At first glance you would think this small 1-3/4 inch diameter jar contained some sort of medicinal or cosmetic cream but you’d be wrong. In fact, it served as the lower portion of a jar that contained oil and could be converted to an oiler by adding a nozzle at the top.
An example of the jar adapted for use as an oiler was recently offered for sale on the internet
Called the “Gem” Oiler, it was on the market from the late 1880’s up through the turn of the century when you could pick one up for between 10 and 15 cents.
Its story begins with a native Pennsylvanian named Reuben Ritter who in the mid to late 1800’s was listed in the directories with a wide variety of occupations that included patent med’s, insurance agent, salesman, foreman, oiler and watchman. That being said it’s clear that he could also have been listed with still another occupation, that of inventor. As early as 1874 he obtained a U.S. patent for what he called the “self sustaining paper box.” The July 14, 1874 edition of the “Scranton Republican” told the story.
On the 30th, Mr. Rueben Ritter of this city, was granted a patent upon a paper box, samples of which are to be seen at Peacock’s drug store. It is called the self-sustaining paper box, and its merits lie in its being composed of only one piece of paper, (ingeniously cut by a machine for the purpose of which is also the design of Mr, Ritter), and put together so that it cannot come apart, and will hold water, so perfectly is it cut, and yet no paste or any fastening substance is used. The box is called by all who examine it, an admirable invention, and when introduced, Mr. Ritter will not fail of securing an unlimited demand for it.
Six years later, on February 3, 1880 (the date embossed on the base of the subject jar), Ritter obtained a patent (No.234,041) for what he called his “Combined Oiler and Oil Bottle.” According to the specifications included with the patent application, in addition to serving as an oiler the bottle/jar could also be adapted for use as a night lamp.
The bottle may be made with very little cost, filled with oil, closed by a suitable stopper and sold as a bottle of oil.
The purchaser can, at the time of first purchase, procure the oiler nozzle and a night lamp. The device may then be used either as an oiler for machinery or a night lamp.
Both the nozzle and lamp configurations were illustrated on this drawing that was also part of the patent documents.
At around the same time that Ritter was obtaining his patent, George H. Paine was establishing George H. Paine & Co. in Philadelphia. The company was first listed in 1881 as “commercial merchants” with an address of 105 S Front. In 1883 William E. Diehl joined Paine and the company changed its name to Paine Diehl & Co. The company operated under that name up through 1894 utilizing several different Philadelphia addresses over that span including 105 S Front (1883), 7 Strawberry (1884 to 1885), 12 Bank (1886 to 1887) and 430 S Penn Sq. (1888 to 1894).
During this time the company marketed several unique household items. The one they advertised the most was called the “self-pouring coffee and tea pot.”
Another was their “Egg Beater and Cream Whip.”
Sometime in the mid-1880’s Paine, Diehl & Co. apparently obtained the rights to Ritter’s design and by 1889 they were running advertisements for what they called the “Gem” Oiler. One of the first ads I can find appeared in the June, 1889 edition of a publication called “The Iron Age.”
Turning to page 67 you found the following item that touted the oiler’s benefits and described how to use it.
Patented February 3, 1880
The oiler is made of heavy flint glass – strong, clean and durable; filled with the best of oil. It has a metallic top (the bottom is glass), with a flexible chamber with which to squirt the oil. The cap is screwed onto the bottle, making the oiler absolutely leakless.
Being transparent, the quantity of oil in or being poured into the oiler can be seen at a glance, thus enabling you to fill without spilling the oil. Having the bottom and sides all in on piece and of glass, they are perfectly clean, with no spring bottom to leak or come out.
They are sold so cheap that they can be sold at about the price of a bottle of good oil alone.
To the dealer it is a most convenient article and ready seller.
With the consumer it is a most desirable arrangement, as it enables him to get an oiler with his oil, and a splendid offer too.
In using – Place your thumb on the bottom of the oiler, letting the spout pass between the fingers. To squirt the oil, press down on the washer around the spout. This gives a better flow than a spring-bottom oiler, and is easily regulated.
They are sold by Grocers, Stationers, House-Furnishers, Druggists, Hardware Merchants, Novelty Dealers, Typo-writer Dealers and Sewing-Machine Dealers.
PAINE, DIEHL & CO.
Paine, Diehl & Co. was last listed in the 1894 Philadelphia directory, suggesting that the relationship between Paine and Diehl ended around that time. That same year Paine apparently associated with a man named Charles W. Asbury and they established the Asbury-Paine Manufacturing Company in Trenton, New Jersey.
Within a year, the November 9, 1895 edition of the “Philadelphia Times” announced that the company was set to move their headquarters to Philadelphia. The announcement was included under the heading “New Charters.”
The following foreign corporations have been licensed to do business in this State:…the Asbury Paine Manufacturing Company of Trenton, N.J., headquarters to be in Philadelphia.
The company remained headquartered at Wayne Junction (Wayne and Berkley) in Philadelphia up through the turn of the century with Paine named vice president and Asbury, treasurer. During this time, in addition to advertising many of the former Paine Diehl products, they added some new ones as well. One, that was advertised quite heavily was called “Witch-Kloth.”
Ashley-Paine also continued to market the “Gem” Oiler as evidenced by the following advertisement that appeared in several 1896 editions of the “Trenton Evening News.”
Apparently, the Asbury-Paine Manufacturing Company came to an end in 1900, at which time the company name vanished from the Philadelphia directories. That being said, the “Gem” brand of oilers survived well into the 20th century.
On November 27, 1899, the Gem Manufacturing Company was established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An announcement to that effect appeared in the November 7, 1899 edition of “The Pittsburgh Press.”
An application for a charter for the incorporation of the Gem Manufacturing Company will be filed at Harrisburg, November 27. The company will locate its plant in the building formerly occupied by the Bradley Stove Company, Second Avenue and Wood Street. The larger stockholders of the new company are men conversant with the machinery business and have already purchased the hydraulic presses and the die machinery required for the manufacture of the steel specialties. The incorporators of the company are: William H. Frick, John A. Clark, Edwin S. Fonnes, D.A. McCaffrey and W. D. Forsythe.. The two first named are the secretary and vice-president of the Frick & Lindsey Company, Water Street.
The official organization of the company will take place when the charter is received, about December 1, and the company expects to have the plant in working order not later than January 1.
What connection they had with the former Asbuury-Paine Manufacturing Company or, how they obtained rights to the “Gem” name, is not clear but almost immediately after the Gem Manufacturing Company was established they introduced a newly designed “Gem” Oiler. This advertisement touting its benefits can be found in the June 18, 1900 edition of a publication called “The Daily Railway Age.”
According to another introductory item, this one published in the April, 1900 edition of a publication called “Railway Master Mechanic,” the new design replaced the glass jar with a steel base and bottom.
A New Oiler
The Gem Manufacturing Co., of Pittsburg, Pa., presents a new device in the Gem oiler. The can itself is a departure from methods now obtaining, yet it still preserves the fundamental principle of the old.
In this oiler the bottom is constructed from high carbon spring steel. The body is made from the best grade of basic low phosphorus steel, pressed and drop forged into shape, and flared and spun firmly against the bottom proper. To further strengthen the cans and insure against any leakage whatever, the oilers are brazed upon the inside…
This August, 1900 advertisement in “Steam Engineering” called it “The Best Oiler Made.”
This example of their early steel oiler recently appeared for sale on the internet.
Later the company added the “Gem” Steel Tallow Pot and the”Gem” Engineer’s Set to the “Gem” family of oilers.
These additions, coupled with the company’s choice of publications in which to run their advertisements make it clear that the market for their oiler was expanding. Originally sold in local grocery, drug and hardware stores, Ashley-Paine simply targeted the customer who wanted to fix a squeaky door or oil his wheelbarrow. Under the Gem Manufacturing Company, much of their advertising was now directed toward the professional mechanic.
Another market for their oilers opened up with the proliferation of the automobile. According to this January 11, 1906 advertisement published in a magazine called “The Automobile:”
If you have a high-class car, you need a high-class Gem Oiler.
Not just oilers, in the early 1900’s the “Gem” name began to represent an entire line of products. As early as 1902, this May 26th advertisement in the “Birmingham (Alabama) News” referenced both a “Gem” flue scraper and a “Gem” flexible shaft in addition to the “Gem” oiler.
By 1925, this advertisement in “Hendrick’s Commercial Register” made it clear you needed a catalog to see the entire line of “Gem” Products.
In the 1930’s and 1940’s the company expanded into many other areas including the manufacture of automotive items such as mufflers. That being said, through it all they apparently continued to manufacture oil cans and oilers. As late as 1953 the company was included on a U. S. government listing under the heading: “Manufacturers of Lubricating Systems and Devices.”
In March, 1953 the company, still located in Pittsburgh, went into receivership. According to the March 6th edition of the “Pittsburgh Press:”
Uncle Sam today slapped a big tax lien on a Pittsburgh firm now in receivership.
The lien for $185,193 was filed against the Gem Manufacturing Co. Attorney J. Howard is the receiver…The lien covers income taxes for the years 1943 through 1946 which the Government claims the firm has failed to pay.
The business apparently reorganized and was still active in Pittsburgh in 1960 and possibly longer. Whether they were still manufacturing oil cans and oilers at this point is unknown.
Our subject jar held two ounces of oil. Embossing on the base includes the Asbury-Paine Mfg. Co. name dating it between 1895 and 1899 when they manufactured the oiler.
On a final note: Unlike most items presented on this site, this jar was not found in the Long Island bays. Instead it was found by one of my wife’s best friends while tending her beautiful northern Massachusetts garden. Thanks Di and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
“Sparklene” was the name of a polish manufactured from the late 1890’s up through the 1950’s by Charles H. Smith & Co. of Boston, Massachusettes and later by J. A. Wright & Co. of Keene, New Hampshire. Newspaper advertisements for the polish were still appearing as late as the mid-1980’s.
Although generally referred to as a “silver polish,” over the years it was advertised as a polish for anything from metals to marble to glass.
One early advertisement, found in the June 3, 1897 edition of Hartford Connecticut’s “Daily Morning Journal and Courier,” summed up Sparklene’s marketing pitch in one sentence.
It will brighten anything which ought to be bright.
On Jul7 17, 1905, Charles H. Smith & Co. filed an Application (No. 10,468) to register the “Sparklene” trademark in accordance with the then recently enacted Trademark Act of February 20, 1905.
There was no public opposition to their application and the trademark was ultimately registered on January 30, 1906 (No. 49,242).
The patent records indicated that the Sparklene trademark had been in use for ten years prior, likely establishing a start date for its manufacture sometime in the mid-1890’s. The prequel to the Sparklene story however begins several years earlier with the originating company’s namesake, Charles H. Smith.
Census records indicate that he was born in New Hampshire in 1854. Boston city directories suggest that he arrived in Boston sometime in the late 1880’s, where he was first listed with the occupation “agent for the “Dam’s Remedy Company.”
A patent medicine business run by a so called physician named Alvah Dam, in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, the company manufactured and sold several patent medicines that prominently featured the Dam name. One, called Dr. Dam’s Nerve-Aid, was featured in this November 12, 1893 “Boston Globe advertisement.
The Boston directories continued to associate Smith with the “Dam Remedy Company” up through 1895 at which point Alvah Dam, in severe financial trouble, filed for bankruptcy. According to the December 1, 1895 edition of “Merck’s Market Report,” Smith was one of Dam’s two largest creditors.
Dr. Alvah M. F. Dam, 212 Columbus Avenue, Boston, well known through his connection with the Dam Remedy Company, whose insolvency petition was filed recently, has debts amounting to $69,814. Among the largest creditors are the National Traders’ Bank of Portland, Me., $10,000 and Charles H. Smith, who has $7,834 charged against him.
In fact, a notice published in the December 24, 1895 edition of the Boston Post, announced that Smith had actually been appointed as the “assignee” in the case.
Apparently, at the same time Smith was involved in the bankruptcy proceedings of his former boss, he was also establishing Charles H. Smith & Company. As early as November 24, 1895, he was running this want ad in the “Boston Globe” classifieds..
While there’s no way of knowing, it certainly makes sense that the “quick seller” mentioned in the above ad was Sparklene. This supposition is bolstered by the fact that department stores were stocking Sparklene and offering free demonstrations as early as 1897. One such department store was Hochschild, Kohn & Co., of Baltimore Md., who included this item in their April 22, 1899 advertisement published in the “Baltimore Sun.”
In their home town of Boston, the October 25, 1905 edition of the “Globe,” announced that the department store of Henry Siegel Co. had taken it a step further, actually maintaining a “demonstration booth” in their basement.
Charles H Smith & Co.remained listed in Boston up through 1957 listing several addresses over that period; 8 Bromfield (1896-1897), 10 Federal (1898), 79 Milk (1899-1904), 220 Devonshire (1905-1922), 85 Purchase (1923-1945) and 103 Broad (1948-1957). I suspect that each of these addresses referenced their office location. It’s likely that their manufacturing facilities were also situated in Boston but where is unknown.
Over the course of this roughly 60 year period the company was apparently closely held by the Smith family. The Boston directories named Charles as proprietor up through the time of his death on November 10, 1929, after which his wife, Annie, continued to be listed in that role. Annie went on to renew the Sparklene trademark (No. 49242) in 1946.
Charles H. Smith & Co. disappeared from the Boston directories sometime in the late 1950’s. Around that time it appears that Annie transferred control of the business to one of their competitors, J. A. Wright & Co. of Keene New Hampshire. Trademark renewal records from 1966 reveal that the transfer had certainly occurred by then.
J. A. Wright & Co. renewed the Sparklene trademark again in 1985 however, how long they continued to market the polish is not clear. The last mention of Sparklene polish that I can find appeared in the April 8, 1984 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” where it was included within a menu of items (2nd from the bottom) advertised by a company called “Shop-In-Bag.”
The trademark expired when it was not renewed in 2006.
The style of our subject bottle was utilized by the company throughout much of their history, as evidenced by the following two advertisements. The first was published in 1910 and the second in 1943.
Our subject bottle is machine made and certainly the 5-1/2 ounce size. The base of the bottle exhibits the Illinois Glass Co.’s maker’s mark of an I enclosed in a diamond shape, dating the bottle between 1915 and 1929.
Sparklene advertisements in later years suggest that sometime in the 1940’s they began to package the polish in jars with wider mouths and shorter necks. The first, exhibiting a 32 oz sized jar, was published in a 1944 edition of the Pittsburgh “Sun-Telegraph.” The second, a pint jar, was found in a 1964 edition of Allentown Pennsylvania’s “Morning Call.”
Established in the mid 1860’s by Phillip Danforth Armour and John Plankinton, Armour and Company was a meat packing business that by the turn of the century had grown into one of the largest companies in the United States. For many years its presence in Chicago’s Union Stock Yards contributed, in no small way, to that city’s reputation as the capital of the American meatpacking industry.
Not only a meat producer, the company was heavily involved in the manufacture of by-products utilizing materials that were typically wasted in the slaughtering process. According to an October 20, 1901 story in the Buffalo (N.Y.) Times:
It is a saying in Chicago that the house of Armour & Co., in the slaughter of hogs, “loses nothing but the squeal of the hogs” when they are led to the slaughter. Employing many thousands of men in the varied industries growing out of their vast slaughtering business, the firm has found it immensely profitable to utilize all portions of the raw material by the firm.
The story went on to provide this menu of products manufactured under the Armour name at the turn of the century. The list would grow well into the hundreds by the 1920’s
The business got its start with John Plankinton, not in Chicago but further north in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His biography, available on wisconsinhistory.org tells the story.
John Plankinton was a meat packer and businessman. In 1849 he began the packing of beef and hog products, and in 1852 formed a partnership with Frederick Layton under the firm name of Layton and Plankinton Packing Co. In 1861 Layton withdrew and Plankinton continued the business alone until 1863, when he was joined by Phillip D. Armour, and the firm became Plankinton, Armour and Co. (Plankinton & Armour)
Armour had arrived in Milwaukee by way of California where he had been lured by the gold rush. Whether he made any money on the west coast is apparently open to speculation. According to his biography published in “A History of the City of Chicago,” published in 1900:
Mr Armour returned to the East in 1856, after having a varied experience in mining enterprises, and it was conjectured at the time that he brought back with him considerable of the golden dust, but the facts of this interesting matter are known only to himself.
Another biography, this one published in the January 7, 1901 edition of Chicago’s “Inter Ocean,” described Armour’s Milwaukee years leading up to his association with Plankinton.
Mr. Armour went to Milwaukee, where he had a friend, Frederick S. Miles, who was engaged in the wholesale grocery and commission business, and soon became his business partner, the style of the firm being Miles & Armour. The firm was prosperous, but in 1863 Mr. Armour withdrew from it to engage in the shipment of wheat, in which he saw more money. He purchased the largest grain elevator in the city, and was again as successful as could be desired.
In the meantime the pork-packing firm of Plankton & Layton was dissolved, and John Plankinton formed a new firm, in the same business with Mr. Armour, under the style of Plankton & Armour.
It appears that shortly after his association with Plankinton the financial foundation for the Armour business was laid. His “Inter Ocean” biography went on to say:
The firm was successful from the first, and suddenly amassed a great fortune, all through the brilliant management of Mr. Armour. This happened in the spring of 1863, when the war of the rebellion was drawing to a close. At that time pork was selling at $40 a barrel, and the New York operators were buying it recklessly under the impression that it would go to $60. Mr. Armour believed that the war would soon end, and that pork would decline to $20 or less. He laid his plans before his partners, who gave him their approval, and then went posthaste to New York, where he sold pork short for $40 as long as anybody would buy it. Sure enough, pork soon fell to $18, and Mr. Armour and his partners were made millionaires.
In the meantime Phillip’s brother, Herman O. Armour, had started a grain commission business in Chicago sometime in 1862 and by 1864 the two brothers along with Plankinton had joined together in that city under the name H. O. Armour & Co. In 1868 they began packing pork under the name Armour & Co. and by 1870 all the business transacted in Chicago was done under the Armour & Co. name.
According to a story written years later in the December 2, 1951 edition of the Tribune, the Chicago operation moved to the Union Stock Yards in 1872 where it would remain until the late 1950’s.
The first Armour hog plant was the old Bell house in the Archer Avenue packing center which had been built up during the Civil War. About 1868 packers began to move south to the area just west of the stock yards and Armour followed in 1872.
As early as 1865 Herman left another brother, Joseph, in charge of the Chicago operation and opened an office in New York under the name Armour, Plankinton & Co. The office was first listed in the 1866/1867 New York City directory at 129 Broad Street in Manhattan.
By the end of the decade the Armours had also established another plant, this one in Kansas City run by a fourth brother, Simeone Armour, under the name Plankinton & Armours.
As early as the mid-1870’s a story in the Kansas City Times clearly viewed their operation as the leader in the country and world’s meat packing industry.
Thoroughly identified with the packing business of the whole country, there are no names in the United States more familiar to the trade than those of the Plankinton’s and the Armours, there being two of the former-father and son-and four of the latter-brothers. These six gentlemen stand at the head of beyond all comparisons the heaviest beef and pork packing business of the world…
A May 10, 1880 story published in the The (London) Times featured the American bacon and pork industry and included this description of the Armour business.
A few hogs are slaughtered and salted by the farmers, but the great bulk pass to the packers…
Messrs. Armour & Co. handle nearly 1,000,000 hogs annually at Chicago, and have similar establishments at Milwaukee and at Kansas City, at each of which upwards of 400,000 are slaughtered and packed. From small beginnings in 1860 their business has steadily increased; within six years it has doubled. At the Chicago works at the stock yards, 10,000 pigs are frequently killed daily in summer; 20,000 constitute a full day’s slaughtering in winter. Two thousand tons of meat are sometimes dispatched in a single day from the railway sidings which are conveniently brought into the premises. The work covers 14 acres; the buildings are four stories high, and are being constantly added to. There are six lifts, and hydrants and fire hose are fixed at convenient points on every story. A trained fire brigade is recruited from among the operatives. The premises are insured for a million dollars, the annual premium on different parts of the works varying from 1 to 1 3/4 percent. Two thousand men are employed in summer and 3,500 in winter.
The raw material which keeps this great establishment moving is conveniently found in the contiguous market where 60,000 hogs are sometimes pitched (sold) in a morning, and on one occasion last summer the number ran up to 80,000… Messrs. Armour have large pens and yards where their purchases are fed and watered until required. No fasting is practiced as in England. The grunter has his breakfast even if he is doomed before dinner time.
An advertisement published in the March 18, 1882 edition of the (New Orleans) Times-Democrat, for one of Armour’s agents, McCloskey & Henderson, provided this list of canned meat products being produced and shipped out of Chicago by Armour at the time. By this time the business included beef and even chicken soup, as well as pork.
Over the course of several years during the early 1880’s the Armours and Plankinton severed their various business relationships, apparently amicably. As the dust settled, the resultant situation was summarized in the October 26, 1884 edition of the Kansas City Times.
As appears from a dissolution notice published in the advertisement column of THE TIMES this morning, the partnership which has existed for twenty-five years between Mr P.D. Armour and Mr. John Plankinton, has been dissolved, Mr. Armour retiring from the Milwaukee house and Mr. Plankinton from the Kansas City house, which will in the future be known under the firm name of the Armour Packing Company.
The dissolution does not effect either the Chicago or New York houses, as Mr. Plankinton has not been connected with the former business for several years and a few weeks ago sold his interest in the New York house to Mr. H. O. Armour retaining an interest in but one establishment, that of Milwaukee, of which he is the chief owner.
It was during the remainder of the 1800’s that the Armours laid the foundation for much of the company’s expansion into industries related to their meat packing business, adding a glue factory, soap works and a pharmaceutical department among others to their operation.
A story in the January 1, 1886 edition of the Chicago Tribune announced the acquisition of the Wahl Bros. glue factory.
In a circular-letter to the trade, dated December 21, 1885, they announce the purchase of Wahl Bros’ extensive glue factory (which covers eight acres) in this city, together with the good will and all appurtenances. They will continue to produce glue in all it’s varieties, and all other products that their predecessors did, including gelatin, brewers’ isinglass, size for papermakers, bone-meal, neatsfoot oil, etc., etc. The regular packing business of the firm furnishes them with a fresh daily supply of materials, which is such an essential feature in securing superior qualities and perfect results… They employ 300 hands in the glue factory.
Ten years later, another item published in the Chicago Tribune, this one on May 5, 1896, announced the formation of their soap works.
Commencing this day the firm of Armour & Co. has added another feature to their business, to be known as the Armour Soap Works. The new building and plant are situated at Thirty-first and Benson Streets. With the inauguration of the soap works Armour & Co. now utilize everything in the way of raw material from the hog and steer.
An April 17, 1897 advertisement For Oshkosh Wisconsin’s “Kruschke’s” Department Store, confirmed that less than a year later the soap works was manufacturing at least three different soap brands.
Both the glue works and soap works were included in this May 28, 1897 advertisement in the Chicago Chronicle.
By the early 1890’s a pharmaceutical department had also been established as evidenced by this excerpt from an April 10, 1892 Chicago Tribune article.
In the downtown office of Armour & Co. are several rows of shelves filled with bottles and at first sight a stranger would think the “old man,” as P.D. Armour is called by his employees among themselves, was running a drug store on the side to make both ends meet. In these bottles are a great and unique variety of preparations extracted from animals killed at the yards. The man who manages this department is a duly licensed druggist and physician, and the big packer’s hobby when receiving visitors is to invite them to sample his dried bullock’s blood or desiccated ox gail.
It’s likely that the above mentioned licensed druggist and his department were the very beginning of Armour Laboratories. According to a November 13, 1949 Tribune story:
One of their earliest (products) was pepsin, a commercially valuable compound recovered from the stomach linings of hogs. For many rears the rudimentary laboratories at Armour’s were called the “pepsin department.”
On April 15, 1900 Phillip Armour formed a corporation that included most, though not all, of the Armour businesses. His reasoning was explained in a February 18, 1900 Chicago Tribune story.
The business of Armour & Co always has been carried on as a partnership. The recent death of Phillip D. Armour Jr., and the illness of Phillip D, Armour, the founder and head of the firm, are said to have supplied the reasons for deciding to put the business in a stock company. For several months the elder Armour has been ill, but it was not believed his illness was sufficiently grave to warrant any change in the management of the business. The death of his son was a severe blow, however, and is said to have determined the plan of incorporation.
The new corporation included the packing houses (excluding the Armour Packing House of Kansas City), glue factory and soap factory, as well as a felt and hair factory and rail car shops.
The factories that will be taken into the stock company are large concerns. The glue factory is one of the largest in the country. The soap factory of Armour & Co., a more recent establishment, is also an important plant. The hair factory has an output which is said to be unequalled by that of any similar institution. The car factory is used to manufacture and keep in repair the hundreds of cars used in the transportation of the meat and other products of the various Armour industries.
In addition to the manufacturing plants, the packing house includes the large cattle interests of the firm. The agencies of Armour & Co. also will fall into the corporation. In every city of any size in the United States Armour & Co. has an agency for the distribution of dressed beef and the other packing house products of the firm. There are besides agencies in foreign countries. These are to be found in every port of consequence in Europe. In Asia and Africa the firm also carries on its widespread business.
The stockholders of the new corporation were Phillip D. Armour (50%), his son, J. Ogden Armour (25%) and the estate of his deceased son Phillip D. Armour, Jr. (25%). Shortly after the business incorporated, Phillip Sr. also passed away and J. Ogden Armour assumed the presidency. It was J. Ogden Armour who, according to an August 17, 1927 Chicago Tribune story, developed the business into a world wide organization.
Expansion in this country was followed by invasion in the South American field. In 1909 Armour & Co. acquired an interest in an Argentine packing plant. Now (1927) it has in that country five large plants whose products go to the world meat trade.
In the teens their food product menu extended well beyond the by-products of their meat packing business. A product list published in 1919 bears this out.
According to the February, 1917 edition of a journal called “Advertising & Selling,” their food product line alone had reached over 300 items that were being distributed by 350 branch houses throughout the country. So it was out of necessity that around this time they unified much of their advertising under the “Armour Oval Label”
According to the 1917 story in “Advertising and Selling:”
About two years ago (1915) it was adopted as a permanent trademark for all Armour top grade products, and since then has appeared in all the advertising of these products; newspaper, poster, magazine, window display, booklet advertising, alike, all have the Oval Label as a prominent and permanent feature of the copy. (A label committee , composed of representatives from the selling, operative and executive departments, decides upon the eligibility of a product for the Oval Label, only the highest quality products being admitted to this class.)
Armour Laboratories had also grown significantly from the fledgling department of the early 1890’s. An advertisement published in the 1919 edition of the “Modern Hospital Year Book,” included the laboratory’s pitch to the medical community.
We are headquarters for the organotherapeutic agents. Our abattoirs supply enormous quantities of glands and membranes from which digestive ferments and endocrine gland preparations are made. Raw material is selected with rigorous care. Nothing but healthy normal material is employed, and this is put into process before any deterioration has set in.
The laboratory is conveniently located. All desiccating is done in vacuum ovens at a low temperature, which prevents injury to active principles.
The advertisement went on to provide a descriptive list of their preparations.
The post World War I years brought pressures on the business that would ultimately, in the 1920’s, transition it from a company closely held by the Armour family to a publicly held company. A feature on J. Ogden Armour published at the time of his death in the August 17, 1927 edition of the Chicago Tribune described the influence of World War I on the corporation.
During the war American packers carried tremendous meat supplies, both for the American armies and for those of European allies. Prices of live stock and meat joined the wartime inflation.The business of Armour & Co. increased sales to around $1,000,000,000 a year…
With the abrupt ending of the war American packers and the allied governments alike had vast quantities of meat on hand. The wartime demand faded. Governments cancelled contracts and threw their surplus stocks on the market for whatever they would bring. Prices of live stock and meat dropped. With the post-war depression the currencies of Europe also plunged down in value.
The result of all this was that the large inventories of American meat packers lost tremendously in value. Their stocks in Europe were paid for in constantly depreciating currencies. It is estimated that Armour & Co. lost around $125,000,000 in two years.
Ultimately in 1923 a refinancing of the business was effected that ultimately resulted in J. Ogden Armour both relinquishing the presidency and selling the majority of his stock.
The Associated Press announced the organizational change on January 3, 1923.
Armour & Co. for the first time since it was organized in 1862, today operated without a member of the Armour family in the president’s chair.
Instead F. Edison White, a worker from the ranks, occupied the controlling station made vacant by the resignation of J. Ogden Armour yesterday, who became chairman of the board of directors.
However, members of the Armour family will retain important positions with the company. Phillip D. Armour III who has been a vice president of the company was designated first vice president, and Lester Armour was continued as a member of the board of directors.
A Chicago Tribune Story, dated February 14, 1925 revealed that the refinancing plan also included an option to purchase the bulk of Mr. Armour’s stock holdings within five years. The story went on to say that the purchase began at that time with a third of his holdings.
Armour & Co., largest of the packing concerns, will be owned by a large body of investors and will cease to be a family corporation with the working out of plans made known yesterday.
It is understood that about one third of the total stock holdings of J. Ogden Armour will be bought by the banking group, which conducted the financial reorganization of Armour & Co. two years ago, and then offered publicly to investors. Later on and as market conditions permit, further offerings of stock will be made.
J. Ogden Armour’s 1927 Chicago Tribune obituary mentioned that Armour’s stock holdings at the time of his death were not large, so it appears much of his remaining stock was sold over the next two years. Four years later in January, 1931 P. D. Armour, the grandson and namesake of the founder, resigned as first vice president. He would be the last member of the Armour family to hold an executive position in the corporation.
Overall the company had its ups and downs but continued to grow through the 1930’s and early 1940’s as evidenced by this financial snapshot included in the Chicago Tribune’s January 23, 1943 edition.
Stockholders were given a glimpse of company progress as indicated by a comparison of balance sheets of last year and of 1923, after a reorganization. Funded debt was reduced from 144 million to 62 million dollars during the 20 years, and sales increased from slightly more than 800 millions to 1 billion 300 millions.
Around this time they were contributing significantly to the World War II effort, so much so that an April 11, 1943 Chicago Tribune story announced that 90 to 95 per cent of Armour’s total production was devoted to war production. As a result, the army and navy awarded their E flag to company officials.
Notice that Armour & Co. had been elected to the award came in a letter from Robert P. Patterson, Undersecretary of War. The letter read in part; “You men and women of Armour & Co. are making an outstanding contribution to victory. You have every reason to be proud of the record you have set, and your practical patriotism stands as an example to all Americans.
Among the company’s specific accomplishments in aiding the war, (Armour)President Eastwood cited the following: “The development of wood veneer drums to replace metal drums, such as are used in the shipment of lard; a new method of smoking ham and bacon for army use which takes 96 hours instead of seven days; the telescoping of lambs to save shipping space.”
He also pointed to a new product “Tushonka,” a canned pork popular with Russians; to a new style of “stuffing horn” for packaging of ground beef; and, finally to the formula for “Pemmican,” an emergency ration carried by airplanes and ships.
The award also recognized the achievements of Armour Laboratories.
Brig. Gen. C. C. Hillman, acting Surgeon General, Washington D. C., said in his statement of the award to Armour Laboratories that they had “given a rich endowment, not only to the war effort but to the entire field of medicine. Listed on the chart of Armour’s achievements will be their production of ligatures, insulin, and other medical supplies for the military service. In addition to this, your conversion of facilities for the absorption of great production loads all shall be listed on the war chart victory.”
After the war the company continued to introduce new products and innovations. In 1948 the company introduced their famous brand, DIAL deodorant soap.
An August 11, 1948 Chicago Tribune advertisement bragged that the soap was so popular that after being introduced, it immediately sold out.
In the mid-1950’s Armour became the first company to vacuum package their bacon as well as other meats. A May 5, 1956 Chicago Tribune feature provided the details.
Armour was the very first to discover how to keep bacon slicer-fresh from packing house to your pan. Old style packages of bacon usually lost freshness after a week or 10 days, so Armour research set about developing a package that would maintain freshness for three weeks.
Since air was known to be the villain that made bacon lose flavor, the obvious solution was to remove the air and pack bacon in a vacuum.
Obvious? Well not exactly. While vacuum packed jars and cans have been used for years, the requirement that a bacon package be both flexible and transparent gave the problem new complexity.
Several hundred kinds of materials, and nearly as many different shapes and types of packages were tried and discarded.
Finally, a new plastic was tested and found to have just the right combination of strength and pliability for use in newly developed vacuum packaging machines.
Subsequent taste tests revealed that bacon packaged the new way keeps fresh much longer than was once thought possible. This fundamental research on bacon packaging was so successful that it soon led to vacuum packaging of many other products.
Armour Laboratories was also making significant advances during the late late 1940’s and 1950’s. Some were enumerated in a December 2, 1951 story.
Recently the science of animal utilization has reached its highest point at Armour & Co., which is now headed by Frederick Specht. The company views its laboratory accomplishments primarily from a humanitarian, rather than a money making angle.
The outstanding achievement was development of the pituitary hormone , ACTH, which was ordered into production in the early summer of 1949. It has been used in treating arthritis and 20 other diseases. A later development is trypsin, which has the ability to turn dead flesh into liquid without damaging live tissue. Trypsin, like the insulin used by diabetics, come from a meat animal’s pancreas.
Hormones are not the only medical products of meat packing. Liver extracts are used in treating anemia, many products are made from animal blood, and a stomach lining substance is used for ulcer.
As the 1960’s approached the overall corporate picture was apparently beginning to lose some shine. In 1959 Armour discontinued all slaughtering operations in Chicago. A story dated June 9, 1959 in the Chicago Tribune detailed the facts and reasoning behind the decision.
Armour & Co. announced Monday that it will discontinue all slaughtering operations at six plants, including the one at Chicago…
Approximately 5,000 employees will be affected at all plants, including 2,000 in Chicago. Armour employs nearly 3,000 persons in its Chicago unit, but not all of them work in slaughtering operations. Such Chicago operations as refining of fats and oils, wool pulling, soap manufacturer, and sales and distribution will be continued. In addition, Armour will continue to buy cattle on the Chicago market for its eastern plants…
The company said there were several basic causes for its inability to reverse substantial losses encountered at these plants. These include obsolescence of buildings, many of which were constructed more than 50 years ago; shifts in live stock numbers sectionally; declining receipts of live stock at some markets; and a general and widely recognized condition of excess production capacity in the meat packing industry.
Ultimately Armour was acquired by the Greyhound Corporation in 1970. This strange marriage is explained by company histories.com.
The country’s leader in the motor coach industry since 1930, Greyhound under chairperson and CEO Gerald H. Trautman had begun to diversify its operations in the 1960’s in response to declining bus ticket sales. As automobiles and airline tickets became less expensive and bus line profits dwindled, Greyhound acquired small companies in the fields of automobile leasing, money orders, insurance, and catering. Greyhound board members were approached by Armour in the late 1960’s when General Host threatened Armour with a hostile takeover, and Greyhound was persuaded to add Armour to its subsidiaries. The 1970 $400 million purchase was Greyhound’s first major acquisition. To reduce its investment, Greyhound immediately sold $225 million of Armour assets, retaining only the meatpacking and consumer products subsidiaries. The meatpacking operation was renamed Armour Foods, while the consumer products operation was renamed Armour-Dial.
Less than a year later, and after more than 100 years, the Arizona Republic announced that, now a subsidiary of Greyhound, the Armour headquarters was leaving Chicago for Phoenix Arizona.
Greyhound Corp. the nation’s 29th largest firm, and its big subsidiary, Armour and Co., are moving from Chicago to Phoenix.
Gerald H. Trautman of Paradise Valley, chairman and chief executive said the move will affect ” a few hundred”employees of the headquarters staffs of the Greyhound Corp. and of these subsidiaries:
Armour and Co., Greyhound Bus Lines, Greyhound Leasing and Financial Corp., and Greyhound Computer Corp., except its service center personnel.
The largest of Greyhound’s subsidiaries is Armour and Co., acquired in 1970. From its start in meat packing, that firm has diversified into a modern industrial complex.
Today Armour meat products continue to be sold by Smithfield Foods and are still marketed under an oval label.
Over the years I’ve found two Armour bottles, both small and mouth blown. One embossed “Armour Laboratories,” is colored brown and approximately one ounce in size. The Armour Laboratory Pharmaceutical List, published in the 1919 “Modern Hospital Yearbook” included a one ounce bottle size for both pepsin and pancreatin powders.
The second bottle is approximately two ounces in size and embossed “Armour and Company,” not “Armour Laboratories,” which leads me to believe its not a pharmaceutical bottle. Armour produced lemon, orange and vanilla flavoring extracts in several size bottles, including two ounces, so I’m leaning in that direction.
The above bottle is simply embossed Kellogg’s on its base which leaves several turn of the century products that it could possibly have contained.
One was “Kellogg’s Whiskey,” but the size and shape of the bottle certainly say medicine, not whiskey flask. Another, Kellogg’s Ant Paste, also fits the time frame but was sold in what was marketed as “the jar with the rattle cap,” not in a bottle
The fact that both businesses were located on the west coast and focused their advertising in that area further raised doubt that they hit the mark.
That left the linseed oil manufacturing company of Spencer Kellogg & Sons who in the mid-teens began manufacturing a product called “Tasteless Castor Oil,” whose bottles best fit the bill. In fact, the subject bottle looks quite similar to the bottle illustrated in this 1913 advertisement.
The business of Spencer Kellogg & Sons incorporated in Buffalo, New York in 1912 but the Kellogg family had been in the business of crushing and recovering products from various oil bearing seeds for two generations prior. The family’s start in the business was described years later in the December 31, 1939 edition of the Decatur, Illinois “Herald and Review.”
History records the erection of the first linseed oil mill by a member of the Kellogg family in 1824. It was in that year that Supplina Kellogg, grandfather of the founder of the present company, great grandfather of a present president, made the decision at the age of 35 to embark in the linseed oil business.
The first linseed mill erected on the Chactanunda Creek, West Galway in the Mohawk Valley near Amsterdam, N.Y., was a modest affair with a capacity of two barrels daily. In a few years, its production expanded to six barrels daily.
The first motive power at this “plant” was furnished by a blind mule. The maximum output was obtained when the mule was good and fresh.
According to the “Genealogical and Family History of Western New York,” by William Richard Cutter, published in 1912, Supplina passed away in 1845 and subsequently the business, operated by his two sons, Lauren and John, moved to Amsterdam, New York in 1852. A year later Lauren Kellogg passed away and his place in the firm was taken by his wife’s brother, James A. Miller, changing the firm to Kellogg and Miller.
The “Genealogical and Family History of Western New York” goes on to say that in 1868 Spencer Kellogg entered the picture.
Spencer Kellogg, at the age of seventeen, began working for the firm and displayed so much business ability that four years later, in 1872, on his coming of legal age, was admitted to the firm…
Spencer remained with the firm for another five years. Then, in 1877 sold his interest in the business and relocated to Des Moines, Iowa before ultimately settling in Buffalo, New York. The reasoning behind his move from Des Moines to Buffalo was explained in “A history of the City of Buffalo Its Men and Institutions,” published in 1908.
…he entered into a partnership to erect a linseed oil mill in that town, which was to compete with one already established there. One day Mr. Kellogg was struck with the idea that the flax crop which had progressed steadily in a northwesterly direction, and from having originally been chiefly grown in the vicinity of Philadelphia, had moved through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and was now largely located in Iowa, must almost of necessity proceed further westward, and would, therefore, eventually leave Des Moines, out of its radius, as it had already left Amsterdam.
Further investigation convinced him that the flaxseed which was the raw material of his proposed mill, would in the end be grown principally in the Dakotas. But the principal markets for linseed oil were in the East. Hence the question arose, How will the flaxseed be brought to the Eastern mills? and putting his finger on the map where Buffalo was marked, he said to his partner, “That will be the great distributing point, and that is the place for our mill.
Acting on this theory, the Des Moines project was abandoned and in 1879 Kellogg, in partnership with Sidney McDougall, erected a mill in Buffalo, New York. Located on an island in Buffalo Harbor, a February 22, 1881 story in the “Buffalo Commercial” described their location as “the south side of the creek, opposite the foot of Illinois Street.” The 1880 Buffalo Directory simply used the address, “on island.”
The early history of the business included a building collapse and two fires but the company survived and grew steadily during their first decade ultimately incorporating in 1887 under the name of the Kellogg & McDougall Linseed Oil Company. The incorporation notice was published in the January 14, 1887 edition of the “Buffalo Times.”
A feature on the business published in the October 2, 1892 edition of the “Buffalo Sunday Morning News” provided this snapshot of their oil manufacturing works as the business entered the 1890’s.
The office of the works is at 351 Main Street, while the works on the island at the foot of Main Street occupy a two story building 50 x 130 feet, a six story building 40 x 150 feet, and an elevator of 100,000 bushels capacity. Twenty presses are operated, crushing 750,000 barrels annually, the daily capacity being for 120 barrels of oil and 57 tons of oil cake, the latter being exported, while the oil is sold through New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
As early as 1884 the company was not only producing oil from the crushed flaxseed but, based on this May 3, 1884 news item, was growing a portion of the flaxseed crop as well, not surprisingly, in the Dakotas.
The enterprising firm of Kellogg & McDougall of Buffalo have 2000 acres of land in Dakota now under cultivation for flaxseed. This is the greatest number of acres ever sown to flaxseed by any one firm in the United States. The farm is under the management of Lauren K. Lee, a cousin of Spencer Kellogg. He has 180 head of horses and from 80 to 100 men employed by the undertaking. The land is located around Valley Springs, is very rich and will yield a handsome crop.
In addition to expanding their oil works the company was also branching out during their first decade. The 1892 “Buffalo Morning News” feature went on to enumerate several other companies/businesses established under Kellogg and McDougall during that period. One was the Kellogg Oil, Paint and Varnish Company.
The Kellogg Oil, Paint and Varnish Company was incorporated in 1887, the officers being Spencer Kellogg, president; Sidney McDougall, treasurer and Robert M. Walker, manager, with office at 351 Main Street and their four story factory with warehouse adjoining is on Elk Street and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railway, South Buffalo.They manufacture ready-mixed paints, colors ground in oil, shingle stains and buggy and floor paints, all of superior quality and largely sold throughout the country.
Their incorporation notice was published in the June 11, 1887 edition of the “Buffalo Commercial.”
1889 newspaper advertisements for their paints indicate that the company may have had a retail location at 609 Main Street as well as their 351 Main Street office.
The 1892 feature went on to say:
Mr. Kellogg in 1888 established a large business as a dealer in linseed oil, making a specialty of aging these oils to give them a superior body, adapting them for use for varnish, grinding, patent leather, printers’ ink and other purposes, this business also occupying commodious premises on Elk Street, South Buffalo.
Another of these enterprises is that of the Spencer Kellogg Company, organized in the present year with Spencer Kellogg, president, and Sidney McDougall secretary, this company opened for business Aug 1, 1892, an elevator of 600,000 bushels capacity on Ganson Street, the canal, the river and the Buffalo Creek Railway.
The Spencer Kellogg Company’s incorporation notice, published in the February 5, 1892 edition of the “Buffalo morning Express,” provided the following description of the elevator business.
The Spencer Kellogg Company is the name of an organization the certificate of incorporation of which was filed with the County Clerk yesterday. The object of the company is the purchase of cereals, grain and seeds and grinding and milling the same, manufacture of flour and meal, the receiving, elevating, storing and transporting of grain….
The capital stock is $100,000, all of which shall be common stock, and the company of 50 years duration. There are five directors as follows: Spencer Kellogg, Sidney McDougall, Robert M. Walker, Albert J. Warwick and Charles S. Wright.
An anecdote published in the August 9, 1892 edition of the “Buffalo Morning Express” provided an idea of the elevator’s size without mentioning a single dimension.
“I’m glad that stack is finished,” said contractor James Boland yesterday as he looked at the big brick smokestack of the new Kellogg & McDougall elevator. “It was intended to make it round, but that was so expensive and would take so much time that a square stack was decided on instead. It’s rather an expensive job. The men went up in the morning and did not come down until night, because I found it much cheaper to feed them at the top. An hour’s nooning would take a man two hours away from his work. I guess he could go to Black Rock in the time it would take him to go up and come down the stack.”
This construction photograph of the elevator appeared in the June 12 1892 edition of the Buffalo Morning Express.
If that wasn’t enough, Kellogg & McDougall also established a broom factory as part of their operation. According to the 1892 “Buffalo Sunday Morning News” feature:
Under the firm name of Kellogg & McDougall, these gentlemen conduct on Elk Street and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railway in South Buffalo an extensive broom manufactory which they established in 1886. They produce 200 dozen brooms daily, making a specialty of the best grades.
Well respected in their own right, the brooms were exhibited in the Paris Exposition in 1889. In fact, not only were they included in the U. S. exhibit but, according to a June 30, 1889 item in the Buffalo Morning Express, they also kept the floors of the entire U. S. portion of the exposition swept clean..
Opposite the exhibit of Buffalo tools, on the wall, is a big palm-leaf fan, projecting high above everything. It is made entirely of brooms, as are also the two pyramids in front of it, and the whole is placarded, in big labels, “These brooms are from the works of Kellogg & McDougall, Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.A.” This firm supplies all the brooms used by the United States Commission in keeping clean its 80,000 square feet of floor space. An exhibit of linseed oil cake, in a prominent place near by, is also from the firm.
That being said, the manufacture of raw linseed oil was their primary business, operating independently until sometime in 1889 or 1890. At that time it appears that the business joined a linseed oil trust, reorganizing as a branch of the National Linseed Oil Company of Chicago Illinois. A feature on the business in the October 2, 1892 edition of the “Buffalo Sunday Morning News” described the reorganization.
One of the most interesting groups of important industries is that of which Spencer Kellogg and Sidney McDougall are the controlling heads. In 1879 they became associated under firm name of Kellogg & McDougall to manufacture pure linseed oil, carrying on the business thus until two years ago, when a reorganization was effected, the business since then being conducted as a branch of the National Linseed Oil Company of Chicago, Ill., under the direction of the original proprietors, Mr. Kellogg being manager and Mr. McDougall assistant manager, and the establishment being known as the Kellogg & McDougall Linseed Oil Works
Spencer Kellogg’s association with the Trust was short lived and in 1894 the April 26 edition of the “Buffalo Morning Express” announced that he was leaving the trust with plans to construct a new plant and proceed independently.
Spencer Kellogg who has been connected with the National Linseed Oil Company of Chicago for more than a year, or since the Trust assumed control of the different plants of that kind in the country is about to sever his connection with the Trust and to engage in the manufacture of these products on his own account. He was the owner of the plant in this city until the time when it went into the hands of the Trust and since that time has managed the concern…
The new plant will be a model one of the kind, it is promised. It will be located on the lot adjoining the Kellogg Elevator and will be one of the most modern and best equipped in the country. It will have a capacity for crushing 4,600 bushels of flaxseed a day and 1,400,000 a year, which makes a very large output at the present price of flaxseed…
The mill will contain 36 presses and the machinery will be of the latest design. At the beginning there will be in the vicinity of 40 men employed and this number will probably be increased after a short time…
Over the next six years Kellogg’s new plant was almost continuously being enlarged. An October 4, 1900 story in the “Buffalo Morning Express” documented the additions.
The Kellogg plant originally had 36 presses. Twenty-four more were added in March, 1899. The work of intstalling 30 more was begun about July, 1900.
The story went on to call it the largest linseed oil plant in the world and they weren’t done. Three years later, in 1903, another addition increased the number of presses to 138.
The business incorporated in 1904 as the Spencer Kellogg Company. The incorporation notice was published in the May 7, 1904 edition of the “Buffalo Courier.”
The Spencer Kellogg Company capitalized at a million dollars has been incorporated according to papers filed yesterday. The concern deals in and refines oil in Buffalo. The directors are Spencer Kellogg, Spencer Kellogg, Jr., and Howard Kellogg.
Later, in August, 1912, they would reincorporate as Spencer Kellogg & Sons, with $6,000,000 capital.
The incorporation notices included Kellogg’s two sons but made no mention of Sidney McDougall who apparently ended his business relationship with Kellogg in 1898. At that time, it appears he left the manufacture of linseed oil to Kellogg and took complete control of the “Kellogg Oil, Paint and Varnish Company,” changing its name to the “Buffalo Oil, Paint and Varnish Company,” on December 27, 1898. According to his May 18, 1919 obituary in the “Buffalo Courier,” he remained president of that firm until his death.
In 1907 Kellogg announced plans for a second plant in Minneapolis Minnesota that would double their output. Later, in 1909, a December 27 story in the “Buffalo Evening News” announced that the Spencer Kellogg Company was in the process of establishing still another plant; this one in the New York City area. The story quoted Spencer Kellogg, Jr.
The Spencer Kellogg Company has a mill in Minneapolis, and we are now building another plant in New York, consisting of a mill, concrete elevators, refineries, etc., which will cost $500,000, exclusive of the site. The purpose of this plant at New York is to crush and treat the seed that is imported.
The plant was actually located directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan, in Edgewater, New Jersey. The following aerial and river views of the facility that date to the late 1940’s are courtesy of the Library of Congress.
According to “The Chemical Industry of Shadyside (Edgewater) New Jersey – A History” by Robert J. Baptista, (December 16, 2012 update):
The deepwater dock allowed ocean going ships from India and Argentina to come directly to the plant to discharge cargoes of flaxseed, which was pressed into Linseed Oil. In 1913 the plant started crushing castor beans from India. The castor oil was used in the textile industry to soften fibers and impart luster to synthetic dyes.
It was at the New Jersey location that their “Tasteless Castor Oil” was manufactured. It apparently hit the market sometime in 1913 with newspaper advertisements first appearing in August of that year. Several ads, disguised as newspaper articles, appeared that year that were certainly introductory in nature.
BUFFALO FIRM PERFECTS THE FINEST LAXATIVE IN 3,000 YEARS
Kellogg’s Tasteless Castor Oil is Pure Castor Oil Without Taste or Smell
For 3,000 years castor oil has been the world’s best laxative, but until now an offensive, sickening taste has limited its use.
For 3,000 years chemists have tried to remove the taste.
It remained for Spencer Kellogg & Sons of Buffalo to solve the problem.
Kellogg’s Tasteless Castor oil is just what the name means – a pure, clear, refined oil without any taste. Doctors are prescribing it already.
Anybody can disguise the taste of castor oil by mixing it with alcohol, wintergreen, peppermint, or other flavors, but it required real genius to keep the oil pure and make it tasteless. Kellogg’s Tasteless Castor Oil works even better than the old evil dose, without pain or griping.
Your dealer has Kellogg’s Tasteless Oil, or can get it quickly. 25c and 50c. Ask for Kellogg’s and look for the trade mark on the label – the Kellogg signature over a green castor leaf. Spencer Kellogg & Sons, Inc., Buffalo N.Y.
At the same time the company was reaching the general public with newspaper advertisements they were also pitching the medical profession through a series of 1914 advertisements in the New York State Journal of Medicine.
The advertisements said, in part:
The attending physician can now prescribe pure castor oil in cases of temporary indisposition, with the feeling that he will not be working a hardship upon his patient – whether man, woman or child – because it is now made in absolutely tasteless form and no cathartic is quite so meritorious.
Realizing the great demand for an absolutely TASTELESS Castor Oil – without the unpleasant flavor and odor of castor – we experimented with and finally announce the complete perfection of Kellogg’s Tasteless Castor Oil.
Its simply good old-fashioned Castor Oil without the unpleasantness. Absolutely nothing added – nothing taken away except the odor and taste. Not to be confused with so-called “palatable” or “aromatic flavored” Oils which are heavily adulterated with strong flavoring which greatly compromises the properties of the Oil.
You can now prescribe KELLOGG’S TASTELESS CASTOR OIL freely for children and fastidious adult patients without working a hardship on them. You’ll find they welcome this king of all cathartics – if you see that they get Kellogg’s.
Their oil continued to be included in advertised drug store price listings as late as the early 1970’s and over the years their message remained quite consistent. Advertisements from 1926 and 1939 bear this out, although by 1939 it was called Kellogg’s “Perfected” Tasteless Castor Oil.
Spencer Kellogg passed away in 1922. That left his son Howard as president ushering in a fourth generation of Kellogg’s to a leadership position. Later a fifth generation, in the person of Howard Kellogg Jr., would serve as president. By 1957, according to a March 20 story in the ‘Binghamton (New York) Press and Sun-Bulletin,” the company employed about 1,200 persons at 15 plants in the country. Over the years their plant locations included Superior, Wisconsin, Chicago and Decatur, Illinois, Des Moines, Iowa, Bellevue, Ohio, Long Beach California, as well as Rotterdam Holland and Manilla in the Philippines.
The Kellogg business also maintained sales offices at various locations across the country, with one in New York City listed consistently from 1886 up until 1960. Initially located at 102 Barclay Street, they remained in lower Manhattan, at 59 Maiden Lane and later 100 William Street, until sometime around 1920 when they moved to midtown where they occupied several different locations in the East 40’s over the next 40 years.
In 1961 Spencer Kellogg & Sons merged with Textron Inc. The merger was reported in the July 28, 1961 edition of the “Decatur (Illinois) Daily Review.”
Spencer Kellogg & Sons, Inc. is now a part of Textron, Inc.
Textron a diversified company supplying industrial, consumer and defense products is based in Providence R. I.
Spencer Kellogg is a producer of vegetable oils and meal, special chemical products and animal feed.
Textron will acquire Spencer Kellogg’s assets, properties and business by swapping six-sevenths of a share of its stock for a share of Spencer Kellogg.
Last year Spencer Kellogg had assets of $52,459,000 dropping it to 465th place from 446th place in the national rankings of Forbes Magazine.
Spencer Kellogg employs 1,772 persons making it 487th in size.
The bottle I found is machine made with Kellogg’s (in script) embossed on the base. It likely dates as early as 1913 when their Tasteless Castor Oil was introduced up through the late 1920’s when they likely transitioned to a screw top finish.
During this period the company offered both a three ounce and seven ounce size as evidenced by this 1915 advertisement.
The subject bottle is certainly the three ounce version.
A 1924 advertisement in a publication called “The Public Health Nurse,”demonstrated that the company was also offering a sample size around that time.
Prof Callan’s Brazilian Gum was, as far as I can tell, a rubber cement sold around the turn of the century. Advertising stamped on the cover of one of their wooden shipping crates touted it for:
Repairing Rubber Boots And Shoes And For Putting Rubber Soles On Leather Boots & Shoes.
Their trade mark, also stamped on the crate, consisted of what appears to be a bespectacled old man carrying a boot and top hat.
A labeled bottle, recently offered for sale on the internet, also included the bespectacled old man.
The back label of the bottle included these directions for use:
Have the boot or shoe thoroughly clean; scrape with a knife or file to make it rough around the part where the patch is to be put and apply the gum; put the gum on the patch also; let them each dry separately from 10 to 20 minutes after which put the patch on the hole, press firmly together and then hammer lightly. Two coats may be necessary. This will make old boots and shoes as good as new.
I haven’t been able to identify a company associated with the product or an exact time frame, but I’ve seen it mentioned in publications as early as 1892 and as late as 1908, so that is certainly a safe time frame.
In the 1878 New York City Directory, there was a Thomas A. Callan listed at 180 South Street with the occupation “gum,” and he was listed with the occupation “rubber” dating back to 1875. As a result, it’s possible that Prof Callan’s Brazilian Gum dates back to that time and place but I haven’t been able to make a definite connection.
The bottle I found is mouth blown with a roughly one inch square cross section and an elongated neck. It fits with a turn of the century manufacture date.
Originally a candle and laundry soap manufacturer, Colgate & Company was founded by William Colgate around the turn of the nineteenth century. The business ultimately grew into today’s Colgate-Palmolive, a global household and consumer product corporation with over 38,000 employees.
William Colgate was the son of Robert Colgate, an English farmer who was forced to leave England as a result of his political sentiments that favored the democracies of France and America.
According to William Colgate’s obituary, in the March 26, 1857 edition of the New York Tribune, in March, 1795 the family sailed for America on the ship “Eliza,” arriving in Baltimore after passage of 70 days. As a young boy, Colgate lived with his father in Baltimore before moving to New York City. The obituary picks up the story from there.
In 1804, William Colgate, at the age of 21, left his father’;s house and came, a comparative stranger, to the City of New York. He had scarcely a cent that he could call his own. His purpose. however, was fixed; and in his pursuit, he entered the counting-room of John Slidel & Co., then the largest tallow chandlers in the city, located at No. 50 Broadway…The salary proposed was small. But it was not the salary, it was the business that he wished; and in a very short time he accomplished his purpose. He was soon transferred from the manufacturing to the sales department; and at the end of three years, when the firm dissolved, Mr. Colgate was its principal business manager.
At the age of 23, in the year 1806 Mr. Colgate commenced the soap and candle business for himself in Dutch Street…
It appears that the business was originally organized as a partnership between Colgate and Francis Smith. The company was first listed in the 1807 Longworth’s New York Register and City Directory as “Smith and Colgate, tallow chandlers,” with an address of 6 Dutch Street. A rendering of the original Dutch Street location was included in a profile of Colgate’s business published in the July 1921 edition of Printers Ink Monthly.
The Printer’s Ink story went on to reveal why Colgate chose the Dutch Street location for his business.
In meeting the first problem that confronted him – the selection of a location for his business – the young soap and candle maker exhibited good judgement for the Mayor of New York lived on Dutch Street, and in the immediate vicinity of his little factory were the homes of many other prominent men of the day. Thus it followed that the influential citizens of the city must of necessity become familiar with his business by passing it every day. And the out-of-town friends who visited the Mayor and his neighbors must need see the Colgate factory and carry back home with them that impression of metropolitan prestige for which even today businesses spend fabulous sums in erecting towering buildings and great sky signs in New York and other large cities.
The partnership of Smith & Colgate was listed until 1815 when it apparently dissolved. Subsequently William Colgate was listed individually as a tallow chandler at 6 Dutch Street until 1820 when the listing changed to William Colgate & Company. Colgate would add the manufacture of toilet soaps to the business in 1847, continuing to mange the company until his death in 1857. At that point, his son Samuel Colgate and nephew Charles C. Colgate took over and the company name listed in the directories was shortened to simply Colgate & Company.
According to the Printer’s Ink story, the two younger Colgate’s continued to add the manufacture of new products to the business.
Still studying the trend of the market as had the elder Colgate, and ever on the alert to add new products that might appropriately be made and sold by a soap manufacturer, the two young Colgates decided to add perfumes to the Colgate line, and in the early 60’s this was done with great success.
Then in line with the demand for a perfumed toilet soap, in 1869 or 187o the first kettle of the now famous Cashmere Bouquet was made.
During this period, advertisements for their perfumed toilet soaps began to appear in the newspapers. The first ones I could find referenced brands named “Honey Toilet Soap” and “Aromatic Vegetable Soap.” The advertisements below appeared in 1867 (Hartford Conn Courant) and 1869 (Rutland Vt. Daily Herald) respectively.
By the early 1870’s, their famous Cashmere Bouquet toilet soap had been added to what had become a long list of toilet soap brands. That list of at least 17 different brands appeared in several August/September 1872 editions of the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press.
According to this November 5, 1873 advertisement in the Buffalo Commercial, a Cashmere Bouquet perfume soon followed.
This delightful perfume will be appreciated by all who have enjoyed the lasting fragrance of Colgate & Co.’s Cashmere Bouquet Soap, which is so universally popular.
It was around the same time that, according to the Colgate-Palmolive web site, Colgate introduced their “antiseptic dental powder” sold in a jar. As evidenced by this November 17, 1895 Frank Brothers Department Store advertisement in the Chicago Tribune, by the mid-1890’s they were selling toothpaste in a tube as well.
This 1911 advertisement, for the Paine Drug Company in Rochester New York, provided a listing of the Colgate products they carried at the time. It provides a feel for how much Colgate’s product line had expanded in their first century.
This expanded product line required expansion of both their office and manufacturing facilities as well.
A story in the January 21, 1906 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle dedicated to Colgate’s 100th anniversary celebration described the expansion of the company’s physical plant over their first 100 years stating that in 1847 the company added a Jersey City factory and in 1865 they expanded their New York facilities extending their Dutch Street offices through into John Street.
Around this time their New York City directory listings for Colgate began to include addresses on both ends of their block; 6 Dutch Street and 55 John Street. Their Jersey City factory was situated along the Hudson River waterfront. Initially located on the corner of York and Greene Streets, according to a July 17, 1988 New York Times article, by the 1890’s it encompassed the full block bounded by York, Greene, Hudson and Grand Streets.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle 100th anniversary story went on to provide this description of the company facilities as they existed in 1906.
…by now offices and perfume manufactory have overflowed until they cover very nearly a third of the New York block, and the Jersey City factory, just equipped with new buildings, fills out the entire block and portions of other blocks in the neighborhood. Here are the greatest soap kettles or “pans” in the world, four stories high (five of the largest hold 700,000 pounds each), also the original pan of 1847, which was considered a giant in those days. William Colgate was told that it was folly to build such a big “pan,” that he could never use it. That “pan” is, however, a pigmy beside those of today. Only soap is not made now by building a fire underneath as in the old days. Coils of steam pipes run inside the monster kettles.
Samuel’s Colgate’s biography contained in the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol XIII, published in 1906, adds to the picture by describing the extent of Colgate’s perfume operation in that centennial year.
As a producer of perfumery the firm is the most extensive in the United States, and stands second or third in the entire world. In the valley of the Var, France, bounded by the towns of Grasse, Nice and Cannes, many acres of flowers are cultivated for the manufacture of perfumery, and Colgate & Co. take the total output of a factory in which the essence of fragrancy is extracted. Over 100 tons of rose leaves are thus used annually, besides large quantities of other flowers.
The company continued to occupy their Dutch Street/John Street location in New York City until 1910. At that point it appears that most of the operation had moved to New Jersey although they did continue to list a New York location at 199 Fulton Street from 1911 to 1922 and later 403 Broadway in 1925.
The Colgate Company ultimately merged with the Palmolive Peet Company in July, 1928. A well established company in their own right, the Palmolive Company was formed in 1864, and on January 1, 1927, they had acquired the Peet Brothers Company, which had been established in 1872. A July 11, 1928 UP story covered their merger with Colgate:
PALMOLIVE, COLGATE MERGER IS PLANNED
Directors of the Palmolive-Peet Company and Colgate and Company have agreed to a plan of consolidation of the two firms, subject to action of stockholders. The merger would be effective as of July 1, 1928, if approved, it was announced today.
The name of the new company would be the Colgate Palmolive Peet Company.
The new organization will have large manufacturing units at Jersey City, N. J., Milwaukee, Chicago, Jeffersonville, Ind., Kansas City, Kan., Berkeley Calif., and Portland, Ore.
The executive offices will be located at Chicago. No public financing is contemplated at present.
The following officers were reported as probable selections: Sidney M. Colgate, chairman of the board; Charles S. Pearce, president and general manager, and A. W. Peet, chairman of the executive committee.
Later, in 1953, the company would shorten its name to Colgate-Palmolive.
The story mentioned that Colgate’s Jersey City plant would continue to operate as one of Colgate Palmolive’s manufacturing units, which it did for another 50 plus years, ultimately expanding to a footprint of six city blocks. Finally, in 1985 the company announced its closing. The announcement was covered in the January 15, 1985 edition of The (Paterson N.J.) News.
Colgate – Palmolive Plant in N. J. to Close
The Colgate-Palmolive Co. plant on the Jersey City waterfront, whose 54-foot high clock is a landmark, will close in three years, the company said yesterday.
The company is closing the plant because its products can be made more cheaply at factories in the Midwest, a company spokesman said. Colgate-Palmolive expects the plant closing to result in a savings of $20 million per year.
Today, the initial Jersey City block occupied by the Colgate factory is home to the tallest building in New Jersey, a 79 story luxury condominium, however, another Jersey City building in the area, located at 81 Greene Street, provides a reminder of it’s former use.
According to the “Library of Congress” this building served as the principal manufacturing facility for the company’s personal care products from 1915 to 1987.
I’ve found two Colgate & Co. bottles over the years. The first is machine made and is embossed with the Colgate & Co. trademark (C & Co enclosed within a double circle). It most likely contained one of their toilet water brands. It matches a Colgate bottle recently offered for sale on the internet labeled “Dactyus Toilet Water.”
The Dractylis brand was included in the 1911 Paine Drug Store advertisement presented previously in this post. Machine made, it likely doesn’t date much earlier than the 1911 advertisement and certainly no later than the 1928 Colgate-Palmolive merger.
The other is a mouth blown jar embossed Colgate & Co./ Perfumers / New York. In spite of the embossing it looks more like this labeled tooth powder jar to me…who knows???
I couldn’t end this post without at least touching on the iconic Colgate Clock that has overlooked the Hudson River and served as an identifying symbol of the company since 1908. Designed and built in connection with Colgates centennial anniversary, according to a New Jersey City University Internet Post entitled “Jersey City Past and Present,” it sat atop the roof of an eight-story Colgate warehouse at the southeast corner of York and Hudson Streets.
It was officially set running on May 25, 1908. A special dispatch to the San Francisco Chronicle covered the start-up.
The largest clock in the world was set going today on top of Colgate & Co.’s eight-story factory building on the river front in Jersey City. It is visible for miles along the Hudson River and can be clearly seen from the New York skyscrapers.
Mayor Wittpen of Jersey City pressed the button which started the mechanism of the giant timekeeper, and when the immense minute hand began moving the boats on the river joined in a chorus of whistles.
The dial is thirty-eight feet in diameter, with an area of 1,134 square feet. The next largest clock – that on the Philadelphia City Hall, has a diameter of twenty-five feet and a face area of 490 feet. The diameter of the Westminster clock in London is twenty-two and one-half feet and its dial area is 393 feet. The minute hand of the Colgate clock is twenty feet long and weighs nearly a third of a ton. The clock’s weight is approximately six tons. At night red electric bulbs mark the hours and white electric bulbs show the minute spaces.
The above story attempts to convey the size of the clock but, as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and the following photographs put the clock’s size in perspective. The first found in the November, 1908 issue of a publication called “Wood Craft” compares the clock to a worker (to the right of the clock) standing on a support beam. The next two, found in the May 23, 1908 issue of “Scientific American” appear to be construction photos that show the clock’s hands in relation to construction workers.
A lot of publicity was generated around the design and construction of the clock of which Colgate took full advantage. This advertisement in the June 20, 1908 edition of “Collier’s” linked the clock to a number of their products.
A July 17, 1988 story in the New York Times suggested that the clock was worth more than simply advertising to the Colgate Company.
The Colgate sign and clock was a sophisticated piece of advertising, comparable to the landmark headquarters buildings of the Metropolitan Life Insurance and Woolworth Companies of the same period. It was seen by the thousands aboard ships trafficking New York Harbor. In 1910, Colgate moved its executive offices to the Jersey City complex and the clock, and sign, became for the public the very symbol of the company’s corporate identity.
The 1988 New York Times story went on to say that:
In 1924 the Colgate clock was replaced with a new larger one, 50 feet in diameter of practically identical design – including the trademark octagon dial shape. Mayor Frank Hague turned on the new clock on December 1…
In 1983, Colgate, long out of the perfume business took down the “Soaps-Perfumes” lettering on the sign, replacing it with an inartistically drawn toothpaste tube representing one of its most identifiable products.
The original 38 foot clock was relocated to Colgate’s newly opened Clarksville Indiana plant where according to Images of America – Clarksville Indiana, by Jane Sarles, it was lit for the first time on November 17, 1924.
“Secret Louisville: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure,”By Jill Halpern, completes the story.
An enduring vision in downtown Louisville for as long as locals can remember, the bright red clock (when lit) usually shows the correct time, or at least close, 100 years later, despite the fact that Colgate-Palmolive moved its operations out of town in 2008. The clock’s continued operation is likely because the facility was placed on Indiana Landmarks list of 10 Most Endangered Landmarks.
The nomination to place the Clarksville plant, including the clock, on the National Register of Historic Places was announced in the December 13, 2013 edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal December 14, 2013.
The newer 50 foot version of the clock still resides on the Jersey City waterfront next to the Goldman Sachs Tower and is maintained by Goldman Sachs.
Parlor Pride Stove Enamel was closely associated with Benjamin D. Milliken who was listed as a peddler in the 1878 Boston City Directory. It’s likely that he was making and selling the product locally by that time.
Around 1880 he began to formally manufacture it in Boston under a partnership with I. C. Stuart. That year, “Milliken & Stuart, stove blacking,” was listed for the first time in the Boston City directories with an address of 21 Commercial Street. Over the next several years Milliken & Stuart was listed at several different Boston addresses including 5 India (1882), 52 South Market (1883) and 85 Fulton (1885).
Sometime in 1885 the partnership was apparently dissolved and Milliken continued as sole proprietor. The 1886 Boston Directory listed the business as the Parlor Pride Manufacturing Co., B. D. Milliken & Co., proprietors. That first year, the business remained listed at 85 Fulton Street.
Around that time the first newspaper advertisements for “Parlor Pride” began to appear. This advertisement appeared in the January 23, 1886 edition of the Burlington (Vt) Free Press.
The 1885 edition of “Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of the City of Boston” featured the company and mentioned that in addition to Milliken’s Parlor Pride Stove Enamel the company was also manufacturing Milliken’s Parlor Pride Paste Polish and Milliken’s Cold Iron Enamel. The feature went on to describe the business at the time.
This company does a large business in the trade by reason of the superior excellence of its goods and the immense popularity they have achieved throughout the entire United States and Canada. The factory is located at No. 85 Fulton Street, occupying three entire floors for manufacturing purposes, each being 30 x 80 feet in dimensions. Here are all the necessary apparatus for the manufacture of the beautiful enamels and polishes for which the concern is so well and favorably known in the trade and among the community in general, and the demand is so large and continued that a force of twenty-five hands is constantly employed to assist in the compounding and preparation of the goods…So popular are the goods that Mr. B. D. Milliken, the sole proprietor, has been obliged to open a branch establishment at Nos. 188 and 190 McGill Street, Montreal. Mr. Milliken also imports and grinds all kinds of Ceylon and lubricating lead and the finest quality of plumbago, much of which he uses in the manufacture of his unequalled goods, and the remainder he sells to the trade.
In 1887, the company moved to 140 Commercial Street. It was around this time that the design of their bottle (as least as depicted in their ads) changed as well. This February 28, 1887 advertisement from the (New Haven Conn.) Morning Journal Courier depicted the new design.
It was at the 140 Commercial Street address that Milliken developed and patented a device that supported the manufacture of his Parlor Pride Stove Enamel. The patented device was described in an article printed in the April 5, 1889 edition of the Tunkhannick (Pa.) Republican.
A patent has just been granted on an ingenious contrivance, made by Mr. Benjamin D. Milliken of Sommerville Mass., for the purpose of mixing liquid and powdered substances where the latter cannot be held in solution. This will be a great convenience to manufacturers of sauces, liquid polishes and the like, where a given quantity of each ingredient must enter every package. The machine is so constructed that an “agitator,” revolving in the tank, keeps the contents in perpetual “boiling spring motion,”and at the same time straining the liquid. An additional device measures the quantity required for each bottle, filling the same at the rapid rate of 48 bottles per minute, or 200 gross a day. One of these machines has been in constant use since April of last year, at 140 Commercial Street, Boston, where it can be seen by anyone interested, pumping Parlor Pride Stove Enamel.
Although evidently a skilled inventor, Milliken was apparently not a strong businessman. An item in the June 27, 1889 edition of the Boston Globe announced that his business had failed.
Benjamin D. Milliken & Co. (Parlor Pride Manufacturing Company), manufacturers of stove enamel, 140 and 142 Commercial Street, Boston, have failed. The liabilities are about $25,000, and assets $15,000. The creditors are offered 50 cents on a dollar.
Two days later, a follow-up item in the Globe announced that the business would continue under the direction of three trustees.
The creditors of Benjamin D. Milliken & Co., manufacturers of stove enamel, 142 Commercial Street, Boston, held a meeting yesterday. The statement presented showed the liabilities to be $24,445 and the assets as far looked into $11,000. It was unanimously agreed that the failure be settled through three trustees; they to hire Mr. Milliken at a fair salary and go on with the business; the intention being that 100 cents on the dollar be worked out and then the assets remaining be returned to Mr. Milliken. Nathaniel F. Ryder and L. H. Wiley of Boston and Milton Yetter of East Stroudsburgh, Penn., were chosen trustees.
Milliken’s continued association with the business did not last very long and by 1892 he was only listed at his residence in Sommerville Mass., with no reference to the Parlor Pride Manufacturing Co., or stove polish.
Around the same time, on February 10, 1893, the business reorganized under the Parlor Pride Manufacturing Company name. One of the trustees, Nathaniel F. Ryder, served as the company’s treasurer. Ryder was also principal in a varnish manufacturing company called Burbank and Ryder and over the next several years the two businesses were closely related if not one and the same. In fact between 1893 and 1904 the two companies shared the same addresses in the Boston directories. Likely retail stores and/or offices the addresses were: 8 Oliver (1892 -1893), 149A Milk (1894 – 1899), 18 Central (1900) and 8 Exchange Place (1901).
During this period Burbank & Ryder operated manufacturing facilities in both Middleborough Massachusetts and Charleston Massachusetts and its likely that Charleston was where Milliken’s Parlor Pride Stove Polish was made during this time. In fact, between 1902 and 1904 the Parlor Pride Manufacturing Company listed Burbank & Ryder’s manufacturing facility at 62 Alford Street in Charleston as their address.
In 1905 the Parlor Pride Manufacturing Company was no longer listed at the same address as Burbank & Ryder so its not clear whether the companies were still associated at this time. Parlor Pride was listed in Boston at 64 Federal Street and 60 State Street in 1905 and 1906 respectively.
As late as 1906 “Parlor Pride Stove Polish” advertisements were still appearing in some northeastern United States newspapers. This advertisement, one of the last I could find, appeared in several Vermont newspapers in 1905 and 1906.
In 1907 the company was no longer listed in the Boston directories and it appears they moved to North Andover Massachusetts around that time. The 1913 Directory of Massachusetts Manufacturers listed the Parlor Pride Manufacturing Co. in North Andover and identified the proprietors as James W. and William J. Leitch. While the Parlor Pride Manufacturing Company was not listed in the North Andover directories between 1907 and 1926, the plumbing and heating business of J. W. Leith & Son was listed at 136 Main Street. There’s a good possibility the the two companies were actually one and the same or at least associated during this time. While I don’t see newspaper advertisements for Parlor Pride Stove Enamel during this period, the product was included sporadically in advertised department/hardware store price lists.
In 1930, the Parlor Pride Manufacturing Co. was still located in North Andover and was now included in that town’s directory at an address of 90 Saunders Street. It was listed this way through 1949 with Robert P. Miller named as proprietor. In 1951 it was no longer listed and I lose track of them.
The bottle I found is mouth blown and square in shape. It includes the Milliken company name likely dating it no later than January, 1893, when the business reorganized. It matches the bottle type that began appearing in advertisements in 1887 so the bottle most likely dates between 1887 and 1892.
The embossing on the bottle is not sharp but at the bottom it seems to name both Boston and N.Y. as locations. That being said, I can’t locate any reference to the company in the New York directories. I couldn’t find any additional information on their Montreal location either. It’s possible the company was just indicating they had agents in those locations but I really don’t know?
Primarily known as an ink manufacturer, S. S. Stafford, Inc. was founded by Samuel Spencer Stafford. His February 16, 1895 obituary in the New York Times mentioned his early years as well as his entrance into the ink business sometime in 1858.
He was a graduate of Union College, and also of the Albany Medical College, but he did not practice medicine. When Dr. Stafford received his medical diploma, in 1849, the California gold fever was at its height, and Dr. Stafford went to San Francisco, where he remained until 1854. In that year he returned to New York, and four years later he engaged in the manufacture of ink.
In the four year period between 1854 and 1858 the NYC Directories listed him as an accountant at 188 Pearl (1855-56) and an engineer at 54 William (1856-57). Then, according to an 1888 feature in “The American Stationer”
In 1858 S. S. Stafford bought the trade mark and stock of Conger & Field, who were the first to make a writing fluid in this country. Their business had dwindled to small proportions and it was not long before Stafford’s inks were better known than those of his predecessors.
Conger & Field was listed in the New York directories as “ink,” and located at 212 Broadway (1856-57) and 52 William (1857-58 and 1858-59). The proprietors were Genet Conger and George W. Field. I have to believe that they became acquainted with Stafford sometime around 1857 when they were neighbors or possibly shared a building at 52 and 54 William.
After purchasing Conger & Field, the NYC directories, listed Stafford as a “stationer,” located at 42 Cedar St (1859 -60) and later as “ink” at 84 Cedar St. (1860-61.) By 1861-62 he was listed at 11 (sometimes 10) Cedar St. where he remained until 1870.
During this time I’ve seen advertisements for “Stafford’s Combined Writing and Copying Fluid” as well as “Stafford’s Perfumed Violet Ink” but the company did not restrict itself to the manufacture of inks alone. Other products included an adhesive called “Stickwell & Co.’s Mucilage” and a leather preservative called “Caoutchoucin.”
Sometime in early 1870 the business moved to 218 Pearl Street where it remained until 1886. At that time, according to the 1888 “American Stationer” feature, he built a factory at 601 – 609 Washington Street.
The present manufactory, of which an illustration is given, was erected by Mr. Stafford in the Spring of 1887 upon land which he purchased.
It is a plain brick structure, five stories high, 75 feet wide and 80 feet deep. Including the basement there are six floors, all of which are used in the manufacture of Stafford’s inks and Stickwell’s mucilage. The establishment is fitted with the best machinery and appliances for turning out perfect and uniform goods.
After Samuel Spencer Stafford’s death in 1895, his son, William A.H. Stafford, took over leadership of the company. According to his obituary in the January 17, 1911 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, he had entered the business in 1872 at the age of 16.
The company apparently incorporated in New York sometime in 1903. The company was listed as a New York corporation in the 1904 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory with a capital of $250,000. William A H Stafford was named president, William B Montgomery, secretary and Robert Bachia, treasurer. Following William A H Stafford’s death in January of 1911, his son, William S Stafford assumed the presidency.
The company eventually outgrew their NYC building on Washington Street and by 1906 was leasing storage space in nearby buildings. Then in 1914 they moved the carbon paper and typewriter portion of the business to leased space at 129 – 135 Charlton St. According to an item in the March 28, 1914 edition of the “American Stationer:”
Owing to a great increase in its carbon paper and typewriter business S.S. Stafford, Inc. has moved that department to 129-135 Charlton Street. The quarters which the company has occupied for many years at 601-609 Washington Street are now devoted entirely to the making of writing inks and other well known specialties made by the concern.
Six years later, according to an April 1920 item in “Walden’s Stationer & Printer,” the company purchased three buildings adjacent to their Washington Street building effectively consolidating the business at that location. This provided them an address on both Washington Street and 622 Greenwich Street.
S.S. Stafford, Inc., manufacturers of writing inks and adhesives, located at 609 Washington Street, New York City, have recently purchased three buildings in the rear of their present premises. The additional space will be combined and connected with their present home, giving them 33,000 square feet of floor space and making the line covered by their buildings 94 x 184 feet.
The carbon paper plant operated by the company at 129 Charlton Street will be removed to the new building and also outside storage space which is being used will be relinquished as fast as the leases on the same expire.
“The new arrangements will greatly economize the handling of raw materials and enable us to take care of the enormous increase in our business,” the company said.
In addition to their New York location, this 1914 advertisement also mentioned a Toronto, Canada location. Other advertisements around this time included the Toronto address as 9 Davenport Road. Later, by the early 1920’s they also added a Chicago location at 62 West Kinzie.
Through the 1920’s their menu of products continued to expand. As evidenced by this advertising item in the June 10, 1928 edition of the “Austin (Texas) American Statesman,” much of the growth was fueled by the proliferation of the automobile.
The comprehensiveness of the Stafford output is witnessed by the following enumeration of their various lines, which include writing and copying inks, paste, mucilage, glue, indelible ink, show card colors, stamping inks, stamp pads, typewriter ribbons and carbon papers, furniture and automobile body polish, and 15 other chemical automobile products including radiator stop leak, penetrating graphite oil, cushion dressing rapid repair and engine enamel, gasket shellac, gasket cement, etc.
This menu of products not withstanding, there’s no doubt that the head of the product family was always ink and they made many different types. The “Stationary and Printing” section of the 1890 edition of “Seeger and Guernsey’s Cyclopaedia of the Manufacturers of the United States,”named them as manufacturers in the following subsections: Writing Inks, Carmine Ink, Colored Inks, Copying Inks, Indelible Inks, Rubber Stamp Inks, Safety Inks and Stylographic Inks.
In the teens and early 1920’s, the product that Stafford’s primarily advertised was called Stafford’s Commercial Writing Fluid. A March 15, 1919 advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post called it “The Ink That Absorbs Moisture From The Air” and was typical of their advertisements around that time.
Do you just buy “ink” – pallid liquids which write a sickly color – which soon corrode your pens – and which, worst of all dry up in your inkwell quickly, leaving a thick, clotted residue and caked particles on the side of the well?
Or do you insist on Stafford’s Commercial Writing Fluid – the ink that absorbs moisture from the air?
This peculiar property of Stafford’s Commercial is the reason why it is so slow to evaporate in the inkwell, why it continues to flow smoothly after ordinary inks have become thick and unfit to write with. This is one of the most important discoveries in the history of ink making. It means a real savings for you.
There’s another reason for using Stafford’s Commercial. It has a strength of color which inks have lacked since the dye situation became so involved. American color makers have at last solved the problem. For Stafford’s is brilliant blue when you write and turns permanent black in a few hours.
The following item regarding Stafford’s Commercial Ink appeared in the June 16, 1917 edition of the “American Stationer and Office Outfitter.” I was attracted by the historical perspective it provides of the World War I era and will let you decide whether or not it’s true or just advertising in disguise.
Romantic Journey of Torpedoed Letter
The following letter was recently received by W.S. Stafford, President of S.S. Stafford, Inc., manufacturer of Stafford’s inks, etc., of 103 Washington Street, New York. The original letter is now at the New York office and establishes the fact that the permanent characteristics of Stafford’s ink have not been affected by the exigencies of the war.
Dear Sir: – It may interest you to know that I sent a letter to my daughter in England, bearing date, February 25, 1917. The letter with the rest of the mail went down on the “Laconia” which was torpedoed. Some of the mail bags were washed ashore with the wreckage. The letters then, which had legible addresses were forwarded on their journeys, mine reaching my daughter. The writing in the letter is blurred but readable – the envelope which she returned to me to see shows the address perfectly clear, the ink not even dimmed, although it had a bath in sea water.
The ink I used was Stafford’s Commercial Fluid which I bought at the White House, S.F.
I was so pleased to see the address looking perfectly good after such a test, that I thought I would let you know about it.
(The date given the letter mentioned in the story is actually the date that the Laconia was torpedoed and in 2008 the wreck of the Laconia was found 160 nautical miles off the coast of Ireland, so I’m leaning toward advertising in disguise.)
In the early 1920’s the company added stamp pads to their menu of inks. An introductory item appeared in the September, 1921 edition of “Walden’s Stationer and Printer”
The S.S. Stafford Company has recently started the manufacture of stamp pads on a strictly quality basis. Only the finest quality of felt blotting paper and nainsook enter into the manufacture of these pads, while the inks with which they are saturated are made with the finest dyes obtainable in a glycerine solution insuring the longest life possible.
As the use of fountain pens decreased, it was probably the addition of stamp pads that kept the company in business. They’re still listed at their long time location (Office: 622 Greenwich and Factory: 609 Washington) in the 1960 Manhattan telephone directory.
According to his obituary, William S Stafford was still president of the corporation at the time of his death on November 6,1943. It’s not clear who ran the company after he passed away. One internet source mentions that Stafford’s was acquired by the R.T. French Company in the late 1970’s but I haven’t been able to confirm this.
Today 603 Washington Street appears to be the original building constructed by Stafford in 1887 (although streeteasy.com states it was built in 1880) . It’s now a residential cooperative.
Currently 622 Greenwich Street is also a residential cooperative called “The Stafford.”
According to city realty.com it was built in 1881. It’s likely one of the three buildings purchased by Stafford when they consolidated in 1920.
The bottle I found is machine made with 8 oz. embossed on the shoulder. Most likely a bulk ink bottle, it resembles a labeled Stafford bottle for sale on the internet.
Headquartered in Freeport, Illinois, The W.T. Rawleigh Company was a pioneer in the direct from factory to home sales model. The company’s founder and long-time president was William T. Rawleigh.
According to a story in the January 23, 1951 edition of the Dixon (Illinois) Evening Telegraph, printed at the time of his death:
He was the founder and president of the W.T. Rawleigh Company which manufactures and sells medicines and household products on worldwide scale. During his long active career he served as mayor of Freeport, as a member of the Illinois General Assembly, and as editor and publisher of the old Freeport Standard.
Another story printed around the same time, this one in the Chicago Tribune, summed up his general approach to business like this:
William T Rawleigh who made millions by sending his wagons loaded with extracts and spices over the rural routes of the nation died today…
Before the automobile brought the farm wife within easy reach of the crossroads general store, Rawleigh wagons came to her door with vanilla extracts, patent medicines and other packaged products. His idea was the development of one he had as a schoolboy, in Mineral Point, Wis., selling books to his classmates, then later making and selling them ink.
A 1920 advertisement that appeared in the May 11th edition of Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s Leader Telegraph expanded on this concept.
Those who are familiar with Rawleigh’s Good Health Service are familiar with its economy, convenience and efficiency. It means bringing directly to your home the best products of laboratory and factory at low, direct-to-home prices. The W.T. Rawleigh Company manufactures all it’s own Household Remedies, Extracts and Flavors, Spices and other Products in it’s own immense factories at Freeport and Memphis and sells direct to consumers. This method of manufacturing and selling means the elimination of unnecessary middlemen’s profits, thus giving to the users of Rawleigh’s Good Health Products better qualities and greater values. If you have never used any Rawleigh Good health Products, we urge you for economy’s sake and for your own satisfaction to give the Rawleigh Service Man at least a trial order when he calls.
The advertisement went on to describe a wide range of products available from your Rawleigh Service Man. They included:
Pure Extracts and Flavors in Bottles, Pure Food Flavors in Tubes, Pure Spices and Rawleigh’s Baking Powder.
KREO, a scientific disinfectant for general household use.
This menu however appears to only be the tip of the iceberg. Three years earlier, in 1917, the company’s annual publication, “Rawleigh’s Almanac, Cook Book and Medical Guide,” advertised that they were selling 140 different products that year.
The company’s early history and growth was highlighted in a September 21, 1932 feature in the Freeport Journal Standard. Several excerpts from this feature are presented in quotations below.
Many older residents of Stephenson County remember when W.T. Rawleigh began calling at their homes with a one horse rig, leaving with them a few medicines, extracts spices, etc. That was in the spring of 1889. Soon he had built up a large business, and about 1891 he began manufacturing. By this time he was also selling at wholesale…
The first little factory was on the ground floor of a store building at 123 East Exchange Street. There were only three employees (Rawleigh’s now have 1300) and but 25 Rawleigh dealers as contrasted with over 8500 at this time. In a year’s time more space was needed, and the store room adjoining the first factory was added.
It was around this time that Rawleigh incorporated the business, calling it the Dr. Blair Medical Company. The incorporation notice, dated December 29, 1894, was printed in the Chicago Tribune on the following day.
The 1932 Freeport Journal Standard Feature continued the history:
The next two years continued the rapid growth, and in 1898 a new factory with two stories and basement was built at West Douglas and Powell Streets. Three years later an addition was built which increased the floor space over three times.
On May 24,1902 the business applied for the Rawleigh’s (in script) trademark (No.39768) and it was registered on February 10, 1903.
Shortly thereafter, the company name was changed to the W.T. Rawleigh Medical Co. and they continued to grow.
So the story of progress continues. The next move of this rapidly expanding company was toward railroad facilities and was made in 1904 when the company left the residence district and built its first factory at the present site – a building still used, partly for manufacturing and partly for some of the general offices.
An invitation to the opening day reception for the new factory, printed in the February 24, 1905 edition of the Freeport Journal Standard, indicated that, at the time, the new factory included the Printing, Milling, Manufacturing, Bottling, Packing, Power House and Wagon Factory Departments all operational under one roof.
A picture of the new plant appeared in the July 11, 1905 edition of the Freeport Journal Standard.
The 1905 Freeport Illinois Directory (the earliest one I can find) included the factory location as Spring, corner of Liberty. Now listed as the W.T. Rawleigh Medical Co., W.T. Rawleigh was named as president and treasurer, J.R. Jackson as secretary and D.C. Rawleigh as superintendent.
After 1905, the Freeport headquarters continued to expand as entire buildings were added.
Since then many other buildings have been added at Freeport: The large 8 story factory at the corner of Main and Liberty; the dip and disinfectant factory on Washington Street; the impressive power plant and printing and manufacturing building across the street from the 1904 factory and the glass factory in East Freeport.
Sometime between 1913 and 1916, the company name was shortened from the W.T. Rawleigh Medical Co., to simply the W.T. Rawleigh Co.
The company added branch factories in Memphis and Winnipeg in 1912 and by the early 1930’s they were operating world-wide with additional factories in Montreal, Canada, Melbourne, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand.
The business secured raw materials from producers at their source, importing them from all over the world to their factory locations. This necessitated them to operate branches in areas where they obtained their raw materials. These foreign branch locations included places like Madagascar, where they secured vanilla, cloves and oil of geranium; Marseille, France, vanilla and perfume related oils, roots and herbs; and Kobe, Japan, pyrethrum flowers used in making insecticides.
Their distribution network included facilities at Chester Pa., Richmond, Va., Minneapolis, Minn., Denver, Colo., Oakland, Calif. and Albany, N.Y. Each distribution branch had a full sales office and shipping staffs serving dealers in several states.
The 1932 feature offered a glimpse into the size of the operation at that time. :
Last year Rawleigh’s produced and sold the astonishing total of over 43 million packages of finished products. Over 123 million pounds of freight (2256 carloads) were received at the various United States and Canadian factories and about 2500 carloads were forwarded from factories and branches.
W.T. Rawleigh served as president of the company up until his death in 1951 and J.R. Jackson, his brother-in-law, continued as secretary until the mid-1950’s.
The business remained tightly held by the Rawleigh family until 1973 when it was sold to a holding company. The March 3, 1973 edition of the Freeport Journal Standard reported the sale.
The holding company of W.T.R., Inc. organized by the New York investment banking partnership of Gibbons, Green and Rice is purchasing the W.T. Rawleigh Co., of Freeport.
The new owner is paying approximately $5.5 million for the American Rawleigh company and has an option to buy the Canadian Rawleigh company for $2.5 million, according to Edward Gibbons, one of the partners…
The majority of the Rawleigh stock has been held by the estate of Mr. Rawleigh’s daughter, Mrs. Lucille Rawleigh and her two sons.
As far as I can tell, the company remained headquartered in Freeport, Illinois until sometime in the 1980’s. After Rawleigh left Freeport, some of their buildings were leased for warehousing for a short period of time before the property was completely abandoned in 1988.
Five buildings of the Rawleigh complex still exist today. This building, now abandoned, is located on Spring Street and was most likely the power plant, printing and manufacturing building mentioned in the 1932 Freeport Journal Standard feature as being built across the street from the original 1904 factory.
Master planning for reuse of the Rawleigh property and buildings began in 2000 and the redevelopment is in progress. According to the City of Freeport’s web site:
…the City has been actively removing environmental hazards and facilitating reuse of the Rawleigh (property) into a dynamic mixed-use development planned to include a new Amtrak station, light industrial and flexible business space and restaurant and housing
Now headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, the W.T. Rawleigh company still exists today, selling a wide range of products over the internet. According to an August 10, 2000 article in the Palm Beach Post:
The company would have likely disappeared a decade ago had it not been bought by West Palm Beach businessman and big-game hunter Harry Hersey III, a cigar smoking Vietnam veteran who champions multilevel marketing and chairs the industry’s trade group in Washington, the Direct Selling Association.
Today (as of 2000) Rawleigh is part of Hersey’s other multilevel marketing operation, Golden Pride International, a 17-year old outfit that sells nutritional supplements. Together, the companies sold about $11 million in products to some 15,000 distributors last year, netting a profit of $2.5 million, Hersey said.
Recognizing that this website is centered around bottles, I couldn’t end the post without including a description of the Rawleigh bottle factory that was included in the 1932 Freeport Journal Standard feature.
One of the most fascinating of the industries within the Rawleigh industries is the bottle factory, where flames leap and writhe in the terrific heat of 2650 to 2675 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature which must be maintained day and night for many months at a time to manufacture the bottles Rawleigh’s use. The annual capacity of the factory, first started in 1926 and since enlarged several times, is close to 100 million bottles. A huge bottle warehouse completed last year will house 12 million bottles at one time. New equipment includes a cooling system superior to any existing system and the first of its kind to be used; new bottle-forming machines which make bottles with almost incredible swiftness and perfection; new reversing valves to add to the efficiency of furnace heat; new batch equipment; a new annealing oven or lehr; improved air compressors, etc.
The bottle I found is machine made with the Rawleigh’s (in script) trade mark on the front. “Bottle Made In “USA” is embossed in extremely small letters near the base. The makers mark on the base, a “P” located within a circle, indicates that it was most likely made by the Pierce Glass Co. This suggests that it was made prior to Rawleigh’s establishing their new bottle factory in 1926. Pierce started business in 1905 so this likely puts the manufacture of the bottle sometime between 1905 and 1926. It actually looks a lot like the Cod Liver Oil bottle pictured in the 1917 Almanac, Cook Book and Medical Guide pictured above.
The West Disinfecting Company was an early manufacturer of disinfectants and a pioneer in bathroom/restroom cleanliness. The company held patents for a wide range of disinfectants as well as for items still seen universally in restrooms today such as liquid soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers. This 1909 advertisement showed an early version of their liquid soap dispenser.
Their signature cleaning fluid and disinfectant was called Chloro-Naptholeum, or CN for short.
It appears that the business had its roots with Robert S. West in the late 1880’s in Cleveland, Ohio. An item in the July, 1888 edition of “Carpentry and Building” indicated that West had introduced Chloro-Naptholeum into the United States at around that time.
A disinfecting fluid called chloro-naptholeum said to possess thorough effectiveness as an antiseptic and disinfectant, besides being cheap and having an agreeable smell is being put upon the market by Robert S. West, corner of Elm and Winslow Streets, Cleveland Ohio. From a circular before us we learn that this preparation is already largely used in England and a number of testimonials from those who have used the material abroad are presented. Its power as a germ destroyer is said to exceed that of carbolic acid and other similar antiseptics that are soluble in water. It does not dissolve in water but mixes with it, forming an emulsion like milk.
The 1900 census records indicated that Robert S.West was born in England and immigrated to the United States in 1870 at the age of thirteen. He’s listed in the Cleveland directories as early as 1874. Beginning in 1891 and lasting through 1899, the directories listed him as a disinfectant manufacturer with an address of 48 and 50 Long. During this period, the New York City firm of E. Taussig & Co. served as West’s representative and general agents on the east coast, using the trade name “West Disinfecting Co.” NYC directories listed E Taussig & Co. at 894 First Avenue (1892 to 1894) and later at 206 East 57th Street (1896 to 1899).
As early as the mid 1890’s, E. Taussig & Co., using the West Disinfecting Company trade name, was advertising Chloro-Naptholeum in connection with a ventilator and disinfector which was apparently one of, if not the first, automated toilet sanitizer.
An advertisement, disguised as a news item, in the November 24, 1895 edition of the Atlanta Constitution described how the system worked.
WEST CHLORO NAPTHOLEUM
West Disinfecting Company, 206 East 57th Street, New York – E. Taussig & Co., Proprietors – Leo Fresh, Manager, Atlanta Ga.
Taussig’s Ventilator and Disinfectors are in use in all the public buildings at the exposition grounds as well as in Atlanta and all the largest exposition houses in New York City, and such as Edison Electric Illuminating Company, all branches, E.S. Jaffray & Co., Cotton Exchange, Masonic Temple, Mount Louis Hospital and many others. Over 35,000 now in use in the United States.
Chloro Naptholeum refined is clear as a crystal. Is used in the machines and will drip automatically for twenty-five days with one filling, one minute and twenty seconds between drops. One gallon of the fluid will last 100 days.
It contains the very best compounds of disinfectants in existence and is endorsed by the very best physicians in the country. The analysis of Chloro Naptholeum are tar and tarry products, phenols, creosote, pyrohgucous acid, naphthol, eucalyptol, carbolic acid, and the disinfectants of complex origin…
The machines are put in gratis, and all you have to buy is the fluid, and the inspector will be there every twenty-five days and fill them, thus saving you the trouble.
The machines are placed as the cut will show, and are the property of the company. The fluid is $2 in single cans and $1.75 in five and ten gallons, and $1.50 in half-barrel lots.
By the late 1890’s Taussig & Co. had assumed control of the entire business. In accordance with an agreement dated August 4, 1898, E Taussig & Co. purchased from Robert West all interest, including patents and trademarks, in both his automatic disinfectors and chloro-naptholeum. Approximately one year later, the West Disinfecting Co., Inc. was established and on July 18, 1899, the Taussig business was transferred to the new corporation. Emil Taussig, served as the first president of the newly formed corporation.
It was at the same time that the CN trademark was introduced as well. Trademark records indicate that it was first used in commerce in July, 1899.
The new corporation was listed in the 1900 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory with offices at 26 East 59th Street in Manhattan. Around this time, the company also established a factory/laboratory across the East River in Queens. The 1903 Trow Business Directory for Brooklyn and Queens listed the factory address as 25 Orchard in Long Island City.
A profile of the company printed in the March 20, 1904 edition of the Pittsburgh Daily Post described the business at that time.
Starting from a small beginning thirteen years ago, it has grown and grown, until today it is the largest concern of its kind in America, and perhaps in the world. The main offices are in New York, and it has branches in every prominent city in the country. The Pittsburgh branch is located at 1611 Penn Avenue.
Throughout its life the West Disinfecting Company have given their attention entirely to the subject of disinfectants and disinfecting appliances, and its $50,000 chemical laboratory and works are the only works operated by such a concern in this country, and according to all the information secured the largest works in the world given over exclusively to the manufacture of such products.
Every appliance made by the company is after their own design and is patented in the United States and other countries while their disinfectants and fumigants with their registered names, protected in this country and abroad, find a sale in every civilized corner of the globe.
Emil Taussig served as president of the corporation until his untimely death aboard the Titanic in 1912. The following notice appeared in the April 20, 1912 edition of the New York Times.
According to an April 16, 1912 story in the Boston Globe, Taussig was on board the ship with both his wife and daughter.
They sailed for Europe Feb 5. He was going on a mixed business and pleasure trip on the advice of his friends, who felt he needed a rest. Although his headquarters was at Long Island City, NY, he knew every employee of the store who had been employed for a few years and would shake hands with them and call them by name when he called…He was very popular.
According to the Titanic’s records, Taussig’s wife and daughter both survived.
After Taussig’s death it appears that management and possibly ownership of the company transferred to Moses and Alexander J Marcuse. The 1914 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed them as president and vice president respectively. The Marcuse family remained active in the management of the company well into the 1950’s and possibly longer.
The company offices remained listed in Manhattan until the mid-1920’s; first at 26 East 59th St (1900 to 1905); then 9 East 59th St (1905 to 1910); 2 East 42nd St (1911 to 1912); 12 East 42nd St (1914 to 1917) and 411 Fifth Ave (1918 to 1925). Then in 1926, it appears that the entire operation was consolidated in Queens. That year, the Brooklyn Queens Telephone Book listed both their office and factory at the Long Island City location. According to a story in the August 6, 1925 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, by this time, in addition to their New York facilities, the company maintained 38 branches in the United States and Canada.
The company remained in Long Island City until the late 1970’s. The business evolved into West Sanitation Services and ultimately, in 2014, as West Industries. West Industries is currently located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In addition to being used in connection with the company’s disinfecting appliances, Chloro-Naptholeum was also marketed for the household as well. The November 24, 1895 Atlanta Constitution article goes on to describe it’s suggested household uses.
We also have the Chloro Naptholeum in its crude state, which is used largely for ridding your house of all kinds of vermin, such as roaches, bedbugs, ants, insect bites and stings, itching, fetid feet, ringworm, for sickroom, for flushing drains, sinks, kitchen utensils and all kinds of places where there is foul air or bad odor. One gallon of this crude Chloro Naptholeum can be dissolved by using fifty parts water to one part Chloro Naptholeum. The Savannah board of health use thirty-five barrels of the crude every year, and are furnishing the citizens with it gratis. Sample bottle given free on application.
An advertisement, in the July 11, 1911 edition of the (New York) Evening World described how to administer CN for various uses.
Household Use – To each pail of water taken for mopping, sprinkling, scrubbing or cleaning purposes, add three tablespoonfuls of CN. It makes the cleaning easier, kills germs, destroys all odors, purifies the air, destroys ants, roaches, vermin.
Bath and Toilet – Use one tablespoonful of CN for the bath on every occasion. CN is superior to ammonia, giving exquisite tonic and softening to the water.
Sick Rooms – Move the patient into a well-disinfected room when possible. Remove unnecessary curtains and hangings, wash down walls and floor with CN solution or spray the wall paper with CN in the solution of one teaspoonful to a quart of water.
Every house where Tuberculosis exists CN should be used daily to prevent the spread of the disease. All personal articles, eating and other utensils touched by the patient, should be carefully washed in a solution of CN. CN should be poured in the cuspidors used by the patient and should be used in all cleaning water.
The advertisement also touted CN as an antiseptic for everything under the sun, including cuts, abrasions, sores, bruises, sprains, bruised hands or fingers, ulcers, abscesses, ringworm, insect bites and stings, ivy and dogwood poisoning, typhoid fever, head lice and dandruff, teeth and gum decay, sore mouth or throat, burns, scalds, sunburn, scurvy, prickly heat, chafing and catarrh.
An article in the September 15, 1909 edition of “Printers Ink” described how the company capitalized on people’s fear of death and disease. They focused their advertising efforts during periods of hot weather and particularly in areas where disease epidemics were present.
CN Disinfectant is not one of those products which “lay low” in summer time. It literally thrives on torrid weather, and keeps keen on the scent of epidemic and disease. With newspaper copy it is ready at short notice to jump into an infected district with a campaign to increase sales…
In the “Printer’s Ink’ article, West’s advertising manager, D. Maxwell Merry admits that:
You have to “scare” the consumer into realizing that a disinfectant is absolutely essential for the thorough cleansing of a house and the prevention of disease.
He goes on to describe their approach.
We are constantly on the lookout for any new epidemic or threatened outbreak of contagious disease anywhere in the United States,” states Mr. Merry. “Each of our eighteen branch offices scattered throughout the country is quick to inform the home office at the first signs of anything like an outbreak anywhere, and we lose no time in placing large newspaper space and concentrating a large part of our effort in that territory at once…
Just at present there is a serious outbreak of typhoid in New York’s great East Side and we are starting a campaign in several leading Jewish dailies to tell the masses in that section of the city how CN will minimize their danger.
This advertisement which appeared the following summer in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle “hits home” with all the points Merry made in the article.
The company didn’t stop with just advertising but followed it up with door to door sales.
Undoubtedly one reason for the success of our anti-epidemic campaign is our plan of following up of our advertising when we go into a new city with a large force of women canvassers. These women, who are well dressed and well paid, call upon householders and drive home the advantage of our product, while the advertising is still fresh in the consumers’ minds. The use of a disinfectant being primarily a woman’s matter, it follows that women make the best demonstrators
In addition to marketing CN for household use, West apparently had a Railroad and Steamship Department that marketed CN for the cleaning of public facilities. This advertisement which appeared in the April 1911 edition of “Railway and Locomotive Engineering” touted it for disinfecting and washing passenger cars and stations.
And if that wasn’t enough, they also marketed a Chloro-Naptholeum “Dip” to farmers and livestock owners. A January 27, 1905 advertisement in the Weekly Livestock Report stated:
If every livestock owner who has used Chloro-Naptholeum Dip would stand up and testify truly in dollars and cents how much Chloro-Naptholeum Dip has done for his stock, the total would be much larger than the figures which represent wheat crop. Chloro-Naptholeum is a money maker. It cures mange and scab. It kills lice, fleas, etc. It heals cuts, sores, wire scratches, wounds and bruises. It disinfects and destroys all unsanitary conditions in the animal quarters and the home.
The newspaper advertisements generally fade away in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s but I’ve seen CN Disinfectant listed in Department Store advertisements as late as the late 1970’s. This April 1, 1979 advertisement for McCrory-McLellan-H.L. Green-Newberry advertised a 7 oz bottle (upper right) as one of several cleaners you could buy @ 2 for a dollar.
The bottle I found is machine made and approximately one ounce in size. It must be what advertisements referred to as the “trial” size. This 1909 advertisement indicated that the trial size amount, when mixed with water, could make 2 gallons and at the time cost ten cents.
I also found a found a four ounce bottle that accommodated a screw top.
The base of this bottle is embossed with an “O” inside a box indicating it was made by the Owens Bottle Co. This most likely dates it between 1919 and 1929.
The earliest address I can find for West’s Long Island City Factory is 25 Orchard (now 42-25 Orchard?). Orchard Street in Long Island City consists of one block between Jackson Avenue and the Sunnyside Rail Yards. On the east side a new multi-story glass tower was recently built. An older building on the west side of the street may still date back to the business.