Whistle, Orange Whistle Bottling Co.

Whistle is an orange soda that hit the U. S. market in the Spring of 1916. Still sold today, it’s height of popularity occurred in the 1920’s when, according to one newspaper source, it out-sold Coca Cola in New York. Early on, it’s advertising slogan was:

Thirsty?  Just WHISTLE

The Whistle story begins with a native Texan named Vess (Sylvester) Jones. According to a feature on Jones published in the July 20, 1922 edition of an advertising publication called “Printer’s Ink,” his business career began, not in the soda business, but in the garment industry.

He had been in the clothing specialty line and had built up a profitable trade, but he finally went broke as a result of a prolonged garment strike.

As early as 1912, he had become engaged in the syrup/soft drink business in Oklahoma City where several local newspaper accounts indicate he was serving as the Oklahoma representative for a Texas firm called the Jersey Cream Company of Fort Worth. By 1914, he had moved to St. Louis, Missouri where the 1914 city directory listed him as the vice president of the Orange Julep Company.

The 1922 “Printers Ink” feature picks up the story from there.

In 1916 Vess Jones thought of an idea for a new soft drink…

Having observed that the orange is an unusually popular fruit, Jones figured that a good beverage with orange juice as its chief ingredient should be almost equally as popular. Now Jones wasn’t the first person to hit upon the orange as the nucleus of a palatable beverage, and he knew it, but his formula called for something different from anything he had ever tasted. He aimed to mix a beverage that would make the majority of persons imbibe several drinks at a single sitting.

So, with an idea and $5,000 in savings Jones established the Orange Whistle Company, setting up shop (the “Printers Ink” story referred to it as a shack) at 315 North Main Street in St. Louis where he was initially listed in the 1916 directory. The company’s incorporation notice was published that February in the “Southern Pharmaceutical Journal.”

Though he settled in St. Louis, according to the “Printer’s Ink” feature, his first client was located in Illinois, not Missouri.

When his first batch of syrup was ready for marketing he hired a horse and wagon and started out to make the people of St. Louis acquainted with, as well as cultivate a liking for his new beverage. The bottlers of that city, however, didn’t display any particular interest in Whistle, even when Jones promised to create a demand for it, for at the start it meant no more to them than a hundred and one other soft drinks that have come and gone. Disappointed but not discouraged, Jones shifted his activities to Illinois, just across from St. Louis.

“I’ve got the best soft drink you ever drank.” Jones informed the first bottler he interviewed in Illinois, “and if you will bottle some of my syrup according to my formula and send it out to your dealers, I’ll spend my own money to move it from the counters.”

The proposition appealed to the dealer and he purchased some of the syrup, promising to bottle it immediately. By the time Whistle was ready for the public, Jones had made a tour of the city with his horse and wagon and put up signs and tacked posters around the stand or store served by that particular bottler. He supplemented his outdoor advertising with copy in the newspapers. Two weeks later the bottler, realizing that he had a valuable commodity, asked for and obtained the exclusive bottling rights to the city.

At first glance the above story appears to be nothing more than a fictional tale pumped out years later by an advertising agency, however, recognizing that the earliest newspaper advertisements for “Orange Whistle” appeared in Mattoon and Bloomington, Illinois, two cities located just north of St. Louis, lends credence to the story.

In Bloomington, this April 22, 1916 advertisement in their local newspaper called “The Pantograph” associated Orange Whistle with the H. Quosick Bottling Company.

In Mattoon, it was the Union Bottling Works, whose similar ad was published in the  April 25, 1916 edition of Mattoon’s “Journal Gazette.” In fact, in Mattoon, according to this April 18th advertisement in the “Journal Gazette,” Orange Whistle was already being dispensed at the soda fountain in Frank J. Ritter’s Drug Store.

The following month, Orange Whistle newspaper ads were appearing in nine nearby states and by year end that number had increased to 15 states, all in the south and midwest. This rapid growth required the geographical expansion of Whistle’s manufacturing capabilities as evidenced by this story announcing the opening of a new plant in Greenville N.C. It was published in the January 21, 1917 edition of the “Greenville News.”

The Orange Whistle Company…has completed its plant on South Main Street and is now shipping its product to the bottlers of the Carolinas. The concern is one of five in the United States in which the Orange Whistle syrup is made..

Orange Whistle is a comparatively new drink, having been placed on the market only in the last year or so. It originated in St Louis and until the first of the present year, all of the syrup was made there. The demand for the new drink, however, was so great that it became necessary to establish additional factories in various parts of the country.

The story went on to say that Greenville, apparently like Jones’s other newly established plants, was supported by local capital and management.

When the city was selected local capital was invited to take stock in the enterprise. As soon as the fact became known that the company in St. Louis had determined upon Greenville as the logical place for supplying the Carolinas, a number of local business men made a hasty trip to St. Louis with the result that the Greenville Orange Whistle Company was formed.

A similar company, called the Orange Whistle Company of Indiana, was formed later that year around a newly established plant in Evansville Indiana. The pitch to local investors there was included in the July 6, 1917 edition of the Evansville “Courier and Press.”

By mid-1917, less than two years after being established, the company operated a total of seven factory locations,  Six were located in the southern and midwestern U.S. cities of St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; Chattanooga, Tennessee, Greenville, South Carolina; and Evansville, Indiana, the seventh in Havana, Cuba.

By 1918, in addition to manufacturing Orange Whistle, Jones had begun to establish companies  to bottle and distribute it as well. According to a September 15, 1918 story in the St. Louis “Globe Democrat:”

Organized in January, 1916, its operations for the first two years were limited to furnishing syrup to bottling concerns. Last January it embarked in the bottling business on its own account, and has plants in several other cities, principally in the South.

Meanwhile, back at their St Louis headquarters, the company was also expanding. Their original “shack” on North Main Street had been replaced with a factory located at 1035 North Grand Avenue and offices at 1418 Pine Street. In addition, the September 15th “Globe Democrat” story announced that a new, upgraded bottling plant was also in the works. Located in what was called the Cadillac Building, at 2920-22 Locust Street, it was described like this:

Equipment that will surpass that of any bottling concern in the United States, it is declared by Jones, will begin to arrive not later than October 15, under terms of the contract, and the cost will aggregate $80,000. Much of the machinery is being constructed under specifications furnished by the head of the Orange Whistle Company, to give it national leadership and also to effect an increase in capacity over the present plant of 500 percent, while lowering the labor force by 50 percent.

The new plant will have a capacity of 144,000 bottles a day. It is what is known as a low-pressure system. Empty bottles are cleaned, sterilized, given a double rinsing, filled, labeled and capped by machinery, without once being touched by human hands.

Early in 1918, the company was also expanding into the northeast and in February they established the Orange Whistle Company of N.Y. The incorporation notice was published in the February 20th edition of the “New York Times.”

The following year, the Whistle Bottling Company of Manhattan was established.

The above incorporation notice, published in the June 5, 1919 edition of the “New York Tribune,” located the bottling company’s offices at 111 Broadway in lower Manhattan. A week later the company leased a building on East 19th Street to serve as their new bottling plant and by August 12th, advertisements in the Tribune announced  that “Whistle was now on sale in New York,” and invited the public to inspect their new plant.

Bottling plants in The Bronx and Brooklyn were added in the early 1920’s. According to a December 15, 1922 item in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle,” the Brooklyn plant was established on Clifton Place.

The industrial department of Bulkley & Horton Co. have leased to The Whistle Company of America the entire building at 197-199 Clifton Pl. to be used as their main distributing and bottling plant to handle Brooklyn and Queens territory.

In the Bronx, the plant was located at 1360 La Fountaine Avenue

What was happening in New York was also happening in other parts of the country and by 1922 the business had certainly achieved a national presence. Around this time the company formed a Delaware corporation called the Whistle Company of America to serve as a holding concern for the various  Whistle entities. The holding company’s incorporation notice was published in the April 14, 1922 edition of the “New York Times.”

The new parent corporation was headquartered on Washington Street in New York City , where it was listed in the 1922 N.Y.C. Directory along with both the Manhattan and Bronx bottling companies.

The 1922 “Printers Ink” story put some numbers to their exponential national expansion.

The old shack in St. Louis certainly enjoyed a rapid and healthy growth. Its only a memory now, but its offspring in the form of robust syrup plants are flourishing in sixteen large cities in this country and three in Canada. And these same plants furnish syrup to 1,200 bottlers, who, in 1921 sold 150,000,000 bottles of “Whistle.”

The story went on to credit much of their success to advertising, which at the time totaled $300,000 annually in signs, posters and newspapers. According to the “Printers Ink” feature:

For every gallon of syrup a bottler purchases the company agrees to spend at least ten cents advertising Whistle in that bottler’s territory. As a rule however, it invests from fifteen to twenty cents, and not infrequently it has spent three dollars a gallon at the start in order to create a demand for a new bottler.

It appears  the company also supplemented these locally targeted advertising dollars with some rather unique general campaigns as well. One, likely considered “state-of-the-art” at the time, caught my attention as well as the attention of the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” who described it in a November 30, 1919 story.

MOBILE BILLBOARD TO ADVERTISE SOFT DRINK

A novel motor truck with a specially built body to be used for advertising purposes by the Whistle Bottling Co. has made its appearance on the streets of St. Louis during the last few days.

Miniature billboards, the length of the truck and about three feet high, are built on either side of the truck and in the rear. Each of the boards is electrically illuminated for display at night and artistically decorated. Pictures of various Whistle plants throughout the country are painted on each side.

C. L. Griggs, national advertising manager of the Whistle Bottling Co., said the truck would be sent to Chicago to attend the National Automobile and Truck Show in January and later would make an ocean-to-ocean journey, calling on many of the plants of the concern throughout the country. Motion pictures during the summer will be shown on a curtain attached to the rear of the truck. The pictures will show how a soft drink is made.

And that wasn’t the company’s only tricked-out truck as evidenced by this undated photograph exhibiting one with a hand-held bottle of Whistle popping out the top.

Also contributing to the company’s success was the attention given to “quality control.” According to Vess Jones in his own words:

“It’s a simple matter to sell anything once,” Mr. Jones said. “But unless you have a standard and see that everyone connected with it lives up to the standard, you’re not likely to hold your market, for confidence that is once betrayed is rarely regained. We could hand out franchises and then forget about them, but we don’t. It’s our duty to see that every franchise is kept valuable, and we do this in various ways.

Before we grant a bottler a franchise we get his rating, learn how he stands with the retail trade, investigate his plant to discover his daily capacity, see how many trucks he operates, and what else he bottles. If he doesn’t own an up-to-date bottling machine we insist that he install one before we will give him a franchise.

Provided a bottler seeking a franchise meets certain prerequisites, we have him sign a contract in which he agrees to keep his plant fit at all times for visitors’ inspection, to buy all his syrup for Whistle from us, to manufacture Whistle strictly according to our formula, to use only bottles with the name ‘Whistle’ blown in, to use them for nothing but Whistle, to see that every bottle of the product carries a Whistle label before it leaves his plant, and to paint his trucks with Whistle colors – orange and blue.”

Sometime in 1927 or 1928 Jones began manufacturing other favored drinks in addition to Orange Whistle. Marketed under the brand name “Vess,” one of the earliest was a ginger ale called “Vess Dry.” An introductory advertisement that appeared in the April 3, 1928 edition of the “Scranton (Pa), Times Tribune,” described it as :

Containing the purest spices available-genuine JAMAICAN GINGER- Pure Cane Sugar and blended FRUIT Essences.

As far as I can tell, at this point the manufacturing arm of the business was now called the “Vess Beverage Company.”  At the same time, they continued to bottle and sell the Vess flavors and Orange Whistle utilizing the “Whistle Bottling Company” and its local franchises.

All that aside,  there’s little doubt that the success of the overall business was due primarily to Orange Whistle. That success continued until the late 1920’s when the fluctuating price of sugar served as the catalyst for a downturn that ultimately lead to Jones selling the business to long-time employee, Leroy O. Schneeberger. The circumstances that lead up to the sale were recounted by Schneeberger’s son, Donald, in an interview published years later, in the March 29, 1981 edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch.”

“In those days, Whistle provided sugar for its bottlers,” Schneeberger said. “The price of sugar rose sharply. Went from 4 cents to 20 cents a pound, and kept going. Whistle negotiated a contract at 20 cents, but the sugar producers wouldn’t deliver at that price. They had buyers for 30 cents.

Whistle sued. The sugar companies delayed until sugar went down to 4 cents. Whistle won – and had to pay 16 cents more than the market rate.

That drained the company. When the crash came, well, it killed them. My father bought the company for $10,000. 

Schneeberger went on to say that only the midwest portion of the business survived.

Vess was never again anything more than a regional brand – the midwest region that the Schneebergers owned. The country was divided into four equal areas. The other three were not aggressive. They let it slip away. You can imagine what it was like trying to get four people to agree on advertising and marketing. That’s what really held it back…

The company operated under Leroy Schneeberger for the next 30 + years. As early as the mid-1930’s they introduced several new brands, one of which was Cleo Cola.

The Cola had a short but noteworthy history as told by Don Schneeberger in another interview, this one published in the June 27, 1994 edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch.”

One name got its start from his father’s habit of smoking Cleopatra cigars, Schneeberger said. “He took the drawing of a girl in an abbreviated costume off the cigar label, put it on a drink bottle and called it Cleo Cola.”

The bottle looked good, Schneeberger said, but it brought protests that it would not be appropriate for a church picnic.

So his father took the girl off the bottle and substituted a shield. He fooled around, changing the bottle and script for the name.

That turned out to be a bad move, Don Schneeberger said. The company was hit by a suit from Coca-Cola, charging trademark infringement in the way the C’s were written. Coca-Cola won and Cleo had to pay a royalty on every case.

The name Cleo is clearly visible in the photograph of this 1935 Vess delivery truck, found in the June 28, 1970 edition of the “Kansas City Star.”

Another new 1930’s brand was a lemon-lime soda called “Bubble Up, advertised as “THE BILLION BUBBLE BEVERAGE.” Both Cleo Cola and Bubble Up made an appearance in this June 25, 1939 Vess advertisement published in the “Chillicothe (Mo.) Gazette.”

The company must have liked the “Billon Bubble” phrase because it wasn’t long before they were lumping the entire menu of Vess beverages under that phrase.

And…Orange Whistle had not been forgotten, as evidenced by this February 13, 1941 “St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times” advertisement that touted its “modern-styled BIG 12-ounce bottle.”

In late 1946 the company became one of, if not the first, to market a caffeine free soda. The December 10, 1946 edition of the St. Louis “Star and Times” announced it like this:

NO CAFFEIN IN NEW VESS COLA DRINK

A “First” has just been achieved by Vess Cola with the announcement by company officials that they are now featuring an entirely “caffein-free” cola drink. Distribution of the new Vess Cola, with no caffein, has now been completed in this area.

The removal of caffein from Vess Cola adds to the appeal of this popular drink. With all the true cola flavor, sparkle and refreshment quality in, and the caffein out, its the wholesome drink for children as well as adults

A known stimulant, caffein is capable of hindering sleep and of aggravating caffein sensitive nervous systems. Normally over-active children often react to caffein by becoming more jumpy and high-strung. With the caffein out, Vess Cola can be drunk early or late without risk of this over-stimulation.

Vess Cola with no caffein has now been distributed to retail outlets and is available throughout this area. Bottled under license of Vess Beverage Company by Vess Bottling Company,  St. Louis. Mo.

In the late 1940’s ads like this were appearing in several midwest states.

Many ads went on to include this little jingle:

So whether you drink it early or drink it late,

Vess Cola doesn’t over-stimulate.

No wonder mothers say “Yes” to Vess Cola

The favors keen with no caffein,

According to Donald Schneeberger’s 1994 interview, their caffeine-free soda turned out to be an innovation that appeared well before its time.

Caffeine-free drinks got popular in the 1980’s. But in the 1940’s Vess didn’t have enough money to advertise the no-caffeine drink fully. It passed on without a lot of notice – no big deal.

Still headquartered in St. Louis, throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s it appears the company, now called Whistle & Vess Beverages, Inc., continued to utilize the facilities of the former Whistle company.  Then in late 1949 they began construction of a new St Louis facility, a rendering of which was included in the December 25, 1949 edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch”

According to the story that accompanied the rendering

Work has started at the southwest corner of Hereford Avenue and Arsenal Street on a new building to house the offices of Whistle & Vess Beverages, Inc. and the company’s locally franchised bottling agency, the Vess Bottling Co.

The parent concern…now has its office in the Arcade Building and the local bottling agency at 2925 Locust Street

At this point, according to another item in the story, the company was once again branching out geographically with “150 franchised bottlers, all located west of Indiana to the Pacific and south to the border.” That being said, the bulk of their newspaper advertising continued to be focused on Missouri and the surrounding states.

Leroy Schneeberger continued to run the business until 1968 when, according to a March 29, 1981 St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, he sold Vess to a conglomerate. In an effort to continue the “truck’ theme, here’s the conglomerate’s 1970’s version of their delivery truck.

The 1981 St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” feature went on to say that under the conglomerate:

Vess went flat- lost 70 percent of its St. Louis business, 90 percent of its out-of-town trade.

The above statement is bolstered by the fact that in the two years between 1974 and 1975, at least two of their bottling franchises, one in El Paso, Texas and the other in Kansas City, Missouri, filed for bankruptcy.

In 1975, Donald Schneeberger, who had been working at Vess with his father until the mid-1960’s when he left to form another bottling/canning operation called Custom Packaging Corp., bought the company back. He promptly published this notice in the December 3rd edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch.”

The younger Schneeberger served as president of Vess from 1975 until 1994.

During his term as president the business apparently made a comeback as evidenced by this item that appeared in a June 27, 1994 “St Lois Post-Dispatch” feature on the company.

In 1975, when he bought the company, it was turning out about 650,000 cases of soft drinks a year. In the last year it has turned out almost 18 million cases and had revenue of $50 million.

By then, according to a June 1, 1994 St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” story the company was still turning out its Orange Whistle along with 13 other sugar-sweetened flavors, eight varieties of diet soda and spring waters.

It was around the same time, in June, 1994, that Schneeberger sold both Vess and the Custom Packing Corporation to the Cott Corp. of Toronto. The June 27th St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” feature went on to say:

In buying Vess for $27 million, Cott gets a 235,000 square-foot plant here in the Westport area, plus a 130,000 square-foot warehouse and the 154,000 square-foot  (Custom Packing) plant in Sikeston.

Donald Schneeberger passed away on December 27, 2019. His St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” obituary stated, in part:

Today his iconic flavors; Whistle Orange, Cream, Grape and Strawberry as well as many others are family favorites to this day.

Here’s an advertisement depicting today’s version of Orange Whistle’s packaging.

At least two St. Louis buildings occupied by the various Whistle/Vess companies over the years remain to this day. One is the Cadillac Building, leased by the Orange Whistle Company in 1918 to house their bottling plant. Located at 2020-22 Locust Street, here’s its present look, courtesy of Google Maps.

The other is the one built in 1949-50 at Hereford Avenue and Arsenal Street to house Vess. Again, here it is courtesy of Google Maps.

The bottle I found is machine made and contains 6-1/2 ounces. In addition to “WHISTLE,” embossed prominently on the shoulder, the words “WHISTLE BOTTLING CO., GLENWOOD LANDING, N.Y.” are embossed in small lettering along the heel of the bottle.

The Glenwood Landing reference almost certainly associates the bottle with the bottling company of a man named George Sessler. Sessler operated a bottling business in Glenwood Landing on Long Island, N.Y.’s north shore from 1907 until sometime in the 1930’s and possibly longer. The 1925 “Beverage Blue Book” specifically identified his business as a “Whistle” franchise.

In addition to his Glenwood Landing plant, Sessler also operated one on Long Island’s south shore in Baldwin, N.Y., as evidenced by this introductory advertisement that appeared in the May 10, 1923 edition of Rockville Centre (L. I.)’s “Long Island News and Owl”

More on George Sessler can be found in another post on this site.

George Sessler

Why Sessler was supplied with syrup from the Whistle Company of Pennsylvania as opposed to New York is unknown.

Our bottle exactly matches the Orange Whistle bottles depicted in advertisements that date from the late teens up through the mid to late 1920’s.

 

Ads like this one found in the May 7, 1931 edition of the St. Louis “Post-Dispatch” suggest that by the early 1930’s the company had transitioned to a different bottle design.

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Brand & Co., Ltd., Mayfair, The “A 1” Sauce

Invention of “The A 1 Sauce” is credited to English  chef, grocer and author, Henderson William Brand. According to A 1 advertisements published by Brand in the British newspapers  during the early 1880’s, the story went like this:

This Celebrated Sauce was invented by Mr. H.W. Brand (Formerly of the Royal Household) in 1862, when he was cook and co-manger of the cuisine at the International Exhibition in Hyde Park. It was submitted by him among other sauces to the Royal Commissioners for approval for use at the restaurants in the Exhibition, and pronounced by the Chief Commissioner to be “A 1”- a designation which was immediately adopted, and by which it has been known ever since. This is an incontestable proof of its excellence and superiority.

BRAND’S…TRY a Bottle to see if you do not agree with THE CHIEF COMMISSIONER.

Another early advertisement for A 1, this one published in the October 5, 1872 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions Advertiser” suggested its use with just about any type of food.

The A 1 OF 1862, LONDON AND 1867 PARIS

Most Wholesome and Excellent, is most exquisite and excels with plain Hot or Cold Meats, Chops, Steaks. Poultry, Fried or Boiled Fish, Bacon Eggs or Cheese. Patronized and in general use at the ROYAL HOUSEHOLD, the Principal Courts on the Continent, the London Clubs and large Hotels, and nearly all first-class Restaurants and Refreshment Rooms.

Today the brand is manufactured in the U.S. by Kraft-Heinz and their message is still pretty much the same.

A1 Sauce is great for pork, chicken, fish and vegetables.

While the A 1 brand itself dates to the early 1860’s, the story of Henderson William Brand gets its start back in the 1820’s when he served in the royal kitchen of England’s King George IV. According to “Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History:”

King George IV’s flagging health inspired royal chef Mr. H.W. Brand, to develop an essence of chicken beverage to boost his Majesty’s physical condition.

After leaving the royal kitchen, Brand served as the private chef for various celebrities and noblemen of his era. A feature on Brand & Co., published in the May, 1914 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era” provided some details.

In due time the chef left the royal kitchens and became in turn chef for various celebrated gourmands and hosts, including T.W. Coke, of Holkham (the “Coke of Norfolk,” at whose table Charles James Fox was a frequent visitor), and afterward to Earl Manvers; then to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk; the Marquis of Ailsa; Lord Rolle, and others.

In 1834 Brand followed this up by publishing a collection of recipes entitled “The Complete Modern Cook,” a work that ‘Blackwoods Lady Magazine & Gazette” reviewed like this in 1841.

The design of Mr. Brand, in the production of the “Modern Cook,” is praisworthy, his object being evidently to furnish the practiced cook with modern novelties, and the inexperienced with every kind of information relative to cookery, written in so clear and concise a style, that to peruse somewhat 400 pages is rendered a pleasure, instead of hard study, as is with some works which have come under our notice…We recommend every noblemen’s and other family to possess a copy, feeling confident that the author, who for distinction sake we shall say was many years in the kitchen of his late Majesty George the Fourth, has done justice in the production.

In 1835, a year after publishing “The Modern Cook,” Brand established Brand & Co. and went into business for himself. The 1843 “Post Office London Directory” (the earliest I can find) described Brand & Co. as:

manufacturers & importers of preserves & preserved fresh & salt provisions & solid milk, beef tea, etc.”

The company listing included two addresses; 61 King William Street in the city, and 11 Little Stanhope Street in Mayfair but it was the Mayfair address that the business was almost exclusively associated with.

As early as the Spring of 1835 advertisements for H.W. Brand began appearing in the London newspapers. The earliest one I can find, published in the May 23, 1835 edition of London’s “Morning Post,” provides evidence that Brand was producing sauces from the very beginning. The advertisement also mentioned among other things his “chicken broth for invalids,” which could be what he served King George IV in his waning years.

Another advertisement, this one published on March 16, 1841 in the “Morning Post,” was addressed directly: “To INVALIDS and to all Persons of Delicate Constitution,” and mentioned specialties that included: “CONCENTRATED BEEF TEA, CHICKEN and MUTTON BROTH.”

A more extensive menu of  Brand’s specialties as well as imported items he offered can be found at the end of a second book he wrote in 1838 called “The Modern Process for the Preservation of all Alimentary Substances.”

Certainly a noted chef and author, Brand was apparently not as adept in business and in August, 1843 the “London Gazette” included him on a list of “BANKRUPTS.”

A story in the January 1, 1855 edition of London’s “Daily News” suggests that Brand’s business survived the bankruptcy and was still up and running on Stanhope Street at that time.

Mrs. Jane Brand was summoned by the police, under the authority of Lord Palmerston, and pursuant to provision of the new act for abating the smoke nuisance, for using a furnace not so constructed as to consume its own smoke.

The defendant is a preserved provision and meat compressor, No. 11 Little Stanhope-street, near Newport Market…

That same year Brand sold the business and over the next eighteen years it would change hands twice.  The weekly notes of an 1877 court case “heard and determined by the House of Lords” entitled “Dence vs Mason,” provided the basics.

The facts of this case were that the plaintiffs firm originated about forty five years ago, when it was conducted by Henderson William Brand, and was about the year 1855 acquired by Mr. Withall, who, on the 29th of September, 1873, sold  the same to Thomas Dence for the sum of 5,000 (pounds). The business has always been carried under the name of Brand & Co.

After selling the business Brand apparently served as a chef in several different capacities during the late 1850’s and 1860’s. It was during this time, while serving as cook and co-manger at the International Exhibition in Hyde Park that he developed his A 1 Sauce.

Later in the decade he would also  serve as  manager of the “Jersey Imperial Hotel,” as evidenced by an August 31, 1867 story in the “Gloucestershire Chronicle.”

THE JERSEY IMPERIAL HOTEL. – The Jersey Imperial Hotel, at the opening of which we gave an account some months ago, has just been seen to perfection in connection with a splendid ball and supper given by officers of the 66th Regiment. “Seen from the road,” we are told, “the hotel, being most tastefully illuminated with gas, had a fairy-like appearance, and hundreds of persons had gathered there to admire it. The hall and dining rooms, profusely decorated with flowers, and presenting a very elegant appearance, were very much admired by those who had received invitations.” The company numbered 270. The supper was perfect, and the arrangements were ably carried out by Mr. H.W. Brand, the manager.

Shortly after, likely sometime in the early 1870’s, Brand went into business for himself again, this time as H.W. Brand & Co. and, as early as 1872 was advertising Brand’s International Sauce, “The A 1 of 1862,” along with many of his  former products. Two, “Essence of Beef” and “Concentrated Beef Tea,” are specifically mentioned in this October 5, 1872 advertisement found in the “Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions Advertiser.”

His newly established business was initially located at 4a, Villa Road, Brixton,S.W., where it remained until 1880 at which time the May 25th edition of London’s “The Standard” announced that he had moved the business to 21 Sackville Street, Piccadilly

One year later, an item published in the June 27, 1881 edition of “The London Times” announced that H.W.Brand had moved again, this time to 6 Vere Street, Oxford Street.

All the while, his former business, Brand & Co., now owned by Thomas Dence and managed by a man named John James Mason, continued to operate at 11 Little Stanhope Street and with the exception of A 1 Sauce was selling many of the same named products as H.W. Brand. This advertisement for Brand & Co. that appeared in the February 21, 1877 edition of the “The Medical Press and Circular Advertiser” specifically mentioned “Essence of Beef” and “Concentrated Beef Tea,” among others.

Competition between the two firms led to a High Court ruling restricting H.W. Brand from including the word “Company” in the name of his business. Consequently, Brand operated under the name “H.W. Brand,” while Dence continued under the original name of “Brand & Co.” The decision was highlighted in this H.W. Brand advertisement published in the June 18, 1880 edition of London’s “Daily News.”

The competition between H.W. Brand and Brand & Co. continued for the next several years; a competition that might be best illustrated by the presence of each in London’s 1884 “International Health Exhibition” where the Official Catalog listed them right next to each other in the index.

and their product information was strikingly similar.

By the early 1880’s, Brand & Co., in an obvious effort to compete with H.W. Brands A 1 Sauce, was advertising what they called “Brand & Co.’s “Own Sauce.”

The competition between the two firms came to an end sometime in the mid 1880’s, when it appears that Brand & Co. bought out H. W. Brand. While I can’t find specific documentation, this supposition is supported by the following: First, H.W. Brand newspaper advertisements disappear sometime in 1884. Secondly, by 1887 Brand & Co. newspaper advertisements had substituted “A 1 Sauce” for “Own Sauce” in their advertisements…

…and this March 9, 1889 advertisement found in “The Freemason,” calls out 11 Little Stanhope as the product’s “sole address.

Last but not least, born in 1805, Henderson William Brand was in his 80’s by this time. (He ultimately passed away in 1893.)

In 1887 Brand & Co. constructed a new factory in Vauxhall, London at 74-84 South Lambeth Road. According to an article featuring Brand & Co. published in the May, 1914 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era:”

The business had grown to such proportions that the factory in Mayfair was not large enough to cope with the orders. It became necessary to find a suitable site for the erection of premises on a much vaster scale and the site on which the present establishment stands was selected. This is situated in historical surroundings in Vauxhall in close proximity to the river Thames and only a few minutes’ train ride from Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, and within a few minutes walk of Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Bishop of London.

A tour through the buildings is both instructive and interesting. One is especially struck by the spaciousness, loftiness and ariness of the various departments. The great “kitchen,” the vast hall in which, at the time of your representative’s visit, the “cooks” were at work carving the finest meat procurable and transferring it to huge steam-jacketed “coppers” in which the processes of extraction are carried on, is a model of cleanliness. It is shown in the illustration herewith.

The business incorporated in 1897 with Thomas Dence named as “permanent managing director.” The incorporation notice was published in the October 9, 1897 edition of “The Chemist and Druggist.”

Over half a century later an item in the November 3, 1949  edition of the South Wales “Western Mail” announced that the company had gone public.

For the first time in the company’s 114 years’ history the public will be able to acquire an interest in Brand & Co., makers of “Brand’s Essence’ and “A1 Sauce.” Arrangements are being made by British Trusts Association for the placing of the 150,000 5% Redeemable preference 1 (pound) shares, and a quotation is being sought.

Ten years later, Brand & Co. became a target for acquisition. An item in the July 4, 1959 edition of London’s “Daily Telegraph and Morning Post” told the story.

Cerebos, the salt company which also owns “Bits” and “Sifta” salt, has made a counter take-over offer worth about 4 million (pounds), for Brand & Co., the “A 1” sauce firm. Earlier this week a 3 million (pound) bid was made by an unnamed company.

Lt.-Col. J.E. Ridley, chairman of Brand, and his co-directors are recommending the Cerebos offer.

Later that month, on August 25th, Nottingham’s “Guardian Journal” reported that the Cerebos take-over had succeeded.

In Britain, Brand & Company was still advertising both Brand’s Essence of Beef and A1 Sauce right up to the time of acquisition. The following ads published in the early 1950’s were typical of the time period.

As a member of the Cerebos Group of Companies, the business continued to operate under the Brand & Co. name and while newspaper ads for their  their A 1 Sauce were becoming less frequent the product was still available in British grocery stores, as evidenced by this item that appeared in the financial pages of the “Evening Post” on December 28, 1967.

That being said, their Vauxhall factory was lost to a consolidation sometime in 1967; a fact mentioned by the Cerebo chairman in a statement made in advance of the company’s sixty third annual general meeting. The statement was published in the May 8, 1967 edition of “The Guardian.”

…We have made further progress in our program to consolidate production within the larger units of the Group….The transfer of production to our Greatham factory has been successfully completed and during the current year the Brand’s factory at Vauxhall will be closed and the production transferred to Greatham…

A year later, The July 3, 1968 edition of “The Guardian” announced that Cerebos had been acquired by Rank Hovis McDougall.

Rank Hovis McDiugall, the giant flour milling, baking, and food manufacturing group is merging with Cerebos, the salt (Cerebos and Saxa), Bisto and Scott’s Porage Oats combine. The deal will create a group worth 180 million (pounds).

Shortly after the merger there’s little, if any, mention of Brand’s A 1 Sauce or Brand’s Essence in British newspapers.

Today, Brand’s Essence of Chicken is manufactured by “Suntory Beverage and Food.” According the their web site the product is only available in Asia but apparently its also available on Amazon.

How close it comes to the beverage Henderson William Brand served King George IV almost 200 years ago is anybody’s guess!

In the United States, the introduction of A 1 Sauce  dates back to the 1890’s and is generally credited to the Hartford Connecticut firm of G.F. Heubling & Brother. According to a 75th anniversary  feature on the company published in the April 30, 1950 edition of the “Hartford Courant,” the company got its start in 1862 when Andrew Heublein established a small hotel that served both fine food and liquors. The feature went on to say:

In 1875, Andrew stepped aside and let his two sons, Gilbert and Louis. take control of the organization. The two brothers began importing choice viands, vintage wines and liquors from France, Spain and Italy, and it wasn’t too long before “The House of Heublein” had established a name for fine products.

Later, 1n 1892 the company added another line of business bottling pre-made cocktails they called “Club Cocktails.”

As early as the Spring of 1895 an advertisement for their “Club Cocktails” also included a reference to Brand & Co.’s A1 Sauce, naming G. F. Heublein & Bro. as “sole agents for the United States.” The advertisement, offering a sample bottle of A 1 Sauce for 15 cents, appeared in both an April, 1895 issue of “Life” and May, 1895 issue of “Puck”magazines.

Over the next 20 years or so “A 1” advertisements in the U.S. named Hueblein as the “sole importer” of the sauce.  Advertisements from 1905 published in the “Bulletin of the Hartford Public Library” and 1912 in the “American Federalist” bear this out.

Sometime in the late teens Heublein began manufacturing Brand’s A 1 Sauce in the United States. According to the 75th anniversary feature on Heublein in the “Hartford Courant,” it was World War I that served as the catalyst for this change.

At the start of World War I, shipments of A1 Sauce from England became increasingly sporadic. Heublein made a satisfactory agreement with the Brand organization and began manufacture of the condiment in Hartford.

Several rears later, that agreement turned out to be a blessing for Heublein.

When the National Prohibition Act was passed in 1919, Heublein’s liquor plant closed down. Fortunately the A 1 business continued good and key personnel were transferred there.

By the early 1930’s, not only was it being manufactured in the U.S. but it was being advertised and sold there on a national scale, a fact that was emphasized to grocers in this October, 1931 advertisement published in the “National Grocers Bulletin.”

It’s surprising how easily grocers can add this extra sale of flavor… this flavor that goes with nearly every food they sell. Millions of housewives know A.1. Sauce…National advertising is reminding them of it every month. There are lots of easy profits in suggesting A.1. Sauce. Try this…and see! G.F. Heublein & Brother, Hartford, Conn.

Sometime in the 1960’s A 1 advertisements began to focus almost exclusively on beef and as such it was rebranded “A 1 Steak Sauce.”

By the 1980’s, Heublein had grown from a small 1860’s hotel that served wine and liquors into a $2 billion a year corporation that in addition to A 1 included brands like Smirnoff Vodka and Kentucky Fried Chicken. An early 1980’s breakdown of their products and sales was published  in the June 2, 1982 edition of the “Miami Herald.”

It was around this time that Heublein was acquired by R.J Reynolds Industries. The acquisition was reported in the July 30, 1982 edition of the “Hartford Courant.”.

Saying it was unlikely the company could have remained independent much longer, Hicks B. Waldron, chairman of Heublein Inc., announced Thursday that the longtime Connecticut food and beverage company will be merged into R.J. Reynolds Industries Inc., the giant tobacco, shipping and canning conglomerate.

The merger would create a $14 billion concern that will rank 26th at the Fortune 500 list ahead of Chrysler Corp. and closing in on Proctor & Gamble Co. It will rival Hartford’s United Technologies Corp. in size.

The companies made the announcement separately Thursday afternoon, confirming rumors of a merger between the two that had existed for about six months and which grew to a feverish pitch early this week. The transaction is valued at about $1.3 billion.

R.J. Reynolds is a $12 billion company, about six times Heublein’s size.

A 1 is now manufactured in the U.S. by Kraft-Heinz who in 2014 revived the original “A 1 Sauce” name. According to a May 15, 2014 Kraft-Heinz press release:

In the 1960’s, the brand shifted focus to beef and the product was renamed A1 Steak Sauce. Now, with the original product formula remained unchanged, the brand is removing “Steak” from its name and launching a new creative campaign that shows A 1 Sauce is great for pork, chicken, fish and vegetables.

Today, both the “original” and “Steak Sauce” names are utilized by the company as evidenced by this recent Amazon ad.

The bottle I found is 7-1/2 inches tall and roughly 1-1/2 inches square. Machine made, it’s embossed “Brand & Co., Ltd., Mayfair” on the base.

That being said the Illinois Glass Company’s makers mark of an “I” inside a diamond is also faintly visible on the base, indicating that the bottle was American made. The Illinois Glass Company used this mark between 1915 and 1929, indicating that the bottle was more than likely ordered by Heublein & Co.,  after they began manufacturing “The A 1 Sauce,” say late teens through 1929.

Sparklene (Charles H. Smith & Co.)

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“Sparklene” was the name of a polish manufactured from the late 1890’s up through the 1950’s by Charles H. Smith & Co. of Boston, Massachusettes and later by J. A. Wright & Co. of Keene, New Hampshire. Newspaper advertisements for the polish were still appearing as late as the mid-1980’s.

Although generally referred to as a “silver polish,” over the years it was advertised as a polish for anything from metals to marble to glass.

One early advertisement, found in the June 3, 1897 edition of Hartford Connecticut’s “Daily Morning Journal and Courier,” summed up Sparklene’s marketing pitch in one sentence.

SPARKLENE!

It will brighten anything which ought to be bright.

On Jul7 17, 1905, Charles H. Smith & Co. filed an Application (No. 10,468)  to register the “Sparklene” trademark in accordance with the then recently enacted Trademark Act of February 20, 1905.

There was no public opposition to their application and the trademark was ultimately registered on January 30, 1906 (No. 49,242).

The patent records indicated that the Sparklene trademark had been in use for ten years prior, likely establishing a start date for its manufacture sometime in the mid-1890’s. The prequel to the Sparklene story however begins several years earlier with the originating company’s namesake, Charles H. Smith.

Census records indicate that he was born in New Hampshire in 1854. Boston city directories suggest that he arrived in Boston sometime in the late 1880’s, where he was first listed with the occupation “agent for the “Dam’s Remedy Company.”

A patent medicine business run by a so called physician named Alvah Dam, in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, the company manufactured and sold several patent medicines that prominently featured the Dam name. One, called Dr. Dam’s Nerve-Aid, was featured in this November 12, 1893 “Boston Globe advertisement.

The Boston directories continued to associate Smith with the “Dam Remedy Company” up through 1895 at which point Alvah Dam, in severe financial trouble, filed for bankruptcy. According to the December 1, 1895 edition of “Merck’s Market Report,” Smith was one of Dam’s two largest creditors.

Dr. Alvah M. F. Dam, 212 Columbus Avenue, Boston, well known through his connection with the Dam Remedy Company, whose insolvency petition was filed recently, has debts amounting to $69,814. Among the largest creditors are the National Traders’ Bank of Portland, Me., $10,000 and Charles H. Smith, who has $7,834 charged against him.

In fact, a notice published in the December 24, 1895 edition of the Boston Post, announced that Smith had actually been appointed as the “assignee” in the case.

Apparently, at the same time Smith was involved in the bankruptcy proceedings of his former boss, he was also establishing Charles H. Smith & Company. As early as November 24, 1895, he was running this want ad in the “Boston Globe” classifieds..

While there’s no way of knowing, it certainly makes sense that the “quick seller” mentioned in the above ad was Sparklene. This supposition is bolstered by the fact that department stores were stocking Sparklene and offering free demonstrations as early as 1897. One such department store was Hochschild, Kohn & Co., of Baltimore Md., who included this item in their April 22, 1899 advertisement published in the “Baltimore Sun.”

In their home town of Boston, the October 25, 1905 edition of the “Globe,” announced that the department store of Henry Siegel Co. had taken it a step further, actually maintaining a “demonstration booth” in their basement.

Charles H Smith & Co.remained listed in Boston up through 1957 listing several addresses over that period; 8 Bromfield (1896-1897), 10 Federal (1898), 79 Milk (1899-1904), 220 Devonshire (1905-1922), 85 Purchase (1923-1945) and 103 Broad (1948-1957). I suspect that each of these addresses referenced their office location. It’s likely that their manufacturing facilities were also situated in Boston but where is unknown.

Over the course of this roughly 60 year period the company was apparently closely held by the Smith family. The Boston directories named Charles as proprietor up through the time of his death on November 10, 1929, after which his wife, Annie, continued to be listed in that role. Annie went on to renew the Sparklene trademark (No. 49242) in 1946.

Charles H. Smith & Co. disappeared from the Boston directories sometime in the late 1950’s. Around that time it appears that Annie transferred control of the business to one of their competitors, J. A. Wright & Co. of Keene New Hampshire. Trademark renewal records from 1966 reveal that the transfer had certainly occurred by then.

J. A. Wright & Co. renewed the Sparklene trademark again in 1985 however, how long they continued to market the polish is not clear. The last mention of Sparklene polish that I can find appeared in the April 8, 1984 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” where it was included within a menu of items (2nd from the bottom) advertised by a company called “Shop-In-Bag.”

The trademark expired when it was not renewed in 2006.

The style of our subject bottle was utilized by the company throughout much of their history, as evidenced by the following two advertisements. The first was published in 1910 and the second in 1943.

   

Our subject bottle is machine made and certainly the 5-1/2 ounce size. The base of the bottle exhibits the Illinois Glass Co.’s maker’s mark of an I enclosed in a diamond shape, dating the bottle between 1915 and 1929.

Sparklene advertisements in later years suggest that sometime in the 1940’s they began to package the polish in jars with wider mouths and shorter necks. The first, exhibiting a 32 oz sized jar, was published in a 1944 edition of the Pittsburgh “Sun-Telegraph.” The second, a pint jar, was found in a 1964 edition of Allentown Pennsylvania’s “Morning Call.”

 

Long John Scotch Whisky, Registered No. 702081

Produced in Scotland, the life span of the “Long John” brand of scotch whisky extends from the late 1820’s right up through today. Originally produced as a single malt, sometime around 1910 it transitioned to a blend.

As shown in the above photograph the subject bottle does not exhibit either a company name or product name. However it’s raised shield and rectangle exactly match a labeled Long John Scotch bottle recently offered for sale on the internet.

In addition the back of both bottles are embossed with the English patent registration number 702081.

As far as I can tell, the patent relates to the design of the bottle and, in fact, another example, also found on the internet, exhibits some rather ornate decoration.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Archives website, the patent number dates the design between 1922 (No. 694297) and 1926 (No. 719813). Interpolation between the two results in a 702081 patent date sometime  in 1923.

That being said, the “Long John” name itself dates back almost 100 years earlier to the town of Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. Located at the base of Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, the town was described like this in a publication entitled “Glasgow and its Environs,” published in 1891.

Fort William takes its name from the fort erected during the reign of William III, by General Monk, in order to overawe Cameron of Lochiel and his supporters. Within easy distance Ben Nevis towers above all its brother Bens, and attracts numerous ambitious visitors. It commands the waterway to Inverness and sits among the sublimest scenery.

This late 1800’s photograph of Fort William with Ben Nevis clearly visible in the background accompanied the description.

It was about one mile outside Fort William, at the Ben Nevis Distillery, where, what would become the “Long John” brand was first produced. Accounts written in the late 1800’s credit the scotch brand’s namesake, John MacDonald, as the distillery’s founder. This version found in  “Glasgow and it’s Environs,” is typical.

The origin of the Ben Nevis Distillery was due to Mr. John MacDonald, who in 1825, founded the first enterprise of the kind in the Lochabar district.

To be fair, some later internet accounts, namely elitewineandwhisky.com, credit a man named Angus McDonnell with its founding, and go on to suggest that John MacDonald didn’t get involved with the distillery until sometime around 1830. There’s no dispute however, that by the early 183o’s John MacDonald was the proprietor.

An imposing figure, MacDonald stood  6′-4″ tall in his stocking feet earning him his “Long John” nickname. He also possessed a “bigger than life” reputation that is bolstered by an actual story that appeared in the October 4, 1838 edition of Edinburgh Scotland’s “Caledonian Mercury.” While a little lengthy, its certainly worth a read!

PERILOUS SITUATION OF THE DUCHESS OF BUCCLEUCH. – The young and beautiful Duchess of Buccleuch made a narrow escape last week, on the mountain of Ben Nevis. The Duke has been deer stalking in Badenoch; and the Duchess, on Monday last, undertook to ascend Ben Nevis, on foot, from Corpech Inn, at the western end of the Caledonian Canal. She was accompanied on the expedition by a young gentleman, a near relation of the Duke; and they took with them a guide, who proved subsequently imperfectly acquainted with the road. When on the summit of the mountain, the day, which had previously been fine, became hazy, and night was, at the same time, drawing on. The little party were soon enveloped in a dark mist, and the guide became perfectly bewildered. The Duchess, with a degree of moral courage, scarcely to have been anticipated in a young lady of delicate nurture and constitution, exerted herself to keep up the spirits of her companions, and to nerve them to preserve exertion. Her efforts would have been unavailing amid the wilderness of precipices and morasses – for who can say what would have been the effect of exposure to the inclement night air on so delicate a frame – but for the sagacious exertions of Mr. John M’Donald, proprietor of the Ben Nevis Distillery. The long delay of the Duchess had excited alarm, and the inhabitants of Fort William were mustering to the rescue, when Mr. M’Donald mounted his horse, and taking with him a large bell, cantered out into the night. The sound of the bell caught the ear of the wanderers, and the Duchess and her noble relative were, by this ingenious device, rescued from their dangerous situation. Mr. M’D’s plaid being converted into a temporary pack saddle, the noble lady was conveyed, in an almost exhausted state, to Fort William where “tired nature’s best restorer” effaced all traces of her toil…

“Long John”MacDonald served as proprietor of the distillery up through 1856 during which time, according to a story in the 1888 edition of “Wyman’s Commercial Directory,” he never produced more than 200 gallons per week. Though not a large operation, by the early 1840’s MacDonald’s whiskey was available in England as well as Scotland. The earliest English advertisement I can find appeared in the April 24, 1841 edition of “The Newcastle Journal.”

J. M’INTYRE,

WINE AND SPIRIT MERCHANT,

HIGH BRIDGE NEWCASTLE,

BEGS most respectfully to inform the Nobility, Gentry, and Inhabitants of Newcastle, Northumberland, Durham, and the adjoining Counties, that he has on Hand a large Stock of the justly famed BEN NEVIS WHISKEY, which is well known to be the best made in the Highlands. The Quality of the Water that this fine Whiskey is made with – the skillful Management of Mr. M’Donald, the Distiller, is too well known to require any further Remarks. Families will be convinced by a single Trial, that Ben Nevis Dew is truly a Medicine.

J.M’ACINTYRE flatters himself that he is the only Agent in England that has this fine Article for Sale: Families wishing a large quantity, if preferred, can be supplied direct from the Distillery, by making early Application.

These early newspaper advertisements typically referred to MacDonald’s scotch as “Ben Nevis Whiskey,” a name that according to “Wyman’s Commercial Directory,” he alone could rightfully claim.

…there is no other whisky manufactory within a radius of 50 miles to contest Mr. MacDonald’s sole right to the use of the name Ben Nevis.

By the late 1840’s some advertisements began to attach the name “Long John” to his Ben Nevis product. One of the earliest I could find was this April 28, 1848 item that called it “Long John’s celebrated Ben Nevis Whiskey.” It appeared in the “The Newcastle Weekly Courant.”

By the 1850’s, more and more advertisements were also referring to it as the “Dew Off Ben Nevis,” as evidenced by this ad that appeared in the December, 1850 editions of several English newspapers.

The above advertisement promoted the “Dew Off Ben Nevis” as a favorite of the Royal Family, in this case Prince Albert. Whether this was actually true or not I can’t say, but, true or not, MacDonald wasn’t shy about stressing the point. In fact, according to a story published in the April 29, 1848 edition of the “Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle,”  MacDonald, in what was probably a brilliant marketing stunt, presented a cask of his scotch to Queen Victoria, intending it as a 21st birthday gift for her son William, the Prince of Wales. At the time, the future King of England was only seven years old.

We understand that Mr. Macdonald, of the Ben Nevis distillery, has presented a cask of whisky to her Majesty, and an order has been sent from the Treasury to permit the spirits to be removed, free of duty, and deposited in the cellars of Buckingham Palace. We have heard that the great “John” has requested that the cask shall not be opened until his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales attains his majority, which will give it a rest of 14 years!

In 1856 John MacDonald passed away leaving the distillery in the hands of his son, Donald Peter MacDonald. Long John’s death was reported in the October 27th edition of the “Glasgow Herald.”

Death of “Long John.” – Mr. John MacDonald of the Ben Nevis Distillery, familiarly known by the name of “Long John,” died on Sunday last. Mr. MacDonald was an active, hospitable man, well known over all the north, and to tourists and sportsmen frequenting Lochaber. He was above sixty years of age.

While “Long John” may have been active, hospitable and well known, one thing he apparently wasn’t was a good business man. According to an item published in the July 1, 1856 “Courier and Argus,” four months before his death John MacDonald had been declared bankrupt.

So when Donald, typically referred to as “D.P.,” assumed control of the distillery the operation was small and certainly not in a healthy state. By all accounts, it was “D.P”  who turned things around and grew the business. According to a book called “The Whisky Distillers of the United Kingdom,” by Alfred Barnard:

At the death of his father in the year 1856, the present proprietor succeeded to the business, which at the time was the only distillery in the district. Ben Nevis was turning out about 200 gallons per week. In 1864 the trade had so much increased that the distillery was enlarged from time to time, until its capacity reached 3,000 gallons per week.

The growth continued and by 1877 MacDonald was constructing a second distillery nearby called “The Nevis.” The announcement was published under the heading “Fort William” in the February 19, 1877 edition of the “Glasgow Herald.”

A new distillery is to be immediately erected near Fort William by Mr. D. P, MacDonald of the Ben Nevis Distillery. The new distillery, which is to be built just below the Belford Hospital, will be situated on the river Nevis.

Both distilleries, circa 1890, were described in “Glasgow and its Environs.”

The older establishment, “Ben Nevis,” stands at the mountain foot some two miles from Fort William, and covers a space of about four acres. The premises are of substantial construction, and contain every facility for distilling on a large scale. The granary and malt barn are each 120 feet long, and the other departments are in proportion. The tun-room contains six wash backs of 7,000 gallons each, and nearby is a mash tun of 2,000 gallons, an under back of 1,500 gallons, and a cooler of the same capacity. The stills, of which there are five, are of old “pot” type, the two largest being used for the distillation of the “wash” and the others for the “feints.” Their total capacity is almost 4,000 gallons…

This photograph of the Ben Nevis Distillery accompanied the description.

The story went on to describe the recently constructed “Nevis” distillery like this.

“The Nevis,” which is situated about a mile nearer Fort William, is a collosal establishment… The buildings cover an area of eight acres, and consist of an aggregation of large separate blocks, connected by gang ways, and built of concrete made by Mr. MacDonald’s own workmen…The malt barns and grain lofts have no equals that we know of. Seventy thousand feet of malting floors, steeps with a capacity of four hundred quarters, a tun-room with nine wash backs holding a trifling hundred thousand gallons or so, and bonded stores with a total of four miles of guantrees – such are the proportion of this splendid distillery.

A photograph of “the Nevis” was also provided.

According to a story in the December 21, 1880 edition of “The Brewer’s Guardian” with both distilleries now up and running and their export business increasing, MacDonald had recently incorporated a steamer into their operations.

A steamer has recently been launched for the sole purpose of importing coals and grains etc., and exporting the manufactured material to suitable markets. The home trade of Mr. MacDonald is very large, and his foreign and colonial connections are becoming increasingly valuable.

Less than a decade later that single steamer had grown into an entire fleet. According to the 1888 “Wyman’s Commercial Encyclopedia:”

One of the first objects one notes as the steamer glides towards the landing stage at Fort William, is the new pier built by Donald P. M’Donald, proprietor of the Ben Nevis distilleries, for the accommodation of his own fleet of steamers – a couple of which were moored there as we passed. Constructed entirely by his own workmen, and of concrete by his own making, this spacious quay, surrounded by houses also of concrete, occupied by his employees, is the latest of the extensive building operations necessitated by the growth of Mr. M’Donald’s business…

According to “Wyman’s,” by the late 1880’s the two distilleries were putting out between 8,000 and 10,000 gallons per week and their warehouses were more than well stocked.

The immense bonded warehouses held, at the time of our visit, upwards of 15,000 casks, or more than a million and a half of gallons, and every gallon of the present season’s distilling was sold before they commenced to work.

It was also under D. P. MacDonald,  that a subtle change in the whiskey’s name occurred. “Long John” newspaper advertisements published between the early 1860’s and early 1880’s indicate that somewhere along the line a letter “f,” was lost, morphing the phrase “Dew Off Ben Nevis,”…

…to “Dew Of Ben Nevis.” The subtle change was reflected in a series of 1884 advertisements found in the The “Airdrie Coatbridge Advertiser,” and was pretty much the norm by then.

As far as I can tell  D. P. MacDonald passed away in the early 1890’s at which time management of the distillery passed to a third generation of MacDonald’s. As early as 1893, advertisements in the “Birmingham Post” were naming the proprietor as D. P. MacDonald & Sons.

The Ben Nevis Distillery survived a major fire in 1895 and both distilleries  continued under the management of D. P.’s son, John MacDonald, who, in 1911, dropped the “a” in the family name and incorporated the business as D. P. McDonald & Sons. Ltd. Around the same time McDonald sold the “Long John” brand name to W. H. Chaplin & Co., Ltd.

Established in 1867, W. H. Chaplin & Co. were wine and spirit merchants located in London at 48 Mark Lane. According to their listing in the 1920 edition of “Harper’s Manual, The Standard Work of Reference for the Wine & Spirit Trade,” D. P. McDonald & Sons  was one of a long list of companies whose brands were owned by the Chaplin company (bottom of the list).

D. P. McDonald & Sons, Ltd.’s listing in the same publication continued to associate them with the “Long John” brand as well.

This indicates that the whisky was still being produced for Chaplin by D. B. McDonald & Sons, Ltd. at the Ben Nevis Distilleries in Fort William. A fact confirmed by the labeled bottle pictured in this advertisement also published in the 1920 “Harper’s Manual.”

“““

Now advertising two brands, “Black Label and Red Label,” they were apparently producing a blend at this point.

It was also the Chaplin company that began using the bottle design featured at the beginning of this post. The first advertised image of the bottle that I can find was run by a local Scottish grocer and wine merchant named J & A Miller. It’s depicted on the left side of this ad published in the December 11, 1926 edition of the “Strathearn Herald.”

Ten years later the same bottle design was still appearing in Miller’s annual holiday advertisement.

In 1936 Seager, Evans & Co. acquired  the “Long John” brand in an acquisition process that was essentially complete by October, as evidenced by a speech given by Seager, Evans chairman, Sir Allan Horne, at the company’s annual general meeting. The speech was published in part in the October 22nd  edition of a Gloucester, England newspaper called “Citizen.”

That brings me to your company’s acquisition of Messrs. W. H. Chaplin and  Co., Limited, who have always held a pre-eminent position in the wine and spirit trade. We believe, as our Chaplin colleagues believe, that this coordination of interests will enable the respective companies to be in a particularly favored position to obtain the highest quality of wines etc., at exceptionally favorable terms.

As far as I can tell, at this point, the  “Long John” blends were being produced by a subsidiary of Seager & Evans called “Long John Distilleries.” At the time Seager and Evans owned distilleries in Strathclyde and Glenugie so it’s likely that they made up all or at least a part of Long John Distilleries.

Shortly after the acquisition, the bottle design was changed again as evidenced by Miller’s 1937 holiday advertisement that depicted a “Long John” bottle that exhibited a more elongated shape (left side).

In 1957, Schenley Industries acquired Seager Evans. The acquisition was referenced in the May 30th edition of London’s “Daily Telegraph.”

Schenley Industries, a large American distilling concern, which recently acquired the British Seager Evans group and several Scottish whiskey distilleries aims to “go out after leadership of the world’s liquor market.” said the chairman, Mr. Lewis Rosenstiel, today.

Scotch whisky sales in the United States were growing constantly. Within three years they might increase by as much as 150 percent. He added:

Schenley was embarking on a large expansion program. This included a new whisky distillery in Strathclyde…

The company’s new activities include the production and distribution of Seager Evans Long John Scotch Whisky and the marketing of Scottish Majesty Whisky in the United States.

Schenley continued to operate both Seager, Evans & Co. and Long John Distilleries as subsidiaries and according to a 1960 “Long John” advertisement the scotch was still being produced at Glenugie.

Shortly afterwards Schenley opened a new Scottish distillery at Tormore-on-Speyside. The October 8, 1960 edition of New York’s “Daily News” announced the opening.

Tormore-on-Speyside, Scotland – The first whisky distillery ever built here with U.S. capital was opened today. It can produce 40,000 gallons of whisky a year, and belongs to Long John Distillers, Ltd., a subsidiary of Schenley Industries, Inc., of New York. The enterprise includes 40 acres of modern housing for distillery workers.

Over the next 40 plus years the brand changed hands several more times, including a stint with Whitbread in the 1980’s. Today the “Long John” brand is owned by Pernod Ricard and primarily marketed in France. Their website indicates that the distillery at Tormore continues to “form the heart of the blend.”

One of the best selling whiskies in France, Long John is a classic blended scotch with sweet and smoky notes. Crafted from a selection of 30 Scottish Highland and Island malt and grain whiskies, spirits from the Tormore distillery form the heart of the blend and lend it its distinctive toasted almond sweetness. Long John has been part of the Pernod group since 2005.

It’s not exactly clear, at least to me, how popular “Long John” was in the United States, however, based on an unscientific review of their U. S. newspaper references I suspect that the brand never made a big splash on this side of the Atlantic.

Under the MacDonald family, despite a fleet of steamers it doesn’t appear that much of their whisky made its way to America. This is supported by the fact that newspaper references to their scotch in these early years were few and far between. Of the few references I did find, and the earliest, dates back to 1874 in a newspaper called “The Madisonian,” published in Virginia City, Montana. Touted as a tonic, it read:

Another, in 1880, advised that a shipment of “Long John” had just arrived in Ogden, Utah.

The absence of any mention in large metropolitan areas, suggests that the MacDonald’s lacked an American agent/distributor. This likely resulted in a cumbersome process that required the distillery to deal directly with individual retailers located in the U.S..

Under W. H Chaplin “Long John” pre-prohibition newspaper advertisements continued to be almost non-existent, with the only  newspaper ad I can find appearing in 1913. It ran on a limited basis in New Jersey, Arkansas and Salt Lake City newspapers.

As prohibition was coming to an end W. H. Chaplin turned their U. S. efforts up a notch, appointing Austin Nichols & Co., Inc. as their American distributor. According to the December 28, 1933 edition of the Buffalo (N. Y.) News:

The company (Austin Nichols) recently announced its appointment as general distributor of Long John Scotch whisky…

Connections with the transportation, hotel and restaurant trades should provide favorable outlets for liquors and it is not improbable that a worthwhile earning power will be developed from this source

Throughout much of the 1930’s the brand’s exposure was limited to the northeast states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut where it was primarily included in the price lists of liquor store advertisements. Several, including this June 29, 1934, advertisement in the New York Daily News, pictured the subject bottle.

A little over a year after W. H. Chaplin was acquired by the Seager, Evans group the bottle  design made its last public appearance in a January 28, 1938 advertisement published in the Yonkers, New York “Herald Statesman.” .

During the 1940’s, U.S. newspaper advertisements, including listings in liquor store ads, were almost non-existent, likely the result of World War II.

Later, primarily in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, there was some resurgence under Schenley’s ownership. Along with their inclusion in liquor store advertisements, there were some promotions as well. One, in June, 1965, was a father’s day contest advertised in the “Chicago Tribune.” First prize was a trip to Scotland.

Another, in the March 28, 1963 edition of the  Fort Lauderdale News, suggested you visit “Colonial Liquors and Lounge” where you could meet “The Long John Scotch Girls” (upper right in the ad).

All things considered, the company itself may have unknowingly summed up the success of their American marketing efforts in one of their last U.S. advertisements. Found in several 1971 Texas newspapers the ad read in part:

Nine reasons you should spend more for a scotch you’ve probably never heard of.

The bottle I found is machine made and almost certainly dates between the 1923 patent date and 1938 when it’s design disappeared from pictured advertisements. The bottle does not include the phrase “Federal Law Forbids the Sale or Re-Use Of This Bottle,” required on all liquor bottles sold in the U.S. between 1935 and 1964. This suggests that the bottle illegally arrived in the United States during prohibition, or within the first year or so after its repeal, likely further limiting the end date to 1934.

On a final note: In 1885 a drink called the “The Ben Nevis Punch” was included in a London publication entitled “New Guide for the Hotel, Bar, Restaurant, Butler, and Chef.” In case you’re interested, here’s the recipe:

Lion Brewery of New York City

 

The Lion Brewery, established in 1858, was located on the upper west side of New York City’s Borough of Manhattan in much of the area that would ultimately encompass 107th to 109th Streets between 9th (Columbus) and 10th (Amsterdam) Avenues. An advertisement for the brewery published years later, in 1914, made the point that the Lion and the city literally grew up together.

The Lion Brewery is geographically situated in the Heart of the City, where it was established sixty-five years ago. The first brewhouse was built in what was then known as a farming district, when Manhattan only had a population of 515,000. Within the sixty-five years the City of New York has been built around the brewery and has a population of more than 5,000,000 while the brewery has become one of the largest in the East.

This post-prohibition photograph of the brewery appeared in the January 8, 1934 edition of the Brooklyn “Times Union.”.

The business was established by brothers Albert and James Speyer, and was originally listed as  Speyers & Co. in New York City’s 1859 business directory. The Speyer name appears above the main entrance in this early depiction of the brewery found in the April 2, 1859 edition of a German publication called “The Illustrated World.”

In addition to the brewery, the Speyer’s  also maintained a depot in lower Manhattan at 257 Bowery where, according to this December 23, 1858 advertisement published in New York’s “Daily Herald,” their beer was available in stone bottles.

The following advertisement in the Brooklyn “Daily Eagle” made it clear that the Speyers’ had established a Brooklyn depot as well.

Shortly after the brewery opened, the Speyer’s touted the quality of their product in the February 9, 1859 edition of the “Daily Herald.”

THE SPERYERS LION BREWERY

Office 257 Bowery , New York

The notice of dealers and consumers of lager beer is called to the under analysis of the product of the above brewery, made by Dr. Chilton, the well known analytical chemist. The object in view is not alone to show the unrivaled superiority in purity and salubrity of this beer, but likewise to prove that no prejudicial additions (for purposes of communicating fallacious lustre, etc.) of resin, alkalies, tannin, etc., are introduced, the finest qualities of barley, malted at the brewery, and best hops to be procured in the United States, Canada or Europe being solely used in the Speyers Brewery.

The notice went on to publish this chemical; analysis of their beer.

All this was short-lived however, when less than two years after opening their doors, the October 3, 1859 edition of the “Daily Herald” reported that the brewery had been destroyed by fire.

At 10 o’clock last night a fire broke out in the extensive lager beer brewery of Albert Speyers, called the Lion Brewery, situated between 107th and 109th Streets and Eighth and Tenth Avenues. The whole of the buildings were destroyed, together with their contents. The estimated loss amounts to about $250,000 – insured for $145,000 in city companies. The origin of the fire is at present unknown.

It was at this point that a German immigrant named Emanuel Bernheimer took an interest in the Lion Brewery. The 1894 “National Cyclopedia of American Biography,” included this description of his background as well as the details leading up to his connection with the Lion.

He associated himself in 1850 with August Schmid and established the brewery known at the time as the Constanz Brewery which was located in East Fourth Street near Avenue B, New York City. This was one of the first lager beer breweries in New York. The business prospered, and two years later, the Fourth Street buildings not being large enough to supply the demand, the firm built another brewery having the same name, at Four Corners, Staten Island. The firm conducted this brewery until 1856, when Mr. Bernheimer sold his interest to his partner, Mr. Schmid. After a lapse of four years, during which he engaged in different manufacturing enterprises, Mr. Bernheimer resolved to again engage in the manufacture of lager beer. It was about this time that the Lion Brewery was consumed by fire…

The two brothers not wishing to continue the business, Mr. Bernheimer formed a co-partnership with James Speyers and rebuilt, in 1860, the present Lion Brewery, under the name Speyer & Bernheimer.

The rebuilding process had begun as early as the spring of 1860 as evidenced  by this item that appeared in the April 12th edition of the “Daily Herald” under the heading “New Buildings in the City.”

A new building for the “Lion Brewery,” which was burned sometime since. It will be situated on the corner of Ninth Avenue and 108th Street, size 150 x 147, height, four stories; cost $30,000. Will be finished by the 1st of October.

By 1862, New York City’s Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed Speyer & Bernheimer with an address of West 108th Street, near 10th Ave. The directory also listed a lower Manhattan address of 274 Grand Street, which I assume was their office/depot.

The rebuilt brewery included a beer garden and park described like this in a story featuring the Lion that was published years later in the July 23, 1934 edition of the “Brooklyn Citizen:”

In the old days when One Hundred and Eighth Street was a somnolent suburban district, city dwellers in search of pleasure and refreshment would head for Lion Park which then stood across the street from the present location of the brewery. There they found a fine hotel and restaurant, a monster beer garden and picnic grounds which stretched their cooling green shade for blocks.

One summer evening in the park was described like this in the July 8, 1866 edition of the “Daily Herald.”

THE CONCERTS AT THE LION PARK YESTERDAY

The Saturday concerts at the Lion Brewery Park during the season thus far have been very successful.They are always attended by an attractive and select audience , representing the musical portion of the New York public. The Lion Park yesterday was full of visitors, notwithstanding the excessive heat. The orchestral performances were conducted by Mr. Bergmann, and the program on the occasion embraced selections of the choicest compositions of Flotow, Strauss, Ricci, Rossini, Halevy, Meyerbeer and others. The program also included a march of Mr. W. Candidus, a well known composer of this city, a composition which has gained a good deal of popularity among the musicians of this benighted town …

…The Lion Brewery concerts are some of the most appropriate musical enterprises during the hot season.

Bernheimer’s March 29,1890 obituary in the “New York Times” went on to say that he was also one of the first to lease out beer saloons that he had established in various parts of the city. A practice that was soon adopted by many of the city’s other breweries.

Over the course of the next several years, Bernheimer’s partner in the business would change several times. According to The 1894 “National Cyclopedia of American Biography:”

Speyer & Bernheimer continued together two years, when Mr Speyer disposed of his share to August Schmid, the former partner of Mr. Bernheimer.

At this point both the Lion Brewery and Schmid’s Constanz Brewery were both managed under the Bernheimer and Schmid name as evidenced by this listing in New York City’s 1865 Commercial Directory.

Sometime in 1865 Emanuel Bernheimer and August Schmid parted ways when, according to the 1894 “National Cyclopedia of American Biography:”

August Schmid disposed of his interest to his brother, Joseph, from Rock Island, Ill. Emanuel Bernheimer and Joseph Schmid remained together until December 1, 1878, when they retired, the business being continued by their sons, Simon E. Bernheimer and August Schmid.

The two son’s partnership continued until Schmid’s untimely death in 1889. According to the June 5th edition of the The “Evening World” Schmid and another New York brewer, George Ringler, passed away within hours of each other.

Two of Our Big Brewers Dead

Two prominent brewers, well known in this city, will be buried tomorrow, and by a strange coincidence both died within three hours of each other. One was George Ringler, who died suddenly at 10 o’clock Monday night at his residence, 131 East Ninety-second Street. He was forty-seven years old and had been in the brewery business twenty-six years. His companion in death is August Schmid of the Lion Brewery who died at 2 A.M. yesterday at the Hotel Royal.

At that point, Schmid’s wife, Josephine, assumed his role in the partnership and the business continued to be called Bernhemer & Schmid. Several years after Schmid’s death, a February 12, 1894 story in New York’s “The World” provided the following snapshot of the brewery’s worth.

The plant alone is worth $1,500,000 today. Annual income, $250,000; daily income, $684; income tax, $5,000.

The brewery included among other things a stable that housed over 200 horses. During the 1890’s the stable endured at least three separate fires; in 1890, 1895 and 1898. The 1895 fire was described in the April 3rd edition of the “New York Times.”

The hayloft of the Lion Brewery stables was burned early yesterday morning  causing $10,000 damage. The Lion Brewery occupies the entire block between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues and One Hundred and Seventh and One Hundred and Eighth Streets. The stables are near Amsterdam Avenue.

The stables are a three-story stone building. There were 200 horses in the stalls of the first and second floors. The hayloft occupied one of the rooms on the third floor. The horses were untied as soon as the fire was discovered and driven out hurriedly into an open lot nearby, where most of them were cororraled. Thirty of the horses, being panic-stricken, got away, and continued their flight uptown. They are Percherons and very valuable. Twenty or more men were sent out at once after the horses and most of them had been recovered when night came..

The fire in the hay was a stubborn one, and a great many engines were called out. It took nearly two hours to get the fire under control. All the hay in the loft was ruined, either by fire or water. There was enough to have lasted until Autumn.

The Lion Brewery stables were burned four years ago, and a number of horses were killed. Bernheimer & Schmid are the proprietors of the brewery.

Around the turn of the century, disagreements arose between Simon Bernheimer and Josephine Schmid that resulted in Bernheimer appealing to the courts to have the partnership dissolved. The details were laid out in a June 22, 1900 story in the “New York Times.”

Suit was begun in the Supreme Court yesterday for a dissolution of the old established firm of Bernheimer & Schmid, proprietors of the Lion Brewery on Columbus Avenue, One Hundred and Seventh and One Hundred and Eighth  Streets, on account of a disagreement between the partners as to the conduct of the business and the desire of Simon E. Bernheimer to retire from active management of the business which was started forty years ago…

…The suit for the dissolution of the partnership was filed by Wetmore & Jenner, attorneys for Mr. Bernheimer, against Mrs. Schmid with a request for the appointment of a receiver, the sale of the assets and property as a going concern and a division of the surplus to the partners.

The complaint recites that since the formation of the present firm in 1889 the partnership has been renewed to December 1, 1897, since which time it has been continued at will by mutual consent.

It is alleged that differences between the partners have recently arisen, and have threatened to diminish and impair the business. Among other matters which Mr. Bernheimer alleges is the insistence of Mrs. Schmid that the brewmaster and superintendent of the brewery, who has been connected with the brewery for many years, shall be summarily discharged, that the product of the brewery shall be materially diminished, and new methods of manufacture and sale to which the plant is not adapted, shall be made.

An attorney named John M. Bowers was appointed as receiver in December, 1901, and a year and a half later, a July 24, 1903 “New York Times” story announced that their issues were resolved when Schmid bought out Bernheimer’s share of the business:

Justice Bischoff in the Supreme Court yesterday granted the application made yesterday by Lawyer John M. Bowers, the temporary receiver of the Lion Brewery, for permission to transfer the property now in his hands to Mrs. Josephine Schmid, who has purchased the interest of Simon E Bernheimer, her partner in the Lion Brewery, and thereby dissolved the copartnership which existed between them.

A story published years later in the January 10, 1908 edition of the “New York Times” put the purchase price  for Bernheimer’s share at $1,400,000.

On a side note: Shortly after relinquishing his share of the Lion, Bernheimer became Josephine’s neighbor when he, along with Max Bernheimer and Anton Schwartz, the Lion’s former brewmaster,  purchased the J. F. Betz  Brewery, located at Tenth Avenue and 128th Street in Manhattan.

Around the time that Schmid bought out Bernheimer, a July 2, 1903 feature published in the “Evening World” provided this description of the Lion’s operation.

A brewery, worth $5,000,000, producing half a million barrels of beer annually and yielding half a million dollars in profit, is to be owned and managed by a woman.

Think it possible?

Ask Mrs. Josephine Schmid, owner of more than 50 saloons and known as New York’s “Brewery Queen,” who is about to buy out the interests of her partners, Max E. and Simon E. Bernheimer and become sole proprietor of the Lion Brewery at One Hundred and Eighth Street and Columbus Avenue…

Besides her brewery interests, Mrs. Schmid is the sole owner of not less than fifty saloons, and when she acquires her partners’ interests she will be a part owner of thirty five more.

The feature included this turn of the century depiction of the brewery.

Shortly after she took full control of the business, Josephine Schmid incorporated it under the name of “The Lion Brewery of New York City.” This March 30, 1904 advertisement in the “Times Union” was one of the first to exhibit the newly minted corporate name.

By most accounts, Josephene had been active in the management of the brewery both before and after August Schmid’s death and according to a January 3, 1904 story in “The Sun,” her taking full control was a positive step for the brewery.

Free to carry out plans which had long been a subject of contention under the partnership agreement, she started in by reorganizing the entire working force – promoting here, discharging there, hiring new hands, etc.

Those who are well informed on the subject say that every change she made has proved to be for the best. That is saying a good deal. So far as can be learned there is no other case on record in which a woman has been the efficient active head of so large a business concern operated only by men.

Less than a year after assuming control of the business, Josephine bought the New York City brewery business of “Conrad Stein’s Sons.” This led to an odd story covered by several New York City newspapers on January 27, 1904. As reported by “The Sun:”

If the North River wasn’t drunk yesterday afternoon it ought to have been, for about 12,000 kegs of beer were dumped into it.

The beer came from Conrad Stein’s Sons’ Brewery, in Fifty-Seventh Street, near Eleventh Avenue. Some time ago the Lion Brewery got control of the Stein business, but the bill of sale did not include the building, machinery or  the supply of beer on hand. What the Lion Brewery did get was its good will and outstanding accounts. The Steins have decided to retire from business, and the building and machinery are to be sold at auction on Thursday.

When the Lion Brewery got control there were some 3,072 barrels of lager in the Stein Brewery and to keep it in the brewery the Stein concern would have to renew a bond for $75,000 with the internal revenue authorities…

A representative of the Lion Brewery said they didn’t want the beer, because it wasn’t up to their standard. Moreover, if the beer were sold some $3,000 would have to be paid out in revenue stamps.

So it was decided to let all this good beer go to waste…All the barrels were carried into the cellar and the bungs were knocked out. There are pipe connections between the floor and the sewer and the beer flowed merrily through these into the river. The pipe connections were not big enough to carry off the beer as fast as it left the barrels, however, and soon the beer was a couple of feet deep on the cellar floor.

“It was a beautiful, pale sea,” said one of the inspectors, who gloomily watched the beer go to waste.

In 1908, according to a January 10th “New York Times” story, the Lion Brewery was valued at $5,000,000 and Josephine was drawing an annual salary of $500,000. That same year, a May 23rd feature published in the Staunton (Va.) “Daily Leader” provided this verbal tour of the Lion.

A tour of inspection through the big plant reveals many features of interest surrounding the production of the famous pilsener, lager and culmbacher beers there brewed. There are for instance, the large granaries where huge bins with a total capacity of 100,ooo bushels, stand filled with malt. Nearby are piled bags filled with the other cereals which enter into the composition of Lion Brewery beer, while bales on bales of choice hops, both from this country and from Europe, are stored.

Then come the huge caldrons in which first is boiled the mash and then is cooked the resultant liquid which eventually becomes beer. Thence the visitor passes through the fermenting cellars where vats of enormous capacity stand in what seem countless rows, each filled with beer in the first stage of fermentation.

From these vats the liquid is transferred to the cellars for aging. Some of these cellars are hewn out of solid rock, 35 feet below street level. Others are above ground. The combined capacity of these vats is for an output of 600,000 barrels, thus assuring the consumer of the proper aging of the Lion Brewery beers before they are put on the market.

The tour went on to describe the stable, now with a 300 horse capacity, that also included a veterinary hospital that could treat up to 12 equine patients, an equine ambulance and a veterinary surgeon on staff.

That being said, by the time the above feature was written, the brewery was already in the process of converting from horse and wagon to gasoline powered trucks. The conversion process was articulated in the February 1, 1913 edition of a publication called “The Power Wagon.”

The Lion Brewery New York, whose plant occupies more than a city block on  Columbus Avenue between West 107th and 109th Streets, New York City, has been a user of gasoline trucks since 1906, when one 5-ton truck was put into service. A 3-ton Hewitt was purchased in 1907, and a 7-ton machine of the same make was purchased in 1909. These machines effected such a saving and opened so much territory that the services of three 3-ton and four 7-ton Hewitts and two 5-ton Macks were required during 1910. The 1912 deliveries consisted of four 5-ton G. V. electric machines.

Newspaper advertisements for their beers were few and far between however, in 1914 and 1915 they did run a series of ads that flashed the slogan:

The Lion Brewery of New York City

Makes Imported Unimportant

One ad went on to describe their Lion Pilsener as a wholesome, pure light beer which they claimed was “the first American Pilsener brew,” and “the beer that made the Lion Brewery famous.” Another described it like this:

Their medium dark Wuerzburger was described as:

Every spring during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the brewery advertised a Bock Beer as well.

In 1917 Josephine, now with the last name del Drago after she married an Italian Prince named Don Giovanni del Drago in 1909, was sued by her daughter, Pauline Schmid Murray, who demanded $3,000,000 in damages on the score that her mother injured her interests through mismanagement. Josephine’s response, issued by her attorney and published in the April 10, 1917 edition of “The Herald,” made it clear that as early as 1917, prohibition laws, coupled with the rising cost of doing business, were both having a serious negative effect on the business.

Mr. Bowers declared that from $500,000 earned in 1909, the net receipts of the brewery have fallen to a point where they are discouraging to the proprietor. Another drawback, he stated, was the increased cost of barley and hops.

“I suppose in that respect,” remarked Justice Erlanger, “you are in the same position as your competitors.”

“Exactly,” replied the attorney. “All are up against prohibition, the high cost of brewing and five cents as the absolute limit in the price for a glass of beer.

A year later the 1918-1919 N.Y.C. Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed Pauline’s husband, Hugh A Murray as the president of the “Lion Brewery of New York City,” with both Pauline and Hugh named as directors. There’s no mention of Josephine and I suspect, but can’t confirm, that Pauline’s 1917 law suit, along with the decline in business served as the catalyst for this change.

Murray continued to serve as president until both he and Pauline died in a 1931 automobile accident.

The brewery survived the prohibition years by producing near beer as well as other items whose manufacture was readily adaptable to the equipment on hand. According to a January 21, 1919 story in the “New York Tribune,” one such item was ice.

Breweries and liquor stores of New York are already being altered to meet the new conditions that will be brought about when the nation goes “dry” on June 30.

The Lion Brewery in Manhattan is going to make ice.

“We have a capacity of 200 tons a day at this time and we shall increase the output to 400 tons a day as soon as we can get to it,” said the manager of the brewery last night.

Another was the manufacture of dyes.  A book entitled “Intemperate Spirits, Economic Adaptation During Prohibition,” by Alice Louise Kassens, explains the connection:

Brewery processing equipment was readily adaptable to synthetic chemicals. They had access to clean water, storage and fermentation tanks, filter presses, pumps, steam boilers, cooling capacity, warehouses, laboratories and chemists. Additionally, breweries were typically multi-storied which was ideal for using gravity to aid the production process of dyes.

The Lion facilitated the manufacture of dyes under a newly formed corporation called the Noil Chemical & Colors Works, Inc., a company that the August 24, 1923 edition of the “Wall Street Journal” included on a list of dye manufacturers. The Journal went on to say:

If one spells the first name of the company backwards it will be found to be “Lion.” As a matter of fact in the damp past the present dye factory was the Lion Brewing Co., situated at 108th Street and Columbus Avenue, New York City. Incidentally the new company is making one of the best dyes in the country.

The brewery survived another fire, this one on the Fourth of July, 1927 and ultimately welcomed the end of National Prohibition with this advertisement in the April 7, 1933 edition of New York’s “Daily News.”

Directly below the image the ad read:

To three generations of New Yorkers, the name “Lion Pilsener” awakens fond and pleasant memories. Broadway, when it was Broadway, Churchill’s, Rector’s, Shanley’s. Way back as far as 1850, Lion Pilsner was the compliment of good food, good music and good cheer throughout Manhattan Isle.

Today, Lion Pilsener returns. To greet old friends and win new ones…with the same old mellow, wholesome Pilsener Brew.

“It must be imported!” the old-timers used to say, “Such Pilsener is Old Country Magic.”

But how wrong they were! For every amber drop of Lion Pilsener has flowed from the crystal-lined pipes of Manhattan’s oldest and most historic brewery. And throughout New York today, good old Lion Pilsener is on tap again.

On a side note: The above advertisement, like most post-prohibition Lion advertisements, references the Lion’s start date as 1850 not 1858. 1850 was actually the year that the Constanz Brewery was established, an indication that by then, the histories of the Constanz and Lion Breweries had become commingled for marketing purposes.

A June 15, 1934 advertisement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle made it clear that by then they had added an ale to their light and dark brews.

Later “Daily News” advertisements in 1939 and 1940 create confusion (at least in my mind) when they simply called their beer “Lion Beer,” without specifying a type.

With the Murray’s having passed away in 1931, the post-prohibition brewery was in the hands of their daughter (Josephine’s granddaughter), Mrs. Paula Murray Courdert. A January 8, 1934 story in the “Times Union”  named her husband, Frederick R. Courdert, Jr., as vice president and assistant director, Byron Clark, Jr. as vice president and Pasquale Ferri as secretary and general manager. They operated it until the early 1940’s when it was acquired by the Greater New York Brewery, Inc.

When the “Lion” brand disappeared isn’t clear to me. The last “Lion Beer” newspaper advertisement I can find that exhibits their trademark was in the October 24, 1941 edition of the “Baltimore Sun.” By that time it was being sold in a can as well.

By August 0f 1943 their brewery building was certainly abandoned and the machinery and equipment were scheduled for auction. The auction notice was published in several east coast newspapers.

Less than one month later, on September 14, 1943, the “Daily News” reported that the main six-story brewery building caught fire one last time.

Smoke billowed over upper Manhattan last night and early today while firemen fought flames in the abandoned Lion Brewery on Columbus Avenue between 107th and 108th Sts. The fire was discovered at 8:40 P.M. on the fourth floor of the six-story building, which has stood almost a century. A second alarm was sounded an hour later. Nine firemen were overcome by smoke and treated at the scene.

Finally a March 5, 1944 story in the Daily News entitled “Look Out Below” might serve as the Brewery’s obituary.

    

Starting at the top. The workman slinging the sledge hammer got this job because he doesn’t get dizzy spells at high altitudes. He’s at work demolishing the 150 foot smokestack of the old Lion Brewery, brick by brick for a total of 901,624. The land is to be used as a playground by the Board of Education.

In case you’re curious, that lone figure at the top of the stack didn’t finish the job, the wrecking ball did.

The bottle I found is a machine made, 12 ounce champagne style bottle. The heel of the bottle is embossed with their corporate name, “The Lion Brewery of New York City,” dating it no earlier than 1903 when the business incorporated under that name.  It pretty much resembles the bottles exhibited in this 1915 advertisement.

The shoulder of the bottle is embossed with their trade mark lion with its paws resting on a barrel.

The trademark was registered on September 5, 1905 and is described in detail on the patent notice below.

Wildroot

 

A dandruff remedy, Wildroot Hair Tonic debuted in 1911 and was the first of what would eventually become an entire array of Wildroot hair care products manufactured in Buffalo, New York.  An advertisement that appeared in the December 3, 1915 edition of the Buffalo Evening News was typical of the early sales pitch associated with the hair tonic.

We don’t say it will grow hair – nothing will do that but healthy hair roots. But we do say Wildroot will make sickly hair roots healthy and keep them healthy. Wildroot is a vegetable compound. It is sure death to dandruff germs, sure health to hair and scalp.

Give hair new life in both reality and appearance. Every hair can be saved if you start in time to use Wildroot – don’t delay. Thousands of users root for Wildroot.

A feature on Wildroot published in the December 19, 1921 edition of the Buffalo Commercial described how the business got its start.

The business was started by Robert J. Kideney and Morrell C. Howell. In fact in the early days Wildroot Hair Tonic was made in 5 gallon crocks in Mr. Howell’s home from the formula worked out by these men and first marketed to friends and acquaintances of the barber trade in the vicinity.

The 1908 Buffalo city directory listed  Kideney’s occupation as “manager” of the barber shop located in Buffalo’s Iriquois Hotel, so it’s a safe bet that the product was first used there. This circa 1908 post card depiction of the hotel is courtesy of the Buffalo History Museum.

The name “Wildroot” was filed as the trademark for a dandruff remedy on September 2, 1911 by a business called the “Retone Company.” The notice was printed in “The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office,” dated October 11, 1911.

Retone was apparently short-lived as the company name. That same year the 1911 Buffalo directory named Kideney “president” of the Wildroot Chemical Company and the following year the company itself was listed with that name and an address of 45 North Division Street. Later in 1918 the company name was shortened to the Wildroot Company.

Wildroot Hair Tonic newspaper advertisements began appearing as early as 1912. Curiously, the first advertisements appeared not in the Buffalo Commercial’s advertising section where they might get overlooked, but in the paper’s “Lost and Found” section. The two notices below were typical of this rather unique approach.

The following year the business expanded their product line advertising “Wildroot Shampoo Soap” as “specially recommended for use with Wildroot.”

By 1914 the business had outgrown their Division Street location facilitating a move to Buffalo’s Sidway Building. Located at Goodall and Main Streets, the company occupied two floors there for the remainder of the decade. Around the same time Harry Lehman assumed the presidency, with Kideney remaining with the company as vice president. Over the next 44 years the business would flourish under Lehman’s leadership.

During much of its first decade the company associated their name with a beauty parlor (or parlors) called the “Wildroot Hair Parlors. The parlor was operated by a woman named Bertha Courtright whose advertisement in the 1915 Buffalo city directory mentioned services that included hairdressing, shampooing, manicuring, facial massage and scalp treatments. A November 28, 1915 item published in the Buffalo Times leads me to believe it served a high end, female clientele.

Thats not to say that women were their only target audience as evidenced by this November 19, 1915 advertisement found in the Buffalo Evening News.

One “over the top” advertisement found in the Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal targeted both men and women blaming dandruff on the hats they wore. Disguised as a news story the March 23, 1915 item was headlined:.

The following story read in part:

The tight fitting hats worn by men nowadays and women’s stylish but poorly ventilated hats are to blame for the hair-destroying dandruff germ. Lack of fresh air and the pressure of the hat band shuts off blood circulation from the arteries of the scalp. The scalp tissue then gets weakened and is attacked by the microbe. The truth of this statement is proven by the fact that leading scalp specialists all over America have accepted it…

Our great chemists have given the world one positive way of regaining long, heavy, wavy, silky hair in “Wildroot,” that wonderful old remedy that has never failed to destroy the dandruff germ. But “Wildroot” as made nowadays is lots quicker in action than it used to be, for its nourishing, cooling vegetable oils are at once absorbed into the hair pores, and its first few days’ use brings back a healthy scalp in which no dandruff germs can live…

Their advertising, while misleading, was successful to the point where by decade’s end an October 19, 1919 story in the Buffalo Courier announced that another move to still larger quarters was in the works.

To adequately care for their growing export trade and the nation-wide demand for their products they have been compelled to purchase a property which will permit of greater production.

Through Parke, Hall & Co. this firm has just purchased the premises of the Bison City Table Company…situated at 1490 – 1500 Jefferson Street. This property now consists of a large two-story brick building 90 x 170 and several smaller frame and brick buildings which give a floor area of about 50,000 square feet.

This photograph of the main building was included with the Buffalo Courier story.

The company immediately  set about remodeling the plant and by the time the December 19, 1921 Buffalo Commercial feature was published had increased the available factory space by 5o percent to 75,000 square feet. The feature went on to make it clear that the company had come a long way from their days at 45 North Division Street, where their entire work force initially numbered six.

80 x 260 feet ground space with a factory space of 75,000 square feet, giving steady employment to 100 people…

The concern is now doing an annual business of $1,000,000. The Wildroot line is being handled by 75,000 barber shops, some 50,000 drug stores, as well as being found on the toilet goods counters of the leading dry goods stores and hair dressing establishments of the country.

The concern maintains a staff of eighteen traveling representatives in the field, three men of which are engaged in New York alone. To assure prompt service and distribution to the trade, the company maintains seven warehouses in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City and San Francisco. Shipments are made to these points in car lots, from which spot distribution is carried on. The product is now likewise being exported to Great Britain, South America and several other foreign countries.

It was also around the end of the decade that the Wildroot Company made a little aviation history when they shipped 600 pounds of their product from Buffalo to New York City by air. According to a story in The (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) Sentinel:

“It was the first aerial freight trip across the state,” said W. G. Richardson. Other short trips have been made around the state, but it was the first time that the state was crossed by air with a load of freight.”

The trip took place on October 20, 1919 and the following day this photo, shot just before take-off, appeared in the Buffalo Courier.

The details surrounding the flight were included in the Sentinel’s story and are worth a read.

This was the situation that cropped up for the Wildroot Company:

An advertising campaign that it is conducting in New York made it extremely necessary that a quantity of its product be sent there as soon as possible. The railroads were tried and found wanting. Strikes on the express companies and other strikes forbade their use as a messenger.

“We didn’t know what to do at first,” said Robert J. Kideney, vice president of the company…” Then we thought of sending it by air and the Cuttiss company supplied an aeroplane and a pilot. That did the trick.”

Captain Chase took the air at the Curtiss field at Buffalo and planned to make the trip by way of Syracuse and Albany, because of the stops provided there. He had to descend at Troy, because of slight engine trouble, but he got started again.

The Wildroot product line grew throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s over which time some non-hair related products were added. One, advertised in the early 1920’s was a liniment called “Lincohol’ that got its name from “Lin,” meaning liniment and “cohol,” meaning alcohol. Others included a concentrated mouth wash called “Five Star Anteseptic Powder,” and another simply called “Wildroot Skin Lotion.”

That being said their main focus remained hair products as evidenced by this advertisement entitled “12 Best Sellers,” found in the August, 1941 edition of a publication called Chain Store Age. All twelve were hair related products.

World War II and the need to ration alcohol served as a catalyst for what would become Wildroot’s biggest seller during the 1940’s and 1950’s, Wildroot Cream-Oil. The June 13, 1943 edition of the Wichita (Kansas) Eagle told the story.

Introduced at a time when the hair tonic business was at its wits end to devise means of getting around alcohol rationing, Wildroot Cream-Oil got off to a head start because it contains no alcohol. Instead it contains Lanolin, a well-known and frequently prescribed soothing ingredient which closely resembles the natural oil of the human skin. The product is homogenized for uniformity and what the customer buys is a pleasant smelling cream that flows readily – only a few drops being required to keep the hair in place, relieve dryness and remove loose dandruff.

The story went on to say:

Few products have ever hit a market as much “on the nose” as the new Wildroot Cream-Oil formula according to J. Ward Maurer, advertising manager for the Wildroot Company who today announced an extension of advertising plans with the Wichita Eagle. Intensive advertising in newspapers rounds out the heaviest campaign in the annals of the company.

That fall several versions of this advertisement appeared in newspapers across the country.

A story in the October 19, 1946 edition of the Pittsburgh Courier made it clear that print was only a part of their overall marketing strategy when they hired Nat King Cole as the headliner for a national radio program to be aired on a weekly basis.

In the first move of its kind in more than ten years, the Wildroot Company signed the King Cole Trio to an indefinite contract to headline their own nationally aired commercial program.

Scheduled every Saturday via the NBC chain, the new commercial will be given its airing this Saturday at 5:45 P.M. EST. For several weeks it will present a stage, screen or radio famous star. It’s initial broadcast will be guest teed-off by song sensational Jo Stafford, the internationally known radio and recording artist.

The program’s debut was publicized in newspapers nation wide. In Minnesota, radio station KSTP’s promo was included in the Minneapolis Tribune and looked like this:

The Pittsburgh Courier story went on to say:

The program long under wraps in New York as executives of both the radio chain and Wildroot cleared the way for a national airing, will be presented as a musical show spotlighting the trio. They will be presented as star entertainers, America’s number one musical outfit without racial or religious tags.

The King Cole commercial will be aired for fifteen minutes and will not be an audience show. It will follow through with the usual product announcements and be heard on every NBC station in the country.

The program, well received, went on to broadcast weekly for well over a year. An April 23, 1948 story in the Lincoln (Jefferson City, Missouri) Clarion served to underscore the popularity of the venture even while reporting its demise.

The King Cole fans received quite a shock this week to learn that the famous trio has been dropped recently by the Wildroot Hair Oil Co., after 78 consecutive weeks of broadcasting. Reason for the latest venture on the part of the Wildroot Company was that the company budget had allotted the radio spot to a series of commercials. Doesn’t make much sense in view of the fact that the trio figuratively “sunburned” from spotlight honors this year, to say nothing of the tremendous popularity of the radio spot itself.

The company’s innovative advertising campaigns continued into the 1950’s with print, radio and television commercials. They even had famous cartoonist Al Capp come up with a character named “Fearless Fosdick,” who promoted their cream oil in a comic strip. Here’s an example from the March 1, 1954 issue of Life Magazine.

The company even sponsored one of, if not the first, give-away at a major league baseball game. According to the July 19, 1950 edition of the (Bucyrus, Ohio) Telegraph Forum:

Barbers Have Day At Tribe Stadium Aug. 2

It will be the well-groomed man, complete with hair shampoo and sheared looks, that attends the Cleveland Indians – Washington Senators night game here Aug. 2.

Some 4,000 barbers minus their shears, will converge on the stadium as the guest of the Wildroot Company.

To make sure the barbers feel at home, the company will hand out a regular bottle  of the new Wildroot cream shampoo to the first 20,000 males to pour through the gates.

The company remained at their Jefferson Avenue location until 1946 when the need for expansion forced another move. According to preservationready.org, at that time they took over the former Grennan Bakery building located at 1740 Baily Avenue.

Wildroot took over the former bakery and connected two warehouses on Fay Street with a second story bridge. Wildroot also constructed a three-story administration building that connected the original warehouse to Baily Avenue.

By 1959 the company was topping $60,000,000 in sales but that same year Lehman, then 76, sold the company to Colgate-Palmolive.  The March 2, 1959 edition of the Charlotte (N. C.) News reported the sale.

Colgate Buys Wildroot Firm

The Colgate-Palmolive Co. has announced that it has completed negotiations for the purchase of the Wildroot Co. The formal signing took place in Buffalo N.Y.

The Wildroot Co. will now operate as a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive. Manufacture of the Wildroot products will be continued at the Wildroot plant in Buffalo, but marketing will be taken over by the toilet articles division of Colgate-Palmolive April 1.

Lehman would pass away later that same year on October 29, 1959.

Despite their commitment to keep the Buffalo plant open, two years later the Rochester (N. Y.) Democrat and Chronicle reported the plant’s closing in their April 13, 1961 edition.

Buffalo Plant to Be Closed

The Colgate-Palmolive Co. yesterday said it will close its Wildroot Division plant here by mid-July.

The company which purchased the hair tonic business two years ago for $14 million from the Wildroot Co., said production would be shifted to other Colgate-Palmolive plants.

A spokesman for the company said “rising freight and re-shipping costs, plus duplication of operations,” were responsible for the shutdown.

About 90 persons are employed at the Buffalo plant. There was no indication that transfers would be made of the personnel.

Colgate-Palmolive continued to manufacture Wildroot products until 1995 when they sold several brands, including Wildroot to a Florida firm called Stephan for $12 million. According to a story that appeared in the January 3, 1996 edition of the South Florida (Fort Lauderdale) Sentinel.

The name Wildroot hair tonic conjures up images of the 1950’s: the stuff that teenagers oiled their hair with in those days.

What most people don’t know is that the brand name is alive, still on store shelves, and is now owned by a Fort Lauderdale based maker of skin and hair care products, Stephan Co.

“It has market, it has sales and it has earnings,” said Stephan spokesman Chuck Walsh.

On Tuesday, Stephan closed a deal to buy Wildroot and five other personal care brands from Colgate-Palmolive Co.

Colgate-Palmolive spokesman Bob Murray said the company sold the brand names because it wants to focus on its core brands such as Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive soap and Mennen deodorant.

The brand name is still visible today as both a hair tonic and hair cream.

 

The company’s last Buffalo home at 1740 Baily Avenue remains standing to this day, though its been unoccupied for years. This relatively current picture is courtesy of Google Earth.

I’ve found two Wildroot bottles, both machine made. The first appears to be an early hair tonic bottle with Wildroot embossed along both sides. A labeled example recently appeared for sale on the internet.

 

The second bottle has a one inch square cross-section with slightly sloped sides and a screw-top. Two sides are embossed “Wildroot.” On the other two sides, one is embossed “Special Wave Set,” and the other “Extra Heavy.”

I actually found a 1930 advertisement touting the two products side by side.

T. L. Neff’s Sons, 179 – 181 Powers St. Brooklyn N. Y.

 

Theron L. Neff, and later T. L. Neff’s Sons (sometimes T. L. Neff & Sons) were soft drink bottlers that operated in Brooklyn, New York from approximately 1869 to 1935.

Theron Neff was born in Windham Connecticut in 1842. His obituary, published in the April 5, 1906 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union, mentioned that his arrival in Brooklyn came after his service in the Civil War.

When the Civil War broke out, Mr. Neff enlisted with Company H, of the Twenty -fifth Connecticut Volunteers, and during a number of engagements served as corporal in the Department of the Gulf under General Hanks. He participated in the Battle of Baton Rouge and Port Hudson.

The obituary goes on to say that after the war he settled in Brooklyn and joined the business of Mason O. Fuller, an old-time Brooklyn bottler whose business dated back to the late 1850’s. M. O. Fuller  Neff ultimately took over the business in the late 1860’s.

Mr. Neff came to Brooklyn in 1865. He went to live in the Fifteenth Ward and accepted a position with Mason O. Fuller, who was the originator of the soda water business. The plant at that time was located in Grand Street near Graham Avenue. Mr. Neff worked for Mr. Fuller for three or four years, and finally took control of the business and afterwards conducted it under the name of T. L. Neff.

Neff’s obituary also credits him as being the originator of bottled root beer.

At that time yeast was used in the making of root beer and the beverage was put in stone jugs. Mr. Neff originated the idea of putting the root beer in bottles under the present carbonated system.

By 1875, and possibly earlier, the company’s factory was located at 105 Maujer Street where according to their 1889 “bottle registration notice, they bottled and sold soda water, root beer and other beverages.

Theron conducted the business until 1895 when he retired. At that point he turned the company over to his sons Lewis and Edwin, changing the name to T. L. Neff’s Sons. Lewis was in charge of the business end of the house, while Edwin oversaw manufacturing.

A story featuring Brooklyn’s mineral water industry published in the July 7, 1912 edition of the “Brooklyn Citizen” provided this early  1900’s snapshot of the business:

In the manufacture of soft drinks T. L. Neff & Sons, Inc., 105 Maujer Street, Brooklyn, N. Y., is one of the largest and most prominent in the city.

They occupy a two-story building 25 x 100, used exclusively for bottling their drinks, and also maintain a stable at 52-54 Ten Eyck Street where their many horses and wagons are kept.

The plant has capacity of fifteen hundred boxes of soda per day, and employs about thirty men. The business was established about 1858, and has served one customer for forty-six years.

A May 12, 1914 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement, made it clear that the Neff company, with large contracts up and down the east coast, served more than just the New York City area.

Among the customers they are serving are the New England Navigation Company, which operates the Fall River Steamers, the Panama Steamship Company, the Central Hudson Steamboat Company and the U. S. Government Reservations between West Point and Governor’s Island, as well as the American Sugar Refining Company.

The Brooklyn Citizen feature went on to say that the company was in the process of planning the construction of a new modernized factory.

They are at present planning a new three-story building of concrete construction, and upon its completion they will have one of the finest plants for the manufacture of soft drinks in the country. The new plant will be equipped with all new and model machinery for the washing and sterilizing of bottles, which is one of the most important features of the business.

The company  moved to their new accommodations, located at 179-181 Powers Street sometime in mid-1914.

According to a July 17, 1921 Brooklyn Citizen story, by the early 1920’s their daily output had increased from 1500 to 2,000 boxes and the  business had established an international clientele.

Not  only in Brooklyn are the products of the company supplied to hundreds of dealers in the city, but they are shipped throughout the country and Europe. Steady customers are on the company’s books with their business houses in Japan and other Asiatic countries.

The Neff’s Sons apparently remained in business until 1935 when the corporation was dissolved. The dissolution notice was printed in several November, 1935 editions of the Brooklyn Times Union.

Edwin Neff’s obituary published in the March 10, 1940 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle mentioned that he retired in 1935 so it’s possible that his retirement triggered the ultimate dissolution of the corporation.

The bottle I found is machine made with a crown finish and an approximate capacity of 28 ounces. “T. L. Neff’s Sons”is embossed on the front, along with their Powers Street address. This dates the bottle no earlier than 1914.

The back of the bottle exhibits their trademarked case of soda bottles.

 

Today, the building located at 179 – 181 Powers Street appears to be the same building built and occupied by the the company in 1914.

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

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.

 

Hicksville Bottling Co., Hicksville, N. Y., “ROXY”

 

Long Island New York’s Hicksville Bottling Company had its roots with the mineral water business of a man named Edgar Davis. When Davis started the business is not clear, however, bottles produced for the Hicksville Bottling Company in the 1940’s and 1950’s include the phrase “Since 1873,” so it’s possible that it’s inception extended back that far.

 

A September 4, 1886 local newspaper story specifically referenced Edgar Davis as a bottler so it’s clear he was up and running by the mid 1880’s.

In 1894, brothers-in-law William F. Staude and Charles Fassbender purchased the business from Davis. The transaction was announced in the May 12, 1894 edition of a Huntington, New York newspaper called “The Long-Islander.”

William F. Staude of the Roadside Hotel and Charles Fassbender, collector for the Ulmer Brewing Company have bought out the mineral water business of Edgar Davis and have leased the old Pahde property where they will carry on a bottling business on a large scale. Both young men are sons in law of August Fleischbein, proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel and are well-known. We wish them success.

As far as I can tell their initial location was near the Hicksville train depot on the northeast corner of East Marie Street and Railroad Avenue. A map, circa 1914, confirmed their plant was located there by that time.

Not just associated with mineral water, this advertisement, published in the September 21, 1907 edition of the Brooklyn Times Union also labeled them as beer bottlers and wine and liquor dealers.

The advertisement specifically mentioned Ulmer Cabinet Beer. According to Fassbender’s April 12, 1922 obituary published in the Brooklyn Standard Union he worked for Brooklyn’s Ulmer Brewery from 1880 to 1920.

During his forty years connected with the Ulmer Brewing Company, Mr. Fassbender advanced himself from clerk to personal collector for Brooklyn and Long Island. He also handled a considerable portion of its real estate dealings with its various agencies.

So, it’s no surprise that the company not only bottled Ulmer beer, but almost certainly bottled it from the start in 1894. Recognizing that their father-in-law, August Fleischbein, owned Hicksville’s Grand Central Hotel including its 600 person capacity hall, it’s also likely they had an immediate market for their products.

Staude passed away in 1917 and Fassbender ultimately sold the business in 1921. The sale was reported in the August edition of the American Bottler.

HICKSVILLE BOTTLING PLANT CHANGES HANDS

The Hicksville Bottling Co., at Hicksville, Long Island, has been purchased by Jac. Friedman, who was formerly connected with the Christ Wagner Bottling Co., of Java Street, Brooklyn. Charles S. Fassbender was the former owner of the plant, which he had successfully conducted for a number of years.

Polish immigrants, the Friedman’s apparently operated the business as a family affair. In addition to Jac (Jak), 1930 census records indicate that Eli Friedman, likely his brother, as well as Jak’s two sons, Louis and William, were all involved in the business. Census records in 1940 continued to associate the Friedman’s with the business.

It was the Friedman’s who, during Prohibition, began utilizing the name “Roxy.” They trademarked the name in 1930, but their application indicated that it had been in use since July 1, 1926.

After Prohibition they were back in the beer business as evidenced by this May 26, 1937 advertisement in the New York Daily News listing them as a Brooklyn and Long Island distributor for the Fidelio Brewery. By then the company had apparently moved, listing their address as 10-2 Lenox Avenue in Hicksville.

Another advertisement, this one published in the March 17, 1939 edition of the Nassau Daily Review named them as a distributor for New York City’s John Eichler Brewing Company as well.

The company, as well as the Roxy brand, endured well into the 1950’s and possibly longer. As late as 1957, this July 21 New York Daily News advertisement listed “Roxy – dietetic” (halfway down the second column) as a beverage made with Sucaryl.

           

Recently I heard from a grand daughter of the Friedman’s who read the initial version of this post. Her father drove a truck for the business while home from college and he provided some additional history.

The article is accurate to my knowledge but it doesn’t mention that Eli eventually bought out his brother who started Glen Cove Bottling. I believe we sold the business in late 1966 or early 1967.

The bottle I found is machine made with the Hicksville Bottling Co. name embossed on the bottom. The name “Roxy” is embossed on both sides in a style matching the patented trademark.

      

The bottle was likely made in the late 1920’s or 1930’s, and certainly no earlier than July, 1926 when the trademark application declared it was first used.

The company also used the Roxy name on siphon bottles as evidenced by this item recently offered for sale on the internet.