Jos. Triner, Chicago

 

 

Joseph Triner is featured in the Encyclopedia of Bohemian and Czech-American Biography.

Joseph Triner (1861 – 1918), b. KaCerov, Bohemia, was a manufacturing importer and exporter in Chicago. His first factory was on Ashland Avenue, near West Eighteenth Street, but very soon it proved to be too small for the rapid growth of the business and Mr.Triner had to build a large, modern factory, situated on South Ashland Avenue and Hastings Street. The best known preparations manufactured there were Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine, and Triner’s Angelica Bitter Tonic, both of which received the Gold Medal, the highest award in the recent Alaskan-Yukon-Pacific Exposition at Seattle, WA. Triner employed a large number of traveling men and city salesman.

A 1920 advertisement for Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine stated:

the trademark was registered on January 2, 1906 and that the remedy itself, a pioneer in it’s branch, was brought to the American market 30 years ago.

That would put the start of the business around 1890, however, the first listing I can find for the business was in the 1900 Chicago directory. Around that time it was located at 616-622 Ashland Avenue and was categorized as patent medicines.

As mentioned in the above biography, by 1911 the business had moved and was located at  1333-1339 South Ashland Avenue.

Around this time they were making a number of proprietary medicines under the Triner name. A 1921 advertisement in the “Midland Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review” listed: Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine, Triner’s Angelica Bitter Tonic, Triner’s Liniment, Triner’s Cough Sedative, Triner’s Red Pills, Triner’s Antiputrin and Triner’s Aromatic Fluid Extract Rhamnus Purshiana.

After Triner’s death in 1918, Triner’s son, Joseph, Jr., was named president and continued to run the business. The 1935 edition of  “Who’s Who Among Association Executives” stated that Triner was: “President and Chairman of the Board of Joseph Triner Corp., mfg. chemists, rectifiers, importers and wholesale liquor dealers, Chicago, since 1919.” It still listed the business address as 1333 South Ashland.

According to newspaper advertisements sometime on or before the late 1940’s the business moved to 4053 – 4059 West Fillmore Street in Chicago.  This “Prior Beer” advertisement from the April 5, 1950 edition of the Chicago Tribune included the West Fillmore address.

It’s not clear when the business ended, but a September, 1971 advertisement in the Forest Park Observer made it clear that not only were they still in business at that time but that Joseph Triner, Jr. was still the president of the company.

Their signature product was “Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine.”

In 1916, the North Dakota Agricultural Station published the ingredients of a number of patent medicines including “Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine.” It listed alcohol, sugar and a mild laxative as the principal ingredients. The label declared the presence of 16 to 18 percent alcohol by volume and stated that no special tax is required by the laws of the U.S. for the sale of this medicinal preparation.  Advertisements for it read:

It Acts Well and Is Very Palatable. These are the reasons why so many physicians recommend Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine. Free from any chemicals. Prepared from bitter herbs roots and barks of eminent medicinal value and pure natural red wine. A safe relief in auto-intoxication, constipation, weakness, etc. Price $1.00. At drug stores. Samples gratis upon request only to physicians.

Circulars for it’s use contained the following recommendations:

  • It should be used in all cases calling for a safe evacuation of the bowels, without weakening the body or causing any pain or other discomfort; in loss of appetite, nervousness and weakness.
  • Trainer’s Elixir of Bitter Wine consists of two principal ingredients, viz., Red Wine and Medicinal Herbs.
  • Red Wine strengthens the intestines and regulates their work. It also increases the appetite, stimulates and strengthens the body.
  • Use Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine always when a thorough cleaning out of the intestines is needed. Arrange the dose to suit your conditions and habits.
  • In chronic constipation the dose of Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine should be increased or taken oftener.
  • Many Female Troubles are caused or aggravated by constipation and ladies should always pay attention to this fact.

The American Medical Association did not necessarily agree with either Triner’s recommendations or advertising campaign. In the July 14, 1917 A.M,A. Journal, the A.M.A.’s Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry stated:

The composition of this “wine”- some bitter drugs, a laxative and a tannin-containing, constipating red wine – and advertising propaganda all tend to the continued use of this alcoholic stimulant and thus the unconscious formation of a desire for alcoholic stimulation. As the medical journal advertisements may lead physicians to prescribe this secret and irrational preparation and thus unconsciously lead to alcoholism, the Council authorized publication of this report. (from The Journal A.M.A. July 14, 1917.)

Despite it’s 16 to 18 percent alcohol content and it’s less than glowing review by the A.M.A., it appears that Trinir’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine was legally available throughout Prohibition. In fact, in March of 1929, if you read the Harrisburg (Pa.) Evening News, you could send in a mail request for a free bottle.

Not only did it survive Prohibition but Triner’s Elixir remained listed in drug store newspaper advertisements well into the 1950’s.

The 1333 – 1339 S Ashland Avenue location is now a modern warehouse facility. Other buildings on the block appear to date back to the era of the business.

The bottle I found is machine made and I estimate it to be a little over 20 ounces. It’s embossed just below the shoulder: “Jos. Trinner” on one side and “Chicago” on the other. It matches the bottle in this 1920 advertisement for Triner’s American Elixir of Bitter Wine.

 

J. Walker’s V.B.

 

V.B. stands for (California) Vinegar Bitters. An article in an 1886 issue of the Pharmaceutical Review listed four products: Vinegar Bitters Cordial, Vinegar Bitters Powders, Vinegar Bitters,new style (pleasant taste) and Vinegar Bitters, old style (bitter taste). These four products were called the “Big Four” in an 1886 advertisement.

The Pharmaceutical Review article offered up a story on the beginnings of the business:

The origin of Vinegar Bitters as reported by Dr. Gibbons in 1874 in his presidential address before the California State Medical Society is quite interesting; we copy it in Dr. Gibbon’s words:

This “Bitters” is one of the nastiest nostrums, introduced and largely sold by the most extensive and brazen advertising under the false pretense of being free from alcohol. It originated with the cook of a party which traveled overland as a mining company to California in 1849; he settled in Calaveras County, and having no success as a miner, he turned his attention to the bitter quality of the herbs growing about him, and came to San Francisco with the idea of making and vending a nostrum to be called “Indian Vegetable Bitters.”

He fell in with an enterprising druggist, who saw money in the project and joined him. At the suggestion of the latter, the “Indian” was struck out, and as the concoction got sour by fermentation, it was concluded to call it “Vinegar Bitters,” and to identify it with the temperance movement. The native herbs which became rather troublesome to collect, were discarded and aloes, being a cheap bitter, was substituted. “Nine sick people out of ten,” said the druggist, “will be cured by purging.” Wherefore the aloes and Glauber’s salt. So the cook turned doctor, the decoction became sour and of Californian instead of Indian paternity, and “Doctor Walker’s Vinegar Bitters” began their career in the newspapers, on fences and rocks, and on the shelves of the drug stores.

Whether J. Walker was the cook, a fictional character or more likely a little of both is not clear but early advertisements for his vinegar bitters listed him as: “Joseph Walker, Proprietor, Corner Post and Powell Streets, San Francisco.” The druggist in the story was most likely Richard H. McDonald. Advertisements, which first appeared in the 1868 editions of several California newspapers listed wholesale druggist, R.H. McDonald & Co., as the agent for Walker’s Bitters.

The principals of the firm were Richard H McDonald and John Campbell Spencer. McDonald, in addition to being a druggist and businessman,  was also the president of the Pacific Bank in San Francisco.

In the early J. Walkers advertisements, R.H. McDonald listed San Francisco (corner of Pine and Sansome Streets), Sacramento and New York as their locations.

The first listing I can find for the business in New York was in the 1867/1868 General Directory: “R.H. McDonald (of the firm of R.H. McDonald, wholesale druggists, San Francisco and Sacramento California). Their New York address was 34 Platt. Over the next 27 years McDonald, and sometimes Spencer as well, were listed at 32 Commerce Street (1870 – 1872), 532 Washington Street (1873 – 1886) and 44 Broad Street (1894). They were usually categorized as drugs or sometimes bitters. The 1877 Rand’s NYC Business Directory listed the business under “Patent & Proprietary Medicines.”

The business of R..H. McDonald and J. Walker’s Vinegar Bitters remained closely associated from 1867 until the early 1890’s, so much so that they were almost certainly one and the same.

Like most patent medicines of the time, J. Walker’s Vinegar Bitters claimed a wide range of unsubstantiated benefits. Advertisements published around 1885 – 86 included the following purported benefits:

  • a purgative and tonic, purifies the blood, strengthens the liver and kidneys and will restore health, however lost.
  • best remedy discovery for promoting digestion, curing headache and increasing the vital powers
  • assimilates the food, regulates the stomach and bowels, giving healthy and natural sleep
  • is the great disease preventer, and stands at the head of all family remedies. No house should ever be without it.
  • cures Malarial, Bilious and other fevers, diseases of the Heart, Liver and Kidneys, and a hundred other painful disorders.

The advertisement went on to tout their sales and marketing information that they referred to as reference books.

Send for either of our valuable reference books for ladies, for farmers, for merchants, our Medical Treatise on Diseases, or our Catechism on Intemperance and Tobacco, which last should be in the hands of every child and youth in the country.

The 1886 Pharmaceutical Review article, referenced at the beginning of this post, went on to list the actual ingredients of the product:

Walker’s California Bitters has been examined in 1875 independently by Ottoman Eberbach in Ann Arbor, Fr. Hoffmann in New York and Prof. W.R. Nichols of Boston with the following results:

Each bottle contains 19 to 20 fluid ounces, consisting of a decoction of aloes and a small quantity of gum guaiac, auiseseed and sassafras bark, in water slightly acidulated with acetic acid, or by subsequent fermentation, or by the use or addition of sour cider; to this are added about one ounce of sulphate of soda, 1/4 ounce of gum arabic and 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce of alcohol.

Despite the presence of alcohol, part of the Walker’s marketing strategy was to associate it with the temperance movement calling it the “Only Temperance Bitters Known” They even went so far as to include the phrase “free from alcohol” on their logo.

This fact wasn’t lost on the author of the Pharmaceutical Review article who summed it up this way.

For the latter ones (Vinegar Bitters, old and new styles) they still cling to the temperance cause. Their pamphlets and circulars, therefore, are crowded with mottos and sentiments of that kind, and their perusal is quite a humorous treat, and may be beneficial without taking the medicine for those, who are inclined to a bilious temperment. “The Catechism on the Twin Evils Intemperance and Tobacco” (one of their advertising Pamphlets) is worth a perusal and cannot fail to incite the most obstinate hypochonder to a hearty, healthy laughter.

By 1896, the drug business of  R. H. McDonald was no longer listed in the NYC directories. J. Walker’s Vinegar Bitters newspaper advertisements vanish around the same time and there’s apparently good reason for this. In 1893, McDonald had bigger fish to fry. According to his 1903 obituary in the Chicago Tribune:

…The death of Dr. McDonald recalls the sensational incidents surrounding the failure of the Pacific Bank (in San Francisco)and the People’s Home Savings Bank in this city in 1893. The crash of these two concerns and the resulting disclosures of wholesale fraud  involving Dr. McDonald, his two sons Richard H. McDonald Jr. and Frank McDonald, and other men high in financial and political circles of the community formed the most startling sensation in the history of finance on the coast.

On June 22, 1893, the Pacific Bank suspended payment and on November 3 it was declared insolvent. A terrific run immediately commenced on the People’s Home Savings Bank, and it also soon went under, carrying ruin to hundreds of poor depositors.

President McDonald and R.H. McDonald Jr. were indicted by the grand jury and made to stand trial. Frank McDonald fled to Japan. In both instances the alleged offenders were released upon technical grounds after sensational trials. Dr. McDonald, who was considered more the unfortunate dupe of his two sons than an active offender, could not face the shame of the sensational incident and left the city for Cuba, never to set foot on his native land again.

Today, in New York City, neither the Platt Street or Washington Street locations date back to the business. 32 Commerce Street now appears to be part of the footprint of 72 Bedford Street but the adjacent building at 28 Commerce Street looks like it dates back to the time frame of the business.

The shape of the bottle I found matches the shape of a labeled bottle found on the Internet.

It also agrees with the 19 to 20 ounce size mentioned in the contents description above. It probably dates to the late 1800’s.

 

 

 

Lash’s Bitters Co., New York – Chicago – San Francisco

   

The predecessor to Lash’s Bitters Co. was T M Lash & Co. of Sacramento California. A partnership between Tito M Lash and John Spieker, the business was started in 1884 and marketed a number of proprietary medicines that included alcohol based tonics and liniments. One of their most popular products was Lash’s Kidney & Liver Bitters.

An article in the October 10, 1889 edition of the (Sacramento Ca.) “Record Union” described the relationship between the two men.

Lash claims to be the discoverer of certain medical decoctions, in the manufacture and sale of which Spieker became interested as a partner. Lash was to do the traveling and selling of the medicines, while the general conduct of the business was to be looked after by his city partner.

The article went on to say that Lash had filed suit against Spieker as a result of accounting discrepancies  identified within the business. This led to the dissolution of the partnership with Spieker buying all rights to the firm name as well as the manufacturing rights to the medicines.

Sometime between 1889 and 1893 Spieker moved the business from Sacramento to San Francisco and incorporated under the name “Lash’s Bitters Company.” The following notice appeared under the heading “Articles of Incorporation” in the April 3, 1893 edition of The “Record Union.”

The earliest San Francisco listing I can find for the company  is in the 1896 directory:

Lash’s Bitters Co. (Incorporated), manufacturers of Lash’s Bitters and Vigor of Life, 1117 Mission.

The company remained listed in San Francisco up through 1935. During this period they listed their addresses as: 1117 Mission ( 1896 to 1900), 116 2nd (1901 to 1906), 1721 Mission (1907 to 1919), 43 to 47 Beale (1920 to 1932) and 1715-1721 Mission (1933 to 1935). They were no longer listed in 1937 (I don’t have access to 1936).

They opened their Chicago location in 1901 and New York in 1904.

  

Chicago was first listed in the 1901 directory under “patent medicines” as:

Lash’s Kidney and Liver Bitters Co., George M. Pond, mgr. 149 and 151 E. Huron.

I don’t have access to many Chicago directories of that era but advertisements indicated that they later moved to 319-331 W. Ohio Street. The business was still listed in Chicago and as late as 1930.

The first New York listing for the company that I can find is in the 1905 City Directory. Over the next 20 years they were listed at three different addresses: 63 Varick Street (1905 to 1911), 721 Washington Street (1911 to 1915/16 and 243 W 17th Street (1916/17 to 1925). During this entire period from 1905 to 1925, Charles H Hill was named as their N.Y. manager. I don’t have access to any directories between 1926 and 1930 but I’ve read that the New York operation ended around 1930.

After 1920, and certainly as a result of National Prohibition, they changed the company name in the directories of all three cities to “Lash’s Products Co.”

The business operated a plant in Clifton NJ from 1927 to 1966 so it’s possible that the New York operation moved to New Jersey sometime in the mid to late 1920’s. I’ve been able to track down very little information on their New Jersey operation but I did find this 1947 classified advertisement for a salesman that confirmed the Lash’s Products Company had a Clifton New Jersey location and indicated that they were still making Lash’s Bitters as well as cordials and flavoring syrups at the time.

By the time that the Lash’s Bitters Company had expanded to the three locations of San Francisco, Chicago and New York, they were associated with several patent medicines. Advertisements between 1904 and 1906 listed the Lash’s Bitters Company as the distributing agents for “Peruvian Bitters,” “Clark’s California Cherry Cordial” and Homer’s California Ginger Brandy,” among others.

At some point they also began to manufacture non-alcoholic beverages, their most notable being Lash’s Root Beer. Although I can’t prove it, the start of Lash’s Root Beer probably coincided with their 1920 name change to the Lash’s Product Company and the start of National Prohibition. This advertisement from upstate New York is from 1923.

Their signature product though was Lash’s Bitters. It was advertised as

Positively without an equal for all diseases arising from a disordered condition of the kidneys and liver. A mild cathartic and sure cure for constipation, indigestion, biliousness, dyspepsia, chills and fever, nervous or sick headache.

One advertisement offered it up as a hangover cure as well!

To feel good the morning after the night out take Lash’s Bitters. “A clean stomach makes a clear head”

Though it contained 18 percent alcohol by volume, it was apparently still legally available during prohibition with a prescription.

The early history of Lash’s Bitters is quite interesting. By my count, its possible that in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, the exact formula, or at least very similar versions,  were being made under three different names: “Lash”s Bitters,” “Roberts’ Bitters” and Dr. Webb’s Bitters.”

Roberts’ Bitters originated with Spieker, who prior to partnering with Lash in 1884, operated as an independent druggist in Sacramento. Advertisements in 1882 and 1883 located his operation at the northwest corner of Sixth and K Streets.

During this time he apparently had the rights to manufacture “Roberts Kidney and Liver Bitters.” In January, 1884 he sold those rights to Victor J Gregory. Subsequently these advertisements appeared throughout 1884 in the “Record Union”

That same year, Spieker, now partnered with Lash, began producing the same formula under the “Lash’s Bitters” name. Gregory discovered this in 1892 and obtained a temporary injunction prohibiting Spieker from manufacturing Lash’s Bitters.

A story summarizing the resultant court case published in the December 9, 1893 edition of the “San Francisco Call,” succinctly summarized the facts.

Sacramento, Dec. 8 – The heaviest judgement here in many years was given today in favor of Victor J Gregory of this city against J. J. Spieker of San Francisco. Some years ago the latter sold to Gregory for a considerable sum a formula for making Roberts’ Bitters. He then himself manufactured and sold Lash’s Bitters all over the coast, but got in trouble…when the fact came out…that the same formula was used that he sold to Gregory. The latter then began a suit, and last June obtained an injunction. A referee was appointed to investigate Spieker’s affairs, and today reported that he owed Gregory $ 51,872.

This verdict was later overturned by the California State Supreme Court. The Court ordered a new trial but I can’t find any record of one. It’s not clear when the injunction was lifted but Speiker was certainly producing Lash’s Bitters again at the turn of the century.

Dr. Webb’s Bitters was born after Spieker and Lash dissolved their partnership in 1889. A year later, Lash, along with his wife, established T.M. Lash & Co., and began producing the same or similar formula under the name “Dr. Webb’s Bitters.”

In this matter, Spieker brought suit against Lash. His accusations were presented in the February 5, 1891 edition of the “Record Union”

In his complaint Spieker alleges that in 1884 he and Lash were partners in the bitters business, under the firm name of Lash & Co. They dissolved partnership in 1889, Spieker buying all right to the firm name and to manufacture the bitters previously mentioned. In 1890 Lash and his wife went into business under the name of Lash & Co. and began at once to manufacture an imitation of the bitters. He further alleges that Lash’s imitation is inferior to the genuine, yet he persuades Spieker’s patrons to purchase the imitation rather than the real article. He says that the defendants are conspiring to ruin his business, and he prays for relief from the court.

Spieker prevailed in this instance. The  August 11, 1892 edition of the “Record Union” reported:

Judgement and findings have been filed in the Superior Court in the case of J. J. Spieker vs. T. M. Lash and Jennie Lash. In the decision Judge Van Fleet renders plaintiff a perpetual injunction, retraining the defendant from manufacturing, imitating or in any way interfering  with the manufacture of Lash’s Bitters.

The bottle I found is machine made and embossed “Lash’s Bitters Co,” (not Lash’s Product Co.) so it’s most likely pre-prohibition. The traditional Owens mark of an “O” inside a box is embossed on the base. The Box O trademark was registered on March 16, 1920 but according to the patent application had been in use since April 4, 1919. This dates the bottle to 1919 or 1920; early 1920’s at the latest.

In response to this post I was contacted by the granddaughter of Martin O’Shea, a vice president of Lash’s, who ran the Lash’s Clifton New Jersey plant until his death in 1966. Her recollections provide a personal touch to the Lash’s story that you can’t get from old records and directories.

We grandkids made the last batch of Lash’s Orangeade to fill an order just before grandpa passed away. Your blog was found by my brother who used to play in the plant when dad took us to help grandpa when called. We also got to go with dad when he had to repair or deliver Lash’s Root Beer and Orangeade syrup to the Circle Line boat going to the Statue of Liberty.

Thanks Pat!!

 

Hay’s Hair Health

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Hay’s Hair Health was a hair product sold from the late  1880’s through the early 1940’s. Advertisements during this period indicated that it was manufactured in the late 1800’s by the London Supply Company of New York and later by the Philo Hay Specialty Company of Newark, New Jersey.

The London Supply Company apparently started business in either 1888 or 1889. Newspaper advertisements for the London Supply Company and Hays Hair Health began to appear in January of 1889. The first one I could find was in the January 5, 1889 edition of the New York Sun.

Between 1890 and 1900 the London Supply Company was listed in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories at 853 Broadway. The proprietor was Freeman Hiscox.  The company was no longer listed in the 1901 edition of the directory.

Around this time they apparently transitioned the operation to New Jersey. On July 3, 1900, the Philo-Hay Specialty Co. of Newark New Jersey incorporated with a capital of $210,000. Lawrence Hardham was their first president. Freeman Hiscox, the former proprietor of the London Supply Co., was Secretary and Alice L Ward was Treasurer. Philo-Hay Specialties Co. first appeared in the Newark City Directories in 1902 located at 229 Lafayette with Freeman Hiscox as manager.

The transition from the London Supply Company to the Philo-Hay Specialty Company apparently took several years. Although they were no longer listed in New York after 1900, some Hay’s Hair Health advertisements continued to reference the London Supply Co. at the 853 Broadway address up through 1904. Newspaper advertisements referencing the New Jersey company began to appear as early as November 1900.

The Philo-Hay Specialty Company remained at 229 Lafayette Street until 1906 when they were listed at 29 Congress. In 1908 their address was 30 Clinton and by 1913 their listed address was Verona Ave, corner of Clifton Ave. The business disappeared from the Newark Directories after 1922.

In addition to Hay’s Hair Health, the company manufactured a number of other similar products as well including Skinhealth Treatment, Creme Peau Sante (Violette) and Harfina Soap. Harfina Soap was almost always advertised in conjunction with Hay’s Hair Health.

The business was apparently fully committed to advertising as a way to grow the business. This advertisement in the “Interstate Druggist” was apparently aimed at drug store owners:

If you will stock and push Hays Hair Health, you will never be troubled with complaints from dissatisfied customers. The demand is always on the increase as our advertising runs continuously year after year in our ever increasing list of the best newspapers throughout the country.

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One early advertisement for Hay’s Hair Health printed in the January 5, 1901 edition of “The Literary Digest” delivered a message that is not very different from the one delivered today by the advertisers of both men’s and women’s hair products, though certainly not in the same words.

Gray hairs often stand in the way of advancement for both men and women, socially and in business. Many fail to secure good positions because they look “too old” and many women are disappointed in life because they fail to preserve that attractiveness which so largely depends on the hair.

The advertisement goes on to promote the purported benefits of the product:

Hay’s Hair Health will positively restore gray or faded hair to its former color and beauty. It is not a dye, nor a stain, but a natural restorer and tonic to beautiful hair growth. Equally good for men and women.

Another advertisement from the same era goes even further stating:

This hair food acts on the roots, giving them the required nourishment and positively produces luxuriant hair on bald heads.

An advertisement published in various forms between 1902 and 1915 used the slogan: “Hay’s Hair Health turns back time in its flight,” and actually included before and after illustrations.

The product’s trademark which included the words “Hays Hair Health” with a picture of a woman with flowing hair and a bearded man all within a circle (no. 43022) was published by the U S Patent Office on August 9, 1910 but they were using it well before that. The phrase “Hay’s Hair Health” dates back to their earliest advertisements in 1889 and the picture described in the trademark is shown in the 1901 advertisement above.

Their bold advertising claims were not backed up by the scientific community. The 1916 Report of the Connecticut Experiment Station described Hay’s Hair Health as a colorless liquid containing a yellow percipitate and with the following odor of oil of bay. The product contained glycerine, free sulphur, lead acetate and organic matter, possibly sage. They stated that:

This is simply one of the glycerine water solutions of lead acetate with considerable free sulphur. The use of any preparation, even externally, containing such a dangerous poison as lead acetate is unsafe.

Also, the Indiana State Board of Health Chemical Division’s 1917 Report of the Chemical Division of the Laboratory of Hygiene had this to say about Hay’s Hair Health:

This combination is also sold under the false claim that it is a hair restorer. It is…a mixture of sugar, lead (1.5%), sulphur (1.5%), alcohol and water. The contents of a fifty cent bottle are worth but five.

After 1922, when the Philo Hay Specialty Company was no longer listed in the Newark directories, its not clear who manufactured Hay’s Hair Health but it continued to be named in drug store advertisements as late as 1942. This advertisement printed in the May 1, 1940 edition of the Buffalo (NY) Courier still advertised it in conjunction with Harifina Soap.

Today, 853 Broadway in NYC is a 21 story building built in 1929 and therefore could not have been used by the business. In Newark the southeast corner of Verona and Clifton is occupied by a 2 story building that appears to have been converted from manufacturing to residential. It could have been used by the business.

I found two identical mouth blown brown medicine bottles embossed Hay’s on one side and Hair Health on the other side. They match a labeled bottle included in a 1913 advertisement that included an offer for a free bottle.

        

Empire Hair Regenerator Co., New York

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Piecing together information from the NYC General Directories, the Trow Copartnership and Corporation Directories and the ERA Druggist Directories, this business was active from 1905 well into the 1930’s. Prior to 1911, I’ve seen the business referred to as both the Empire Hair Regenerator Co (as embossed on the bottle) and simply the Empire Regenerator Co. In 1911 and later, the company was referred to exclusively as the Empire Regenerator Co. The Directories typically associated the business with hair dyes and hair goods. The ERA Directories listed them as manufacturers of toilet preparations.

George Gyllstrom was the company president through 1911 and William Munson was the president from 1912 to at least 1920. During this period, Klas Gyllstrom was listed as a Director so it appears the Gyllstrom family remained active in the business. After 1920, the company leadership is unknown.

The company’s long time address from 1905 through 1928 was 242 6th Avenue. Located near the intersection of Houston Street and 6th Avenue, I assume they had to move in the early 1930’s when their building was acquired and demolished to accommodate the widening of Houston Street. By 1932 they were listed at 566 6th Avenue and in 1935 they  moved again to 605 6th Avenue.

This “Empire Hair Regenerator” advertisement was included in a much larger advertisement for a  department store called the “14th Street Store” printed in the May 15, 1907 edition of the “Evening World.” It included the same “eagle” trademark that is embossed on the bottle I found.

One application and your hair is immediately a natural shade. Clean, odorless and gives to the hair the healthy, natural appearance of youth.

A 1935 advertisement in the August 22 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle exhibited the shortened company name and the 605 6th Avenue address.

It appears that the company went out of business in the mid-1930’s after the Federal Trade Commission charged them with false and misleading advertising.. According to a news article in the November 9, 1936 edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday a New York City concern and a Buffalo firm have agreed to discontinue alleged “false and misleading” advertising in connection with sale of their products.

The Commission said the Empire Regenerator Company, Inc., New York City, agreed to cease representing a hair dye designated “the Empire Hair Regenerator” would remove gray hair, restore the original color to hair or prevent hair from turning gray…

The bottle I found is a small mouth-blown rectangular medicine bottle with their trade mark eagle embossed on the front panel. “The Empire Hair Regenerator” is embossed on one side and “New York” on the other side. The fact that it’s mouth blown and includes the word “Hair” in the company name leads me to believe it’s probably pre-1912.

Sharp & Dohme, Baltimore

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In 1860 Alpheus P. Sharp established a retail pharmacy at the southwest corner of Howard and Pratt Streets in Baltimore. He teamed with Louis Dohme and later his brother Charles Dohme and they gradually developed a list of pharmaceuticals for which they experienced more than a local demand. Their proucts included medicinal fluids, solid and powdered extracts, gelatin and sugar coated pills, effervescent salts, hypodermic and compressed tablets, elixers, cordials, syrups and pepsins.

On December 31, 1885, Sharp retired, and Louis and Charles Dome, along with Ernst Stoffregen continued the business. The notice announcing this change was printed in the January, 6, 1886 edition of the Baltimore Sun.

The business subsequently incorporated in 1892.

In 1889 they established a branch in NYC. According to the NYC Directories, their first location was 16 Cedar Street. In 1891 they were located at 112 William Street and in 1892 they relocated to 41 John Street where they remained through at least 1919. Today, none of these addresses appear to date back to the business.

According to a December 31, 1896 article in the Phamaceutical Era, in 1893 Sharp and Dohme transferred it’s general offices including, the advertising, bookkeeping and billing departments from Baltimore to New York. The New York location was under the direction of Ernst Stroffregen and it fed the company’s growth in the eastern and middle states that naturally looked to New York for supplies. The west and northwest was served from a Chicago location. Laboratories were located in Baltimore and that location included the bottling and wrapping department. In 1896 the Baltimore facility included two buildings; one six stories the other seven stories.

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The 1896 article credits Sharp & Dohme as the first to demonstrate the superiority of porous over compressed hypodermic tablets. It goes on to state that:

Their list of hypodermics is the largest and most complete made in the country. Their hypodermics are remarkably soluble even in cold water and this feature, which is an unvarying one, together with the quality of drug and accuracy of manufacture easily wins the confidence of the doctor.

Sharp & Dohme merged with H K Mulford & Co in 1929. The announcement was printed in the August 9, 1929 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Sharp & Dohme, Inc., announced that it will make an offer to the stockholders of the H.K. Mulford Company of Philadelphia for an exchange of stock that will consolidate the activities of these two nationally known concerns…

The H.K. Mulford Company has the leading biological laboratories in this country and is one of the oldest and best-known organizations in this line of business. Sharp & Dohme is one of the oldest and largest pharmaceutical houses in the country having been founded 69 years ago, manufacturing standard pharmaceutical products and certain controlled medicinal specialties.

The deal, one of the most important mergers in the medical industry at the time, closed two months later. At that time, Sharp & Dohme’s New York operation was listed at 78 Varick Street. H.K. Mulford had offices at 119-121 Varick Street.

In 1953 Sharp & Dome merged with Merck & Co.

The bottle I found is a small brown pill bottle. I’ve seen the exact bottle on E-Bay with a label that reads Lapactic Pills. According to the Pharmaceutical Era:

Lapactic Pills are prescribed in all parts of the civilized world for chronic constipation and atomic dyspepsia. A soluble aloin is made by Sharp & Dohme for use in this pill.

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C.T. Hurlburt & Co.

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C T Hurlburt stands for Charles T Hurlburt. The company, established in 1852 was primarily engaged in the preparation of homoeopathic remedies. The company was also known as the American Homoeopathic Pharmacy.

Charles Hurlburt was the sole proprietor until 1893 when he formed a partnership with his son. The partnership was announced in the Society and News section of the 1893 issue of the “North American Journal of Homoeopathy”as follows:

We notice that the old established house of C T Hurlburt, the American Homoeopathic Pharmacy, which has been under his sole management since 1852 has been changed to a partnership under the firm name of C T Hurlburt & Co. The firm consists of Mr C T Hurlburt and his son, Mr Chas F Hurlburt, who has a long experience in homoeopathic pharmacy under his father’s direction and who is now associated with him as a partner.

The business was active until approximately 1915 occupying several locations over it’s life span. The original location was 437 Broome Street and later, in 1868, the business moved to 898 Broadway between 18th and 19th Street. Advertisements during this period mentioned medicines, vials, cases, books and toilet and fancy goods.

During the late 1870’s they moved to East 19th Street. Here they were first listed at 15 East 19th Street in 1880/81 and by 1886 were listed at 3 East 19th Street where they remained until 1901. Between the mid 1880’s and early 1900’s the business also maintained a 125th Street location. 52, 59,61 and 108 W 125th Street were all listed during this period.

An article in an 1896 issue of the Phamaceutical Era described the business and it’s products during this period:

This firm also known as the American Homoeopathic Pharmacy is one of the oldest houses engaged in preparing alcoholic tinctures of green plants and other supplies used by the Homoeopathic School of Medicine. They are the proprietors of a number of special preparations well known to the general drug trade as “Hurlburts” which have secured a large sale through their own merits, curative qualities and the established reputation and long experience of the manufacturers. These medicines are the result of scientific skill and medical knowledge. One of the oldest and most celebrated is their remedy for Croup coughs and Bronchial troubles, called Hurlburt’s Trachial Drops, prepared both in syrup and tablets – a remedy unqualified for the household in providing safety against that dread of mothers – the croup. Hurlburt’s Rubini Camphor Pills for Colds, Grippe and Dirreha were originated by this firm as the most convenient and desirable way of taking an efficient yet pleasant dose of camphor. They have many imitators, but to secure the genuine buyers should see that the label bears the trademark of the firm. Circulars and prices of these and other valuable remedies can be obtained by addressing Messrs Hurlburt and Co. who offer the trade very advantageous terms.

An advertisement printed in the October 2, 1892 issue of the New York Sun referenced the Tracheal Drops and Rubini Camphor Pills as well as several other products.

 

In 1902 the business was listed at 575 Madison Avenue and by 1906 they were at 7 Barclay, where they stayed until 1911.

In 1912 they were first listed as a NY Corporation with Charles F Hurlburt as President, and an address of 45 Lafayette. They were listed again in1913/14 but in 1915 Hurlburt’s Pharmacal Co was listed with Theo Stemmler as President. I’m not sure whether this is a continuation of the original company or not.

The business apparently sold their products outside of the New York area as well. “Midland Druggist” a publication located in Columbus, Ohio, announced in their December 15, 1899 issue:

C T Hurlburt & Co of New York City issued a new price list reducing the trade prices of their goods to the rates which prevailed before the war tax was imposed (I assume the was a tax associated with the Spanish American War that occurred in 1898).

The 7 Barclay Street address is located in the current footprint of the Woolworth Building. The site for the building was acquired in 1911 and the building was built and opened by 1913. Hurlburt’s move to Lafayette Street in 1911 was certainly necessitated by the acquisition process for the new skyscraper.

The bottle I found is a small (1-2 ounce), square medicine bottle with a tooled finish (maybe Hurlburt’s Trachial Drops??). It’s embossed: C T Hurlburt & Co., so it was made after the partnership with Charles was formed in 1893. The maker’s mark TCW & Co is embossed on the base of the bottle indicating it was made by the T C Wheaton Glass Co. According to various Internet web sites, this specific mark was used between 1888 and 1901. This dates the bottle between 1893 and 1901 and ties it to the E 19th Street location.

J. S. Seabury

 

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The J stands for John S Seabury. Born in 1811, he was a druggist and patent medicine proprietor from the 1830’s to at least 1882. He died in 1888. His obituary, printed in the November 1, 1888 issue of the ‘Pharmaceutical Record” states” John S Seabury, a well known druggist of Jamaica, New York and also in former years of this City, (NY) died at his home a few days ago. He began in business at New Rochelle, was later at Jamaica, and at one time was a member of the firm of Pinchot, Bruen & Seabury of this City (located on Fulton Street). He had an excellent reputation as a druggist and a citizen. He was 77 years of age.

It’s not clear when Seabury moved from New Rochelle to Jamaica, but J. S. Seabury & Co. of Jamaica was listed as an authorized agent for “Brandreth’s Pills” in the August 20, 1839 issue of the Long Island Star so he was doing business in Jamaica by then.

Around this time he was involved with at least two different proprietary products. One was for “Vestamental Soap” advertised in a July 1840 issue of the Long Island Farmer. It stated:

For removing grease spots, paint, etc. from woolen cloths. This is a new article lately invented by Mr. John S Seabury, Druggist, New Rochelle. The proprietor contents himself with merely stating in the label upon each bottle, the purpose of which it is intended, and the method of application; leaving those who choose to give it a trial to judge of its merits. We can say that we have never seen anything half so well adapted to removing spots from woolen garments as the Vestamental Soap. Price 25 cents a bottle. For sale at the New Drug and Book Store, by C. S. Watrous.

The other was called Hawkshurst’s Opodeldoc or Rheumatic Embrocation. The 1841 advertisement in the Long Island Farmer stated:

an effectual and speedy remedy for rheumatism, cramps, sprains, bruises, wounds, stiff joints, sore throat, pains in the chest, side back, etc. prepared for many years by the late John Hawkshurst of Newtown Long Island. The subscriber having procured the original recipe for preparing this embrocation, the genuine article will in future bear his written signature on the directions accompanying each bottle…Certificates of the most respectable character to the efficiency of the above medicine might be procured but the subscriber deems it unnecessary, as he authorizes every vendor of the article to refund the money for any part of a bottle of the embrocation which may be returned, should it not prove as represented.

By 1849 he owned a drug store in Jamaica called “Seabury’s Hall of Pharmacy”. According to an advertisement in the L I Farmer in the early 1850’s it was advertised as a general store as much as a pharmacy, selling an assortment of products such as paints, books, stationary, window glass and lamps in addition to drugs and medicines.

 

Over the years, this store was turned over to an employee named George Peck, first operating under a partnership of Seabury and Peck. Ultimately around 1865 Peck became sole proprietor and changed the name to the “Hall of Pharmacy”

Seabury apparently continued in business on Long Island at other Jamaica locations until at least 1882. He was listed in Curtain’s Long Island Directory of 1868-1869 under patent medicines in Jamaica on Fulton St near Washington Ave and there’s an advertisement for Seabury’s Cough Balsam in an 1871 issue of the Long Island Farmer. The advertisement names Seabury as the sole proprietor in Jamaica.

seabury-ad

Finally, in 1882, Seabury is looking to retire. An 1882 issue of the “Druggist Circular and Chemical Gazette” carried the following item headlined as a Rare Business Opportunity:

Desirous of retiring from active business, I offer for sale a first class drug store in the Village of Jamaica L I, also a well established fire insurance agency representing some of the best companies in the State. I would also sell one or all of my popular proprietary medicines. The above would be sold together or separately as desired. Address for particulars J S Seabury, Jamaica L I.

It’s not clear if and when he sold out.

The bottle I found is a small (approximately 2 oz) medicine with an applied finish and only the Seabury name embossed on it. It probably contained a proprietary medicine (maybe cough balsam?) from the Fulton St location.

R. W. Robinson & Son, New York

 

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R W stands for Russel W Robinson. According to an article in the January to June 1907 records of the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Robinson entered the drug business in the late 1840’s and formed the firm of R W Robinson & Son in 1870. He died in 1883.

The NYC directories support and add to this information.

  • Russel W Robinson was first listed in the 1847/1848 City Directory (the earliest one I could find) at 214 Fulton Street with the occupation of “drugs.”
  • Robinson moved to 182 – 186 Greenwich Street in and around 1857/1858.
  • The firm of R W Robinson and Son first appeared in the 1870/1871 Directory at the Greenwich Street address. Russel W Robinson continued to be listed individually at that address as well. The business was also listed in the 1877 Rands NYC Business Directory under “wholesale drugs”
  • Russel W Robinson was still listed individually in the 1883 directory but was not listed in 1886 (the next directory I have access to). The business continued to be listed at Greenwich Street.
  • In the 1897 and 1898 Trow Business Directories for Manhattan and the Bronx, the company remained listed at the Greenwich Street address and an address at 228 Fulton Street was added.

A notice in the November 28, 1903 edition of the New York Times announced that the business had incorporated:

R. W. Robinson & Son, New York, to deal in drugs; capital $80,000. Directors – F.M. Robinson, W.R. Robinson, D.W. Kent, New York.

After incorporation, the company name became R. W. Robinson & Son Company.

In 1906 there appears to have been a split, when several directors and long time employees of Robinson resigned and formed a new company called the C. S. Littell Company. The May 1906 issue of the “Pharmaceutical Era”reported the formation of the new company under the headline “Well Known Drug Men in New Wholesale House”

It was announced by Charles S. Littell, George Thompson and Theodore W. Day that they have resigned as directors of the corporation of R. W. Robinson & Son, Co., severing their connection with that concern, and have formed a co-partnership under the name of C. S. Littell & Co. They will do a wholesale drug business at 228 Fulton Street. The new firm has leased the Fulton Street section of the old building, leaving the Greenwich Street side, which forms an “L” to 186 Greenwich, to the Robinson firm. which will continue in business. The two buildings are, in fact, separate and distinct, being connected by a passageway.

Charles S. Littell, who is prominent in drug trade circles as chairman of the Drug Trade Section of the New York Board of Trade and Transportation, started with the Robinson firm thirty-five years ago as a boy and for twenty years was a partner in the old firm of R. W. Robinson & Son. During the past two years he has been vice-president of the present incorporated company. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Day have both been connected with the business for over twenty years.

It was first the intention of the Robinson Co. gradually to drop their wholesale branch altogether and to confine themselves to their cash jobbing business, which they carry on in their Greenwich Street building, and to the pushing of their laboratory specialties. F. M. Robinson said to an Era representative this week, however, that he had changed his mind about the matter. So much new business has been coming in, he said, that there will be enough to go around between the new and the old concerns without either conflicting with the other. Hence the firm will continue the wholesale department…

There must have been more to the situation than reported in the story because a little over one year later, R. W. Robinson & Son was bankrupt. A bankruptcy notice, that listed assets of $24,184 and liabilities of $156,569 was printed in the October 31, 1907 edition of the N Y Times. A day later, a bankruptcy sale was announced in the paper. The notice provided a description of the business at that time of the sale. It included: a complete manufacturing, wholesale and retail business together with a laboratory. Their property included drugs, chemicals, proprietory medicines, formulas, trade names, office fixtures, typewriters, etc.

C. S. Littell was still listed at 228 Fulton Street in the 1919 Copartnership and Corporation Directory. At some point in the early 1920’s they moved to 330 Spring Street and I don’t see them listed in the 1930’s.

Each year the Robinson Company published an almanac which they referred to as “An ephemeris of the motions of the sun and moon, the true places and aspects of the planets, rising and setting of the sun and the rising, setting and southing of the moon.” The annual almanac advertised the wide variety of proprietary remedies available from R W Robinson and Sons. They were also listed as a dealer for several proprietary medicines in newspaper advertisements over the years. The earliest one I could find is from 1870 for “Hembold’s Buchu.”

Other proprietary medicines they were associated with in advertisements include “Dr. Clark Johnson’s Indian Blood Syrup,” the “Old Squaw’s Cure” and  “Dr. M Caldwell’s Dyspepsia Remedy.” An 1873 advertisement for Dr. Caldwell’s from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle is included below.

The 182 -186 Greenwich Street and 228 Fulton Street addresses no longer exist and the location is currently within the footprint of the World Trade Center site.

The bottle I found is a small medicine (approximately 4 oz) with a tooled finish. It’s embossed R W Robinson & Son and fits with the 1870 to 1907 time frame of the company (probably late 1800’s). There’s no address embossed on the bottle.

P. B. Knapp, Druggist, 362 Hudson Street, New York

 

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The P stands for Peter B. Knapp whose business dated back to 1839. Knapp ran a medicine warehouse at 362 Hudson Street where he sold proprietary medicines, both wholesale and retail. The business is listed in the 1847 NYC Directory at that address and remained there through at least 1932. It was listed at (or more probably expanded to include) 373 Hudson Street and later 388 Hudson Street from 1933 to 1949 after which there’s no record that I can find.

Relatively early on in their history, the business manufactured and marketed patent medicines, including Knapp’s Indian Strengthening Plaster and Knapp’s Extract of Roots. An advertisement in the April 21, 1845 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle touts:

Knapp’s Celebrated Indian Strengthening Plaster. –  These plasters prepared for pains and weakness in the back, breast, side or limbs, rheumatism, weakness and pain in the chest or loins, across the kidneys, or between the shoulders, liver complaints, diseases of the lungs, lumbago, bruises, sprains and other local injuries of a like nature. Knapp’s Indian Strengthening Plaster will prove, it is confidently believed, the most efficacious outward application that medical science has ever placed within the reach of suffering humanity.

A July 1876 advertisement for Knapp’s Extract of Roots stated:

One of the healthiest and pleasantest beverages known is made from this extract, the reputation of which has been well established for over 30 years…

In 1877 the business was also listed as a New York agent for Dr Underhill’s Pure Wines.

Peter Knapp was involved in the business through 1893, when as the Senior Partner an issue of Chemist & Druggist mentioned that he was one of the oldest druggists in New York.

Sometime in the late 1890’s, Peter passed away but the business apparently remained in the family. Gilbert Knapp was listed as the firm’s active partner in 1903. Around this time they published a 16-page booklet entitled “A Pig and a Poke and Other Stories”in commemoration of the fact that their prescription series had reached the half million mark. An excerpt follows:

One hundred dollars would not do so much now, but in the year 1839 Peter B Knapp established a drug store with it. He had served a long apprenticeship at Van Kleeck’s on lower Sixth Avenue, and wanted to own a store of his own. He bought his stock and it was delivered to him, all in one load.

People believed in home-brewed herb remedies in those days and knew how to prepare them. The little herbarium thrived. Cherished household recepies were brought there to be compounded. The forefathers of the present generation had there infantile colics soothed with catnip that could nowhere else be found of such full fresh flavor as at Knapp’s. It wasn’t so big a place then as it is now, and it wasn’t on the corner. As the business grew, the store deepened and the corner was finally taken in. The firm of P. B. Knapp & Sons now occupies the greater part of two buildings and an annex besides.

The lines of development of late years in Messrs Knapp & Sons’ business have been in the development of a prescription department which is unique and in some respects unequalled in the City. This department, in which confidence is everything now constitutes the main part of their business.”

In 1920, the Knapp family is apparently no longer involved with the business. The Directory for that year names August Hardinger as the only principal.

The bottle I found is a small square mouth blown pharmacy bottle with a tooled finish. It has the 362 Hudson Street address on it and most likely dates back to their prescription department of the early 1900’s.