Born in 1860, Charles Mau was the proprietor of a New York City bottling business that was active in The Bronx during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
N.Y.C. directories first listed Mau in 1895 as a bottler of lager beer with an address of 561 East 156th Street. That address puts the business near the corner of St Ann’s Avenue and 156th Street, which was within or adjacent to the confines of the Ebling Brewery. This suggests, though I can’t confirm, that Mau may have started in business serving as a local bottler of the Ebling product.
In 1898 Mau moved to 687 East 159th Street but his relationship with Ebling may well have continued. Now located near the intersection of Eagle Avenue and 159th Street, it appears that the business was still within the same overall block as the brewery.
In 1907, things may have changed when the business moved again, this time several blocks away, to 429 East 159th Street. Around the same time directory references to beer were being replaced with “mineral waters.”
Thirteen years later, the 1920 “White-Orr Reference Register” continued to list Mau as a mineral water manufacturer with an address of 429 East 159th Street, however, census records that same year describe Mau as retired. This points to 1920 as the likely end date of the business.
The bottle I found is mouth blown, with a blob finish. It’s embossed with Mau’s initial address of 561 East 156th Street, dating the bottle sometime between 1895 and 1898 when he listed that address in the directories. It likely contained an Ebling brew.
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.
In the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, the name “Camphorine,” was associated with a wide range of companies and products. So, recognizing that there’s no company name or address embossed on our bottle, more than just a few potential uses for it exist. The following turn of the century advertisements illustrate several of them. The obvious one is an insecticide for moths.
Others include a “Disinfecting Powder” and “Disinfecting Solution” manufactured by a British firm called the “Sanitary Dry Lime Company…”
…a toilet preparation called “Bishop’s Camphorine…
and even a “Camphorine Shampoo.”
With all these possibilities I had to narrow down the field, ultimately opting to research a purported ‘cure-all” simply called “Camphorine” that was concocted by a man named Reuben Hoyt. The patent medicine had its roots in Brooklyn, N.Y. and was later manufactured in Amityville, Long Island, within shouting distance of the Great South Bay where the bottle was found.
The name “Camphorine,” registered by Hoyt, appeared in the March 2, 1875 edition of the U.S. Patent Office’s “Official Gazette,” under the heading “List of Trademarks, Descriptions of Which Have Not Previously Appeared In Any Printed Publications.” This suggests that it was one of, if not the first product to actually exhibit the Camphorine name.
Hoyt was a New York City druggist dating back to the early 1850’s. Originally listed in the N.Y.C directories with an address of 537 Greenwich Street, sometime around 1855 he partnered with James Quinn and formed Reuben Hoyt & Company. The business remained listed at 537 Greenwich Street but was short-lived and ultimately dissolved three years later. The dissolution notice, dated February 9, 1858 was published in the February 11th edition of the “New York Times.”
Within two years Hoyt, still in the drug business, partnered with Sidney H. Blanchard under the name Hoyt and Blanchard. Throughout the 1860’s the partnership was located on Manhattan’s Fulton Street, initially at 215 Fulton Street (1860 to 1866) and later at 208 Fulton Street (1867 to 1868). Their business card appeared in the August, 1866 edition of the “Druggist Circular and Chemical Gazette.”
By 1870 the company moved again, this time to 203 Greenwich Street and it was around this time, five years before its name appeared in the U.S. Patent Office Gazette, that the partnership began advertising “Camphorine” as a “cure-all.” The earliest advertisement I can find was published in the July 5, 1870 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Shortly after these initial ads were published the Hoyt & Blanchard partnership apparently dissolved. As early as 1871 Blanchard was no longer listed at the 203 Greenwich Street address and “Camphorine” advertisements simply named Hoyt as the proprietor. An early example of the change is depicted in this December 12, 1872 advertisement published in the “Portchester (N.Y.) Journal.”
Between 1872 and 1874 “Reuben Hoyt” advertisements for “Camphorine” routinely appeared in newspapers throughout the northeastern United States from Maine on south to Maryland with many touting it as “The Greatest Discovery of the Age.”
After 1874, Hoyt’s advertisements for “Camphorine” drop off significantly but up through 1879 the N.Y.C. directories continued to list him at the 203 Greenwich Street address with the occupation “patent medicines.”
The following year, in 1880, the directory only listed Hoyt with a home address, and there was no longer any mention of “patent medicines,” or “drugs” as his occupation. Based on this its likely that the business did not survive into the 1880’s; a supposition that’s further supported by 1880 census records where Hoyt named his occupation as Custom House Officer. He ultimately passed away in February, 1896.
While this signaled the end of Reuben Hoyt’s association with “Camphorine,” it didin’t result in the end of the product as a “cure-all, when sometime in the late 1800’s its manufacture was apparently picked up by a man named Richard H. Williams. Also a New York City druggist, directories indicate that between 1875 and 1884 he was living in Brooklyn and working at 180 South Street in Manhattan. Then, according to his wife’s obituary, published in the February 3, 1911 edition of Babylon, Long Island’s “South Side Signal,” in 1886 the couple moved to the Long Island village of Amityville.
By 1900 Williams was certainly manufacturing “Camphorine” in Amityville and marketing it locally on Long Island, as evidenced by this story that appeared in the “South Side Signal,” on March 17, 1900.
Tomorrow (Saturday), weather permitting, our neighbor, R.H. Williams of Amityville, will be in town and will distribute at the residences in the village sample bottles of Camphorine and Silvershine, of which he is the manufacturer. Camphorine is a remedy with an established reputation as a pain reliever, and the Silvershine, as its name implies, is a preparation for cleaning silver. Both are good articles and well worthy of trial. When Mr. Williams or his representatives call on our readers we bespeak for him courteous treatment and counsel a fair trial for the articles he will leave. The goods are advertised in other parts of this issue, and will be placed on sale in Babylon and throughout the country.
The advertisement promised in the story also appeared in the March 17th edition of the “South Side Signal.” and bears a close resemblance to Reuben Hoyt’s previous advertisements, right down to the phrase “The Greatest Discovery of the Age,” strongly suggesting a connection between Reuben Hoyt and R.H. Williams.
While the above story appears introductory in nature, similar advertisements for “Camphorine” appeared sporadically in local Long Island newspapers dating back as far as the mid 1880’s. The earliest one I can find appeared in the December 11, 1886 edition of “The South Side Signal.”
Though none of these ads mention Williams by name, they’re almost identical to the one he published in advance of his sales trip to Babylon in 1900. This suggests that Williams may have begun manufacturing “Camphorine” as early as 1886 when he arrived on Long Island.
By the early 1900’s local newspaper advertisements for Camphorine as a ‘cure-all” disappear completely, a fact that’s not surprising considering that increased public awareness and stricter food and drug laws were clamping down on the outlandish claims of the patent medicine industry around that time.
This advertisement for “Camphorine” that appeared in Charles N. Crittenton’s 1902/1903 catalog of druggist sundries and proprietary medicines is one of the last ones I can find.
That being said, Williams was listed as a drug nanufacturer in the ERA druggist directories as late as 1911 and was still manufacturing ‘Camphorine” as late as 1920, as evidenced by its inclusion on this list of Price Changes published in the April 3, 1920 edition of the “Drug Trade Weekly” (at the bottom.)
The bottle I found is five inches tall with a 1-1/2 inch square cross-section. Mouth blown, its characteristics fit nicely into the late 1800’s/early 1900’s time period that “Camphorine” was manufactured and marketed on Long Island. Recognizing that Long Island is where the bottle was found, makes R.H. Williams a likely source.
That being said, he’s certainly not the only possible source. In addition to the varied uses mentioned at the start of this post, by the early 1900’s other companies were also manufacturing a patent medicine named “Camphorine.” Two even exhibited the Hoyt name. One was E. W. Hoyt & Co., of German Cologne fame and the other was the Hoyt Chemical Co., of Indianapolis, Indiana. As far as I can tell, other than their name, neither one bears any connection with Brooklyn’s Reuben Hoyt.
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.
John E. Healy and Charles Bigelow were proprietors of a patent medicine business called the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company that sold several different concoctions under the “Kickapoo Indian” name in the late 1800’s. Later, the company continued to operate as a subsidiary of the William R. Warner Co. well into the 1900’s.
What they’d like you to believe about their line of patent medicines was spelled out in Healy & Bigelow’s “Family Cook Book,” published in 1890.
The Kickapoo Indian Remedies have acquired a wide spread fame, and have done more to help suffering humanity than any other medicines…
They have been born in nature’s bosom and reared in nature’s lap; hence the mysteries of all nature is an open book to them. They live up to nature’s laws and partake in nature’s remedies, and this gives them the healthy lungs, superb muscle power, strong constitution, luxuriant hair and sound white teeth for which they are noted. No-one has ever seen a deformed or bald headed Indian.
…None are more intellectual than the Kickapoo’s, and they have discovered superior medicinal qualities in certain barks, roots, herbs, gums and leaves, never ascertained or applied before…and the peculiar compounding of their medicines is known only to themselves. These Kickapoo doctors now manufacture five special remedies:
Their “Family Cook Book” went on to illustrate each medicine’s late 1800’s packaging.
The affectations supposedly cured by each of these remedies were spelled out in another 1890 advertisement, this one found in a publication called “Keeling’s Book of Recipes.”
The Kickapoo remedies were promoted by traveling medicine shows that featured both Native Americans and vaudeville performers. According to a book entitled “Snake Oil, Hustlers and Hambones,” by Ann Anderson:
Each traveling unit featured a “village” populated by varying numbers of Native Americans, several performers to entertain the audience with jokes and songs, and an agent who harangued the audience about the benefits of Kickapoo Indian Remedies during the performance.
This undated photograph of one such show was recently offered for sale on the internet.
According to a story in a Wisconsin newspaper called the “Steven’s Point Gazette,” in 1895 Healy & Bigelow had 100 of these shows operating throughout the country. The story was published on February 6th after one such show had just closed up and left Steven’s Point.
Dr. Percy Hudson and his Kickapoo medicine company closed a two weeks’ engagement, at Chilla’s Hall, last Saturday evening, giving good performances nightly and selling fair quantities of their Kickapoo remedies. Healy & Bigelow are the proprietors, and they have 100 companies on the road at present, covering the entire country, and they have been traveling continually for years. The size of these companies average a half dozen people, and it will be seen that the income from their sales and performances must be considerable.
In addition to saturating the United States the company put on their medicine shows in places as far away as South America, as evidenced by this item that appeared in the September 23, 1891 edition of New Haven’s “Morning Journal-Courier.”
Five colored men from the “sandy hollow” district of New Haven went to New York last night to sail for South America, where they are to do their musical acts in the employ of Healy & Bigelow.
The concept for the “Kickapoo Indian Medicine” operation was born in the late 1870’s when John E. Healy got together with a patent medicine manufacturer named E. H. Flagg who, early in the 1870’s, was hawking two patent medicines; a pain reliever called “Flagg’s Instant Relief,” and “Flagg’s Cough Killer.” This advertisement touting both appeared in the July 12, 1871 edition of Portland Maine’s “Daily Press.”
At around the same time, Healy was managing a traveling comedy company that performed an Irish themed variety show called “Healy’s Hibernian Gems.” Between 1874 and 1876 the troupe was criss crossing the country performing in various cities along the way. The following advertisement touting their San Francisco stay appeared in the September 3, 1874 edition of the San Francisco Examiner.
It follows quite naturally that Healy’s experience with traveling shows coupled with Flagg’s patent medicine business resulted in the traveling medicine show concept. In fact, its likely that Flagg’s “Instant Relief” became “Kickapoo Indian Oil” (both cured both internal and external pain), and Flagg’s Cough Killer became “Kickapoo Cough Cure.”
Now all they needed was a front man and Charles Bigelow fit the bill. According to the New England Historical Society, in the late 1870’s Bigelow was associated with a man named “Dr. Yellowstone” who had also concocted a line of Native American themed medicines called “Indian Herbs of Wonder,” so he was certainly familiar with the requisite “sales pitch.”
Early on the company headquarters was no more than a series of tents pitched in a major city where they put on extravagant medicine shows and coordinated the operations of their local traveling shows.
According to “Snake Oil Hambones and Hustlers”
Healy & Bigelow started the Kickapoo business in a Providence hotel storeroom and then moved to Boston where they pitched a tent in front of the train station and put on a show.
Not just a tent, as early as May 20, 1882 they were advertising it as an Indian Village in the “Boston Globe” .
The only mention of Healy & Bigelow in the Boston directories during this time appears in 1884 when they’re listed in the commercial directory under the heading “medicines,” with an address of 130 Commercial. There’s no mention of Flagg suggesting that he was out of the picture by then. The next year, in 1885, the Boston Directory simply stated: “Healy & Bigelow, patent medicines, removed to New York City.”
There, the city directories listed the business as John E. Healy, “pat meds,” (1885 to 1887) and later, “Healy & Bigelow” (1887 to 1888). Always listed with an address of 26 West Street, this is likely where they manufactured their medicines during this time.
Though not listed until 1885, as early as 1882 they were operating what they called “wigwams” in New York, as evidenced by this item that appeared in the November 12th edition of the “Boston Globe.”
John E. Healy of the Indian Village claims to be clearing $1,000 a week at his New York branch wigwam.
Apparently a seasonal operation, in the Spring of 1883 the New York “wigwam” was located on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and described like this in the May 13, 1883 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle:”
Three large tents have been erected here, in which are to be displayed, in the first a “real” Indian village populated by “real” Indians; in the second a museum which is claimed to be unequalled for the extent and variety of its curiosities and rare exhibits; while the third is fitted up as Summer theater, with a well appointed stage, comfortable sittings, etc., and which is to be devoted to acrobatic, gymnastic and specialty performances of the best class.
This advertisement for opening night appeared in the May 14, 1883 edition of the “Brooklyn Union.”
The next day, opening night, which included more than one appearance by Charles Bigelow (alias Texas Charlie), was described like this in the “Brooklyn Union.” Having bought in to Texas Charlie’s spiel, the reporter certainly appeared awed by the experience.
The Big Indian Wigwam
Mr. W. C. Coup opened his Indian wigwam at the corner of Flatbush and Fifth Avenues last evening, and the prevailing rainstorm, though making unpleasant for an opening night, did not very materially interfere with the attendance, as all the seats were occupied. The tent in which the performances are given is about 150 feet in diameter, having a circle of “circus seats” and the center is supplied with chairs. The interior is tastefully decorated with bunting and large squares of movable pictures of Indian warfare scenes are exhibited. Mr. Charles Bigelow (“Texas Charlie”) introduced fifty Indians to the audience and made a speech which was in reality an eloquent plea for the red man’s rights, and, coming from one who has had long experience on the border, carried a conviction with it. The audience heartily applauded the lecturer for his sentiments, which were given with an unmistakeable Western feeling. These Indians during the evening gave their war and medicine dances and peculiar chants, and the more intelligent among them welcomed visitors at the close of the performance to their tents. The variety show comprised a dog circus by Mr. Shedman’s trained canines, tight-rope gyrations by a trained monkey, banjo playing by Al Harris, horizontal bar acts by Currey and Avery, songs and dances by Saunders and Dean, musical selections by Pettingall and Frazer, acrobatic performances by the Sherman Brothers, and trapeze acts by Ella Zuila. The fancy shooting by Texas Charlie was excellent, shooting potatoes off a stick from almost every conceivable position, and ending up with two shots which made the audience feel somewhat awed, knocking off at the first shot the ashes from the cigar of a gentleman held between his lips and at the next shot cutting off the lighted portion.
The museum tent is about one hundred and thirty feet in diameter and is filled with one of the most remarkable collection of curios and antiques outside of the old-established museums of universities and scientific bodies. Mr. Coup intends to remain all summer and will add fresh novelties every week. Stage performances are given afternoons and evenings.
The following summer Healy & Bigelow were operating another “wigwam,” this one in Manhattan. According to a story published in the June 25, 1884 edition of the “New York Tribune,” it was not well received in the neighborhood.
A “Big Indian Wigwam” at One-hundred-and-sixteenth Street, between Second and Third Aves., has so far disturbed the usual quiet of that neighborhood that a petition signed by nearly a hundred residents was recently sent to District-Attourney Onley, asking if some action could not be taken against the proprietors. John Healy and Charles Bigelow – the latter known as “Texas Charlie,”- proprietors, and the manager, Thomas E. Hallock were indicted for keeping a disorderly public resort. Hallock was tried yesterday before Recorder Smyth. More than a score of businessmen living in One-hundred-and-fifteenth and One-hundred-and-sixteenth Sts. were called as witnesses. Some of them described the place as a nuisance and testified that the tent was nightly filled with a crowd, mostly boys, that yelled and hooted in applause at the performers, who were called by the Assistant District-Attorney “Sullivan St. Indians.” The jury convicted Hallock, and he was remanded for sentence.
At the same location, earlier that month, a June 6th “Brooklyn Union Story” announced that Bigelow had been fined $100…
for violating the Penal Code by giving an exhibition, in which a man stood against a wooden target while another threw daggers in close proximity to the man’s body.
The following summer, there were no Manhattan or Brooklyn newspaper advertisements for the “wigwam,” suggesting that by then Bigelow may have worn out his welcome there. At which point he apparently moved on to Chicago where a “Chicago Tribune” reporter found “Texas Charlie” in 1886. It’s clear from his July 5th story that the Tribune reporter was more skeptical than his Brooklyn counterpart.
PATENT MEDICINE MEN
Indians Employed to Advertise a Certain Sort of Alleged Medicines
An “Indian village” of about a dozen tents has been located for the last few weeks in the baseball park at Thirty-third street and Portland Avenue. The occupants are some ten to twelve Pawnee Indians and an equal number of more or less civilized whites. The whole is under the command of “Texas Charley,” formerly an Indian agent and now a patent medicine drummer. The Indian village is an advertising scheme for the medicine referred to – the medicine being advertised as of Indian origin – and the proprietors of the village and the manufacturers are a firm of New York druggists, whose concoctions have probably about as much connection with Indian herbs and simples as they have with the oyster-beds of Lake Michigan or the sugar-mines of Siberia.
“Texas Charley” was found at the village yesterday enjoying a sleep in the sunshine. He was pleased to talk to reporters about Kickapoos, and Pawnees, and Sioux, and Chipewas, and wigwams, and medicine men, and braves, and squaws, and chiefs, and happy hunting grounds, and all the romantic hocus-pocus appertaining to the poor Indian. He said the firm has about twenty bands of Indians out over the States advertising their medicine. Chicago was the headquarters; he kept the reserve forces here and directed the movements of each band. They gave free shows of a Buffalo-Bill sort of character, distributed advertising pamphlets to the crowds, and then induced the local druggists to keep a permanent stock of the medicine. Their expenses here at Chicago averaged $700 to $800 a week. They gave two exhibitions a day here, except Sundays, when the baseball clubs needed the park.
“Texas Charlie” went on to answer a few questions about the Native Americans that were part of the show.
“Where do you get the Indians?
“Off the reservations. We hire them and give bonds to the government to treat them well and send them home when we are through with them.”
“You pay them a salary?”
“Yes; $30 a month. The chiefs get a commission on the business to make them take an interest in the work, and we give them about $50 a month. Of course we feed them besides. They send home about half what they earn; we don’t let them spend it. The rest of their pay they spend on tobacco and trinkets.”
“What reservations do you get them from?”
“From everywhere and anywhere we please. These here now are Pawnees from the Kansas reservation.”
In 1887 and 1888, the Chicago city directories listed “The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company,” with an address of 174 W. Van Buren. which was likely used for storage.
In 1888 Healy and Bigelow moved their headquarters to New Haven, Connecticut where they were listed with an address on Grand Avenue.
They remained at that location until 1893 when they moved to larger quarters at 441 Chapel Street, also in New Haven. The March 1, 1893 edition of New Haven’s “Morning Journal-Courier” announced the move.
Yesterday the Healy & Bigelow company bought for about $25,000 the large brick factory at the corner of Chapel and Hamilton Streets, formerly occupied for years by the well remembered firm of Durham & Wooster, carriage makers. The property has a frontage on Chapel Street of 157 feet and 140 feet on Hamilton Street and is a valuable investment.
Healy and Bigelow remained the proprietors of the business up until 1895 when Healy retired. According to the February 26, 1895 edition of the “Morning Journal-Courier:”
The well known patent medicine firm of Healy & Bigelow, with headquarters on Chapel Street, has been dissolved, John E. Healy withdrawing… Mr. Bigelow retains the controlling interest.
A week later the business incorporated with Bigelow serving as its first president. The March 2, 1895 edition of the Morning Journal-Courier published the incorporation notice.
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company of New Haven has filed a certificate of organization with the secretary of state, its capital stock being $72,000 and the shareholders, Charles Bigelow of this city, Lucius S. Davis of Northampton, Mass., and James K. Averill of New York City.
Four years later, the September 5, 1899 edition of the “M0rning Journal Courier” announced that Bigelow had sold the Chapel Street factory and was planning a move.
Charles Bigelow, president of the Kickapoo Medicine Company, who sold their factory at 441 Chapel Street last week, says a new factory will be built for the headquarters of the medicine company, as soon as a suitable site can be procured.
Another story, this one in the September 2, 1899 edition of the (Meridian Connecticut) Journal added:
The price paid was $28,000.
The medicine company has a lease on the property for a year with the privilege of an extension.
Bigelow took advantage of the additional time afforded by the lease, ultimately moving just outside New Haven, to Clintonville, in early 1901. The move was announced in the February 27, 1901 edition of the “Morning Journal Courier.”
The Kickapoo Medicine Company will soon remove to Clintonville, where a manufacturing building is being fitted up for the company. It is on the Air Line road and has ample facilities for shipping freight…It is expected that the company will remove prior to April 1.
By the time the company settled in Clintonville their menu of Kickapoo products had grown significantly. A February 13, 1902 price list that appeared in the “Pharmaceutical Era.” shows Kickapoo Indian Pills, Liverines, and Prairie Plant, along with Kickapoo Soap had been added to the original five.medicines.
Ultimately, ten years after moving to Clintonville, the corporation dissolved. The preliminary certificate of dissolution was published in the “Hartford Courant” on October 10, 1911.
Advertisements for their traveling shows, though less and less frequent, continued right up to the end. One of the last ones I can find, published in the December 1, 1908 edition of the “Waterville (Me) Seninel.” made it clear that their approach remained the same.
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company which has been demonstrating the Indian remedies at Vose & Luques’ drug store for the past two weeks, has changed the window attraction for this week and has transferred here the little Indian family consisting of Chief White Horse, squaw Minnehaha and papoose Little Thunder.
Little Thunder is about eight months old and is strapped to the Indian cradle in the primitive way, and whenever he has appeared has attracted great crowds of all classes of people.
In addition to the Indian family there will be added two chiefs, Deep Sky and Deer Foot, and through efforts of Messrs. Rose & Luques the people of Waterville are to be given an opportunity to see and hear the Kickapoo Indians in some of their native songs and dances at the Silver Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon and evening, when will be given such songs as “Lake Side” and “Mosquito Song.” Among the dances will be the White Bean and War dances.
Indian courtship and marriage will be illustrated and also the raising of a man up to be a chief. The admission to the Silver Theater will remain the same.
While dissolution of the Connecticut corporation put an end to any connection Bigelow had with the business, it didn’t put an end to the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company or their products.
The next year, an item published in the June 6, 1912 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, announced that the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company had incorporated in Pennsylvania, with capital of $5,000. Now operating as a subsidiary of Wm. R. Warner & Co., between 1913 and 1919 their listed addresses coincided with Warner locations at 639 N. Broad in Philadelphia and 500 N. Commercial in St. Louis, Missouri.
The menu of Kickapoo products continued to expand under Warner as evidenced by this listing that appeared in the 1915 N.A.R.D. Journal.
Under Warner, their medicine shows vanished but newspaper advertisements continued through the mid-teens; most focused on their Kickapoo Worm Killer. The following, published in the May 28, 1914 edition of the “Oklahoma Register” was typical.
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co. remained in both Philadelphia and St. Louis up through the late teens at which time the William R. Warner & Co. consolidated in New York City. According to the November, 1916 edition of the “Practical Druggist:”
The formation of a new centre of New York chemical interests is heralded in the sale of the old B. Altman department store property, once occupied by the Greenhut Company, in the west side of Sixth Avenue, between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets, New York City, to William R. Warner & Co., of Philadelphia, manufacturing pharmacists and wholesalers, for close to $1,100,000 in cash. The transaction means bringing 500 employees and their families to New York.
The Warner Company is one of the largest concerns of its kind in this country, controlling the local Richard Hudnut Company, the Searle & Herth Co., Sloan’s Liniment Co., Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co., the Haywood Family Remedies, the Kid-ne-oid Preparations, Meade & Baker Carbolic Mouth Wash Co., Morely Medicine Co., the Sutherland Medicine Company and others.
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company (Pa.) was listed at William R. Warner & Co.’s New York City address of 113- 133 West Eighteenth Street from 1917 up through the early 1930’s, after which I lose track.
Advertisements for most of the Kickapoo named products had petered out by the 1920’s, however “Kickapoo Worm Killer” was still included in drug store price listings as late as 1942.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to find bottles that contained three of the five original Kickapoo products; Indian Sagwa, Indian Oil and Indian Cough Cure. In fact they’re the only three that came in bottles. They’re mouth blown and exactly match the bottles exhibited in the company’s 1890 “Cook Book.”
“Sparklene” was the name of a polish manufactured from the late 1890’s up through the 1950’s by Charles H. Smith & Co. of Boston, Massachusettes and later by J. A. Wright & Co. of Keene, New Hampshire. Newspaper advertisements for the polish were still appearing as late as the mid-1980’s.
Although generally referred to as a “silver polish,” over the years it was advertised as a polish for anything from metals to marble to glass.
One early advertisement, found in the June 3, 1897 edition of Hartford Connecticut’s “Daily Morning Journal and Courier,” summed up Sparklene’s marketing pitch in one sentence.
It will brighten anything which ought to be bright.
On Jul7 17, 1905, Charles H. Smith & Co. filed an Application (No. 10,468) to register the “Sparklene” trademark in accordance with the then recently enacted Trademark Act of February 20, 1905.
There was no public opposition to their application and the trademark was ultimately registered on January 30, 1906 (No. 49,242).
The patent records indicated that the Sparklene trademark had been in use for ten years prior, likely establishing a start date for its manufacture sometime in the mid-1890’s. The prequel to the Sparklene story however begins several years earlier with the originating company’s namesake, Charles H. Smith.
Census records indicate that he was born in New Hampshire in 1854. Boston city directories suggest that he arrived in Boston sometime in the late 1880’s, where he was first listed with the occupation “agent for the “Dam’s Remedy Company.”
A patent medicine business run by a so called physician named Alvah Dam, in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, the company manufactured and sold several patent medicines that prominently featured the Dam name. One, called Dr. Dam’s Nerve-Aid, was featured in this November 12, 1893 “Boston Globe advertisement.
The Boston directories continued to associate Smith with the “Dam Remedy Company” up through 1895 at which point Alvah Dam, in severe financial trouble, filed for bankruptcy. According to the December 1, 1895 edition of “Merck’s Market Report,” Smith was one of Dam’s two largest creditors.
Dr. Alvah M. F. Dam, 212 Columbus Avenue, Boston, well known through his connection with the Dam Remedy Company, whose insolvency petition was filed recently, has debts amounting to $69,814. Among the largest creditors are the National Traders’ Bank of Portland, Me., $10,000 and Charles H. Smith, who has $7,834 charged against him.
In fact, a notice published in the December 24, 1895 edition of the Boston Post, announced that Smith had actually been appointed as the “assignee” in the case.
Apparently, at the same time Smith was involved in the bankruptcy proceedings of his former boss, he was also establishing Charles H. Smith & Company. As early as November 24, 1895, he was running this want ad in the “Boston Globe” classifieds..
While there’s no way of knowing, it certainly makes sense that the “quick seller” mentioned in the above ad was Sparklene. This supposition is bolstered by the fact that department stores were stocking Sparklene and offering free demonstrations as early as 1897. One such department store was Hochschild, Kohn & Co., of Baltimore Md., who included this item in their April 22, 1899 advertisement published in the “Baltimore Sun.”
In their home town of Boston, the October 25, 1905 edition of the “Globe,” announced that the department store of Henry Siegel Co. had taken it a step further, actually maintaining a “demonstration booth” in their basement.
Charles H Smith & Co.remained listed in Boston up through 1957 listing several addresses over that period; 8 Bromfield (1896-1897), 10 Federal (1898), 79 Milk (1899-1904), 220 Devonshire (1905-1922), 85 Purchase (1923-1945) and 103 Broad (1948-1957). I suspect that each of these addresses referenced their office location. It’s likely that their manufacturing facilities were also situated in Boston but where is unknown.
Over the course of this roughly 60 year period the company was apparently closely held by the Smith family. The Boston directories named Charles as proprietor up through the time of his death on November 10, 1929, after which his wife, Annie, continued to be listed in that role. Annie went on to renew the Sparklene trademark (No. 49242) in 1946.
Charles H. Smith & Co. disappeared from the Boston directories sometime in the late 1950’s. Around that time it appears that Annie transferred control of the business to one of their competitors, J. A. Wright & Co. of Keene New Hampshire. Trademark renewal records from 1966 reveal that the transfer had certainly occurred by then.
J. A. Wright & Co. renewed the Sparklene trademark again in 1985 however, how long they continued to market the polish is not clear. The last mention of Sparklene polish that I can find appeared in the April 8, 1984 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” where it was included within a menu of items (2nd from the bottom) advertised by a company called “Shop-In-Bag.”
The trademark expired when it was not renewed in 2006.
The style of our subject bottle was utilized by the company throughout much of their history, as evidenced by the following two advertisements. The first was published in 1910 and the second in 1943.
Our subject bottle is machine made and certainly the 5-1/2 ounce size. The base of the bottle exhibits the Illinois Glass Co.’s maker’s mark of an I enclosed in a diamond shape, dating the bottle between 1915 and 1929.
Sparklene advertisements in later years suggest that sometime in the 1940’s they began to package the polish in jars with wider mouths and shorter necks. The first, exhibiting a 32 oz sized jar, was published in a 1944 edition of the Pittsburgh “Sun-Telegraph.” The second, a pint jar, was found in a 1964 edition of Allentown Pennsylvania’s “Morning Call.”
Established by Hartwig Kantorowicz, his liquor factory of the same name was located in Posen, Germany. Throughout much of the 1800’s and early 1900’s it was operated by three different generations of the Kantorowicz family. Once the largest and most important liquor factory in Germany, one history of the company summarized their turn of the century operation like this:
Around 1900, the Hartwig Kantorowicz liqueur factory was known world-wide and about as famous as Mercedes Benz or Coca Cola are today. In addition to liqueurs, fruit juices and jams were now also produced and sold on a large scale. It had its own line of cognac and whiskey with at least 50 different products, and German and international wines were also sold in large quantities. The company probably had around 1,000 different products in their portfolio.
The above quote was found on the web site of a liquor company called Alrich. They produce liquors from historical original recipes and their website includes the history of former liquor factories, one of which is Hartwig Kantorowiz. As a preface to the following post, quotes not specifically cited otherwise were found on the English translation of the Alrich website. https://www.alrich.eu
Born in 1806, Hartwig was the son of Joachim Bernard Kantorowicz who was the owner of a brewery and distillery in Posen that dated back to 1782. At a young age, Hartwig went into business for himself.
In a small house at Alter Market No. 10, the then 17 year old Hartwig Kantorowitcz modestly opened a retail distillation shop and initially offered a small selection of popular drinks at the time.
Advertisements published years later generally recognized 1823 as the year Hartwig founded the business.
Over the next quarter century the growth of the business ultimately led him to construct a new distillery in Posen at Wronkerstrasse No. 6
When a few years later, his business had experienced very good growth despite a variety of competition (there were 30 other distillery shops in Poznan around 1825) he moved it to the house at Wronkerstrasse No. 4 north of the town hall. A few years later the business expanded again and in 1843 it was relocated to Wronkerstrasse No. 6…A two-story building was erected in the yard of the property, where, among other things, a large new copper distillation plant could be put into operation…Around 1850 the total value of the company was estimated at around 75,000 thalers (the annual wage of a worker was around 200 thalers).
The following depicts the street front of the building at Wronkerstrasse No. 6 with their sign clearly visible above the entrance.
A biography of Hartwig Kantorowicz’s grandson entitled “Ernst Kantorowicz, A Life” written by Robert E. Lerner and published in 2017, described two of Hartwig’s mid 1800’s concoctions.
A document of 1862 referred to two of Hartwig Kantorowicz’s products: Kummelliqueur” and “Goldwassercreme.” The first, otherwise known as “Allasch,” was made primarily from caraway seeds, the second from an essence based on a mixture of herbs such as anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and peppermint (and always plenty of sugar).
It was also sometime in the 1860’s that Hartwig added the famous “Litthauer Bitters” to his menu.
In 1864, Hartwig hired the assistant Josef Loewenthal, who was trained as a journeyman distiller. He developed, probably on behalf of his employer , the very famous herbal bitter Litthauer Meganbitter, which he later marketed himself in Berlin and Cleveland.
After Hartwig’s death in 1871, management of the business passed on to three of his sons, Max (1843-1904), Edmund (1846-1904), and Joseph (1848-1919).
Under the management of the sons, the Hartwig Kantorowicz liqueur factory was constantly expanded. In the years 1871 and 1882 further buildings were erected, in which there was daily hustle and bustle. Building parts of different ages and sizes stood on the property, which in addition to the production areas, also housed an office wing, huge storage cellars, a carpentry shop and export rooms.
In 1895 the company added a retail shop and tasting room in Posen at Berliner Strasse 5, a view of which is presented below.
As early as 1874 the company had opened a Berlin branch and soon after was operating factories, warehouses and tasting rooms there as well.
By the 1880’s Hartwig Kantorowicz was exporting their liquors all over the world.
The company even delivered in the middle of the African bush. Letters from chiefs with liquor orders arrived, who also asked for other items to be sent, such as mouthwash, chocolate, clothespins, but also firearms – these were all sent at the same time. The goods were then paid for with mahogany blocks, palm kernels or palm oil. Since the Kantorowicz company had no use for it, a branch was opened at the port in Hamburg in order to “exchange” these things there for money.
Its clear that Hartwig Kantorowicz products were also making their way to America well before the turn of the century. According to the Lerner biography:
Sometime in the 1880’s he (Max) traveled to the United States to arrange for the regular exporting to Posen of fruit juices, which made for a more varied range of liqueurs. On the same trip he arranged for the regular purchase of California wines, which were extremely cheap, in order to introduce the sale of wines as a sideline to the Kantorowicz business. So far as is known, Max was the first to introduce California wines to Europe.
It would make sense that at the same time he was arranging for the importing of California’s fruit juice and wine to Posen, he was also arranging for the export of Hartwig Kantorowicz liquors to the United States. A supposition that’s bolstered by the fact that the earliest U.S. newspaper advertisements for Hartwig Kantorowicz that I can find appeared in several 1883 editions of California’s “San Francisco Chronicle.” The following was published in the May 24, 1883 edition.
Throughout the 1890’s, the company apparently increased their focus on the United States. This is supported by their advertisement that appeared in an 1897 German publication entitled the “Directory of German Export Co.’s.” that bragged:
Specialties known in nearly all transatlantic countries.
The ad went on to include a menu of their specialty products that was printed in both German (on the left) and English (on the right).
In the United States, up through 1898 they apparently did business with local sales agents who typically marketed Hartwig Kantorowicz liquors under the generic term, “Cordials.” as evidenced by the following advertisement found in several 1896 editions of the “Buffalo (N.Y.) Commercial.”
Another advertisement, this one in the August 15, 1893 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era” attached names to some of their cordials; Absinth, Blackberry, Creme de Minthe, Coca Liqueur Curacao, Kuemmel, Maraschino, Etc.
Advertisements for Litthauer Bitters continued to appear as well, with one January 24, 1894 ad in Washington D.C.’s “Evening Star” touting”
These world famous stomach bitters are unequalled for curing indigestion, flatulency, hysteria, colics, agues, colds, “La Grippe,” abdominal disorders, etc.
Around the turn of the century Hartwig Kantorowicz established a presence in New York City where the company was listed in the directories as liquor importers with an address of 32 Water Street. Likely a wholesale branch, the endeavor was short lived with the company only listed from roughly 1900 to 1903. No longer listed in the 1903/1904 directory, they apparently returned to the use of U.S. agents.
When Max and Edmund both passed away in 1904, Joseph Kantorowitcz, along with Max’s son Franz, became co-managers of the firm. Several years later continued growth demanded the construction of a new, modern factory.
Over the years, production continued to increase, so that the premises at Wronkerstrasse 6 gradually became too small.
The architect Martin Sonnabend was commissioned to build a new factory complex. The family bought a large piece of land on Sudstrasse opposite the slaughterhouse and cattle yard. After several years of construction, the company was able to move its headquarters to the more than 1,000 square meter production and administration building in 1908. The entire facility had a full basement and was built in reinforced concrete. It comprised four five-story factory buildings, several production and storage halls, all of which were connected to each other.
A pictorial representation of the complex, which also included housing for the workers is shown below.
Two years later when Joseph retired in 1910, the business was incorporated under the name “Hartwig Kantorowicz Actien-Gesellschaft.” Franz was named as director and a man named Hans Schuchard as managing director.
During World War I the business survived when providing supplies to the army compensated for the loss of foreign trade. After the war Franz, now living in Berlin, sold the business.
On the evening of November 5, 1920 he came from Berlin and sold the company for a total price of 20 million Reichsmarks, including 5 million Reichsmarks for the real estate alone, to the Unternehmerbank Posen. The contract…also included the handing over of the liqueur recipes, that had been closely guarded until then.
After the sale to the Unternehmerbank the company in Posen continued to exist under the name Hartwig Kantorowicz Folger AG from December 9, 1920.
They continued to produce liqueurs, other spirits, fruit juices and jams in Posen throughout much of the 1930’s. In fact, it appears that after Prohibition some of their product continued to make it’s way to the United States. An advertisement for their Vodka and Mountain Ash Brandy can be found in several 1936 editions of a Polish newspaper published in Omaha, Nebraska called “Gwiazda Zackodu.”
Ultimately in 1939 the Posen business was placed under German administration and during World War II their output went exclusively to the army.
After the war it operated as a stock company under the name “Obstdestillierie und Wodkafabrik Hartwig Kantorowicz SA” until September 18, 1951 at which time:
the entire alcohol production and thus also the Kantorowicz company was nationalized and placed under the central administration of the fruit and vegetable industry.
Meanwhile in Germany Franz Kantorowicz and Hans Schuchard continued to operate the former company’s German facilities.
After the sale of the parent company in Posen, the Hartwig Kantorowicz liqueur factory in Berlin remained a stock corporation and was temporarily located at Greifswalder Strasse 224 in 1919. The tasting rooms and the office continued to operate at their old locations.
Originally quite successful, in the early 1920’s they established a new German office and factory and:
In 1921 Kantorowicz had inventories worth 5.3 million Reichsmarks and a net profit of 3.2 million Reichsmarks.
That all changed with an economic crisis that began in 1925 and ultimately ended the Kantorowicz family’s long time association with the business.
It is highly probable that the sales and profits of Hartwig Kantorowicz AG had fallen so much between 1925 and 1927 that the company ran into difficulties and could only be saved by merging with the famous Berlin liqueur factory CAF Kahlbaum, which was also ailing. As part of the merger, the Kantorowicz family sold all their shares in the company…
The bottle I found is mouth blown, olive green in color and contains somewhere between a quart and a fifth. In addition to the company information embossed on the base, a unique trademark is embossed on the bottle’s shoulder. A trademark application included in U.S. patent records (No, 17889) described it as:
The representation of two triangles arranged to form a six-pointed star and a fish produced upon said star.
The U.S. trade mark application was filed on March 3, 1890 but the record indicates it had been in use since October 9, 1880, further suggesting that Hartwig Kantorowicz products began any significant appearance in the United States sometime in the early 1880’s.
The company used a wide variety of bottle styles.
From about 1880, the company also housed its own design department for bottles and labels and a packing station in which about 20 people worked. Large quantities of bottle labels were stored in a special room – there were always new designs so that, like in the fashion industry, the customer could always be addressed in a new way.
New bottle shapes were also constantly being invented, which were manufactured by various glassworks in the province of Posen, Silesia, Bohemia and the Kingdom of Saxony. There were always new bottle designs, such as round, square, triangular, bulbous, tower-like, pyramidal,shapes, but also small spiked helmets.
In the early 1900’s, the company employed at least 60 different bottle shapes all categorized by number. Our subject bottle closely, if not exactly, matches their Facon (Shape) Nr. 12.
Again thanks to Google Translate, the shape was referred to as the “Dutch Liqueurs Kind,” and was used for cherry brandy, curaçao, stoughton, half and half and anisette.
The bottle was produced in 860ml., 430ml., 120ml., and 60ml sizes. Our bottle is certainly 860ml.
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.”
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:
Frederick C. M. Lendholt was born in Germany in the early 1870’s and arrived in the United States sometime in the mid-1880’s. As early as 1900, census records indicate he was living on Prospect Avenue in the Bronx with the occupation of “clerk.”
New York City directories continued to list his occupation as simply “clerk” up through 1908. I suspect for some, if not all of this time, he worked for long time Bronx druggist, Edward F. Miller. This 1899 advertisement described Miller’s business as:
The Oldest and Most Reliable Establishment in the Bronx
During much of the early 1900’s, in addition to 712 Tremont Avenue, which was also Miller’s home address, he also listed a second business address at 2007 Boston Road.
Towards the end of the decade, Miller incorporated the business as Edward F. Miller, Inc. By this time Lendholt, more than just a clerk, was apparently managing the business, as evidenced by the fact that Miller named him president of the new corporation. The incorporation notice was published in the March 24, 1909 edition of the “Paint, Oil & Drug Review.”
The N. Y. C. Copartnership and Corporation Directories continued to list the corporation in this fashion up through 1915. That year Lendholt left the Miller company and opened his own pharmacy on East Tremont Avenue. The announcement appeared in the May, 1915 edition of “The Practical Druggist.”
F. C. M. Lendholt has succeeded Wm. Isemann in the drug business at Bathgate and Tremont Aves., New York City. Until recently Mr. Lendholt was manager for E. F. Miller.
Located at 490 East Tremont Avenue, Isemann’s business had been listed there as early as 1907.
Lendholt continued in business for at least the next 18 years. As late as 1933 N.Y.C.’s business directory still listed him as a retail druggist at 490 East Tremont Avenue. Sometime after that he passed away, with 1940 census records listing Lendholt’s wife Katherine as a widow. That being said, the 1939/1940 Bronx Telephone Book continued to list the pharmacy, now F.C.M. Lendholt Inc., at the 490 East Tremont Avenue address. So, its likely that at some point after his death the business passed into the hands of a corporation. What became of it after 1940 is not clear.
Today, 490 East Tremont Avenue, at the corner of East Tremont and Bathgate Avenue is a vacant lot.
The bottle I found is a mouth blown prescription bottle made by the Whitehall, Tatum Co. (W.T.Co. embossed on the base). It exhibits Lendholt’s “490 East Tremont Avenue” address dating it no earlier than 1915 when Lendholt succeeded William Isemann at that address. Recognizing that it’s mouth blown, I don’t expect that it dates much later than 1915 after which I would expect a machine made bottle. This could put it in the initial batch of bottles ordered by Lendholt after assuming control of the business.
Prior to 1850, William B. Riker established a drug store on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan’s Flatiron District that he, and later, his son, William H. Riker, operated up through the early 1890’s. Subsequently, under several different management teams it would morph into the largest retail drug chain in the country all while continuing to exhibit the Riker name.
The senior Riker was a native of New York City who, according to his February 23, 1906 “New York Times” obituary was born in 1821 on Duane Street in lower Manhattan. Another obituary, this one published in the “New York Herald,” gets the story of his career started.
He entered the drug business early in life with John Meakin, then was associated with Dr. Hunter.
Riker likely served as a clerk for druggist Meakin, whose business was listed with an address of 511 Broadway during the early to mid-1840’s. His association with “Dr. Hunter” is less clear. There were two physicians named Hunter listed in Manhattan during the early to mid-1840’s. One, Adam T. Hunter, listed an address of 161 Hudson Street. The other, Galen Hunter, was located at 116 Sixth Avenue about a block or so from Meakin’s drug store, so I suspect he’s our Dr. Hunter.
According to most accounts, it was sometime in 1846 that Riker established his own drug store on Sixth Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets. That being said, he’s not mentioned in the NYC directories until 1848/1849 when he was listed as:
William B. Riker, apothecary, 353 Ave. 6.
So suffice to say, he was certainly in business by the late 1840’s.
Not long after, in 1850, Riker partnered with a man named George W. Berrian, Jr. and the business operated under the name “Riker & Berrian” for the next 10 years. This April 13, 1854 “New York Times” advertisement named Riker & Berrian’s drug store as the Manhattan depot for a proprietary product called “Lyon’s Magnetic Powder and Pills.”
Sometime in 1860 or 1861 the Berrian name was dropped and throughout the 1860’s the business was simply listed as William B. Riker. Then sometime around 1870 he added his son’s name to the listing, calling it W. B. Riker & Son. To the best of my knowledge it was first listed this way in the 1871 Goulding’s Business Directory.
Late in the 1870’s the Riker’s began to manufacture their own proprietary products (or at least products that included the Riker name in the title). The first Riker named product I can find advertised was “Riker’s American Face Powder.” The ad appeared in the September 1, 1878 edition of the “New York Herald.”
The ad made the point that their face powder was “endorsed by the leading dramatic artists.” Several years later another advertisement, this one in the November 7, 1882 edition of the “New York Tribune,” went on to name several of these artists.
By the early to mid 1880’s the company had added a few more products sporting the Riker name as evidenced by this October 21, 1883 “New York Sun” advertisement.
Although their list of proprietary products was growing, up through the mid-1880’s company advertisements continued to refer to the business as simply “druggists” with the single address of 353 Sixth Avenue. This suggests that any manufacturing was done on a limited scale and the operation was conducted at the retail location on Sixth Avenue. That changed in 1887 when, now calling themselves “druggists and manufacturing chemists,” the company began listing laboratory/factories on Manhatan’s Clarkson Street and Washington Street. Located at the intersection of Clarkson and Washington, I suspect it was actually one location with addresses on both streets.
A November 11, 1887 advertisement in New York’s “Evening World” made it clear that by then their “American Face Powder” was one of many “Riker Preparations.”
The same advertisement went on to list several perfumes manufactured by the company as well.
It was around this time that the senior Riker turned the business over to his son as evidenced by his own testimony in a court case (William Comyns against William H. Riker, William B. Riker & Son Company and William B. Riker).
Q. When did you dispose of or withdraw from the business?
Witness: I gave a bill of sale; I sold my business out in 1887, December 15th; but I had been previously out of business; I had nothing to do, my son did everything, and took the entire profits for at least a year previous to my giving the bill of sale, and a formal bill of sale was drawn up.
According to testimony in the above court case, sometime in 1891, with William H. Riker now running the business, he leased the adjacent store on the corner of 22nd Street (355 Sixth Avenue) and altered the two properties into “one large gigantic drug store” where he added a soda fountain. An announcement to that effect appeared in the April 24, 1891 edition of the “Evening World.”
The new soda fountain aside, the business was almost certainly mismanaged by the son and, in 1892, he sold it to a syndicate of four individuals, one of which was an employee. The sale was documented in the “Findings of Fact” associated with the above court case.
That on said 12th day of February, 1892, said William H. Riker…made and executed a bill of sale of his said business so carried out at No.s 353 and 355 Sixth Avenue, and at 588 Washington Street, and of his stock and fixtures and other assets, and transferred it to Edward D. Cahoon, at the time, and for some years prior thereto, one of his clerks, and to Joseph H. Marshall, William C. Bolton and Daniel K. Runyon…
The “Findings of Fact” went on to say:
That on said 12th day of February, 1892, and for a long time prior thereto, the said William H. Riker was hopelessly and wholly insolvent and unable to pay his debts in full.
On a side note: In lieu of paying off his creditors with proceeds from the sale, William H. Riker signed the money over to his father who paid down mortgage debt he held on the Sixth Avenue property. This resulted in several court cases, including the one referenced above.
All that aside, it’s clear that the Riker name continued to hold value within the drug community because the new syndicate retained it, subsequently incorporating the business as the “W. B. Riker & Son, Co;” simply adding “Co.” to the former name. The incorporation notice was published in the March 23, 1892 edition of a publication called the “Chemist & Druggist.”
In 1897 the company moved their Sixth Avenue store approximately one block north to the corner of 23rd street where it was then listed with an address of 373 Sixth Avenue. The move was reported in the August 1, 1897 edition of the “Merck Report.”
Rikers drug store, which for half a century occupied the same site on Sixth Avenue below Twenty-second Street, has been removed to the reconstructed store at the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Twenty-third Street…
An early 20th century advertisement described the store like this:
Here five floors, devoted to the various departments of the Drug Store business, have probably accomodated more customers than have ever been served in a similar drug store space elsewhere in the same length of time.
In June, 1904 the company opened a second drug store in Manhattan, this one at Broadway and Ninth Street. Around the same time they also added five stores across the East River in Brooklyn when they consolidated their operation with that of the Bolton Drug Company. The consolidation was reported in the June 7th edition of Brooklyn’s “Times Union.”
The Riker drug stores of Manhattan and the Bolton drug stores of Brooklyn, have been consolidated. The change took place on Monday and was effected at a meeting of the Bolton Drug Company.
The combination made yesterday is enterprising and progressive, and a chain of fine establishments in Brooklyn will be one of the results. The main store of the Bolton Company is at 450-454 Fulton Street, and there are four other stores, each of which will be thoroughly remodeled and then operated along the lines of the Riker stores.
As promised, on November 12, 1904 the first remodeled Bolton store reopened under the management of the Riker Company. The public invitation appeared in the November 10th and 11th editions of several Brooklyn newspapers. It read in part:
We extend a cordial invitation to Brooklyn people – and to our Manhattan friends also – to visit the old Bolton Drug Store at 456 Fulton Street next Saturday, when it will be opened under the new Riker management.
The remodeled store will be beautifully decorated with flowers, an excellent orchestra will be in attendance all day, and there will be gifts worth coming from the ends of the town after. This opening is the first of several that are to take place in Brooklyn in the near future. The Bolton Drug Stores are now under the management of the Riker Drug Company, and are being remodeled and rearranged as rapidly as possible to conform to the Riker standards.
Don’t fail to call in at 456 Fulton Street on Saturday.
Beginning in 1907 the company also opened several additional stores in Manhattan: The locations and opening dates were summarized in a November 17, 1908 advertisement published in New York’s ” Evening World.” They were: 159 West 14th Street (May, 1907), 13 West 34th Street (Nov. 1907), 2 West 14th Street (Sept. 1908) and 6th Avenue and 42nd Street (Nov. 1908)
The lease of their 34th Street location set a record for rental prices on Manhattan’s 34th Street at the time. According to a May 8, 1907 story in the “New York Sun:”
RECORD LEASE NEAR WALDORF
RIKER COMPANY TO PAY $903,000 FOR WEST 34TH STREET STORE
Frank M. Winner, of the office of Alvan W. Perry, has leased for Bonwit Teller & Co. the first floor and basement of the building being erected at Nos. 13 and 15 West 34th St. to the William B. Riker & Son Company for a term of 21 years, beginning September 1, at a rental of $43,000. a year.
The building, which has been designed as a six story building for Bonwit, Teller & Co., will be altered to an eight story loft and office building, and the store, which is 40 feet in width by 125 feet in depth, is to have, in addition to this floor space, a mezzanine gallery throughout. The interior of the store is now in the hands of an architect, whose plans contemplate one of the largest and finest drug stores in the United States. The floors will be of mosaic, and the soda fountain, which will be the largest in the city, will cost $20,000 being finished in imported onyx.
Bonwit, Teller & Co. intended this building for their own use, but owing to the rapid increase in 34th Street values and the large rental offered by the Riker company they determined to turn the building into an investment.
This lease marks a still higher record price for stores in 34th St., being at the rate of about $1,100 a front foot, while the store at No. 1 West 34th St. recently rented by the same real estate office to the Mirror Candy Company, was at a rental of $1,000 a front foot.
An advertisement announcing the opening of the 34th Street store appeared in the November 1, 1907 edition of the “New York Times.” It serves to make the point that the Riker business offered much more than just drug prescriptions and cosmetics.
Among the features that make the new Riker Store the most complete and finest drug store ever operated are: a Soda Fountain that will be the handsomest and costliest in America; a complete Stationery and Engraving Dept. unsurpassed anywhere; an extensive Photo Supplies Dept., including expert developing and printing; a Hair Goods Dept. that will carry the most complete and finest line of human hair goods; a Cigar Dept. where all the best known brands will be sold at the lowest prices; a Candy Dept. where the finest confections will be sold at Riker prices; a Sub-Station of the Post Office, Telephone Books, and a Ladies Writing Room for the convenience of lady customers. Another feature will be the department of wines and liquors for home and medicinal purposes. The line of Toilet Goods will be unexcelled; the Prescription and Drug Dept. will be up to the high Riker standard; and a full line of rubber goods will be carried.
Integral to most, if not all of their stores, was the soda fountain. In 1906 a new fountain, called the “Innovation,” was constructed at their 23rd Street location, a description of which appeared in the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record.” If anything, its clear that the fountain was certainly ornate!
This magnificent apparatus will cost $20,000. The dispensing counter will be 36 feet long, built of Pavonazzo or Rose Sienna Marble, trimmed with onyx, and with onyx pilasters having solid bronze bases and bronze capitals.The slabs of both the dispensing counter and of the display section are to be of Mexican onyx from the quarries of the New Pedrara Onyx Company, from which come large blocks of the choicest onyx of wonderful coloring and perfect soundness.
The display, or wall section, with its large French plate beveled mirrors, its gleaming onyx, with electrical illumination revealing the rich colors of the art glass and of the fine paintings above the mirrors, will be indeed a marvel of beauty. The refrigerator at the base of the wall section is to be of white Italian and Pavonazzo marble, relieved by onyx trimmings, and with silver-plated door frames enclosing panels of the French plate glass. The refrigerator is thoroughly insulated and equipped for cooling and storage purposes.
The mechanism of the fountain – its working parts – of draft tubes, coolers, syrup jars, work boards, etc., embody all that is latest and best in the soda fountain construction of the American Soda Fountain Company.
This photograph of the soda fountain appeared in a 1907 advertisement for the American Soda Fountain Company.
In 1907, at about the same time that the Riker Company was opening their new soda fountain, they acquired the Boston, Massachusetts business of Charles P. Jaynes & Company. The March 18th edition of the “Boston Evening Transcript” covered the announcement.
General Manager A. H. Cosden announces that the Riker Drug Company of New York has bought out the great Boston business of Charles P. Jaynes & Company, including all interests, assets, and retail drug stores. The corporate name of the new concern, it is announced, will be William B. Riker & Son Company.
The present retail business of the two companies is said to be in the neighborhood of $3,000,000 a year.
After the acquisition, the Riker company continued to open new stores in both New York and Boston. This advertisement announcing the opening of a new Brooklyn store appeared in the December 19, 1908 edition of the “Brooklyn Chat.”
In Boston, Riker advertisements continued to employ the locally familiar “Jaynes” name as evidenced by this May 18, 1909 “Boston Globe” advertisement that announced the opening of a new “Riker-Jaynes” drug store on Tremont Street. Not surprisingly, the new store included an onyx soda fountain.
The above advertisement put the mid-1909 Riker store count at 21; eight in Boston, seven in Manhattan and six in Brooklyn.
In 1910, the Riker business merged with a competing drug store chain called Hegeman & Co. The new company, called the “Riker-Hegeman Company” officially put an end to the “W. B. Riker & Son Company” name.
The merger announcement was included in the September, 1910 edition of the “Druggist Circular.”
The oft discussed and several times reported merger of the interests of Hegeman & Co. and the W. B. Riker & Son Company, both of this city, and the largest operators of chains of retail drug stores in the country, was consummated early in August. The new company formed by the union is known as the Riker-Hegeman Company. It is incorporated in this State with a capital of $15,000,000…
Competition between the two chains was most often suggested as the reason for the amalgamation. By then, according to an August 5th story in Patterson New Jersey’s “Morning Call,” the Riker chain included 25 stores in the Greater New York area alone, with 23 in Manhattan and Brooklyn as well as individual stores in the surrounding locales of Newark, New Jersey and Mt. Vernon, New York (Westchester County). At the same time, Hegeman operated 20 stores in the same area, many in close proximity to Riker stores.
This advertisement touting the drug chain appeared in the April 9, 1912 edition of the “Evening World.”
In 1916, the Riker-Hegeman stores were acquired by a newly formed company called the Liggett Company which in turn was owned by the United Drug Company. A cooperative controlled by over 7,000 retail druggists, the United Drug Company was the manufacturer of the “Rexall” product line.
The official announcement was published in the March 1916 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era.”
In the offices of the United Drug Company in Boston on Saturday February 12th, was completed the formation of the new L. K. Liggett Company, operating the Riker-Hegeman, Riker-Jaynes, and the Liggett drug stores in the United States and Canada.
The new Liggett Company will operate stores in New York, Boston, and all other leading cities from Bangor, Me., to Detroit, Mich.
The Riker-Hegeman and Riker-Jaynes stores number 107 and the Liggett stores 45; the total of 152 stores making it the largest retail drug association in America today.
The Liggett Company is owned by the United Drug Company of Boston, at the head of which is Mr. Louis K. Liggett, the newly elected president of the Boston Chamber of Commerce.
The United Drug Company in turn is owned and controlled by 7,000 retail druggists throughout the United States and Canada, now operating stores as the “Rexall Stores.”
The 53 stores in Greater New York and all others bearing the Riker-Hegeman name will be known as the LIGGETTS-RIKER-HEGEMAN DRUG STORES. The 20 stores in Boston bearing the Riker-Jaynes name will be called LIGGETT’S-RIKER-JAYNES DRUG STORES. The Liggett stores in cities in which no Riker stores are present will continue under the original name.
The Pharmaceutical Era story went on to say:
The Riker & Hegeman and the Riker-Jaynes stores will sell Rexall goods whenever this can be done without infringing on the right of an established Rexall store. All the Riker stores of New York and Boston will of course, carry Rexall goods. There are, however, some towns where Riker stores have been established in competition with existing Rexall stores. In such cases the Riker store would not carry the Rexall remedies.
Early on Liggett’s continued to use the Riker-Hegeman name as evidenced by this July 7, 1916 “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” advertisement. Also note that the soda fountain business was still alive and well!
By the early 1920’s any mention of Riker-Hegeman in Liggett’s advertisements was a simple reminder that some of their locations were “former Riker-Hegeman stores.”
Not long after, the Riker-Hegeman name disappeared completely from their drug store ads.
The company grew under Liggett as evidenced by this assessment that appeared 15 years later in a June 17, 1937 “Pittsburgh Sun” story. By then the number of Liggett owned stores had grown from 152 to 450 and the Rexall retailers from 7,000 to 10,000.
From a small beginning the Liggett Drug Company, has grown into one of the largest institutions of its kind. It is an integral part of the United Drug Company of Boston, which distributes merchandise of its own manufacture to 10,000 Rexall agents and to 450 Liggett drug stores in practically every state in the union.
The great business is headed by Louis K. Liggett, founder of the original Liggett Company and now president of the United Drug Company.The 450 Liggett stores are under the executive direction of George M. Gales, who is president of the Liggett Drug Company. It is estimated that approximately 150,000,000 people are served annually by the 450 Liggett stores.
In 1941, a man named Justin Dart took control of the organization. Prior to that Dart had been general manager of the Chicago-based Walgreen drug chain. A story in the March 19, 1977 edition of the Muscatine (Iowa) Journal picks up the story from there.
In 1941, Justin Dart…left Chicago and Walgreen for Boston and United Drug, where he took command of what was then the largest retail drug chain in the country.
Dart brought order and direction to United Drug, which was a losely organized holding company that included manufacturing, franchising and retailing through wholly owned stores operating under various names – Rexall, Liggett, Owl and Sontag were some of them.
Dart centralized operations around the Rexall name. He made Rexall a national advertiser. Then, in 1945, he moved himself – and the company’s headquarters – to Los Angeles. The corporate name was changed to Rexall Drug in 1947. Dart once ensconced in Los Angeles, proceeded to build an entirely different company.
Wheeling and dealing at a furious pace, he bought and sold companies, acquired others, disposed of others, merged others. He entered chemicals, plastics, cosmetics, glass containers and resort development.
It appears that the last vestige of the “Riker” name was one of the casualties of Dart’s “wheeling and dealing” when, in 1969, the company, now referred to as Dart Industries, sold their ethical drug division called Riker Laboratories to the 3M Company. The sale was reported in the July 9th edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer.”
Dart Industries and Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. officials have agreed in principle to purchase by Minnesota Mining of Riker Laboratories, Ethical Drug Division of Dart Industries, for 1,500,000 common shares of Minnesota Mining. The transaction has a value of slightly over $156 million…
Dart said the proposed sale of Riker would not materially affect 1969 earnings of Dart Industries and should contribute importantly to the company’s capital resources.
The 1977 “Muscatine Journal” feature went on to chronicle the last chapter of the story.
Rexall was dropped as a corporate name in 1969, replaced by Dart Industries
In 1972, 50 company owned Liggett drug stores were sold.
In 1973, 12 company owned Drug King stores in California and Oregon were sold.
In 1976, all of Rexall’s Canadian operations were sold.
And in 1977, the last of the lot went. Rexall’s manufacturing facilities in St. Louis, its franchise drug division and its contract manufacturing operations were all sold. They had sales of $50 million last year.
Justin Dart heads a company that will do better than $1.5 billion of business this year, none of it under the Rexall name.
While the Riker name is long gone, signs of the company’s existence still remain in the form of several current Manhattan buildings that once housed Riker stores.
Unfortunately, the building that housed Riker’s original location at 353 Sixth Avenue (now 675 Avenue of the Americas) is not one of them. Construction of the building located there today, called the “Mattel Building,” began in 1900, so it’s possible that its planned construction facilitated Riker’s 1897 move up Sixth Avenue to 373 Sixth Avenue (now 711 Avenue of the Americas). Located at the southwest corner of 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue, the building there now almost certainly dates back to Riker. This rendering of it appeared in an 1899 publication called “A Pictorial Description of Broadway,” found in the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org
…and this description of it appeared in a 1907 advertisement:
Here five floors, devoted to the various departments of the Drug Store business, have probably accomodated more customers than have ever been served in a similar drug store space elsewhere in the same length of time.
This building located there today, sans a few architectural modifications at the roof level and a fire escape added on the 23rd Street side, certainly fits the bill.
It appears that at least two other Manhattan buildings that housed Riker stores remain to this day as well.
The building at 15 West 34th Street, expanded from six to eight stories by Bonwit Teller to accommodate the Riker store, was sometimes referred to in newspaper articles as the “Riker Building,” A sketch of the store front was included in this November 1, 1908 advertisement that announced its opening.
Below is a current view of the building courtesy of “Google Earth.” The only thing missing is the “Riker” sign above the store front.
Finally, here’s the September 18, 1908 advertisement announcing the opening of the store at 2 West 14th Street.
I’m pretty certain it was located somewhere in this row of stores that occupy the current building located on the south side of 14th Street just west of Fifth Avenue (possibly a combination of the 3rd and 4th store fronts from the corner).
The bottle I found is mouth blown and about three inches tall. The main body is two inches in diameter and it abruptly narrows to one inch near the lip. It’s embossing includes the name “W. B. Riker & Co.” as well as the original 353 Sixth Avenue address. This results in a very narrow date range for the bottle.
The presence of “Co.”in the embossed name dates it no earlier than 1892 when William H. Riker sold the business and the initial address of 353 Sixth Avenue dates it no later than their 1897 move to 23rd Street (373 Sixth Avenue).