Mike’s Collection

MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese

 

The first successfully marketed soft cheese, MacLaren’s Imperial, was introduced to the market sometime in late 1891 or early 1892 by Canadian born Alexander F. MacLaren.

According to his April, 1917 obituary he:

originated the method of marketing soft cheese, resulting in the establishment of an important branch of the trade. The new idea brought him fame and fortune, gaining him the presidency of the Western Ontario Dairy Association and the familiar title of “Cheese King of Canada.”

An August 15, 1892 Hudson Bay Company advertisement described his Imperial Cheese like this:

“MacLaren’s Imperial” is a creamy, nutty, full-flavored Canadian cheese, put up in 1/2-lb. to 3-lb. glass jars; it is made in Stratford, Ont.

Acquired by Kraft in the early 1920’s, the brand has survived to this day.

MacLaren was a successful businessman who throughout his career was involved in over 40 corporations. Also a seasoned politician, he served in the Canadian parliament from 1896 to 1908. That being said, a feature on MacLaren published in an 1896 publication called “Farming,”  recounted his early years and made it clear that first and foremost he was a dairyman.

When a child he had the advantage of a year or two of schooling at a rural public school; but he had to begin to earn his own living at the early age of nine years. He worked on a farm until he was seventeen years of age, and then he entered the Fullerton Cheese Factory to learn cheesemaking. He followed this business for several years, and then he began to buy cheese. He first bought for Thomas Ballantyne & Co., of Stratford; then for J. L. Grant & Co., of Ingersoll; then for the Ingersoll Packing Company.

According to the 1903 edition of the “Newspaper Reference Book of Canada,” in 1891 he established his own business buying cheese, and a year later began the manufacture of Maclaren’s Imperial Cheese. A May 4, 1893 article published in Ontario, Canada’s “Windsor Star” picks up the story from there.

He operated out first in the Forester’s block, Stratford, where he thought probably he would be able to get along for the first year. He had not been started more than six months when he had so many orders on hand that he was compelled to move into new and more commodious quarters, where of course he had to employ extra help and further increase the capacity of his factory but still the business keeps on increasing, until he now finds in order to do an even greater business, he must move to a place that will give him the very best shipping facilities, such a place he has in this city and he has decided to move the entire plant up here at once.

MacLaren’s stay in Windsor was short-lived and within a year, on April 17, 1894, he announced that the company was moving again, this time to what would become their long time home in Toronto. Once again the “Windsor Star” told the story.

A.F. MacLaren will move his cheese business to Toronto on May 1st. The firm will be known as A. F. MacLaren & Co., and will manufacture the Imperial Cheese on a much larger scale than was attempted heretofore.

Mr. MacLaren does not complain at the business he has done from this point, as his business doubled since coming here. Windsor is not central enough for his Canadian trade and the profits are largely eaten up in freights.

In his removal from this city Windsor will lose one of its best citizens.

The Toronto business was listed in the directories with an address of 51 Colburne (1895 to 1914) and later 69 Front (1915 to 1920). It initially operated under the name A. F. MacLaren & Co., with MacLaren, along with Henry Wright named as the  proprietors.

Wright, a manufacturer’s agent, was also listed in the directories as the proprietor of his own business called Henry Wright & Co., so it appears that the two firms worked together with MacLaren focused on manufacturing and Wright on sales and distribution.  In 1900 the two companies merged and incorporated as the A. F. Maclaren Cheese Company, Ltd., with MacLaren serving as president and Wight general manager during the first few years. Then, in 1903, with Maclaren’s business interests apparently broadening he took a step back and Wright was listed as both president and general manager.

Back in 1892, faced with a duty of six cents per pound on exports to the United States, MacLaren also established a factory in Detroit Michigan at 571-573 Michigan Avenue.  As early as 1893 they had cultivated agents and were advertising in the United States as evidenced by this February 21, 1893 advertisement in the St. Louis Dispatch.

The Detroit operation was established in association with a man named John D, Thompson who I suspect served as MacLaren’s U. S. Agent during this period. Up through 1899 the business was sometimes referenced in the Detroit directories as MacLaren & Thompson and at other times as A. F. MacLaren & Co . Their Imperial Cheese was exhibited under the MacLaren & Thompson name at this Food Exposition advertised in the April 23, 1897 Chicago Tribune advertisement (fifth line down).

As far as I can tell, Thompson was not involved in the company’s 1900 incorporation.

According to “A History of Ontario: It’s Resources and Development,” published in 1907, around the turn of the century the company was established throughout Canada and much of the United States. In addition to their Detroit facility they had established U. S. offices in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. According to a May 18, 1898 advertisement in the Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Leader/Telegram it was around this time that they made a small contribution to U. S. naval history.

Alex.MacLaren, the well-known Stratford cheeseman, has through his Boston agents, contracted to supply MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese to the United States warships Columbia, Minneapolis and Lehigh. These vessels are now cruising off the Middle and Eastern States ready to intercept the Spanish fleet should it appear thereabout.

No wonder that our navy sweeps all before it. That MacLaren makes a notable cheese. Sailors fed on it are bound to assert themselves, it gives them stomach for the fight.

It was also around the turn of the century that the company began branching out overseas. One early effort to increase their product awareness across the Atlantic was a holiday campaign that induced Canadians to send Imperial Cheese to relatives and friends living in the British Isles. The hook, used today more than ever, was “free shipping.” This 1904 advertisement laid out the deal promoted in several Canadian newspapers during the fall/winter of 1904.

The “History of Ontario” went on to say that by the time it was published in 1907 MacLaren’s had become known world wide having been introduced in countries that included Australia, China, Japan and South Africa. At that point the company’s output was the largest of any North American company.

Their growth was no doubt driven in large part by their signature product, Imperial Cheese, which according to this advertisement in the 1904 edition of the Steward’s Manual was winning awards world wide in the early 1900’s.

It was also in 1904 that John D. Rockerfeller served as a spokesman for Imperial Cheese, though, most likely, he was completely unaware of his role.

While the word “probably,”inserted in the above advertisement provides a clue, another advertisement published around the same time made it clear that while Rockefeller did promote the value of cheese, it was actually MacLaren’s marketing department that made the connection between Rockefeller and MacLaren’s Imperial.

Rockefeller Says: “Eat Cheese.”

John D. Rockefeller, the Standard Oil King, was interviewed in Philadelphia the other day, and asked why his health had so greatly improved. His answer consisted of good advice as to the benefits of slow eating, but he added a most interesting opinion as follows:

“Do you know that I recently read an article by a well known scientific man, to the effect that cheese is an excellent article of diet? I wish that I had read that article a long time ago. I had been afraid that cheese had a tendency to produce indigestion and for that reason never touched it. Now I find that its effects are directly contrary, and I eat a great deal of it, and find that it agrees with me. Take my advice, eat cheese, eat slowly, and take outdoor exercise, and you will enjoy good health.”

MacLaren evidently eats MacLaren’s Imperial. He had visited the World’s Fair where MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese secured 100 points in degree of excellence. MacLaren’s Imperial is a perfect food, and has been pronounced by connoisseurs the highest grade of cheese ever shown.

While Imperial Cheese was their signature product, the company also marketed a number of other cheeses several of which were included in this 1912 advertisement.

In addition, they also included a peanut butter, dessert jelly and mustard on the product menu.

In late 1920 the MacLaren Imperial Cheese Company was purchased and consolidated with the J. L. Kraft & Bros. Co., of Chicago, Illinois under the name: “Kraft-MacLaren Cheese Co., Ltd.” The announcement of the newly formed Kraft-MacLaren Corporation was announced in the January 21, 1921 edition of the (Toronto) National Post.

Announcement is made of the incorporation of the Kraft-MacLaren Cheese Co., Ltd., capitalized at $1,000,000, and having its head office in Montreal. The new company has acquired the interests of the MacLaren Imperial Cheese Co., Ltd., of Toronto, with factories in that city and Detroit. It also takes over the Canadian business and a large portion of the export trade of J. L. Kraft & Brothers Co., of Chicago. A modern factory, refrigerating plant and warehouse, to cost $200,000, is now under construction in this city.

MacLaren had passed away three years earlier in 1917, but Henry Wright continued as a director in the new corporation up through the mid- 1920’s and possibly longer.

Twentieth century Imperial Cheese containers produced under the Kraft name occasionally appear for sale on the internet.

   

As late as January 14, 2015 a recipe published in the (Vancouver) Province called for MacLaren’s.

The product can still be found in Canadian Walmart’s to this day.

The jar I found is white and 2-1/2 inches tall. Its 1-3/4 inches in diameter, though widens abruptly at the top to 2-1/4 inches. It matches the jar shown in this 1912 advertisement (sans the top and label).

         

A 1909 price list published in the April 28th edition of the “Victoria (British Columbia) Daily Times” mentioned three sizes being offered around that time; large, small and individual. As small as this one is, it’s almost certainly the individual size.

The jar is embossed on the base “MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese.” The embossing also includes their trade mark  (Serial No. 71002870) described like this in the trade mark records:

Heads of oxen, cows, calves, bulls…medals (alone or suspended from ribbons or pins). Banners.

The first commercial use was indicated in the records as December 18, 1891.

On a final note, I couldn’t end this post without touching on one final talent exhibited by the founder of MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese, Alexander F. MacLaren. As it turns out, in addition to his varied business and legislative pursuits, he was also heavily involved with the game of curling. An April 28, 1899 feature in the Montreal Gazette tells the story.

Alexander F. MacLaren is one of the jolliest of curlers and his presence in a game and at curlers’ social gatherings is always welcome. For many years he has been a member of the Stratford Curling Club. He has worked his way up through the grades of apprenticeship to be a master of the intricacies of the game. He is president of the Stratford Club, and is at all times ready with advice, skill and help to further the interests of curling. His training and experience on the curling rink have fitted him for high legislative duties, and for some years he has been a member of the Dominion Parliament, where no doubt, he will be an intelligent skip to direct the policy of his party. He is known among his friends as Imperial MacLaren, imperial in his business, imperial in curling, imperial in the Dominion Parliament, imperial in all the relations of life, and under this name of Imperial MacLaren, he is almost as well known in Europe as in America. He is now president of the Ontario Curling Association, which delights to honor such men.

Day & Brother, New York, 353 E. 20th St., N.Y.

 

Day & Brother was a New York City mineral water manufacturer and bottler that operated from the late 1860’s through the early 1890’s. Always located on the east side of Manhattan, the business was operated by several different members of the Day family over the course of their history.

Their story begins with an Irish immigrant named John W. Day who, as early as 1863 was listed in the New York City directories with the occupation “soda,” and a home address of 201 East 20th Street.

In the late 1860’s he apparently went into business with his brother, James P. Day, and by 1869 both were listed with the occupation “soda” at the 353 East 20th Street address embossed on the bottle. A year later, in 1870, the business of Day & Brother also appeared in the directories at that address.

Their advertisement appeared in the 1872 edition of Goulding’s Business Directory.

The business continued in this fashion until sometime in 1874 when James P. Day apparently left the company. Whether he passed away or simply moved on is not clear. John W. Day continued the business, ultimately moving it to 351 East 23rd Street sometime around 1877.

John W. Day passed away in November, 1878 after which his widow Catherine took over. She apparently served as the proprietor until 1886 after which management apparently transferred to her eldest son Peter S. who, according to census records turned the age of 21 that year. Peter served as proprietor from 1886 to 1891. In the early 1890’s, another son, James R. Day, was also listed with the occupation “waters,” at the East 23rd Street address.

Still listed in 1892, by 1894 Day & Brother was no longer mentioned in the directories.

The bottle I found is a six ounce pony with a blob finish. It’s embossed with the 353 East 20th Street address, dating it from approximately 1869 to 1877 when the business utilized that address.

Examples of Day & Brother bottles that exhibit their later address at 351 East 23rd Street have also appeared on the Internet. They date from 1877 to the early 1890’s

I’ve also seen a bottle for sale on the internet that’s simply embossed John W. Day, with the 353 East 20th Street address. This example also included the embossed year “1874,” which suggests that John W. used this style for a period of time in the mid-1870’s after James P. Day left the business but prior to their move to East 23rd Street, roughly 1874 to 1877.

Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar, C. N. Crittenton, New York

As early as the Civil War era, Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar was advertised as a “cure” for any and all lung related diseases including coughs, colds and influenza.

Still on the market in the 1940’s, by then it was simply touted for the “relief” of cough and cold related symptoms.

Advertised as a botanical preparation, its ingredients changed several times over its 80+ year history but always included some form of dangerous, habit forming drug. According to an analysis/report by the Connecticut Experimental Station, the 1914 version contained 13.87 percent alcohol and 0.077 grams per fluid ounce of chloroform extract. The report went on to say that earlier versions of the medicine had included opium (5/13 gram per fluid ounce) and codeine (1/4 gram per fluid ounce). In the 1940’s, the alcohol was gone but the chloroform extract remained.

Initial newspaper advertisements in 1864/1865 named Charles Downer, 44 Cedar Street, as the “General Agent.” Likely the inventor of Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar, Downer was a long time New York City druggist who was listed in lower Manhattan as early as the mid-1840’s. The story he’d like you to believe about the origin of Hale’s was included in the earliest newspaper advertisement I could find, published in the October 31, 1864 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

This sovereign remedy is compounded from the favorite recipe of an illustrious physician and chemist, who for many years used it with the most complete success in his extensive private practice.

He had long been profoundly impressed with the wonderful virtue of the honey of the plant Horehound, in union with the CLEANSING and HEALING properties of tar extracted from the LIFE PRINCIPLE of the forest tree Abies Balsamea or Balm of Gilead. For years he was baffled in his attempt to blend these great medicinal forces into such a union that the original power of each would be preserved, the disagreeable properties of common tar removed, and the price of the compound be within the means of all. At last, after a long course of difficult chemical experiments, he found that by adding to these five other ingredients, each one valuable by itself, he not only obtained the desired results but greatly increased the curative powers of the compound. This having been thoroughly tested by practice, is now offered to the general public as a safe, pleasant and infallible remedy.

Advertisements continued to name Downer as the medicine’s agent throughout the mid-1860’s. Then sometime in 1867 or 1868 he apparently transferred the medicine’s rights to Charles N. Crittenton.

Crittenton was born in upstate New York and moved to New York City sometime in the mid-1850’s. Not long after his arrival city directories began listing him as a clerk in his brother William’s proprietary medicine business located at 476 Broadway (1858 to 1860) and later at 55 Prince Street (1860 to 1861). Then sometime in 1862 Charles started his own proprietary medicine business at 38 Sixth Avenue.

This December 19, 1862 newspaper advertisement that appeared in the New York Times confirmed that his new business was up and running by the end of the year.

Crittenton remained at 38 Sixth Avenue until 1868 when he established both a store and attached three-story factory at 7 Sixth Avenue. Devoted exclusively to the sale of druggists’ sundries and proprietary preparations he also manufactured several of his own, one of which was Hale’s Honey of Horehound & Tar.  The first ad I can find associating Crittenton with Hale’s was dated October 7, 1868.

Once firmly established in his new quarters Cittenton began referring to his business as a “patent medicine warehouse,” and this December 1, 1870 advertisement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle made it clear that Hale’s was one of their marque preparations.

Great Run On A Well-Known Institution

The famous Patent Medicine Warehouse of CHARLES N. CRITTENTON, No. 7 Sixth Ave, New York, has recently been subjected to an extraordinary pressure – the pressure of crowds of sufferers from coughs and colds in search of Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar, of which he is the fortunate proprietor. The popularity of the article is boundless, and will last, for it is built on the solid foundation of innumerable cures. Crittenton’s establishment might properly be called a savings bank, from the number it has been instrumental in saving from consumption. Trochial affections of every type vanish under its balmy and balsamic influence with astonishing rapidity.

The growth of Hale’s through the decade of the 1870’s can be gauged by the scope of Crittenton’s newspaper advertising. In 1870 his advertisements were limited to New York State, most of which appeared in local New York City newspapers. By the end of the decade the company was advertising in New England, across the Midwest and as far west as California, with only the South being ignored.

Much of the advertising preyed on the nation’s fear of tuberculosis (consumption), as evidenced by this December 29, 1877 advertisement that appeared in (Elton, Maryland’s) The Cecil  Whig.

Health is an estimable jewel. The cough that deprives you of it may take your life too. One bottle of Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar will avert the evil, and save you from consumption. Will you weigh life against a half dollar?

Throughout the 1870’s the business remained at 7 Sixth Avenue . Then in 1880 they moved again, this time to 115/117 Fulton Street and while their location had changed, the Hale’s advertising message remained consistent.

The business incorporated in June, 1892 as the C. N. Crittenton Company.  A June 25, 1892 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that under the terms of the reorganization Crittenton voluntarily surrendered considerable interest in the company to five of his old time employees, one of which was his brother-in-law, Thomas E. Delano. Another beneficiary of the reorganization, Edward G. Wells, was quoted in the story.

“Yes, said he, it is quite true that Mr. Crittenton has taken four of my associates and myself into partnership with him, or at least has turned over to us a block of stock in the recently organized corporation…

So far as the company is concerned there is not much to be said. It is capitalized at $800,000. Mr. Critterton having turned into it every dollar’s worth of assets of the house of Charles N. Crittenton of which he was the sole owner. The stock is all taken, being held by Mr. Crittenton, Messrs Alfred H. Kennedy, William A. Demarest, Franklin B. Waterman, Thomas E. Delano and myself. Mr. Crittendon is President of the company, Mr. Delano First Vice-President and Treasurer, Mr. Waterman Second Vice-President and Secretary and I hold the position of Third Vice-President.

All of us who have been taken into the company are old employees, the youngest of the five in point of service being myself, with a record of thirteen years in Mr. Crittenton’s employ.”

The story went on to describe the events that led up to Critteton’s generosity.

…About three years ago he went to London, leaving a sweeping power of attorney in Mr. Delano’s hands. When he left he expected to simply run over to London for a few weeks, but he passed on to the Continent, then crossed over to Asia and finally went to San Francisco, where he has since remained.

Long before his departure he founded the Florence Mission in Bleecker Street, as a memorial to his little daughter Florence, who had recently died. When he reached California he became convinced that his field of work was on the Pacific coast, and he has since founded missions in San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento.

Meanwhile the business continued to hum right along. A feature published in the December 31, 1896 edition of the Pharmaceutical Record made it clear that by then the company had achieved a national reputation.

“Try Crittenton” is what every wholesale druggist in the country says when he has an order for some proprietary medicine that it is difficult to obtain. And “Crittenton,” or to be more explicit, the Charles N. Crittenton Company, is never tried in “vain.” Without a doubt the corporation is the largest dealer in proprietary medicines in this or any other country. Some idea of its immense resources and of the great volume of business it transacts yearly may be gathered from the fact that it never carries less than 12,000 different proprietary articles in stock, and that there is not a drug store, retail or wholesale, of any repute, from the Canadian line to New Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific seaboard, the name of which cannot be found on its books. It is as difficult to imagine the patent medicine owner getting along without his Crittenton as it is to imagine the twentieth century broker getting along without his telephone.

The feature went on to offer a glimpse of their Fulton Street operation at the time.

The building in which the Crittenton Company transacts its immense business is as well known to every New York druggist as his own store. As for the country druggist, there is no address that he writes more frequently than “Charles N. Crittenton Co., 115 and 117 Fulton Street, New York City.” Both these numbers, 115 and 117 are really in one building, five stories high. The Crittenton Company occupies No. 115 from top to bottom, including the basement and sub-cellar, seven floors in all. Of No. 117 it occupies the top four floors, which are connected with those of No. 115. Each floor extends clear back from Fulton Street to Ann street, a distance of 125 feet.

The story included this view of the main floor as you entered from Fulton Street. Cashiers and bookkeepers were located on the right and salesman on the left. The shelves on the left contain light stock such as perfumery, toilet articles, etc.

Upstairs they stored an inventory of proprietary pharmaceutical specialties that according to the story was “unparalleled by that of any other house in America.” A sampling of the firms represented within their inventory can be seen from this page included in Crittenton’s 1902-1903 catalog.

It was also on the upper floors that they manufactured their own proprietary articles, including Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar.

The manufacturing department occupies the whole of the fourth floor, although the apparatus used for making the Crittenton’s preparations are confined to the eastern section…There are four large churns for mixing, besides an imposing array of percolators, screw presses, copper stills, evaporating pans and large macerating vats and tanks.

With the manufacturing process over, the preparations are transferred to the western section of the floor to be bottled and then stored there, along with the house’s large stock of bottles and glassware, until it is time for them to be hoisted to the floor above for the finishing touches, wrapping and labeling.

This work keeps a large corps of girls constantly busy, although they handle no preparations outside of those manufactured by the Crittenton Company. When wrapped and labeled the goods are sent down on the elevators to the shipping department or to the warehouse on the third floor, those packages intended for export being kept separate.

At the turn of the century Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar was one of over 40 proprietary medicines being manufactured by the company as evidenced by another page included in their 1902-1903 Catalogue

It’s likely that the popularity of Hale’s peaked early in the first decade of the twentieth century. After that, pressure from legislation, beginning with passage of the Food and Drug Act of 1906, began to take it’s toll. As a result, by 1908/1909 their advertising began to soften as evidenced by the following two ads that appeared in the Yonkers Statesman. The first, from January, 16, 1908, stated that Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar: “cures colds of all kinds.” A year later, this December 22, 1909 ad simply stated:”Take it for coughs and colds and get relief.”

 

That being said, the business was still on solid financial footing in 1916 when the Crittenton heirs, who controlled 60 percent of the business after Crittenton’s death in 1909, opted to liquidate the company. According to the October, 1916 edition of the American Druggist:

The drug trade will learn with universal regret of the passing of the house of Crittenton, which is now in process of liquidation…On his death in 1909 it was found that Mr. Crittenton had made five grandchildren and the Florence Crittenton Mission of New York, a house of refuge for young girls, founded and supported by him, his principal heirs. These heirs, controlling 60 percent of the company stock, voted last January to convert the business into cash as quickly as possible. The corporation was dissolved in July, but it was assumed by the trade that the business would be carried on after a reorganization. It was only recently that it had become generally known that the business is to be liquidated, although it is in a very strong position financially, the outstanding obligations being less than $50,000, while the assets are estimated at four or five times that amount. The liquidation has been brought about purely for internal reasons and has no significance from a trade point of view…From the Crittenton ranks many men have risen to prominence in the wholesale drug trade, and the disappearance of the name of Crittenton from the annals of the drug trade will cause regret among a very wide circle, including all the wholesale trade and a great many of the leading retail druggists.

Sometime in the late teens Dr. Franklin J. Keller of Paterson, N. J., acquired the rights to manufacture Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar as well as several other Crittenton preparations including Glenn’s Sulphur Soap and Pike’s Toothache Drops. Around the same time he established a corporation to manufacture and distribute them called the Century National Chemical Company.

The incorporation notice was published in the October 12, 1918 edition of the (Paterson N. J.) Morning Call.

The Century National Chemical Company, to locate at 379 Totowa Avenue, this city, filed papers of incorporation with County Clerk Slater yesterday. Dr Franklin J Keller is named as the agent of the business. The articles state that the company proposes to carry on a general business as chemists, druggists, chemical manufacturers, importers, exporters and dealers in chemicals.

An authorized capital stock of $100,000 is provided, to consist of 1,000 shares at a par value of $100 a share. The company will commence business with its entire capital stock paid in. It is held by the following incorporators: Franklin J. Keller, 997 shares; Jane D. Keller, two shares, and William J. Lickel, of New York City, one share.

In addition to their Paterson New Jersey factory the company maintained an office in New York City at 86 Warren Street in lower Manhattan.

In their early advertisements and labeling the company referred to themselves as “Successors to The C. N. Crittenton Co.” This labeled example of Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar manufactured by the Century National Chemical Company is provided courtesy of the National Museum of American History, Behring Center.

 

Newspapers advertisements for Hale’s continued up through the early 1930’s. The last advertisement I can find appeared in several Vermont newspapers during the Spring of 1933.

It was around this time that Century likely transitioned to a screw top version of their bottle, an example of which was recently offered for sale on e-bay.

As late as February, 1944 Hale’s was still being manufactured and distributed by the  Century National Chemical Company as “effective for coughs, colds, hoarseness, whooping cough, sore throat, loss of voice or inflamed or irritable conditions of the respiratory mucous membranes.” This caught the attention of the authorities who took exception to their wording, declaring it misbranded.

On April 13, 1944, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York filed a libel against 22 packages, containing two fluid ounces each, of Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar, and 190 boxes, each containing 3 cakes of Glenn’s Sulphur Soap at New York, N. Y., alleging that they had been shipped on or about February 8 and 23, 1944, by the Century National Chemical Co., from Paterson N. J.; and charging that they were misbranded.

Examination of the Hale’s Honey of Horehound and Tar showed that it contained tar, chloroform and syrup.

The article was alleged to be misbranded because of false and misleading statements in the labeling which represented and suggested that the article was effective for coughs, colds, hoarseness, whooping cough, sore throat, loss of voice or inflamed or irritable conditions of the respiratory mucous membranes.

It’s not clear when  Hale’s completely disappeared from the druggists’ shelves but it was likely sometime in the mid to late 1940’s.

The bottle I found is a four ounce medicine. Mouth blown, it fits a late 1800’s to early 1900’s time frame and includes the C. N. Crittenton name on one side so it was likely filled and shipped from their Fulton Street location.

On a final note: Horehound Extract can be obtained today as an herbal supplement from a company called Mountain Rose Herbs.

According to their web site:

Horehound is a garden mint with green and white leaves and a distinctly bitter taste. It is native to Asia and Europe, but is naturalized in North America. Egyptian priests referred to it as the seed of Hours, which some speculate is the root for its modern name. In medieval Europe it was used to ward off spells by witches. Horehound was an accepted medicinal plant in the U. S. Pharmacopeia until 1989 and is still endorsed in Europe.

The ingredients listed on today’s web site include: organic grain alcohol, distilled water and organic horehound.

 

 

Waterman’s Ink

“A drop of ink may make a million think,” is an old saying, but oceans of ink would not bestir the gray matter of the most brilliant if it were not made intelligible by a pen.

Eighteen years ago an enterprising man awoke to the fact that there was a great future for the device that should serve as the connection between ink and paper.

That man was L. E. Waterman and the device was the “Waterman Ideal Fountain Pen.”

These words prefaced a story featuring Lewis Edison Waterman and his fountain pen business that was published in a 1902 edition of a publication called “The World’s Book.”

That’s not to say that Waterman invented the fountain pen. In fact, according to a feature story on Waterman in the June 11, 1921 edition of the American Stationer, by the early 1880’s the market was flooded with stylographic pens however most sputtered, leaked and didn’t work on a consistent basis. What Waterman did was fill the need for a reliable fountain pen. The story went on to describe the basics of his invention.

The first fountain pen he made had a wooden barrel and ink feed, but he soon discovered that the acids in the ink rapidly corroded the barrel and clogged the feed. Further experiments with various materials taught him that rubber was the only substance that would give entire satisfaction. After deciding on hard rubber as the material from which to construct the barrel and feed of his fountain pen, Waterman cast about in search of a point that would take the place of the common steel pen, which he found practically useless when adapted to fountain pens. Numerous experiments with different metals convinced him that gold possessed all the qualities he desired in a flexible, non-corrosive point.

His pen, called the “Ideal Fountain Pen,” consisted of only four parts as demonstrated by this schematic that appeared in the June, 1898 edition of the New England Stationer and Printer.

The initial patent was granted on February 12, 1884 however it was a year earlier, while the patent was still pending, that he first started in business. According to a story in the April 29, 1897 edition of the American Stationer, he sold his first pen on July 11, 1883.

That first year in business was described in the 1902 World’s Book story.

Steel pens and quills were good enough for most of the people of eighteen years ago and Mr. Waterman’s success was of the slow and steady sort. At first the founder of the business made a dozen pens, then went out and sold them pen by pen, when another dozen was made and peddled – he was the factory, the office force and the selling department.

At that point, the entire operation was conducted utilizing a desk in the back of the Owl Cigar Store located in the Commercial Advertising Building at the corner of Fulton Street and Nassau Street in lower Manhattan. Then sometime in 1884 he formed a business relationship with a bookbinder named Asa Shipman. Together they established the Ideal Pen Company, initially located at Shipman’s 10 Murray Street address. An advertisement published in the June 5, 1884 edition of the Christian Union named both Waterman and Shipman’s business, Asa L. Shipman’s Sons, as proprietors.

While this was the earliest advertisement I could find, it was an advertisement published later that year in”Century” Magazine that history credits with jump-starting the business. According to the June 21, 1921 American Stationer story:

It was in 1884 that the Waterman fountain pen came to the attention of the magazine advertising solicitor, who suggested to the inventor that he run a quarter-page advertisement of his pen in the “Century,” which magazine he represented. But Waterman did not have the money to pay for the advertising. Then the magazine solicitor did an interesting thing. He was so convinced of the commercial possibilities of the fountain pen that he proposed to Waterman to insert his advertisement and claim payment only if the ad produced a fair amount of orders.

The first advertisement introducing the Waterman fountain pen to the world appeared in the “Century” magazine for November, 1884.

The June, 1921 American Stationer story went on to say:

Prior to that time, Waterman had sold about 300 of his pens by personal solicitation and over the counter of his little stand. Within a few weeks after the first modest advertisement appeared a large number of orders were received – in fact, so large a number that the inventor was able to negotiate a loan of five thousand dollars with which to contract for additional advertising and have the pens made and delivered. 

Sometime in 1885, Waterman moved the Ideal Pen Company to 157 Broadway, where the company was first listed in the 1885/1886 N.Y.C. directory. At the same time Shipman remained listed as a bookbinder at 10 Murray Street, so it appears that Waterman’s relationship with Shipman was short-lived. Century” advertisements in the Spring, 1885 reflect this change, no longer including any mention of Shipman or his company.

This undated photograph included in the December 21, 1921 edition of Printers Ink was likely taken at the 157 Broadway location. That’s Waterman seated in the center of the room.

Two years later, in November, 1887, the business incorporated under the name L. E. Waterman Company with an initial capital of  $10,000. Waterman was named as the first president and he continued in that capacity until his death in 1901 at which time his nephew, Frank D. Waterman, assumed the presidency.

By 1890 this December 23 Christmas advertisement in the New York World made it clear that their pen was becoming widely available in the New York City area.

As the last decade of the 1800’s progressed the company’s production was increasing exponentially as evidenced by these statistics included in a 1914 American Stationer story.

In 1888, nine thousand pens were sold; seven years later, the number of orders had reached sixty-three thousand; in 1900, the business reached two hundred and twenty-seven thousand sales…

In an effort to keep up with this growth, the facilities at 157 Broadway were constantly expanding.  Originally utilizing 300 square feet of space, by 1897 they occupied the entire 2,700 square foot ground floor with a salesroom, offices and a shipping department. A story in the April 29, 1897 American Stationer provided this verbal tour of the sales room as it was readied for opening after another expansion.

When ready for occupancy the visitor upon entering the store will find himself in a room 15 feet wide and 60 feet long, done in oak. On the right hand will be a counter 16 feet in length, on which will be two 8-foot showcases for “trying” the pens on and which will be filled with “Ideal” fountain pens. Between them will be placed one of the latest cash registers manufactured by the National Cash Register Company, Dayton, Ohio. At the end of this counter will be located one or two roll-top desks, and back of it will be the repair counter and benches and also the cabinets for holding the stock. At the further end of the store there will be a trade reception room of the dimensions 15 by 20 feet, which will be nicely furnished and carpeted, and supplied with conveniences for writing, etc. It is said that this will be the largest store in the world devoted exclusively to a fountain pen business.

The June 24, 1897 edition of the American Stationer provided a view of the storefront.

At the same time their facilities were growing, so was their selection of pens. A March 25, 1897 advertisement with the heading “Points Worthy of Consideration” laid out the different types available at the time.

According to the advertisement:

Our Gold Pens are solid Gold, as fine Gold as the best, so fine that they are not corrodible by ink or otherwise, and as fine as they can be made and have sufficient alloy to make them strong, elastic and durable. The points are diamond-pointed with the best iridium, and ground by the most skilled workmen to have a variety of points, some smooth, like ordinary Gold pens, and some to “feel” the paper like steel pens, so that all can be suited with their favorite points. They are made in five sizes, Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. The assortment includes long, medium and short nibs, and fine, medium, coarse and stub points, with varying degree of flexibility to suit any hand.

While most pens were marketed to the general public at a cost as low as $2.50, some were certainly aimed at the rich and famous. This description of their exhibit at the Paris Exposition included in the March 26, 1900 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle described several of their high end items.

The exhibit is located on the center aisle and contains about six hundred pens of the finest mountings and workmanship.

While the majority of the pens shown are of the company’s standard make, there are some wrought with exceptional elegance and beauty. Among these there are three gold barreled, jewel mounted pens, one having thirty-six jewels and valued at $250. Two others are studded with eighteen diamonds each and are valued at $125 and $175 respectively.

By 1902 the space at 157 Broadway had been maxed out, dictating a move to new quarters a block to the north at 173 Broadway.  According to the 1902 World’s Book story:

In a decade the quarters of this thriving concern have been enlarged ten times until it has become necessary to move into a larger building, the greater part of which will be devoted to the sale, assembling of parts, and repair of injuries of Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pens. From the desk room in the back of a cigar store, the business has grown until six stories are needed to contain but a portion of it.

An item announcing Waterman’s move to their new quarters was published in the May 26, 1902 edition of the New York Sun.

By then, according to the World’s Book story the company was producing a half million fountain pens per year and their office and sales staff had reached seventeen and one hundred respectively. Accompanying the story were photographs of their new building as well as the sales room.

Located at the corner of Broadway and Cortlandt Streets in lower Manhattan, the intersection was sometimes referred to as “the busiest corner in the world.” It also became known as the “Pen Corner,” courtesy of Waterman’s advertisements. One depicting “Pen Corner” appeared in the April 25, 1908 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

Beneath the image was the following paragraph:

Mid Castles in the Air

The Waterman Building (31,000 square feet floor space) remains the only home in this vicinity devoted entirely to any one business enterprise. It is surrounded by business quarters of nearly 100,000 people.

A blow-up, looking west from Broadway, depicts the Waterman building on the right side of the intersection.

No manufacturing was done at their Broadway location. According to the 1902 World’s Book story, this was accomplished at two factory locations. One was located in Seymour Connecticut, the other on Rose Street in lower Manhattan.

At the factory at Seymour Conn., where the hard rubber barrels are made, one hundred men are employed in shaping rubber into the polished black and mottled tubes for Waterman pens. The barrel here passes through forty-nine processes, so many, in fact, that it would seem impossible to bring the completed pen within reach of the ordinary purse.

The story included a photograph of the factory’s interior and a July 16, 1910 edition of the American Stationer included an exterior view.

The Manhattan factory was actually leased floor space in the Rheinlander Building located at the intersection of Rose Street and Duane Street. It’s here that the pens themselves were put together, including the making of the pen’s gold nib.

This leads to a piece in the 1902 World’s Book story regarding the handling of the gold and iridium used to make the nib and tip. It’s well worth a read!

Of the making of the gold nib alone an article as long as this might be written; – sixty to seventy hand processes are necessary to produce each gold pen. The material used is gold of 14-carat fineness tipped with iridium which is nearly worth it’s weight in diamonds. The material handled, in fact, is so precious that extraordinary precautions are taken to preserve every minute particle – the clothes of the operators are the property of the company and are periodically reduced to ashes for the sake of the gold dust they carry; from the water used in washing the hands and faces of the men $90 worth of gold is taken every month.

The iridium used for the tip was even more valuable than gold. According to another American Stationer story, this small bottle of iridium was valued at $1,000 in the early 1900’s

By 1915 the company had constructed two buildings in New York City that were fully dedicated to the manufacture of their fountain pens. The first, opened in September, 1910, was located on Fletcher Street in lower Manhattan.

The opening was covered in a September 10, 1910 story in the Brooklyn Times Union. The story makes it clear that all the manufacturing operations were encompassed under one roof.

On September 10, New York became possessed of one more great manufacturing plant, when the L. E. Waterman Company officially opened their mammoth factory at 34-40 Fletcher Street for the manufacture of fountain pens.

Saturday afternoon between 1 o’clock and 6 the factory was thrown open to the public, and with the aid of a large staff of competent guides were taken through the different departments of the plant and shown how a sticky piece of rubber and a bit of gold are made up into one of the most useful articles of the day.

When one enters the building they are first taken to the basement, where is located the power and machine plants, and where also are the smelting and refining furnaces. Here the crude or semi-crude rubber is refined to the stage where it can be moulded and turned into the handles of the pens; next one is taken to the ink department, which though it is only a subsidiary manufacture is an industry in itself and occupies two floors. Through the printing and case department you next go, but it is not until you reach the gold and silver mounting department that you begin to realize to what extent the finer art of the pen making is carried; here the beautiful filigree work, seen so much on the higher priced pens, is done and in this branch are employed some of the most skillful gold and silversmiths to be found in America.

The rubber turning department is on the next floor. The rubber handles are not finished here, but are taken to the assembling room where they are finished by hand.

Having seen in a general way the operations required to make a fountain pen, you leave the building by way of the shipping room, where tier after tier of boxes, filled with pens, were being sent to all parts of the world and every state of the Union.

The second New York City factory, also in lower Manhattan, was located at 163 Front Street and opened in May, 1915. A rendering of the factory as well as a construction photo appeared in the American Stationer that year.

     

With the opening of this second New York City factory and another in Connecticut,  the company was now operating a total of five; two in New York, two in Connecticut and another in St. Lambert, Canada.

By then, according to a May 22, 1915 American Stationer story, the business was capable of producing 2,500,000 pens per year and the different types available were almost endless.

As a starter, Mr Waterman made one type of pen in two prices and four different points which would mean a line of eight different types of pens. At the present time, we make four active lines, regular type, self-filling type, safety type and the pocket type, in four different style holders which would be sixteen different kinds of pens; multiply this by ten different points would mean 160 distinct type of pens. If you care to multiply these figures by the three different length of nibs which we make regularly you would have 480 different kinds of pens, and if you would add to this the different mountings and special points and the other styles such as 2, 32, 42, 52 jointless holders, you will have about 2,000 different kinds carried by the company.

The 1915 American Stationer story went on to say that the company had evolved into a world wide operation.

We have branch stores in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco in this country, and which are the company’s headquarters in New England, the Central West and the Pacific Coast; also branches in Canada, the principal cities in Europe, South Africa, Australia, South America, etc.

A photograph in the February 13, 1915 edition of the American Stationer  showed their London headquarters on Kingsway. Similar to New York City,  its location was described as “The Pen Corner.”

on

In August, 1916 the company announced that their New York City headquarters was moving to 191 Broadway.

The new location was located within the same block on Broadway as their present location. The company simply moved from the south end of the block at Cortlandt Street to the north end at Dey Street, now calling the Dey Street intersection “The New Pen Corner.” The New York Tribune reported the opening in their May, 1, 1917 edition.

A new “Pen Corner” was opened yesterday, fittingly enough on the eighty-fourth anniversary of the birth of the man who became a fountain pen manufacturer after unpleasant experiences with a leaky specimen, and on the thirty-fourth anniversary of the founding of the great industry that grew from his decision.

The fountain pen has passed through many stages since L. E. Waterman turned out his first 200 and the changes are reflected in the showcases of the new store at Broadway and Dey Street. Seven thousand persons dropped in yesterday to admire the gold and silver mounted pen of 1917 and compare it to the dull looking specimens of the “first two hundred.”

There is a pen to fit every hand, a point to suit every preference in the new “Pen Corner,” for its walnut cabinets have a capacity of 30,000 and the variety is no less than 5,000. The cabinets are arranged in an ellipse in the exact center of the store. Hidden behind them are the repair men; in front of them is an unbroken showcase displaying pens that run the scale in design between extreme simplicity and ultra ornateness.

This photograph, showing a view of the salesroom appeared in the June, 1917 edition of Architecture and Building.

The several floors above the salesroom were utilized by the wholesale and export departments and executive offices.

It appears the company’s peak occurred sometime in the early 1920’s when they constructed what was called at the time, the “world’s greatest fountain pen factory,” in Newark New Jersey.

The plant was described in the March 26, 1921 edition of the American Stationer.

The largest and most modern factory building in Newark, New Jersey, was recently completed and occupied by the L. E. Waterman Company, manufacturer’s of Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pen. It occupies the equivalent of one city block, on Thomas Street, numbered from 140 to 170, extending back a considerable greater distance in two other immense buildings, with a paved court accessible from a broad driveway and exit on either side of the main entrance to the Administration Building, situated on Thomas Street.

The new building – vastly larger than the others – will have a production of approximately 10 million pens a year, and with full equipment of modern and newly devised machinery, makes it the world’s greatest fountain pen factory.

By then the manufacture of ink was well entrenched in the company’s business as evidenced by this story written just as their Newark factory opened. It appeared in the March 5, 1921 edition of the American Stationer.

One of the largest and most modern ink plants in the world making fountain pen ink exclusively is that of the L. E. Waterman Company. The plant occupies a portion of the mammoth new Waterman factory on Thomas Street, Newark, N. J., and is the first department to be placed in full operation there. It is devoted entirely to the manufacture of Waterman’s Ideal ink, supplying the millions of users of Waterman’s fountain pen with the ink best adapted to its well known writing qualities. Inks of the standard colors are produced, namely blue-black, green, red, violet and jet black. The output is 4,000 gallons a day, and this is being steadily increased by the addition of new equipment.

So that leads to the question: “When did Waterman add the manufacture and sale of ink to his fountain pen business?”

An unscientific study of his advertising reveals that this likely occurred in 1890. Prior to that Waterman advertisements focused on the fountain pen, sometimes adding this phrase:

It uses any good ink and holds enough to write continuously from 10 – 25 hours.

It was in 1890 that advertisements associating the Waterman name with an ink product began to appear in the American Stationer. One of the first was an August 28 ad for “Waterman’s Fountain Pen Ink Filler.” Aimed at the retailer, it was certainly introductory in nature.

It is for the interest of every dealer to present this new article to the attention of his customers.

Because

it insures the use of good ink in their fountain pens and in other ways makes their care less troublesome

An August 17, 1907 advertisement  in the American Stationer described their ink and its packaging:

It is made in all of the following colors: Blue-Black, Combined (for writing or copying), Black, Red, Green and Violet and each one of these colors are made in all sizes (2-ounce up to a quart).

The two ounce size was pictured in the advertisement.

     

The ink was also packaged and sold in “desk filler” and “traveler’s filler” styles.

The desk filler…consists of a solid rubber stopper and dropper in a bottle, holding enough ink for about 50 fillings.

The travelers’ filler consists of a solid rubber stopper and dropper, in a bottle holding sufficient ink for 12 fillings, which is held firmly in place by a spring in a neat wooden box.

The advertisement pictured both in a display stand.

Subsequently, the April 17, 1915 edition of the American Stationer announced the addition of several newly patented style bottles.

One, a pour out bottle was made in two sizes, pint and quart. It was initially advertised on the cover of the American Stationer’s March 27, 1915 edition.

   

The other was an oddly shaped 2 ounce bottle marketed for use with their self-filling pen.

By the time they moved into their new factory  Waterman’s Ideal Ink was being marketed hand in hand with their fountain pens. Their message to retailers was: “One Sells the Other.”

Waterman continued  the United States arm of their business well into the 1950’s however, during this time competition from companies like Parker and Schaefer was taking its toll. Ultimately, in 1958, the company was acquired by Bic. The acquisition was covered in the Boston Globe on November 24, 1958.

Sale of controlling interest in the Waterman Pen Co., one of the oldest pen makers in this country, to Marcel L. Bich of Paris, France was announced today.

The company said a new line of inexpensive ball point pens will be featured in the new operation of the organization.

The company’s plant here will continue its present output along with the added production of an initial output of 100,000 ball point pens a day. One hundred additional employees will be required.

The new firm will be called the Waterman-Bic Pen Corp., Inc.

This August 19, 1959 New York Daily News advertisement made it clear that Waterman-Bic served as the French corporation’s manufacturing arm in the United States.

The hand-pleasing personal writing quality of Bic pens has conquered five continents in 10 years . Every day of the year, one-and-a-half-million people buy a Bic pen. Now Bic pens are manufactured in America for you by Waterman. Quick, get a Bic!

Operating solely out of Seymour Connecticut, the other Waterman plants had apparently been sold off at some point. The company remained in Seymour until 1963 when they moved the operation to Milford, Connecticut. The move was reported in the June 19, 1963 edition of the Bridgeport Post.

The United Aircraft Corporation has sold its Wiley Street plant and office building to the Waterman-Bic Pen Corporation, a subsidiary of Societe Bic, a French corporation, it was learned today.

Bic plans to move from its present plant in Seymour after alterations have been made to the Wiley Street building formerly occupied by the Norden division of United Aircraft.

Societe Bic has 18 plants and produces 2,400,000 pens a day. The Connecticut plant now located in Seymour and scheduled to move here is its only facility in the United States.

According to an April 21, 1971 story in Binghamton New York’s Press and Sun Bulletin, Bic dropped the Waterman name at that time. The story not only marked the end of the Waterman name in the United States, but could serve as an obituary for the fountain pen as well.

Bic to Drop Waterman Name, Marking End of Writing Era

The Waterman-Bic Corporation of Milford has announced it will change its name to the Bic Pen Corporation, effective May 1.

“We hope to bring about a stronger product identity between the Bic ball pens and the consumer,” Robert P. Alder, Bic president said.

The disappearance of the Waterman name, in effect, reflects the demise of the fountain pen as an everyday, functional writing instrument, the announcement said. The Waterman Pen company was founded in 1884 and was a pioneer in the development of the fountain pen as well as sales leader during the height of its popularity.

The Waterman-Bic corporation was formed in November, 1958, and since then has grown to dominate the American writing instrument business with a 64 percent share of today’s retail market, its announcement reported. Bic makes more than 2,000,000 ball pens a day from its highly automated plant facilities in Milford – all in the 19 to 49-cent price ranges. The company has not made a fountain pen in 10 years.

The Waterman name continued in Europe and you can still get a Waterman Pen to this day.

I’ve found two types of Waterman ink bottles over the years. The first, machine made, is an example of their standard 2 ounce bottle. It closely resembles the one included in the 1907 advertisement presented earlier in this post.

 

The other, mouth blown, appears to be an example of their traveler filler. It’s faintly embossed “Waterman’s Ink” on its base.

 

On a final note, Waterman’s Manhattan factory building on Front Street, opened in 1915, remains to his day. Google Earth reveals that it’s currently under renovation.

   

In response to the initial version of this post I was contacted by a researcher named Daniel Kirchheimer who has unearthed compelling evidence that the original version of Waterman’s pen was actually the invention of a man named Frank Holland. His impeccable research can be found on the following link and is well worth the read. It even includes an appearance by the world renowned author Mark Twain.

https://danielkirchheimer.com/articles/blotting-out-the-truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Hadsell’s story went on to say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of the page was filled with testimonials.

   

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

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

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

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

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

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

          

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below this headline the advertisement reported:

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

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

      

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

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

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

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

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

Carlova Moves Into Swamp Root Building

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

KILMER CONCERNS FIGHT IN COURTS

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

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

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

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

 

“Antidol” For Rheumatism

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

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

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

ANTIDOL’S VIRTUES

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

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

 

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

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

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

Medicine bottle, Wheeler Pharmacal Company, Boston, MA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANTIDOL 500 MG COATED TABLETS

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lewis Brothers, Inc. New York – Vitalis

        

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YOU CAN HAVE CURLEY HAIR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2-Minute Summer Treatment

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

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

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

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

Other advertisements around the same time demonstrated how it worked.

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

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

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

The Walgreens web site describes it like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10-Bit Haircut Ahead?

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

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

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

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

 

M U M Mfg. Co. Philadelphia Pa.

 

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

“Mum” as easy to use as to say

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WITH THE BUILDERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spatula story went on to say that:

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

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

The caption at the bottom reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cosmeticsandskin.com post went on to say:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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