of World War I. The need to do this, while obvious, was exemplified by a news story about a U.S. soldier who survived a gas attack during the war. Printed in the July 8, 1918 edition of the Chattanooga (Tennessee) News, it was entitled: Whiff of “German Cologne,” Now Recovering.

Fred L. Schwab, of the 117th engineers in France, is Chattanooga’s second boy to be gassed “over there.” In a letter to his mother, Mrs. J. M. Schwab, 220 East Main Street, he tells of his experience with a whiff of “Hoyt’s German Cologne,” as he pleasantly calls the gas bomb.

“Dearest mother,” he says in a letter dated June 1, “I am in the hospital now. No, nothing serious – just a whiff of German perfume. Don’t be alarmed, for I am O. K. now…

Believe it or not, Hoyt’s Cologne is being manufactured again today by Indio Products, Inc. According to their web site Indio maintains manufacturing, packaging, logistics and wholesale distribution facilities in Commerce, California. Indio has over 10,000 products and various trademarks, one of which is “Hoyt’s Cologne.”

Indio describes themselves as “the world’s most complete manufacturer and distributor of religious, spiritual, mystical and decorative products,” and their site implies that the cologne delivers good luck. One of their distributors, Wisdom products, Inc., describes it like this:

Hoyt’s Cologne developed in 1868 is truly an old fashioned fragrance reminiscent of early American colognes. A clean and refreshing scent with fragrance notes of citrus and floral. Hoyt’s is widely believed to bring good luck. Splash on your hands and body before playing games of chance.

I’ve found two Hoyt bottles, both mouth blown and about 3.5 inches tall.  Their appearance matches a description provided in the trademark court records.

In 1870 the plaintiffs (Hoyt) designed a bottle of peculiar shape, having a depression or panel upon one side of it, in which were blown in the glass, in block letters, the words “Hoyt’s German Cologne, E. W. Hoyt & Co., Lowell, Mass.”

I suspect that both bottles are the 25 cent trial size.

On a final note, the trademark case previously referred to in this post made its way through the courts between 1885 and 1892 and involved E. W. Hoyt & Co. and a Philadelphia based company called F. Hoyt & Co. At the time, both companies sold cologne in three sizes of bottles whose appearance and labeling were very much alike except that the wording embossed on F. Hoyt’s bottles was “Hoyt’s Egyptian Cologne, F. Hoyt & Co., Philada., Pa.” In fact, F Hoyt & Co. went even further, also imitating E. W. Hoyt’s pictorial cards and the wooden boxes in which the bottles were packed. E. W. Hoyt & Co. brought legal action against F Hoyt & Co. based on the premise that:

many people are liable to be deceived thereby, and buy the defendants goods under the belief that they are getting those of the plaintiffs.

The lower courts granted E. W. Hoyt & Co. an injunction restraining the other Hoyt from imitating their bottles, boxes or labels and later, went further, restraining them from  associating the word Hoyt’s with their cologne.

Ultimately however, the lower court decisions were overturned by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court based on the fact that their indented panel bottle design was not patented and , in fact, the bottle could actually be purchased, off the shelf, “by anyone who fancied its use.” Likewise, their cap label was not originated or patented by them and their adoption of it gave them no title to it.

The entire case history is summarized in a document entitled “Weekly Notes on Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the County Courts of Philadelphia and the United States District and Circuit Courts for the Eastern district of Pennsylvania, January 29, 1892.”

As a result of this decision, imitation of E. W. Hoyt’s packaging by F. Hoyt & Co. continued into the next decade as evidenced by this October 7, 1907 advertisement in a publication called “Fancy Goods and Notions,” where F. Hoyt & Co. went even further, calling their cologne “Hoyt’s Genuine German Cologne.”

Most drug and department store price listings printed in newspapers during the early 1900’s simply list “Hoyt’s German Cologne,” so it’s not really clear which brand they were actually selling.

Munch Brewery Bottling Dept., Inc., Brooklyn, New York

     

     

The founder and original proprietor of the Munch Brewery was a German immigrant named Ferdinand Munch who was first listed in the 1869 Brooklyn Directory as a brewer living on Dean Street, corner of Franklin Avenue. Over the next ten years he was listed at several different Brooklyn addresses and  always with the occupation “brewer.” Then, according to his June 2, 1890 obituary in the New York Evening World, sometime in the late 1870’s he established his own brewery.

Mr. Munch purchased the old Armory on Cobb Hill, corner of Vernon and Sumner Avenues, Brooklyn, less than fifteen years ago, and by perseverance, energy and strict attention to business, succeeded so greatly that in a few years he purchased a couple acres of land and erected a mammoth brewery with a yearly output of 50,000 barrels of beer.

Munch’s brewery was first listed at the Vernon and Sumner location, 283-299 Vernon Avenue, in the 1882 Brooklyn Directory and based on the following advertisement, printed in that directory, he was certainly up and running at that time.

The advertisement located the brewery on the block bounded by Vernon, Sumner, Myrtle and Lewis Avenues, where it remained until at least the early 1920’s. Munch ran the business until his death in 1890 at which time  the business incorporated and his son Frerdinand Munch, Jr., took over. Munch Jr.’s  June 14, 1897 obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle described his role in the brewery.

After leaving school he associated with his father in his business and when the latter died about seven years ago the present stock company was formed and young Munch was elected to the presidency of the corporation. He retired from active service in the business about a year ago on account of ill health.

Two of Munch Sr.’s other sons, William and Otto, were involved in the management of the brewery for several years after Munch Jr. retired. William was listed at the brewery address between 1897 and 1904 and Otto between 1901 and 1904. During some, if not all of this period, William served as president and Otto secretary of the corporation.

Beginning in 1905 the directories don’t associate any Munch sons with the Brewery so its not clear who was running the business. By 1913 – 1914 the family was not directly involved. That year Brooklyn’s Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed: Ernest F. Dissler, president; Robert Weigel, secretary and William Muller, treasurer.

In late 1915, the company began construction of a new bottling plant. The announcement was included in the December 15, 1915 edition of “Ice & Refrigeration.”

The Ferdinand Munch Brewing Co., 277 Vernon Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y., have let contracts for the erection of a new bottling house to cost $10,000.

In February, 1917 the bottling plant was listed in the NYC telephone book under a new company name, the Munch Brewery Bottling Dept., Inc. Its address of 1022 Myrtle Avenue appears to have been located within the same block as the main plant on the corner of Myrtle and Sumner Avenues. That year, the Ferdinand Munch Brewery was listed in the same directory with the Vernon Avenue address but one year later, in 1918, only the Bottling Department was listed.

In 1919 the business was purchased by Edward B. Hittleman, a long time employee of the brewery. According to his April 6, 1951 obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Coming to the United States shortly after the turn of the century, Mr. Hittleman went to work at the Ferdinand Munch Brewery in this borough as a clerk. He became general manager and in 1919 purchased the company and became sole owner.

Brooklyn’s 1922 Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed Hittleman as the president and treasurer of the Munch Brewery Bottling Dept., Inc.

Around the same time it appears that Hittleman had also acquired the old Otto Huber Brewery, originally calling it the Hittleman Golden Rod Brewery and later, the Edelbrau Brewery. Information on the brewery prior to the acquisition by Hittleman is presented in another post on this site entitled “Otto Huber Brewery, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hittleman’s obituary went on to say that 1n 1925 he merged the two companies.

In 1925 the Munch Company was merged with the Edelbrau Brewery, Mr. Hittleman becoming president of the corporation.

During this time the Munch Brewery Bottling Dept., Inc. continued to be listed, initially at 1022 Myrtle Avenue and later at several different Brooklyn addresses including 13 Wycoff Avenue (early 1920’s) and later at 92 Stanwix Street.

Sometime in 1927 the company name changed again, this time to the Munch Brewery, Inc., and in the 1928 Brooklyn telephone book their address was listed as 1 Bushwick Place, the address of the old Otto Huber Brewery. This June 13, 1927 Bridgeport (Connecticut) Telegram advertisement for their near beer was the first one I could find that exhibited the new name and location.

The 1928 phone book also listed the Hittleman Brewery at the same address so it seems that by then, and possibly earlier, the operations of both companies had been consolidated at the old Otto Huber plant location. Nevertheless in 1933 they were still producing beer under both company names. The first advertisement shown below, referencing the Munch Brewery, was from the May 13, 1933 edition of the Palm Beach Post the second, mentioning Hittleman Golden Rod Brewery, is from the August 17, 1933 edition of the New York Daily News.

By this time, they were also marketing another brand called Edelbrau and as early as 1930 phone book listings included the Edelbrau Brewing Company at the 1 Bushwick Place address as well.

During much of the 1930’s the Munch Brewery and Hittleman Brewery along with the Edelbrau Brewing Company (sometimes Edelbrau Brewery) were all listed in the directories at the 1 Bushwick Place address. Then, sometime around 1940 the listings for Munch and Hittleman disappeared leaving just Edelbrau.

A November 10, 1941 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle featuring the Edelbrau Brewery described the operation at that time as well as it’s featured brand “Edelbrau.”

(Dating back to the Otto Huber days) The plant was originally established at its present site in 1861. Today it employs 250 workers in a modern eight-story building several hundred thousand square feet in area.

The brand name Edelbrau came into existence in 1928. This year (1941), in order to simplify pronunciation, it was changed to Edelbrew. The beer is marketed throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, including exports to foreign countries in the Americas, Central and South America, Asia and Africa.

Extensive improvements and extensions to the brewery proper and bottling plant have been made and are still continuing. Since 1928 there has been a tremendous increase in sales in the Edelbrau plant.

The Edelbrau Brewery incorporates several square blocks on Meserole St., Bushwick Place, Montrose Ave. and Waterbury St., several distribution stations throughout the Metropolitan area, plus warehouses outside the brewery…

Edelbrau has just installed more modern machinery as part of its expansion, capable of bottling 300 bottles a minute per unit. Previously hops were purchased abroad, but today they are grown in New York and rank with the finest crops.

In the past year Edelbrau has exported a great deal of beer abroad for use by the British army in Egypt and the Near East.

The article went on to describe one of their marketing strategies relating to bottle size.

According to E. B. Hittleman, president of Edelbrau, the brewery was the first in the United States to to introduce the solo bottle which contains a single glass of beer. The brewery was also a pioneer in marketing the half-gallon jug of beer. It is now producing the largest and smallest container of beer in the United States.

According to this July 13, 1943 advertisement in the New York Daily News, they referred to their solo bottles as “Steinies.”

The Edelbrau Brewery closed shortly after Edward Hittleman’s death in April, 1951, but in the early 1940’s he was still making improvements to his plant. In conjunction with one set of improvements he was making in 1942 a warehouse associated with the brewery was targeted for demolition. The building ultimately made a little history when it  was scrapped along with a 41-mile section of railroad and an unfinished/bankrupt 22-story skyscraper and contributed to the war effort. According to one newspaper account that appeared all over the country:

Picture a skyscraper hurtling across the Atlantic, Berlin bound…a railroad winging over the Pacific, headed for Tokyo…Crazy Dream?

No, just part of what the Nation’s biggest city is getting ready to throw at the Axis in the form of bombs and bullets, tanks and planes.

Uncle Sam said: “The steel mills need scrap, 17,000,000 tons of it, in order to continue producing for the war.”

New York said: “Count on us to do our part”

…Over in Brooklyn, Edward Hittleman, president of the Edelbrew Brewery, decided to turn in $100,000 worth of brewery equipment – great copper kettles, metal insulated tanks and other pieces used in the past as spare parts. Together with structural steel from a five-story warehouse which Hittleman is tearing down, the brewery’s metal will total 175 tons.

The skyscraper, railroad and brewery are only a few of the big things New York will hurl at Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini.

A staged photograph commemorating his contribution appeared in the October 1, 1942 edition of the New York Daily News.

What became of the original Munch Brewery on Vernon Avenue is unclear but today the block accommodates a large 1950’s era apartment building under the control of the New York City Housing Authority.

I found two bottles with identical embossing. One is aqua and export style the other brown and champagne style. Both are machine-made. They most likely date between 1917 and 1927 when the embossed company name “Munch Brewery Bottling Dept., Inc.” appeared in the directories. I’ve also found a machine-made, export style Hittleman bottle that probably dates between 1925 and 1940.

    

The bottles all exhibit similar characteristics including a large single letter on the neck that represents the company name.

       

 

 

 

 

Rubsam & Hormann Brewing Co., Staten Island, New York

 

     

Rubsam & Horrmann was founded in 1870 when two German immigrants, Joseph Rubsam and August Horrman took over the brewing operation of Krug & Bach. The business incorporated in 1888 under the name “Rubsam & Horrmann Brewing Co.”

Their brewery, located in Stapleton, Staten Island was called the Atlantic Brewery. According to a document called “One Hundred Years of Brewing,” published in 1901, the origins of the brewery date back as far as 1854.

…In the succeeding year (1854) brewery vaults were built at Stapleton, S.I., and used for storage by Bernheimer & Schmid of Four Corners, until 1865. Krug & Bach then commenced to brew beer upon their site, the vaults and the brewery being the foundation of the plant now conducted by the Rubsam & Horrmann Brewing Company. The firm of Rubsam & Hormann was formed in 1870.

An early depiction of the brewery complex was included in “One Hundred Years of Brewing.”

This original plant consisting primarily of wooden frame structures was destroyed by fire in 1878. This March 22, 1878 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle described the fire and resultant damage.

The large brewery of Rubsam & Horrmann, at Stapleton, Staten Island, which was destroyed by fire yesterday morning caused damage to many houses that were injured by fire and water. The wind was high at the time and sparks were carried a great distance setting fire to several buildings, among others to Mr. Rubsam’s residence which was destroyed. The brewery and two ice houses were burned and the ice was spared simply because it could not burn. The loss is estimated at $250,000 partly covered by insurance. Mr Rubsam’s loss on his residence is $15,000. The loses are partly covered by insurance. The fire broke out in the mill used for grinding malt, and is supposed to have been caused by the undue heating of the malt. The brewery building was situated about a half a mile distant from the ferry landing , between Boyd and Canal Streets.

The 1886 Staten Island directory, the earliest I have access to, continued to list Rubsam & Horrmann on Canal Street so apparently the brewery was restored rather quickly and at or near the same location. The restored brewery is shown in these two old photographs, the first is dated 1895 and the second from a slightly different angle is undated.

One feature not visible in the photographs was the brewey’s storage vaults  that according to “One Hundred Years of Brewing” pre-dated the plant. Fortunately, they were described in a 1908 feature on Rubsam & Horrmann published in the May 23, 1908 edition of the Staunton (Virginia) Daily Leader.

They are huge caverns burrowed in the side of Boyd’s Hill, the imminence on which the plant stands. Here 40,000 barrels are always in storage, which insures proper aging of the beer.

The brewery also featured three artesian wells.

The water is the purest. It is secured from three artesian wells sunk on the grounds and is of the fine quality for which Staten Island is famous.

The Staunton Daily Leader feature went on to describe the beers produced by the brewery at the time.

Three grades of beer are brewed, the regular lager, the “Standard,” a dark brew, and the “Pilsner,” a light. For the “Standard” only hops, malt, yeast and water are used. In the lighter beers rice is an element. Upward of 70,000 pounds of imported hops are required for these brews every year.

The output is now (1908) 160,000 barrels a year more than half of which is marketed outside the Borough of Richmond, throughout the other four boroughs of New York, in New Jersey, Connecticut and up-State in New York. The extent of the Atlantic Brewery plant is indicated by the fact that it employs, including the bottling works, no less than 150 hands.

This 1915 advertisement still mentioned the three brands: Pilsner; Standard, now called Bavarian Standard, and Premium, which I assume is the regular lager mentioned in the story above.

During much of prohibition Rubsam & Horrmann continued to operate manufacturing ice and near-beer. This 1923 advertisement, one of a series that appeared in New Jersey newspapers, was for two of their near beer brands being sold at the time, Pilsner and Wurzburger.

In 1930 the brewery was once again damaged by fire. The September 5, 1930 edition of the Asbury Park Press described the fire.

A century-old brewery, which since prohibition had manufactured ice and near beer, was wrecked by fire last night with a loss estimated by the owners at $1,500,000.

The plant known as the Atlantic Brewery and owned by Rubsam and Horrmann, covered an acre in the heart of Stapleton, S. I. Only the brick walls of the seven-story building remained. Included in the destruction was a tower housing a huge clock which with faces in four directions furnished time to residents for almost 75 years.

The story went on to say that the fire was confined to the main building of the plant. Subsequently, the building, including the clock tower, was rebuilt and made operational again. Years later that clock tower would welcome home GI’s from World War II. According to the June 28, 1945 edition of the New York Daily News:

New York Harbor is getting Redder, Whiter and Bluer with every coat of paint, and the star spangled look of it thrills homecoming GI’s (clock tower of the R&H Brewery at Stapleton, S.I., has blossomed out with eight-foot letters spelling out “Welcome.”

The 1933 Staten Island Directory still listed the brewery office with a Canal Street address. By that time, recognizing Prohibition was coming to an end, a March 24, 1933 New York Daily News article indicated that improvement plans were in the works.

The Rubsam & Horrmann Brewing Co., 191 Canal Street, Staten Island, is awaiting action at Albany before determining how many new men to hire, but is planning to spend $250,000 for new equipment.

Less than three months later, the company’s brands were being advertised as far away as California under the heading “Old Friends Are Best.” This advertisement appeared in the June 17, edition of the Bakersfield Californian.

It appears Rubsam & Horrmann was one of the first companies that advertised through the sponsorship of television shows. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s they sponsored sports related shows with titles that included: “Rates Highest,” hosted by Jack McCarthy and “Powerhouse of Sports,” hosted by Jimmy Powers. “Rates Highest” would appear before N.Y. Giants baseball games  but apparently tackled topics that appealed to fans of all three New York baseball teams. This July 9, 1948 advertisement that appeared in the New York Daily News previewed a show that tried to answer the question “Who has the best second baseman – Yanks, Giants, Dodgers?”

They didn’t confine themselves to sports either. In 1950, they sponsored the broadcast of the St Patrick’s Day Parade.

In December, 1953 Piels bought the Rubsam & Horrmann’s brewery as well as their R & H label. The sale was reported in the December 14, 1953 edition of the (Allentown Pa.) Morning Call.

Piel Bros., one of New York’d oldest brewers has acquired Rubsam and Horrmann Brewing Co. of Staten Island. Piel plans to use new plant capacity to serve distributors in lower New Jersey.

In 1962 Piel Bros was acquired by Drewery Limited U.S.A., Inc. and the old Rubsam & Horrmann plant fell victim to the resultant reorganization. According to the May 28, 1963 edition of The South Bend (Indiana) Tribune:

Drewerys Limited U.S.A., Inc., incurred a first-quarter consolidated loss of $419,212, or 68 cents a share, Carleton S. Smith, board chairman, told stockholders at their annual meeting here today…

Smith attributed the decline in earnings to reorganization plans begun in October, 1962, with the closing of the company’s Edelweiss plant in Chicago, followed last January with the closing of the Staten Island plant of Piel Bros.

The liquidation sale notice signaling  the end of the brewery was printed in several July, 1963 editions of the Wilmington Delaware News Journal. The sale appeared to have included the brewery’s machinery, equipment and contents.

Today, the area between Canal and Boyd in Stapleton includes a relatively recent development of attached residences. Other areas are vacant. As far as I can tell, there is no sign of the former brewery buildings.

I’ve found two R & H bottles. The first is a mouth blown champagne, actually embossed 11 3/4 oz., with a blob finish.

The second is machine made, 12 1/2 oz champagne style. The style and embossing exactly match the bottles shown in the 1923 prohibition era advertisement pictured previously.

   

The bottle most likely dates no later than the prohibition era. Post prohibition advertisements no longer feature the champagne style bottle but exhibit the export and stubby style instead. The advertisements below were from 1935 and 1939 respectively.

 

Peter Hauck & Co., Harrison, N. J.

     

Peter Hauck & Co. operated the Peter Hauck Brewery, located in Harrison, New Jersey (also called East Newark) from approximately 1869 until the mid 1920’s. It’s long time proprietor, Peter Hauck, was a German immigrant who learned the business working in and ultimately taking over his father’s New York City brewery. His early background was provided in a biographical sketch included in the “Genealogical History of Hudson & Bergen Counties, New Jersey,” published in 1900.

Born in King Munster, Bavaria, Germany, June 9, 1838, he came to this country with his parents when six years old, and located in New York City, where his father engaged in the brewing industry. There he received a good public school education. After completing his studies he entered his father’s establishment and thoroughly mastered the profession of brewer, acquiring a practical as well as a theoretical experience in every department of the business.

The brewery established by his father, Adam Hauck, in 1844 on Wooster Street, New York, was a small affair, but the plant was enlarged until it became one of the largest of the kind in the city. In 1869 he removed the entire business to Harrison, Hudson County, N.J., where a substantial building was erected, and where it was continued under the most favorable auspices.

The 1849/1850 NYC Directory listed Peter’s father, Adam, at 481 Broome Street with the business occupation “porterhouse.” Located at the intersection of Broome and Wooster Streets, this is likely the brewery referenced in the biographical sketch above . The business must have moved as it grew bigger. Two years later, the 1851/1852 NYC Directory listed the brewery at 89 Sheriff Street; still in Manhattan, but further east. It was still listed at this location in the 1864/1865 Directory.

In the 1867/1868 Directory, Peter, not Adam, was listed at the 89 Sheriff address with the occupation “beer.” This leads me to believe that Peter was actually running the business prior to its move to New Jersey in 1869.

In New Jersey the brewery was located on Harrison Avenue (sometimes Pike’s Rd) between 5th and 6th Streets. Initially it was run as a partnership between Peter Hauck and Frederick Kaufmann called Kaufmann & Hauck. It was listed this way in the Newark directories until 1875 when the partnership apparently filed for bankruptcy. A notice announcing the partnership as bankrupt and requesting that Hauck be discharged from his debts was printed in the August 21, 1875 edition of the New York Times.

Over the next three years, Petr Hauck continued to be listed individually on Harrison Avenue but the business was not listed in either the general directory or the business directory so its not clear whether the brewery was operational during this period or not. The brewery was listed again in the 1878 Newark BusinessDirectory but one year later, on January 13, 1879, it was destroyed by fire. The fire was covered in a story printed in the Boston Globe.

At 1 o’clock this morningPeter Hauck’s Hudson County lager beer brewery, located on Harrison Avenue, East Newark, was found to be on fire. The alarm was sounded, but the firemen, unable to obtain water, could not do anything to save the building, and the brewery was completely destroyed.The loss is as follows: Machinery, $50,000; building and stock, $35,000; and $15,000 worth of malt.

According to the Genealogical History of Hudson & Bergen Counties Hauch rebuilt the brewery after the fire.

In 1879 the brewery was destroyed by fire, but he at once turned his attention to rebuilding, and in 1880 erected and completed a new plant upon a more extended scale, making it a model establishment of its kind.

It appears that the brewery remained operational during construction of the new plant. The Newark directories in the early 1880’s listed two separate brewery sites; the original Harrison Avenue location as well as another location at 281 to 291 Eighth Avenue which I assume served as a temporary brewery during the rebuilding process. By 1884, the Eighth Avenue location was no longer listed.

The Genealogical History of Hudson & Bergen Counties went on to describe the newly constructed brewery complex.

It has a frontage on Harrison Avenue, between Fifth and Washington Streets, of 225 feet, with a depth on Cleveland Avenue of about 100 feet. The main building is a substantial structure, and there is additional accommodation for the malt house, cooperage, bottling plant, etc., the whole being equipped with modern improvements, including a 250 barrel brew kettle, ice machines, cellarage, an artesian well, etc.

The name “Peter Hauch & Co.,” was first utilized in the 1885 Newark Directory. Then, four years later, Peter Hauck & Co. was one of five breweries that were consolidated under a new corporation called “The United States Brewing Company.” A story in the May 14, 1889 edition of  the Buffalo (NY) Commercial provided some details on the consolidation.

Three big lager beer breweries in Newark, one in this city and one in Albany were combined last week in a great brewing corporation, with a capital stock of $4,750,000. The owners of the plants are Gottfried Krueger, the brewer king of Newark; Mrs. Christiana Trefz of Newark: Peter Hauck of East Newark, Adolph Hupfel of this city and the Albany Brewing Company…Krueger’s brewery is the largest in the scheme, and it is understood that it has been taken at a valuation of $2,000,000, and that he is to receive half in cash and the other half in stock. The valuation upon Hauck’s brewery is said to be $1,000,000, and he gets the same terms. Mrs. Trefz’s is valued at $600,000, Hupfel’s at $600,000 and the Albany Brewing Company’s at $500,000. The management of the breweries is to remain entirely in the hands of the former owners…

Peter Hauck managed the business until he passed away on February 21, 1917 after which it continued under the management of his son Peter Hauch, Jr. It was listed in the Newark directories as Peter Hauck & Co. through 1922.

In the early years of Prohibition it appears that the business was making a concerted effort to produce cereal beverages in accordance with the law. On October 14, 1920, notices appeared in many newspapers announcing that the United States Brewing Company had acquired the cereal beverage department of P. Ballantine & Sons, with Peter Hauck & Co., named as one of the brewers. This notice, printed in the October 4, 1920 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle was typical.

As late as 1922, the company advertisement in the Newark Directory listed a number of cereal beverages manufactured by Hauck including Hauck’s  Tiger Special – Light, Medium and Dark, Hauck’s Golden Brew, Hauck’s Extra, Hauck’s Special, Hauck’s Vitamaltum and Hauck’s Malt Extract, Malt Extract-Light and Malt Extract-Dark.

This baseball themed Hauck’s advertisement appeared in the August 23, 1921 edition of the “Asbury Park (NJ) Press”

After Peter Hauck, Jr.’s death in September, 1922 the actual management of the brewery is unclear, however, this May 22, 1925 story in the Keyport (N.J.) Weekly made it clear that the brewery continued to operate, albeit illegally.

Newark- Four officials of the Peter Hauch Brewery in Harrison were fined $2,500 each on charges of possessing and manufacturing beer of illegal alcoholic content by Federal Judge Runyon. All pleaded guilty, three changing previous pleas of not guilty. The officials are Isadore Rappaport, Morris Egel, Nathan Levy and William Hobby. The case resulted from a raid on the brewery several months ago by federal agents.

The April 25, 1925 edition of the New York Daily News provided a photograph of what happened to the beer confiscated from the brewery. The caption under the photograph read:

DOWN THE SEWER yesterday went contents of 56,000 barrels of beer seized in Peter Hauck Brewery Company, Harrison, N. J. Agent C. H. Parkes manned the hose.

Ultimately the brewery officially changed hands on October 16, 1925. The announcement of the sale was printed in the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press.

HAUCK BREWERY SOLD

Purchase of the Peter Hauck Brewery by the Harrison Holding Company of Merchantville was announced today. The price was not divulged, but the holding company gave a mortgage of $171,250 to be paid in monthly installments of $1,000.

Subsequently, on January 1, 1926, the Harrison Beverage Company was incorporated to run the business of producing cereal beverages. The article of incorporation was printed in the January 1, 1926 edition of the Camden (N.J.) Courier Post.

The 1926 Newark Directory listing for the Harrison Beverage Co., Inc. included the brewery’s Harrison Avenue address and included the phrase “successors to Peter Hauck & Co., brewers and bottlers Golden Brew and Tiger Special.” Advertisements for their cereal beverages ran in the local newspapers in early 1927.

Prohibition agents however believed that the brewery was actually being run by racketeers and that cereal beverages were just a front for the manufacture and sale of the real thing. A story in the October 30, 1926 issue of the (Camden N.J.) Evening Courier that reported on a raid of the brewery provided the government’s point of view.

When they raided the brewery, which is known as the Harrison Beverage Company, Hudson County detectives say they found eleven kegs and many bottles of “real” beer.” The detectives assert that the brewery has been operating for some time, supplying South Jersey points as well as those in North Jersey, with high powered beer. Manufacture of “near beer” was simply a “blind.”

As the Prohibition years continued, the brewery was raided several more times and the company was constantly in and out of the courts involved in Volstead Act related litigation.

Ultimately in 1933, with Prohibition ending, the Harrison Beverage Company received a permit to brew 3.2 beer. Soon after, they were advertising at least two brands; “Old Heidelberg” and “Golden Brew.” This advertisement for “Old Heidelberg” appeared in the The Long Branch (N.J.) Record on April 8, 1933.

Their brewing permit however would quickly be revoked later that same year. The murder of two racketeers, Max Hassel and Max Greenberg in an Elizabeth New Jersey hotel triggered an investigation into the real ownership of the company, the government contending that Hassel and Greenberg, along with Waxey Gordon, another former bootlegger, were the real owners. As a result of the investigation their permit to brew was revoked on June 30, 1933. Camden N.J.’s “Courier Post” covered the story.

The Harrison Beverage Company, of Harrison, yesterday had its 3.2 beer manufacturing permit revoked.

Hearer Burt W. Andrews, who sat through two weeks of legal skirmishing during the brewery’s revocation proceedings in Newark, yesterday advised Dr. Ambrose Hunsberger, permit supervisor for this area, that the permit had been obtained “through fraud, deceit, concealment and misrepresentation.”

He said that officers advanced by brewery counsel as owning the beverage company were “mere dummies for racketeers, among whom was Max Hassel, slain gangster.”

And Dr. Hunsberger promptly ordered the permit revoked.

As far as I can tell, after their license was revoked, the brewery continued to operate until sometime in August of 1933. At that point it was shuttered for good and put in the hands of a receiver. Six months later, the February 3, 1934 edition of the (Hackensack N.J.) Record announced the sale of the brewery at public auction.

Women’s Lock-Stock-Barrel Bid Tops Harper Offer For Brewery

Harry C. Harper, Hackensack’s man of many moods and myriad enterprises, was one of the more than 100 bidders who journeyed to Harrison yesterday for the receivers sale on the old Peter Hauck Brewery, more lately known as a Waxey Gordon brewery.

But it was a woman, Mrs. Lillian Bennett, said to be the daughter of a Columbus, Ohio, brewer named Tenion and said to live in a New York City hotel, who surprised the bidders, the crowd and the receiver by bidding $45,000 for the entire plant and equipment. Among other things included in the mysterious Mrs. Bennett’s bid were 4,000,000 empty bottles and 14,000 barrels of 3.2 beer.

After the sale, it appears that the brewery was leased to a newly formed corporation called the Harrison Brewing Company. The formation of the new company was announced in a May 20, 1934 story printed in the Central New Jersey Home News.

Articles of incorporation of a new firm, the Harrison Brewing Company, were filed today by Harold Simandl, in an attempt to reopen the plant of the Harrison Beverage Company, closed by the Federal Government.

The old plant was closed after charges during the 3.2 beer days, that the brewery was racketeer controlled.

Simandl was counsel for the old firm. The incorporators are listed as Lucile Andreach, Selma Gerbinsky, and Frances Noviteh.

The company was apparently attempting to capitalize on the name and reputation of the former Hauck and later Harrison brand called Golden Brew. According to this advertisement, printed in several New Jersey newspapers in July,1934, they reintroduced the brand around that time. “Saturday you can try it all over town”

The resurrection must have failed because less than half a year later, the company was bankrupt. A notice announcing the sale of the company assets, including barrels, boxes and bottles was printed in the January 30, 1935 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

By 1937 the Peter Doelger Brewing Corporation had leased the brewery and was listing both their brewery and executive offices in Harrison, New Jersey.

Peter Doelger remained there until 1948 at which time, according to this April 13 item in the (Bridgewater (N.J.) Courier, the company was declared bankrupt.

BREWERY BANKRUPT

Federal Judge Thomas F. Meaney yesterday declared the Peter Doelger Brewing Corp. of Harrison bankrupt and ordered it liquidated.

After the demise of Doelger, the brewery was taken over by the Camden County Beverage Company. From the wording in this July 13, 1949 story in the (Camden N.J.) Evening Courier it’s not clear whether they purchased or leased the plant.

Camden Brewery Enlarges, Buys Harrison Plant

The Camden County Beverage Co., brewers of Camden Beer at the Camden Brewery, announced yesterday it had acquired the Harrison brewery and will operate it as Plant No.2.

Fred A. Martin, president of the beverage firm, stated a North Jersey outlet was necessitated by increased demand for the Camden product in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the surrounding metropolitan area in North Jersey.

Leasing of the Harrison brewery will permit the Camden plant to use its entire output for its clients in South Jersey, Washington, several southern states and to reenter the Pennsylvania market.

Three years later, in July, 1952, a fire swept through the Harrison plant. The resultant damage described in this July 16, 1952 story leads me to believe that this could very well have marked the end of the brewery facilities.

Harrison, July 16 – A rampaging fire wrecked the Camden Brewery near the heart of the city’s business district today, sending up sheets of flame and clouds of smoke that were visible fo 15 miles around.

The general alarm blaze raged out of control for more than two hours, but no one was reported injured.

Police said the top of the five story brick building at 504 Harrison Avenue caved in and some of the debris toppled into the street. There was no one in the building when the fire broke out shortly before 3:30 a.m…

Fire officials said they didn’t immediately know the cause of the fire. The blaze started on the upper floors of the building which occupies almost an entire block. Flames ate their way down to the lower portion of the structure and firemen battled to prevent any further spread.

Camden County Beverage continued to operate into the early 1960’s but I don’t see any mention of a Harrison location after the fire.

Today the brewery site is home to the Washington Middle School.

The bottle I found is 13 oz and champagne style. The company name “Peter Hauck & Co. Harrison N.J,” embossed on the bottle was utilized from 1885 to the early 1920’s. The bottle however is machine made so that puts it in the latter half of the period, say 1910 to 1922.

A labeled version of this bottle recently appeared on the Internet. It contained the brand “Hauck’s Extra.”

        

 

 

Stewart Distilling Company

  

The Stewart Distilling Company was in business from 1909 until the mid-1920’s but the company’s roots date back much earlier to an Irish immigrant named Robert Stewart. According to 1900 census records, Stewart was born in 1836 in County Antrim, Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1854. His July 10, 1901 obituary in the Baltimore Sun stated:

When a lad of 18 years he came to this country and settled in Baltimore. In 1886 he started a distillery in Highlandtown.

Between 1887 and 1894 Robert Stewart was listed with the occupation distiller in the Baltimore city directories. His distillery was located at the southeast corner of Bank and 5th and the office was at 32 S Holliday.

In 1894 his business incorporated under the name “Robert Stewart Distilling Company” The incorporation notice was printed in the January 15, 1894 edition of the Baltimore Sun.

Certificate of the incorporation of the Robert Stewart Distilling Company was put on record in the clerk’s office at Towson. The company is formed to continue the distilling business already established by Robert Stewart at Canton. The capital stock is $125,000, in shares of $100 each, and the directors are Robert Stewart, Benjamin Bell, Isaac W. Mohier, Jr., Diedrich Wischhusen and Thos. W. Donaldson.

During this period, the distillery produced a whiskey called “Robert Stewart Rye.” Their agent, at least in New York, was the well established firm of H.B. Kirk who included their brand in several of their advertisements between 1893 and 1895. This December 6, 1893 advertisement in the New York Times stated that it was “bottled at the distillery,” and referred to it as the “Best Eastern Rye.”

Robert Stewart continued to run the business until December, 1897 when he sold the business and retired. The December 31, 1897 edition of the Baltimore Sun ran a story announcing the sale.

A Highlandtown Distillery Sold

The Robert Stewart Distilling Company have transferred to Daniel H. Carstairs and J. Haseltine Carstairs, of Philadelphia, the plant and equipment of their distilling business and three lots of ground on Bank Street and Eastern Avenue. The price paid is not stated. A mortgage for $40,000 for part of the purchase money has been given.

Another story, this one in the January 14, 1898 edition of the Baltimore Sun provided some additional information:

The distillery has a capacity of 1,200 or 1,500 gallons of whisky daily, which will be increased to about 3,000 gallons daily by an addition to the plant now in course of construction.

The Carstairs Brothers served as proprietors of the distillery between 1898 and 1908 which was still listed at Bank and 5th in the Baltimore directories. Many of their early 1900’s advertisements included an aerial view of the distillery, which I assume by this time included the additions mentioned in the 1898 story above.

At the same time the Carstairs Brothers were managing the distillery they were also managing the firm of Carstairs, McCall & Co., a business that their family had been connected with as far back as the late 1700’s. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the company was heavily involved in the wine and liquor trade as importers, exporters and wholesale dealers.

A story on Carstairs & McCall in the October 6, 1908 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer described the early history of the business.

The present firm style was adopted in 1867, in which year the late James Carstairs and John C. McCall associated themselves as general partners. They were both recognized as imminently enterprising and progressive men of affairs, and under their aggressive management the interests of the house were considerably broadened and extended. The death of Mr. Carstairs, in 1893, was followed by that of Mr. McCall, in 1894, since which time the business has been conducted under the management of Messrs. Daniel H. Carstairs and J. Haseltine Carstairs, sons of the late James Carstairs, who entered the firm in 1885, and representatives of the fourth generation of the Carstairs family in continuous connection with the house.

The Philadelphia headquarters of the firm were located at 222 South Front Street for many years, but were removed in September, 1904, to the commodious and modernly equipped four-story and basement double building now occupied at 254-256 South Third Street. New York offices are maintained in the Park Row Building.

The story went on to say that while the distillery of the firm was located in Highlandtown, the business was done altogether in Philadelphia. This leads me to believe that while they may have been separate business entities, Carstairs Brothers and Carstairs & McCall were in effect operating as one.

During this period they called their whisky “Stewart” Pure Rye Whisky.” A January 12, 1905 item printed in the “Wine & Spirit Bulletin” described it like this:

Carstairs Bros. – A Fine Whisky

The absolutely essential elements for a fine blending whisky are a heavy body and strong character and flavor. The same characteristics are equally attractive, after proper aging, in a fine bar whisky.

Among the best in this line either for blending or bar use or for bottling in bond is the “Stewart” pure rye whisky, made by Carstairs Brothers, of Philadelphia Pa., at their distillery at Highlandtown, a suburb of Baltimore Md.

The Carstairs Brothers are gentlemen of a remarkably high order of intelligence and ability and character. They, as well as their goods, are thoroughly reliable, which fact will be attested by the trade at large wherever they have had dealings and that covers nearly every section of the country where fine rye whiskies predominate.

The 1908 Philadelphia Inquirer story called Stewart Pure Rye Whiskey their oldest and most well known product and demonstrated that it had grown quite a bit since being acquired by Carstairs.

It has a production of over 15,000 barrels per year and is sold all over the United States. A market for it abroad has rapidly increased of late years and many barrels are forwarded to London, Paris and Bremen every year.

Sometime in early 1909 a newly formed company called the Stewart Distilling Company was incorporated in Pennsylvania to consolidate the operation of Carstairs Brothers’ Stewart Distillery and the business of Carstairs, McCall & Co. A story in the April 25, 1909 edition of the Baltimore Sun covered the new corporation’s acquisition of the distillery.

The Stewart Distilling Company, of Pennsylvania, has purchased from Messers. Daniel H. Carstairs and J Haseltine Carstairs, of Philadelphia, trading as Carstairs Brothers, the distillery at Highlandtown, located on Eastern Avenue and Bank Street. The conveyance was recorded yesterday at Towson.

The deed transfers 13 lots, 10 in fee and 3 leasehold: also the entire plant, machinery, tools, etc., office fixtures, furniture, whisky brands and trademarks known as “Stewart” brands, formerly owned by the Robert Stewart Distilling Company.

Four days later the Philadelphia Inquirer covered the acquisition of the facilities owned by Carstairs, McCall & Co.

The two buildings at 254-56 South Third Street have been conveyed by J Haseltine Carstairs to the Stewart Distilling Company for a consideration recited as nominal. On a combined lot 50.10 x 180 feet the buildings are four-story brick structures assessed at $30,000.

The new corporation remained under control of the Carstairs brothers with Daniel serving as president and J. Haseltine serving as vice president and treasurer.

The company remained listed at the former Carstairs, McCall & Co., South Third Street address through 1918, changing their Philadelphia address to 301 Bellevue Court Blvd. in 1919. In New York their address was listed as 21 Park Row in 1909 and 1910 and 2 Rector Street from 1911 to 1919.

The brand I see advertised the most during this period was called “Carstairs Rye.” A series of advertisements printed in several of the NYC newspapers over the course of 1911 mention that its “the oldest American Whiskey,” dating back to 1788, which is certainly a reference to the first generation of Carstairs.

A labeled bottle found on the internet confirms that they continued to produce the Stewart brand as well, now called “Stewart Pure Old Rye”

By 1921 the Stewart Distilling Company was no longer listed in Philadelphia but the distillery in Baltimore survived for several more years.

On April 22, 1919, a “liquidation sale” was held at the distillery to dispose of the entire plant, including real estate and equipment as well as the trade name of “Stewart Pure Rye.” Notices announcing the sale were printed in several April editions of the Baltimore Sun.

The day after the sale a story in the Baltimore Sun announced that J. Haseltine Carstairs had purchased the plant in an effort to protect his own interests.

Philadelphian Buys Plant to Protect Interests

J. H. Carstairs, of Philadelphia, was the purchaser of the plant of the Stewart Distilling Company, Eastern Avenue and Fifth Street, at Highlandtown, at public auction yesterday afternoon for a consideration said to have been $125,000. The property has said to have been acquired by Mr. Carstairs to protect his own interest, the transfer involving no immediate solution to the future of the big plant.

The property includes four blocks of ground, with nine bonded and free warehouses, , besides the equipment, and is said to have been appraised at $1,150,000 before adverse legislation closed its doors.

Edward Brooks, Jr. attorney for the Stewart Company, said yesterday that after July 1, should the Prohibition law go into effect, a portion of the floor space will continue to be devoted to the storage of liquor now on hand. It is possible, he said, that the remaining buildings will be torn down to make room for improvements for some other line of business.

Sometime in 1921 it appears that the business was reorganized and the Carstairs were no longer involved. In 1922, the Stewart Distilling Company was listed in the Baltimore directories with Arthur Benhoff named as president. A year later in 1923, Robert Pennington and Vincent Flacomio were listed as president and secretary-treasurer respectively.

During this time the distillery may have been producing whisky for medicinal purposes but it was certainly storing liquor in their warehouses. This was evidenced by an incident that occurred in February, 1923 that was covered in newspapers across the country. A condensed version of the story was printed in the February 8, 1923 edition of the New York Daily News.

Discovery that bootleggers have got at least 100 barrels of whisky by tunneling from an unoccupied house to the Stewart Distillery was made today when a bootlegger had bared the plot to authorities. The tunnel is 150 feet long and large enough for a man to crawl through. Barrels in the distillery warehouse were tapped and the liquor pumped through a one and a half inch hose to containers in the unoccupied house.

The Baltimore Sun covered the story in much greater detail and actually provided a sketch associated with the theft.

According to a story in the April 18, 1924 edition of the Reading (Pa.) Times this wasn’t the only whisky vanishing from the Baltimore distillery.

Indictments charging two distillery officials with illegal sale of liquor were returned by a special federal grand jury here today.The men indicted were Jacob Katz, vice president and manager of the local warehouse of the Stewart Distillery, Baltimore, and Morris G. Waxler, local manager of the Sherwood Distillery.

The indictment against Katz contains thirteen counts alleging illegal sale of 3,000 cases of whisky and twenty-five barrels in September 1922 and with maintaining a nuisance where the whisky was stored…

Ultimately the end of the distillery came in the mid-1920’s. A story in the August 5, 1925 edition of the Baltimore Sun, stated the distillery property changed hands again.

Title to the old Stewart Distillery property on Bank Street between Fifth and Seventh Streets was conveyed by the Stewart Distilling Company to W. Guy Crowther, Jacob Ott and Herbert A. Megrow, through the Title Guarantee and Trust Company. The consideration was $75,000.

A month later, this advertisement in the September 6, 1925 edition of the Baltimore Sun announced that the distillery was being dismantled and that much of its contents and equipment was for sale.

Finally a June 15, 1927 Baltimore Sun article stated that the distillery property had been sold sold to the Crown Oil and Wax Company.

The former Stewart Distillery property on Bank Street, including eighteen two-story leasehold brick dwellings at 3804 – 3838 Bank Street and machinery, equipment, lumber, etc., was acquired at public auction yesterday by the Crown Oil and Wax Company. The consideration was $25,000 subject to mortgages totaling $54,566.22. Purchase was from Henry Goldstone, trustee, through Sam W. Pattison & Co., auctioneers. No plans for the property have been made by the purchasing Company, it is said.

The last listing I can find for the Stewart Distilling Company was in the 1926 Baltimore City Directory. As far as I can tell, their corporate charter was ultimately forfeited for failure to pay franchise taxes in 1925 and 1926.

Toward the end of Prohibition several different organizations were planning to revive some of the well-known Carstairs trade names. One, actually calling themselves the “Stewart Distilling Company,” was chartered June 14, 1933, and another calling themselves the “American-Stewart Distilling Company,” was a revival of the previously forfeited Stewart corporate charter.

D.H. and J.L. Carstairs brought suit to restrain them and two other companies, the “Carstairs Rye Distilleries, Inc.,” and the “Maryland Stewart Distillery Company” from using the Carstairs trade name.

An article in the March 15, 1934 edition of the (Allentown Pa.) Morning Call announced that the U. S. District Court of Maryland had ruled in favor of Carstairs in the case against Carstairs Rye Distilleries. I have to assume that they ultimately came down with similar rulings against the other companies as well because all three were included on a list of delinquent corporations that had forfeited their charters that was printed in the February 11, 1937 edition of Baltimore Sun.

The Morning Call article summarized the situation like this:

Carstairs rye whiskey, a favorite with drinkers since colonial times, is off the market unless the famous Philadelphia family bearing the name decides to re-enter the liquor business.

Based on this advertisement for Carstairs Rye, “Back In Baltimore Again,” that appeared in the September 6, 1934 edition of the Baltimore Sun  the family did re-enter the liquor business as Carstairs Bros. Distilling Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There’s no mention of Stewart.

The bottle I found is machine made with what looks like a double ring lip. It’s embossed with this rather awkward phrase in small letters  around the shoulder:

“LICENSED ONLY FOR USE ON PATENTED VALVE MECHANISM HERE OF BOTTLES WHEN FILLED BY US. RE-USE PROHIBITED. STEWART DISTILLING CO. ONE FIFTH GAL.”

The bottle is consistent with the non-refillable bottle that the company introduced in 1914 calling it “The Supreme Achievement of Standardized Quality, insuring delivery of contents unchanged to the purchaser.”

    

This most likely dates the bottle no earlier than 1914 and and no later than 1919 and the start of Prohibition.

 

 

 

John Wyeth & Bro., Philadelphia

The business of John Wyeth & Brother originated in 1861 when John and Frank Wyeth formed a partnership and opened an apothecary store in Philadelphia.  The company and its several successors have remained in business for over 150 years, ultimately becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer in 2009.

A graduate of the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy, prior to founding John Wyeth & Brother, John Wyeth had partnered with Henry C. Blair under the name of Blair & Wyeth, in a Philadelphia pharmacy business located at Eighth and Walnut Streets. His brother Frank Wyeth, also a Philadelphia School of Pharmacy graduate, worked for the business as chief clerk.

On July 1, 1861 the Blair & Wyeth partnership was dissolved and the brothers formed a new partnership under the name John Wyeth & Brother. Notices for both the dissolution of the old business and establishment of the new business were printed in the July 2, 1861 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

This change must have been in the works for a while because on July 1, 1861, the same day the above notices were dated, the brothers opened their own store and laboratory at 1412 Walnut Street.

A feature on the company, printed in the January 16, 1908 issue of “The Pharmaceutical Era” picks up the story from there.

From the beginning the business proved successful, and requiring greater facilities the adjoining property 1414 Walnut Street was added. Their preparations soon became recognized by the medical profession and their laboratory was enlarged by the addition of another property, No. 1416 Walnut Street, the firm soon thereafter entering regularly into the wholesale manufacturing business.

Their entrance into drug manufacturing appears to be driven by the increased need for drug related supplies as a result of the Civil War. Wyeth’s obituary, in the April 1907 edition of a pharmaceutical magazine called “The Spatula,” stated:

When the Civil War broke out he secured a big contract to furnish the Government with medicinal supplies, and from this began the manufacturing of pharmaceutical articles.

Early in their history the business became famous for their sweetened tinctures which they called elixirs. A story featuring Wyeth in the March 28, 1881 edition of the Montreal Gazette described their elixirs like this:

The elixirs are drug compounds, made up in an elegant and palatable shape; drugs which are nauseating in the ordinary form are in this guise cordials which a patient can take with relish and which the weakest and most sensitive stomach will not reject.

This 1872 advertisement, printed in the Charleston (S. C.) Daily News listed a menu of over 35 elixirs that they were manufacturing at that time.

  

They were also pioneers in the manufacture of medicines in pill and tablet form and in 1872 developed a rotary tablet machine that allowed the mass production of pills with pre-measured doses. Excerpts from a letter written years later discussed in the company’s own words their early history in this field. Dated January, 1913, it was written to the U. S. Department of Agriculture Bureau of Chemistry in response to a request for information on tablet compressing machines and printed in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association.

We have no prepared data or printed matter on hand of tablet compressing machines; from our books we glean that in about 1872 we constructed the first rotary tablet machine in our own shop by our chief mechanic; the machine was what is styled a disc machine with several dies, and improvements were constantly added and machine perfected until we had some machines that had as many as thirteen dies in rotating disc and some of these machines are still in use at the present time in our laboratory.

We are also the originators of the compressed hypodermic tablets and compressed tablet triturates, also compressed medicinal lozenges; these three variations were introduced by us during a period of 1877 to 1880 and other combinations of compressed tablets followed quickly according to demands made upon us by the physicians and trade. Prior to 1877 the formulae that were sold in tablet form were very few. They consisted of simple chemicals principally, such as potassium chlorate, ammonium chloride, etc., and after 1877 combinations followed. Physicians saw the convenience of this form of medication and at various times submitted different compound formulae which were made into either tablets or compressed lozenges…

Throughout the 1870’s the business was growing and by 1879 that growth had reached Canada where the Montreal firm of Perry Davis & Son & Lawrence was serving as their agent. Interestingly they didn’t ship their products to Canada but instead, according to a March 28, 1881 story in the Montreal Gazette, shipped their chemists to Canada instead.

Nearly every preparation included in the Pharmacopia is manufactured under the direction of this firm (Wyeth) in the establishment of Messrs. Perry Davis & Son & Lawrence. The method in which it is done is this: Messrs. Wyeth & Bro. send on their representative from Philadelphia at certain periods of the year and a large number of hands are engaged. The manufacture is proceeded with on a large scale and as soon as the stock is regarded as sufficient for the time being for the Canadian market operations cease. When the stock runs low again the manufacture is renewed.

In Philadelphia they remained at the Walnut Street location until 1889 when their entire plant was destroyed by fire. The fire was described in the March 6, 1889 issue of “Chemist & Druggist,” and a diagram of the fire was included in the next day’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

It brief we may state the fire originated just before noon on February 10 in the cellar of Frank Morgan’s drug store, which was part of the main building, a handsome marble structure, occupied by John Wyeth & Brothers. The fire raged fiercely. Great plate glass windows cracked as if they had been egg-shells. In a few minutes the gable roof of John Wyeth & Brothers’ store was on fire. The flames crept stealthily back and joined the blaze on the roof of the marble front. The roof fell killing a fireman in its descent and when darkness came a mass of ruins marked the spot where a few hours before stood one of the handsomest drug stores in the country. Great sympathy is felt for Messrs. Wyeth Brothers who commenced business in Walnut Street twenty five years ago, and during that time have made a significant collection of apparatus, especially that for making compressed tablets, the loss of which cannot be represented by money.

After the fire it wasn’t long before the business was up and running again. On June 19, 1899 a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer announced:

John Wyeth & Brother have purchased the property at the southeast corner of Eleventh Street and Washington Avenue where they will establish their chemical laboratory.

Six weeks later on August 1, 1899, another Philadelphia Inquirer story announced planned alterations to the building.

Builder McPherson will erect a number of new buildings. Among them can be mentioned the extensive alterations to be made to the building of John Wyeth & Bro., at Eleventh and Washington Avenue. A new fourth story is to be added and extensive interior alterations made, which will cost at least $20,000.

The January 16, 1908 feature on Wyeth in the “Pharmaceutical Era” noted that they moved into their Washington Avenue location in November that year. What appears to be a rendering of the original Washington Avenue building, including the new fourth floor addition, was incorporated into a Wyeth advertisement printed in the October 22, 1899 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Pharmaceutical Era feature went on to say that subsequent additions made over the next ten years tripled the capacity of the original plant.

Additions and innovations to their product lines continued as well; one example being an entire line of “chocolate coated” compressed tablets introduced in 1901.

We trust the introduction of a line of Chocolate-coated Compressed Tablets (Compressed Pills) will meet with the same favor that has been accorded to our Plain and Sugar-coated Compressed Pills, and which we do not hesitate to claim as one of the greatest advances in pharmacy of the age and a distinct innovation in the manufacture of pills. As no excepient enters into their composition, they do not become hard by age and are less liable to be affected by any climatic influences. Their lenticular shape renders them much easier to swallow than the ordinary round pills. In fact, they offer so many decided advantages they must commend themselves to every practitioner.

The business incorporated on October 27, 1899 under the name John Wyeth & Brother, Inc. The incorporation notice printed in the October 28, 1899 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer named John and Francis H. Wyeth along with E.T. Dobbins, W.A. Sailor and H.G. Starin as the initial directors.

John Wyeth served as president until his death on March 30, 1907 when he was succeeded as president by his son Stuart Wyeth. A year later in 1908 his brother Frank retired as Vice-President and was succeeded by his son Maxwell Wyeth.

The business remained in the Wyeth family until Stuart Wyeth’s death on December 30, 1929. A bachelor, he left the bulk of his estate, approximately $5,000,000, to Harvard University which at the time was the largest sum ever left to Harvard. A story in the May 28, 1931 edition of the Boston Globe summarized the ownership in the Wyeth business after the dust settled.

In early 1930 45 to 50 percent of the Wyeth stock was willed to Harvard University by Stuart Wyeth. Other than 5 percent owned by employees of the company, the balance rests with two Philadelphia institutions, serving as trustees, the Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company and Pennsylvania Company for Insurance on Lives and Granting Annuities.

Less than two years later the business was sold to American Home Products. The basics of the sale were included in the July 8, 1931 edition of the Oakland Tribune:

Purchase by American home Products corporation, of John Wyeth and Brother of Philadelphia for about $4,000,000 in cash, will increase the per share earnings of American Home Products approximately $1…The transaction approved by the directors in May will be financed out of current funds and with bank accommodation.

Still headquartered in Philadelphia, at the time the business was sold it had become nation-wide and had also established their own laboratory in Canada.  A story in the December 19, 1933 edition of the The Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Record provided a snapshot of the business just after the sale.

The firm has its main office and a manufacturing laboratory in Philadelphia, a laboratory in Walkerville, Ontario, with branch warehouses and offices in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Denver, St. Paul, San Francisco, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Portland, Atlanta and Dallas, Texas…

It employs 600 workers in its manufacturing plants and offices and it has 100 traveling salesmen covering Canada, the United States and the outlying territories.

As a subsidiary of American Home Products, the business continued under the name John Wyeth & Brother up until 1943. During this period, long time Wyeth employee Frank F. Law served as vice president and general manager and later president of the company. Then in 1943 American Home Products reorganized the drug piece of their business under the name Wyeth, Inc. A September 30, 1948 story in the Wilkes-Barre Record that featured Frank Law touched on the 1943 reorganization.

In 1943 American Home Products merged five companies into an ethical drug division, using Wyeth as the nucleus and with Harry S. Howard, then head of AHP as president. The new firm was called Wyeth Incorporated and Law became vice president in charge of pharmaceuticals and penicillin manufacture and president of John Wyeth & Brother Incorporated of Canada.

The story went on to say:

Wyeth was among the first to grasp the revolutionary potentialities of penicillin and under Law’s direction the company was a leader in the manufacture of the new wonder drug.

This photograph, printed in the August 5, 1945 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer actually shows the nobel prize winning discoverer of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming at a Wyeth laboratory.

Wyeth was also heavily involved in the manufacture of other important vaccines as well; smallpox and polio to name a few. This story was printed in the April 25 edition of “The (Schuykill Pa.) Call”

The Marietta plant of Wyeth Laboratories, Inc. has been kept quite busy the past few days as a result of an increased demand from New York City for small pox vaccine to combat an outbreak in that city.

Dr. John H. Brown, production director at the laboratories, reported that over 100 members of his staff were very busy processing and packing small pox vaccine in order to fill New York City’s request for 2,000,000 inoculations.

In 1961, Wyeth moved from their long time facility on Washington Ave to the Philadelphia suburbs. According to a story in the October 13, 1960 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Wyeth Laboratories’ new $8,000,000 pharmaceutical facility near Malvern which will replace its 12th St. and Washington Ave. plant here, will be ready for occupancy in six months, it was announced Wednesday by Herbert W. Blades, president.

The new structure located on a 90 acre tract in East Whiteland township, just off Route 30, will have more than 12 acres under roof. The building cost $2,500,000 and manufacturing and laboratory facilities will cost an estimated $5,500,000.

Some 750 persons, including scientific, technical and administrative workers, will be employed at the plant. The facility will turn out prescription drugs and also serve as a national warehouse for Wyeth.

According to another article written around the same time, by then the company was headquartered in Randor Pennsylvania and had 21 manufacturing and distributing centers throughout the country.

In 2002, their parent company, American Home Products, actually changed its name to Wyeth. Having made the decision to focus on prescription drugs and health care they were in the process of selling off unrelated companies. According to Robert Essner, their president and chief executive officer at the time:

We are changing our name to reflect an important transition in the company’s history. Over the years we have strategically evolved from a holding company with diversified businesses to a world leader in research based pharmaceutical products. The Wyeth name, with its long and well respected association with the health care community, better conveys the skills of our people, the promise of our science, the quality of our products and our position as a world leader in the pharmaceutical industry.

In 2009 Pfizer acquired Wyeth in a $68 billion deal.

Wyeth’s presence in New York City dates back to the early twentieth century when they opened what appears to have been a sales office in 1914. The announcement of the opening was carried in the September, 1914 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era.”

John Wyeth & Bro., Philadelphia have opened a New York office at 449 West 42nd Street, with Charles Howard as their representative.

Over the next 40 years they maintained an office and most likely warehouse facilities at a number of NYC locations. Specific listings I can find include: 12 East 22nd St. (1919 to 1922), 7th Ave & 10th St. (1925), 117 7th Ave. South (1933) and 154 11th Avenue (1942 to 1946).

In 1948 it appears that much of their New York operation moved to 34 Exchange Place in Jersey City, N.J., however, they did continue to list a New York office until at least 1960. That year they were located in the Empire State Building.

I’ve found two Wyeth bottles over the years, both cobalt blue. One is a small mouth blown oval shaped pill bottle.

The other is a square machine made  bottle with a timed dosage cap that fits over the top (the bottle and cap were found in different locations at different times.) According to embossing on the base of the bottle it was patented on May 16, 1899. A recent labeled example exhibited on the Internet contained sodium phosphate; “A mild and pleasant Laxative Employed in the Treatment of Constipation, Obesity, Children’s Diarrhea, Rickets, Jaundice, etc.

        

United Wine & Trading Company – Pearl Wedding Rye

The United Wine and Trading Company was in business from 1899 through the early 1920’s. A news item in the June 30, 1899 edition of the Boston Evening Transcript announced the start of the company and the reasoning behind it.

Several hundred New York liquor dealers formally organized a combine yesterday and pledged themselves to support a movement which practically looks to the elimination of the middleman. Presiding officer Henry von Minden said:

“This movement will spread to other cities and in time it will control the trade permanently and effectively.”

He also announced that the capital stock of the company would be $700,000, of which about $300,000 is already subscribed. The company is to be known as the United Wine and Trading Company, and its purpose is to establish distilleries and manufacture spirits for its stockholders and for the trade. No one except retail liquor dealers are eligible for membership, and the maximum stock which any one person can hold is $2,000, the minimum is $500. The actual business of the company will be directed by a board of twelve, and in addition to dividends, it is expected that subscribers will also receive rebates.

A July 5, 1902 news item in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle stated that by then the company had 305 stockholders.

The business was listed in the New York directories at 424 Greenwich Street from 1900 to 1906 and at 321 West 13th Street from 1908 to 1919.  A complete listing of the directors was included in this 1902 advertisement (I count 13 directors not 12).

Henry von Minden served as president of the company from its onset until his death on December 7, 1918.

On November 28, 1899, several months after their incorporation, the company registered the label for Pearl Wedding Rye Whiskey and one other brand, Old Reliable Rye Whiskey, with the United States Patent Office.

This September 27, 1902 advertisement printed in the “Tamany Times,” a local N.Y. political publication, described Pearl Wedding Rye like this:

Pearl Wedding Rye Whiskey, Extra Special, is guaranteed to be more reliable and uniform in quality than any other whiskey offered to the public; its reputation for purity and excellence will always be sustained. It is made by a process employed only in the distillation of the finest whiskies and is from eight to ten years old, being thoroughly matured before it is bottled and placed on the market.

I can’t find many newspaper advertisements for Pearl Wedding Rye but apparently they used other advertising media such as billboards. This item, which appeared in the October 1902 edition of “The Advisor,” a magazine dedicated to the interests of advertisers, implied that the company advertised quite a bit.

Pearl Wedding Rye Goes

Before Pearl Wedding Rye was advertised its sales were 200 cases a month. Now more than 2000 cases are sold each month. Advertising did it.

One advertising poster, depicted likenesses of ex-Senator and ex-Governor of New York, David B. Hill; Admiral Winfield Scott Schley, the current Senator from New York, Chauncy Depew, New York City Mayor Seth Low and New York County District Attorney, William Travers Jerome, all supposedly at a banquet and drinking a toast with Pearl Wedding Rye.

The ladies of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) filed a protest against the advertisement and all the participants denied that they had endorsed the brand but the entire saga had made the newspapers and attracted lots of attention. To capitalize on all the publicity, the company republished the poster in newspaper advertisements under the headline “W.C.T.U. Conflicts with U.W.T.C.” and included the following announcement:

The ladies of the W.C.T.U. have filed their protest against the use of the above poster by the United Wine and Trading Company, proprietors of Pearl Wedding Rye Whiskey.

They have decided that the poster pictures are remarkably lifelike portrayals of five prominent Americans and that the pleased, satisfied expression which illumines their faces is particularly to be condemned.

One young woman proposed that the W.C.T.U. draft resolutions requesting its members to boycott Pearl Wedding Rye, but after a portentous silence the motion was hurriedly withdrawn.

Much more was said, which serves to provoke the query, Why do many of our greatest statesman, judges and army and naval officers drink Pearl Wedding Rye?

The answer is simple.

A “man who knows” knows best a good whiskey.

Pearl Wedding Rye is a most perfect whiskey and a healthful stimulant, free from fusel oil, delicately flavored, rich and mellow with age.

It is worthy of statesmen, worthy of the army and navy, worthy of the judiciary.

It bears the endorsement of some of our most famous physicians because of its medicinal qualities. It is an almost infallible cure for gout and rheumatism, and used as a preventative will invariably ward off attacks of colds and la grippe.

A bottle of Pearl Wedding Rye kept in the house and judiciously used will save many a doctor’s bill.

Those are some of the why’s.

The company was still listed in the directories during the first few years of Prohibition; in 1922 at 276 West 11th Street (with Hyman Reber named as president) and 1925 at 348 West 14th Street. After that I can’t find a listing for them.

According to streeteasy.com the building at 321 West 13th Street was built in 1907. That makes the United Wine & Trading Company an original occupant.

Zillow.com states that the current building at 424 Greenwich Street was built in 1915 so it doesn’t date back to the business.

The bottle I found is a half-pint mouth blown flask with screw threads and a ground finish. Remarkably, the cap was still attached and in relatively good condition.

Pearl Wedding Rye was sold in three sizes: Quart (or Fifth), pint and half-pint. The shape and cap design of the half-pint bottle I found matches the smallest of the three labeled bottles in this advertisement from several 1903 editions of “The Wine & Spirit Bulletin.”

     

Ayer’s Sarsaparilla, J. C. Ayer Company, Lowell, Massachusetts

 

The founder and initial proprietor of the company was James Cook Ayer.

Always located in Lowell, Massachusetts, his business began in a little apothecary shop and by the time of his death in 1878, had culminated in an immense patent medicine manufacturing establishment.

His success and notoriety were eloquently  summarized in a newspaper article, written near the time of his death, in the March 24, 1878 edition of the Boston Globe.

The name of Dr. James C. Ayer and his various compounds for nature’s ills are known throughout the whole length and breadth of the land. It may be safely said that there is not a second during the whole twenty-four hours but what, in some part of the inhabitable globe, the sun is shining upon his printed name…

Dr. Ayer was very justly recognized as one of the leading business and commercial men in Lowell and it is not any exaggeration to say that no single individual has ever done more to contribute to the city’s prosperity and renown.

The article went on to describe the general premise on which he based the business.

Thirty years ago, when Lowell was in its commercial infancy, Dr. Ayer commenced his business career as a drug clerk, and it was while serving in this capacity at a moderate salary that he struck upon the idea of curing the sick without the aid of physicians. At the time the settlement of the Western country had just commenced, and the Doctor argued to himself that in those wild sections there would be much sickness and very few physicians to deal with it, and that cheap and effective medicines for the common complaints of humanity would at once spring to popularity.

Ayer’s business career began in 1841 when he bought the apothecary shop of Jacob Robbins where he had been working as a clerk since 1838. The start of the business was described in the “History of Lowell and its People – Vol II,” by Frederick W. Coburn, published in 1920.

In April, 1841, he bought the Robbins drug store, borrowing from his uncle, James Cook, the purchase price – $2,486.61, thus beginning business life at the age of twenty-three with borrowed capital. But he had an asset even beyond his learning and youth. The drug store, which stood on Central Street, corner of Hurd Street, had been practically in the young man’s charge for some time, Mr. Robbins going to Europe. While in charge the young man experimented considerably, and had compounded the remedy for pulmonary complaints, which was afterward placed upon the market as Cherry Pectoral. He had induced physicians to try it in their practice, and the favorable reports received convinced him that he had found a valuable remedy. This fact nerved him to make the purchase and burden himself with a debt which he agreed to pay off in five years. It was paid in three.

His first remedy, Cherry Pectoral, was sold as a cure for coughs, colds, hoarseness, bronchitis, whooping cough, croup, asthma and consumption. Although it was being compounded by Ayer in his shop in the early 1840’s, newspaper advertisements for it did not begin to appear until 1845. These early advertisements from the late 1840’s/early 1850’s, like most Ayer advertisements over the years, were followed by written testimonials.

     

As the demand for his Cherry Pectoral continued to increase, so did the need for more space to manufacture it. Consequently in 1852, he built his first factory. According to Colburn’s “History of Lowell:”

For a time he continued at the old Robbins shop but the demand for his Cherry Pectoral increased so fast that he needed more room to install necessary machinery. He rented quarters in the Hamilton building, corner of Central and Jackson Streets. There he remained until 1852 when, driven out by the insistent demands of his trade, he moved to the large brick building he had caused to be erected on Jackson Street, adjoining the Fiske block.

Lowell city directories of the time confirmed this progression. He was listed at the original Robbins shop at Central and Hurd up through 1844 and subsequently the Hamilton building, at 84 Central, from 1845 to 1851. By 1853 the directories listed James C. Ayer & Co., Central, corner of Jackson where he remained  listed through 1858.

Shortly after establishing the new Jackson Street facility, Ayer’s introduced sugar coated pills called “Ayer’s Cathartic Pills” or sometimes just “Ayer’s Pills” as a second Ayer product.

Introductory newspaper advertisements, including one from the December 10, 1853 edition of the “New England Farmer,” described them as:

A new and singularly successful remedy for the cure of all Bilous diseases – Costiveness, Indigestion, Jaundice, Dropsy, Rheumatism, Fevers, Gout, Humors, Nervousness, Irritability, Inflammations, Headache, Pains in the Breast, Side, Back, and Limbs, Female Complaints, et., etc. Indeed very few are the diseases in which a Purgative Medicine is not more or less required, and much sickness and suffering might be prevented, if a harmless but effectual Cathartic were more freely used… Hence a reliable family physic is of the first importance to the public health, and this Pill has been perfected with consummate skill to meet that demand…

The addition of Carthatic Pills contributed to the growth of the business such that Ayer needed help, so, sometime in 1855, Ayer’s brother Frederick joined the business and by 1856 they had formed an official copartnership. A notice announcing the copartnership was printed in the December 4, 1856 edition of the “Burlington (Vermont) Weekly Sentinel.”

Around the same time two new “Ayer” preparations appeared on the market in rapid succession. Colburn’s “History of Lowell” identified them as:

….In 1855 Extract of Sarsaparilla was placed on the market, ague cure following in 1857.

Newspaper advertisements for both began appearing in and around 1858.

Their Sarsaparilla was described in advertisements as:

a combination of vegetable alteratives – Stillingia, Mandrake, Yellow Dock – with the Iodides of Potassium and Iron, and is the most effacious medicine yet known for the diseases it is intended to cure.

Its ingredients are so skillfully combined that the full alterative effect of each is assured, and while it is so mild as to be harmless even to children, it is still so effectual as to purge out from the system those impurities and corruptions which develop into loathsome disease.

Those diseases intended for its cure were many.

“Ayer’s Ague Cure,” was warranted as a cure for:

Fever and Ague. Intermittent Fever, Chill Fever, Remittent Fever, Periodical or Billious Fever, etc., and indeed all the affections which arise from malarious, marsh or miasmatic poisons.

According to Colburn’s “History of Lowell,” the manufacture of these remedies taxed the Jackson Street building beyond its capacity and in 1857 they erected a large building on Market Street. Later, in 1872, they purchased a school building on Market street and included it as part of their facility. Lowell directories listed the addresses of these locations as 103-105 Market Street and 98 Middle Street respectively. During this period, they began manufacturing Ayer’s Hair Vigor (1869) and acquired Hall’s Hair Renewer by purchase (1870).

On  July 3, 1877, J. C. Ayer passed away at the age of 60 and subsequently, on October 16, 1877, the business incorporated with Frederick Ayer named as the company’s first treasurer and general manager. Under his leadership the business continued to prosper through the 1880’s. A retrospective look  back at the year 1885, printed in the 1886 New Year’s Day edition of the Boston Globe provided this snapshot of a growing company that had become a world-wide operation.

At the J. C. Ayer Company about three hundred persons had employment in the office, laboratory, printing room and bindery. The managers claim that forty thousand persons do business with them and their sales have been greater this year than ever. To advertise their business the company prints almanacs in ten different languages and the last edition issued was over 14,000,000. Pamphlets are also issued in twenty different languages, and 40,000,000 circulars are also printed.

According to the biography of Frederick Ayer, included in the “Biographical History of Massachusetts,” he held the office of Treasurer until 1893 when the pressure of other interests forced him to resign. (According to his New York Times obituary, he was one of the organizers and for several years Treasurer of the Lake Superior Ship Canal and Railway and Iron Company and at the time of his death he was a Director of the Columbian National Life Insurance Company, the American Woolen Company, the International Trust Company, the J. C. Ayer Company, the Tremont and Suffolk Mills, the Boston Elevated Railroad Company and the Lowell and Andover Railroad Company.) After 1893 the Lowell directories, listed him as president of the Ayer business  but he had obviously left the day to day management of the business to others.

In 1894, it appears that the company either moved or expanded again, changing their main address listing in the Lowell directories from 98 Middle Street to 176 Middle Street. By this time they apparently owned a significant amount of property in the block between Middle Street and Market Street.

At the turn of the century, the company was still making additions and improvements to the their facility and operations. On April 23,1900 the company hosted a full day celebration to showcase one such series of improvements. An article describing the day’s festivities was printed in the April 24, 1900 edition of the “Boston Globe.” The article’s author participated in a tour of the Ayer facilities and his description of that tour, quoted below, provides a first hand perspective of the business at the time. So now sit back and enjoy the tour!

From the main office the sightseers were conducted downstairs to the printing office, which is prepared, as the foreman said to the reporter, “to turn out anything from a visiting card to a Bible.”

The next stopping place on the march was the new engine room on the Market Street side of the building, one of the handsomest engine rooms in the state. It was brilliantly lighted by more than 60 incandescent lamps. The engines of 80 horsepower each were the center of attraction.

Upstairs again following their guides, the guests found themselves in the first office of the fine new building on Market Street where Dr. Stowell presides over the medical department. This office as well as the one connected with it is in charge of Mr. Robinson.

Above these offices are two similar rooms, the sanctums of Mr. Kirkland, under whose supervision the renovating process has been brought to completion, and of Mr. Frank G. Rose, head of the publication department. Another flight took the visitors to the electrotyping department, where all the plates used in the advertising are cast.

Then followed a sight of the storeroom, drug mill, built exclusively for the company, the old tank room now superseded by the new, through passage and apartment, amid the clink of bottle and whir of machinery to the mixing room, the head center of the house of Ayer. The great room contains 7,000 square feet.

In one corner is the experimental laboratory – sacred to chemist Flynn, who said that last year they found it necessary to add over 13,000 gallons to the capacity, which now aggregates over 28,000 gallons.

A visit to the pill room on the same floor gave the visitors a glimpse at a business-like machine which mixed away at the compounds for dear life, turning the product over to a neighbor which rolled and cut the soft mass, delivering it in the form of handfuls of pills, black as the traditional hat, and pouring by thousands into the receptacle at the base. Thence the pills are placed in huge copper cylinders, where they roll into coats of sugary whiteness, to be withdrawn, hardened in the drying kilns, recoated smoothly and sent along to be packed.

The filtering room, where the sarsaparilla and pectoral compounds from upstairs are filtered and cleansed from sediment was seen. In the bottling room below, the Ayer products, sarsaparilla, cherry pectoral, ague cure, etc., are made ready for the market – bottled and labeled with careful swiftness. An inspection of the hair vigor department was next in order.

A further descent revealed the advertising exhibit, showing Ayer advertising in 21 different languages as one of the novelties. Through the stock room, piled high with boxes containing the finished product, the visitors were led, downstairs to the shipping room, where the methods of sending out goods for foreign and local markets were set forth. Each trade has its own style of packing, and each preparation as well.

In the basement are stored in one part rows upon rows of barrels filled with drugs, and in another hundreds of cases of glassware in which the preparations are packed. Then the guests were lifted again to the office level. They were quite ready for a rest. The house of Ayer contains a floor space of 107,000 square feet, and they had traveled a considerable part of it.

After Frederick’s death in 1918, J. C. Ayer’s son, also named Frederick, was listed in the directories as president until 1924 when he also passed away. At that point, Charles F. Ayer (a son of the elder Frederic (as best I can tell) was named president.

The company remained listed at 176 Middle Street in the 1939 Lowell Directory. Also listed in 1939, at the same address, was the Mass Pharmaceutical Corp. In 1943 (the next directory I have access to) The Mass Pharmaceutical Corp. was still listed at the same address but the Ayer Company had vanished from the directory. In 1944, neither company name was listed.

Advertising was one of, if not THE, key to the success of the company over the years. J. Walter Thompson, a famous advertising executive, whose company worked with the Ayer company for over 20 years beginning around 1870, was interviewed around the time of Frederick’s death in 1918. In the interview, presented in the March 21, 1918 edition of “Printers Ink, he mentioned both their almanac, which began publishing in 1852, and newspaper/magazine advertisements as focus points of their advertising.

J. C. Ayer & Co., were one of my first clients and continued with me for more than twenty years. I probably did not meet Frederick Ayer more than two or three times during this entire period, although he was the directing force of the business. The man I dealt with was Mr. Whyte – I think that was the way his name was spelled – who had charge of the advertising and made the contacts with agents and publishers.

Ayer’s Almanac was, I believe, the first and most widely distributed advertising medium employed by the firm. I have seen a statement somewhere, that the sum of $300,000 a year was annually spent on this publication. It was issued in some forty different languages and dialects, the several editions aggregating several million copies.

      

The Ayer remedies were extensively advertised in the newspapers as well as in the magazines. Mr. Whyte himself, used to go about the country, making contracts with the newspaper publishers. The rates he paid were down to bedrock and were ofter ridiculously low. The contracts were prepared a sufficiently long time in advance to have them include every possible provision that would insure their exact fulfillment. I do not remember the amount spent bt the Ayers in advertising in the magazines and newspapers, but it was not less than $200,000 and may have run as high as $500,000.

Their newspaper advertisements were supported by a large number of written testimonials that attested to the success of their products as well as endorsements from well-known individuals. This early advertisement, printed in the November 21, 1857 edition of the “New England Farmer” included endorsements from the Governor of Massachusetts, the Catholic Bishop of Boston and a professor of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City among others.

Another, printed in the April 7, 1860 edition of the “New England Farmer” included endorsements from over 25 named mayors of both U. S. and foreign cities.

The “Printers Ink” interview went on to say that Ayer was one of the first companies that provided their goods to retailers on consignment.

It was Frederick Ayer who inaugurated what was at the time a brand new system of distribution. He was not satisfied with the old methods – they were shown to be inadequate. He believed that there were hundreds of stores in the smaller towns not covered by his salesman that ought to sell the Ayer products. After studying the situation thoroughly he hit upon a plan that enormously increased the business. A large number of handsomely painted and decorated wagons, drawn by one and two pairs of fine looking horses and carrying large stocks of Ayer remedies were sent out along the highways into nearly every state. The salesman who accompanied the wagons called on every retailer, whether grocer, druggist or general store keeper, in every town, and, whenever possible, left with him an assortment of goods. The coming of these wagons, which because of their snappy smart appearance created great interest wherever they went, was an event, and the dealers in front of whose stores the teams stopped felt highly honored. The remedies were left on consignment. Three months or perhaps four months later, when the distributing wagons made their next trip, the retailers paid for the goods sold since the last visit. In this way Ayers built up a great distribution. You could hardly find a town anywhere in which the firm’s products were not sold. This sales plan was employed for many years , but was finally abandoned when transportation facilities became abundant.

Today, the building at 176 Middle Street almost certainly dates back to the time of the business. A sign denoting the “J. C. Ayer Co.” is still prominently visible on the side of the building that fronts Middle Street. Now, converted to condominiums the building is now called the “Ayer Lofts Condominiums.”

     

The bottle I found is a mouth blown sarsaparilla bottle that matches the bottles shown in advertisements from the late 1800’s.