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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The court records went on to say that:

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Murray & Lanman, Druggists, New York, Florida Water

Murray and Lanman’s Florida Water has been sold as a toilet water or perfume for almost two centuries. This 1885 advertisement called it the “universal perfume,” advertising it “for the handkerchief, the toilet and the bath.”

According to one advertisement, printed in the February 6, 1880 edition of the Oakland Tribune:

The pleasure of bathing is greatly increased by mixing in the tub half or even a quarter of a bottle of Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water. Instantly the whole atmosphere of the bath-room is as fragrant as a blooming flower garden, the mind becomes buoyant, and the body emerges refreshed and strengthened.

Other advertisements from the same era add that it’s also:

delightful and healthful in the sick room, relieves weakness, fatigue, prostration, nervousness and headache.

Some say that it has “magical” properties as well and it’s commonly used in Hoodoo, Voodoo, Santeria and Wicca practices for ritual offerings and purification among other things.

Murray and Lanman’s Florida Water is still made today by the firm of Lanman & Kemp-Barclay, who was featured in a February 7, 1999 article in the New York Daily News. According to that article:

Despite it’s name, Florida Water was never made in Florida. In fact, Florida wasn’t even a state when the company began. The word simply means “of flowers.”

The article went on to touch on the start of the business.

“We go way back,” says Stephen Cooper, president of Lanman & Kemp-Barclay, its makers. “Our company was founded in 1808 by Robert Murray. In the 1830’s, he got together with Lanman and that’s when they began our main product, which is Florida Water”

The earliest NYC directory I could find, Longworth’s New York Register and City Directory, published July 4, 1813, listed Robert J. Murray as a druggist located at 335 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan. The same directory also listed his brother, Lindley Murray, as a druggist at 313 Pearl Street. By 1826, and possibly earlier, they were listed together as Robert & Lindley Murray, druggists, located at 263 Pearl Street, corner of Fulton.

In 1835, it was Lindley Murray along with David Trumball Lanman, who established the partnership of Murray & Lanman. The business was first listed in the 1835 NYC Directory as druggists at 69 Water Street. Lindley Murray was also listed individually as a druggist at the same address. In the same directory Robert Murray was no longer listed, either individually or associated with the business.

Murray & Lanman was listed at 69 Water up through 1847. Then, in May of 1848, several legal notices printed in the Buffalo Courier named David T Lanman as the “surviving partner” of Murray & Lanaman, so Lindley Murray apparently passed away sometime in 1847 or early 1848.

Lanman remained listed individually as a druggist at 69 Water and apparently operated as a sole proprietor until 1853 when he formed a partnership with George Kemp called David T. Lanham & Co. The copartnership notice establishing the business was printed in the January 3, 1853 edition of the New York Times.

Five years later, another copartnership notice, this one printed in the January 1, 1858 edition of the New York Times, indicated that the name of the partnership was changed to D. T. Lanman & Kemp.

The company was listed in the NYC directories this way between 1858 and 1861, then in the 1862 directory they shortened the name to simply Lanman & Kemp. During this period, the business was apparently focused primarily on the foreign market. This advertisement, in the October 22, 1861 edition of the New York Times, called them “wholesale export druggists” further stating; “special attention paid to the execution of drug orders for the markets of Cuba, Mexico, West Indies and South Central America…”

It appears that by the early 1860’s, Lanman was no longer associated with the business. The 1862 NYC Directory no longer listed D.T. Lanman individually at the company’s Water Street address, and by 1865 the company listing in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory included the phrase “George Kemp only” as proprietor.

Lanman & Kemp remained listed at 69 Water Street until 1871 when they moved to 68-70 William Street. It was around this time that George’s brother, Edward, joined him in the management of the business and he continued to run the business after George Kemp’s death in 1893. According to Edward’s January 2, 1902 obituary he facilitated the construction of their long time headquarters at 135 Water Street.

In 1870 he became associated with his late brother George in the firm of Lanman & Kemp, his knowledge of commercial affairs and accurate judgement assisting greatly in making the business highly successful. It was he who built the fine building at No. 135 Water Street, in which the firm’s offices are now located.

The company was first listed at this location in the 1900 directory and they remained there through the mid to late 1950’s when they moved to New Jersey.  The 1957 NYC telephone book listed their general offices at 15 Grand Avenue, Palisades Park N.J., although it still included their 135 Water Street address as well. By 1959, the Water Street address was no longer listed.

They were first listed as Lanman & Kemp- Barclay & Co. in 1933. Today the company is located on Woodland Avenue in Westwood N.J.

Despite the many company name changes over the years, their florida water was always sold under the Murray & Lanman name and in fact, it’s still sold under that name today.  According to Lanman & Kemp-Barclay & Co.’s web site, the product was available in the United States as early as 1808.

Murray & Lanman Florida Water was introduced into the United States market on February 14, 1808. Immediately it gained popularity and approval from the consumer and became a woldwide, well-known cologne, not only because of it’s delightful fragrance, but also because of the more than twenty uses attributed to it.

Although the Murray’s may have been selling their florida water locally in the early 1800’s, a series of D. T. Lanman & Kemp advertisements from the late 1850’s indicate that the product wasn’t widely available in the United States until around that time. This advertisement which appeared in several Ohio newspapers between April 1857 and July 1858 stated under the heading “What Are Its Antecedents” that it was being sold in the Latin American countries for twenty years before being introduced in the United States.

For twenty years it has maintained its ascendency over all other perfumes throughout Cuba, South America and the West Indies. It has been introduced into the United States in response to the earnest demand growing out of its southern reputation.

Another advertisement from the same era stated:

Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water from its great celebrity in the South America and West Indian markets, for which for twenty years it was exclusively manufactured has been extensively imitated in the United States. Now however, the original article has been introduced throughout the Union, and as it bears the distinctive trade-mark of the proprietors, may be readily distinguished by its externals from the simulated preparations.

So, if you believe their own advertising, Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water was being exported to the West Indies and South America as early as the mid to late 1830’s, around the time the company was first established in 1835 and introduced in the United States sometime in the mid to late 1850’s. Recognizing the company’s focus on foreign markets this seems to make a lot of sense.

Like most successful patent medicines of the day, much of their popularity can be attributed to advertising.  Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water along with several of the company’s other products were advertised in their own publication called “Bristol’s Illustrated Almanac.” According to the 1999 Daily News feature:

…these products have been advertised for almost eight generations in Bristol’s Illustrated Almanac, the free booklets Lanman & Kemp give out each year. “Up until a short time before the Second World War, I think, it was published in Spanish, Portuguese, German, French and English,” says Cooper. The 1999 version marks 167 years of continuous publishing.”

And what publishing it is! Interspersed with page after page of shameless product endorsements are poems, recipes, weather predictions and jokes older than Florida water itself. “How to raise beets,” begins one seemingly serious entry in a turn of the century almanac. “Take hold of the tops and pull.”

What strikes me most about this product and the various companies that produced it over the years is the consistency of the image they have portrayed. The cover of their almanac hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Likewise, their bottle and its label have changed little, if at all.  Advertisements from 1887 and 1946 bear this out.

             

Finally, here’s today’s version.

On a final note, while it has the word “water” in its name, Florida Water has more alcohol than water in its formula. In 2004, after a woman, performing a Santeria cleansing ritual involving florida water and candles died tragically  in an apartment fire, the Daily News performed a test comparing the flammability of florida water to rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, nail polish remover and lighter fluid. According to the story, published in their February 26 edition:

In an indoor, controlled setting, Daily News reporters timed how long it took each product to turn a large cotton sweatshirt into a ball of flames.

About 4 ounces of each product was sprinkled on identical sweatshirts suspended on a wire coat hanger and ignited with a candle.

The sweatshirt doused in Murray & Lanman Florida Water was engulfed in flames in 10 seconds.

At 15 seconds, flames were shooting up 2 feet from the shoulders and by 40 seconds the sweatshirt was completely burned off the hanger.

The complete results of the experiment were published in the story.

The bottle I found is the typical florida water shape and is mouth blown. It’s embossed “Florida Water/Murray & Lanman/ Druggists/New York.” I’ve seen examples on the internet that also include the  69 Water Street address so it was most likely manufactured at the William Street location or right after the move to 135 Water Street.

Parfumerie Monte Christo, Beaume Mamma Dura

It appears Parfumerie Monte Christo is actually a line of toilet articles associated with L Shaw’s Hair Emporium and later with the Monte Christo Cosmetic Co., both located in New York City.

In an 1899 interview, published in the October 25 Issue of Printers Ink, the L Shaw business manager, Albert Edelstein, stated that the business had been started 37 years prior by Madame Shaw. This would put the start of the business around 1862, but the first listing I can find was in the 1871/72 NYC Directory: “Louise (sometimes Louisa in later directories) Shaw, real and imitation hair, 352 Bowery.”

Around 1873, the business address moved to Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village and then in about 1876, they relocated to 54 West 14th Street which served as their retail location through the early 1900’s.

The business was the predecessor of what we would call today the beauty parlor or spa. In his 1899 interview, Edelstein described the range of services provided at this location.

These four stories and the basement are devoted to all the details pertaining to the hair, hairdressing, dyeing, shampooing, scalp treatment, manicuring, facial steaming and care of the complexion. As advertised it is the largest hair store in the world.

In the interview he stated that they were also the leading wholesaler.

…while in another part of town we occupy another entire building for our wholesale trade, being also the leading wholesaler. We import our hair direct, and in fact are the only house doing so, and probably supply more hair goods to retailers than all other wholesalers together.

The firm’s clientele and primary target of their advertising was the wealthy woman. Edelstein stated that they began to advertise about 15 years prior (1884) and primarily used daily papers and the theatre programs. At the time there were eight New York newspapers and he preferred the morning papers to the afternoon ones. His reasoning leaves no doubt about who his target audience was.

We believe that people have more time to read them, and read them more closely. And especially is this the case with ladies, whom we catch at just the right time, we think for good results. It is seldom that a lady reads an evening paper closely, even on those evenings where she may stay at home. But in the morning, after breakfast, she generally has an hour or two of lounging, even before going out shopping – a time when seeing our ad makes a substantial impression on her.”

In fact, the second floor of the West 14th Street parlor was restricted to women only – “No man is permitted entry.”

The business marketed a wide range of hair and cosmetics items including several under the name Parfumerie Monte Christo. Sounding French it was probably named this way for appeal to the wealthy woman and her preference at the time for French toiletries and perfumes.

It’s not clear when they started using the Monte Christo name but items with this tag were being mentioned in advertisements as early as the mid-1880’s when the business started advertising. One from 1886, advertised “a complete assortment of beautifying cosmetics by the Perfumerie Monte Christo.

Another in the July 1891 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine mentioned “all toilet preparations of the celebrated Parfumerie Monte Christo.”

The business changed hands around the turn of the century. The 1901 Copartnership and Corporation Directory lists the business for the first time as the Firm of L Shaw, with Gerson Hyman and Manuel Oppemheim listed as the principals. Around 1905 the business moved from their longtime 14th Street location to 506 Fifth Avenue. Hyman and Oppenheim remained listed as principals through 1909. The directories also listed Albert Edelstein, the business manager, at the L Shaw business location through 1909.

In 1910, ownership changed again and it appears that the Parfumerie Monte Christo piece of the business was split off. In the 1910 Copartnership and Corporation Directory the principals in the firm of L Shaw are listed as  Leo B. and Felix A. Simonson. In the same directory, listed for the first time is a firm called the Monte Christo Cosmetic Co., located at 13 East 30th Street with Albert Edelstein as the only listed principal.

The Monte Christo Cosmetic Company continued to be listed through at least the 1925 NYC Directory. After that, I lose track, but Edelstein still lists himself as a proprietor in the cosmetics industry in the 1930 census records. The firm of L Shaw vanished from the directories around 1920.

In 1912, the Monte Christo Cosmetic Co. was convicted of violating the food and drug act with a product called Monte Christo Rum and Quinin for the Hair. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association:

The Monte Christo Cosmetic Company of New York City, which is a trade style used by one Albert Edelstein, shipped in interstate commerce a product labeled “Monte Christo Rum and Quinin for the Hair.” The claims for the product were: “Cools and Invigorates the Scalp. Prevents the hair from falling out. Removes and prevents dandruff, imparting to the hair a delightful perfume.”

A sample of the product was analyzed by the Bureau of Chemistry and the chemists reported the following results: ethyl alcohol 18.5%; wood alcohol 42.0% and quinin 38 grams per 100cc.

The preparation was declared adulterated in that its purity and strength were inferior to the professional standard under which it was sold, in that wood alcohol had been substituted for part of the rum. It was declared misbranded because the label was false and misleading and likely to deceive the purchaser into the belief that the product was composed of rum and quinin, when as a matter of fact it was composed of rum, quinin and wood alcohol.

Interestingly, there was no mention of the product’s false and unsubstantiated claims but only its mis-labeled contents. Containing mostly alcohol, were you supposed to drink it or massage it on your scalp?

The current building at 54 West 14th Street does not date back to the late 1800’s and therefore is not the building that housed the Shaw retail operation. It’s not clear where the wholesale operation mentioned in the 1899 interview was located.

The bottle I found is six sided, mouth blown and about four ounces. Embossed on two adjacent sides at on one end is “Parfumerie Monte Christo” and on the other end is “Beaume Mamma Dura.” Mamma Dura was mentioned in a written advertisement I found in an 1888 issue of Lippenott’s:

It may be understood at once that so far as hair, switches, curls, bangs, or wigs go, any aids to the skin and hair, hands and eyes, in washes or unguents, America offers none of such value as those prepared by L. Shaw, the world-renowned alchemist and coiffeur, at 54 west Fourteenth Street, New York. Nor in fact, is there in Europe just such as house as this from which all our beautiful women procure toilet articles. Lovely actresses, as well as rulers in the social world, preserve their charms with cocoa-milk, mama dura, and the superfine Monte Christo rouge.

Maybe it was some sort of facial lotion?

I’ve seen bottles embossed “Monte Christo Parfumerie” on the internet with L Shaw printed on a paper label that’s wrapped around the neck. The bottle I found includes the slightly elongated neck required for this label.

 

 

Richard Hudnut, New York

  

In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, Richard A. Hudnut, a New York businessman built a fortune manufacturing perfumes, cosmetics and beauty products and he is widely recognized as the first American to achieve international success in the cosmetics industry.

His father, Alexander, a druggist, initially established a drug store on Court Street in Brooklyn in the 1850’s. An entrepreneurial businessman in his own right, an historical feature called “The Older Brooklyn” that was published in the June 29, 1911 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and described the Brooklyn of 50 years prior, credits his drug store with being “one of the first to introduce cream and syrup flavors into soda water.” Later, in the early 1870’s he opened a drug store in the Herald Building in Manhattan at 218 Broadway.

Richard began his career working in his father’s business. The early history of his life and business is told in “New York State’s Prominent and Progressive Men” published in 1902.

M. Hudnut was born in the City of Philadelphia on June 2, 1856. Soon thereafter the family removed to New York, and he was educated in the schools of that city, and in the Polytechnic Institute Brooklyn. At the age of eighteen years, he left school and entered the drug store conducted by his father in New York. There he made a thorough study of the drug business, and paid special attention to the chemistry and the manufacture of perfumes. He remained in association with his father in that store until the latter’s retirement from business and the closing of the famous store in 1889.

Mr. Hudnut made a prolonged visit to Europe, during which he traveled widely, and made a careful study of the most approved and successful methods of manufacturing perfumery. Then on his father’s retirement, he opened the Richard Hudnut Pharmacy Incorporated at 925 Broadway New York. To that establishment, he has since devoted practically his entire business attention. While conducting a general pharmacy business of the best kind, Mr. Hudnut’s corporation as might be supposed, makes a specialty of the manufacture and sale of perfumery. In that industry nearly a hundred persons are employed, and the Richard Hudnut Perfumes are sold in all parts of the country and are recognized as of the highest standard of excellence, competing not only with the beast American, but with the best foreign makes.

Much of this story is supported in the various NYC Directories of the time.

  • Alexander Hudnut is first listed at 218 Broadway in the 1870/71 NYC Directory.
  • In the 1880 Directory, Alexander and Richard are both listed at the 218 Broadway address and they remain listed together at this address through 1888.
  • In the 1889 Directory, Richard A Hudnut, drugs,  is listed at the 925 Broadway address for the first time.

Up through 1914, Hudnut maintained both a retail drug business and  perfume/cosmetics manufacturing business, a business that was continually expanding.

The ERA Druggist Directories between 1905 and 1914 listed the location at 925 Broadway under “retail druggists” and the 1905 Directory provided a menu of services at this location that included: drugs/medicines, drug sundries, wines and liquors and a soda fountain.

In 1902, the Copartnership and Corporation Directory began listing a second address for Richard Hudnut at 40 East 19th Street. The ERA Druggist Directories listed this location under “drug manufacturers” (toilet preps and perfumes.) In and around 1908, this piece of the business moved to a new headquarters at 115 East 29th Street. This location was a newly built six-story building that included manufacturing space, offices, shipping areas, laboratory and a showroom. Then, still in need of more space, on November 18, 1911, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Hudnut had leased two floors, each 10,000 square feet, in Bush Terminal as general distributing and shipping quarters.

In 1914, Hudnut sold the Broadway location and effectively retired from the retail drug business. The May 1914 issue of the Pharmaceutical Era reported it this way.

The stock and fixtures of Hudnut Pharmacy, 925 Broadway, near 21st Street, Manhattan, valued at $50,000, were sold at auction on April 23. It is understood that Richard Hudnut has been looking for an opportune time to retire from the retail drug business and that the above action is a result of his desire. The wholesale and manufacturing business will continue undisturbed at 115-117 East 29th Street. The Richard Hudnut perfumes and toilet specialties are a well-known line in the trade.

Then, two years later, in August of 1916, the Pharmaceutical Record reported that Hudnut sold the manufacturing end of the business to Wm. R Warner & Co.

An announcement of interest to the trade was recently made by Richard A. Hudnut, who has sold substantial interest in Richard Hudnut to Messrs. H. Pfeiffer, G. A. Pfeiffer and G.D. Merner, of the firm of Wm. R. Warner & Co., of Philadelphia and St. Louis. Mr. Hudnut continues as president, and the business policies that have made the name “Richard Hudnut” famous in the perfume and toilet goods world will be continued.

The office and laboratory located at 115-117 East 29th Street, New York city, have been leased by the new organization.

Two years later, the 1918-1919 Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed Gustavus Pfeiffer as president of the Richard Hudnut Corporation and Hudnut was no longer mentioned. So within two years of the sale, Hudnut was no longer associated with the business. Whether this decision was Hudnut’s decision or the decision of Wm. R. Warner & Co. is unclear to me. He passed away in 1928, while living in France.

The Wm R. Warner Company became Warner Lambert Pharmaceutical Co. in 1955. Warner Lambert was acquired by Park Davis in 1970 and they merged with Pfizer in 2000.

Richard Hudnut was apparently producing perfume and cosmetic products as early as 1880 while working in his father’s business. By 1893 he had his own product line called Hudnutine that included perfumes, toilet water, talcum powder, face powder, cold cream, tooth powder, rouge, etc. A later product line developed by Hudnut was called DuBarry. After the sale of the business in 1916, the Hudnut name remained associated with various perfume and cosmetic products through at least 1959.

The bottle I found matches the bottle in a 1914 advertisement for a toilet water called Violet Sec.

The value of toilet water is the feeling of freshness its use inspires. The delicacy of Violet Sec Toilet Water, its elusive fragrance and lasting quality have made it the choice of smart women everywhere.

The above image is from Hudnut’s 1913 – 1914 Price List. A patent for Violet Sec Toilet Water was filed on September 17, 1912, however, based on a December 14, 1899 item in the Pharmaceutical Era, the product dates back to at least the late 1800’s..

One of the most artistic drug windows in New York is that of Richard Hudnut, on Broadway. Upon a royal purple background is displayed a varied assortment of goods for the holiday trade. Violet Sec Toilet Water, the “Apotheosis” of the violet odor, is having a great sale among the drug trade this year, selling to the retailer at 75 cents a bottle of six ounces. The essence of this same odor is put up in ounce bottles contained in fancy boxes of imitation grogran silk, decorated in Louis Quinze style.

For the fine trade Hudnut is equipped to supply the druggist’s holiday wants in anything pertaining to violets. (Apparently Hudnut had an entire line of “Violet Sec”Products including perfume, soaps, powders, bath salts, etc.)

In addition to his two New York locations, Hudnut’s products were sold in upscale New York department stores.  Between 1896 and 1905 his products were occasionally listed in Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisements for Abraham and Strauss (Richard Hudnut’s Nailustre for the Fingernails – 1902 and Richard Hudnut Handkerchief Perfumes – 1905), H. Batterman (Richard Hudnut’s Perfumes – 1896) and Journeay and Turnham (Richard Hudnut’s 8 oz Toilet Waters, all odors – 1897).

The building that housed the Richard Hudnut headquarters at 115 -117 East 29th Street is still there today and has been converted to condominiums (each in the $2 million + price range).

   

The current building at 925 Broadway was built in 1918, after the Hudnut retail business was discontinued at that location.

The building at 218 Broadway, Alexander Hudnut’s first Manhattan location, was called the NY Herald Building. It is said that Alexander placed a large thermometer outside his drugstore and as a result, “Hudnut’s Temperature” was published every day in the NY Herald (and the NY Times).

The Herald Building was torn down in 1895, replaced by the St. Paul Building. According to “Glimpses of New York” published in 1917:

The St. Paul Building. One of the tallest buildings in New York when erected. This replaced the old New York Herald office building, where for years Hudnut’s Drug Store on the corner did a land office business in soda-water during the summer, his thermometer regarded as the official figure of temperature.

It should be noted that Alexander sold the business in and around 1889-90 after, according to his New York Tribune obituary, “discussing terms for only half an hour.”  The new owners continued to operate it as Hudnut’s Pharmacy at 218 Broadway until the building was torn down in 1895. At that point, the business moved to 205 Broadway where the NYC Directories still associated it with the name Hudnut (why change a good thing?) through 1904.

In addition to the Hudnut name embossed on the front, the bottle I found has the Hudnut Logo comprised of his initials RH (with the H presented both front and back) embossed on the side. It’s machine made and matches the image in the 1913-1914 price list dating it to that period. Amazingly, the bottle was found with the spout (also embossed Richard Hudnut NY) still attached.