Coward’s Corn Cure (Coward Shoe Company)

What you’re looking at in the above photograph is the lower half or base of a milk glass jar that’s embossed “Coward Corn Cure” on the bottom. Incorporated into the base is a shallow well that contained the “Corn Cure”which must have had a thick, greasy consistency.

The metal top of the jar is long gone obviously due to the salt water environment of the bay where it was found. That being said, a compete example  including the top was recently offered for sale on the internet and is pictured below.

While you might think “Coward’s Corn Cure” was another turn of the century patent medicine, and possibly it was, the product was in fact manufactured by one of the largest and most reputable shoe makers of the late 19th and early 20th century, James S. Coward.

According to the “National Cyclopedia of American Biography,” published in 1910:

Mr. Coward is a thorough student of the foot. His trade mark is “The Coward Good Sense Shoe,” whose peculiarity consists in its conformity to the natural shape of the foot, thereby giving the foot proper room at all points and not crowding it into unnatural or deformed shapes. By adopting the most progressive methods he has become one of the foremost shoe merchants in the country.

Coward was born in New York City on December 19, 1847 and, according to various biographies, began his career at the age of thirteen working for a man named  James Sinclair whose shoe factory was located in lower Manhattan at the corner of Pearl and Chatham Streets. Still in his teens he was later employed in the retail shoe store of B. McClosky on Greenwich Street. A feature on Coward in the October 21, 1903 edition of “The Shoe Retailer” picks up the story from there.

Coward’s employer was B. McClosky, who at the time had a small store at 217 Greenwich Street, where he worked until he was 19 years of age. At this period he started in business for himself, and his first location was on Greenwich Street, just above his present store. His former employer had later located at 270 Greenwich Street, where he finally sold out to other partners, who soon failed. It was then that Mr. Coward took over that store…

According to a feature on the Coward business found in the December 24, 1902 edition of an advertising publication called “Printer’s Ink,” it was in 1866 that Coward established that first shoe store at 370 Greenwich Street in a building called “Old Marble Hall.” Wilson’s Business Directory of New York City first listed the business at that location in their 1867-68 directory and it remained there until the mid-1870’s at which time Coward moved further south and into McClosky’s old store at 270 Greenwich Street.

The 1903 “Shoe Retailer” story went on to say:

Custom shoemaking was a profitable business in the early days, and this was Mr. Coward’s specialty. In the early days Mr. Coward lived over the store, and he would come down in the morning at 6 o’clock and open the store. He would work all day until closing time, 10 o’clock at night, then would pitch in and work until 2 o’clock almost every morning fitting up stock and lasts so that the shoemakers could start on them in the morning.

Early on Coward was content to simply service the local family trade so his approach to advertising was quite simplistic. He described it like this in the 1903 “Shoe Retailer” story.

I would go out late at night and early in the morning with a pail of paste and cover the entire lower districts with posters which read: “Get Your Footwear at Cowards.”

This approach began to change in the late 1880’s at which time Coward began publishing and distributing a mail order catalog as well as advertising in local newspapers. At this point, according to the 1902 “Printers Ink” feature:

Mr. Coward determined to divide the business into two departments. One was to cater to personal customers and the other was to be purely a mail order trade. To achieve this he chose the local newspapers to attract customers to the store. For the latter he selected magazines, religious and other publications.

For mail order purposes he claims the Coward list cannot be surpassed. It includes the “Ladies Home Journal,” ‘Munseys,” “Youth’s Companion,” “McClure’s,” the (Phil) “Saturday Evening Post,” “Success,” the “Christian Advocate,” “Motherhood,” etc.

This December 30, 1902 advertisement published in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle,” included the phrases “Sold Nowhere Else,” and “A Short Walk from the Brooklyn Bridge,” so it was certainly aimed at the local store customer.

While this advertisement found in the October 17, 1901 edition of the more widely circulated religious publication “Christian Advocate,” focused on the mail order patron.

The 1902  “Printers Ink” feature went on to say:

The sixteen years of advertising done by Mr. Coward has yielded him a mail order list of 125,000 names.

This 16 year emphasis on advertising created a demand for expansion of their physical plant, which grew from a single store to four adjacent  buildings all located on Greenwich Street (268 to 274 Greenwich St.).   A description of their 1903 Greenwich Street facilities was included in the “Shoe Retailer” feature.

The business increased until it was necessary to occupy the entire building for sales, workshops, and the sorting of surplus stock. The business continued to grow until Mr. Coward now has four stores devoted to selling, while three upper floors of the four buildings, together with the basements, are required for various purposes, with over one hundred employees…

…In the repair department of this establishment, situated on the third floor, about 20 men are employed. The custom department on the fourth floor is another considerable feature. The shoemakers are in the rear, while the cutters work in the curious antique rooms lighted by the gable windows…

The second floors of the entire four buildings are exclusively devoted to the surplus stock of footwear, while in the basement is situated the receiving rooms and the rubber stock. The contrast between the store and the shoemaking departments on the upper floors is marked and interesting. It is the modern against the antique, the present compared with the past.

The mail order department of this concern is not a side issue by any means. It requires the services of several people alone to attend to this end of the business. Catalogues are issued twice a year, and several hundred thousand are printed. Orders come from every state in the Union, and a few from Europe…

Another feature on the Coward business, this one published in the July 3, 1909 edition of “The Shoe Retailer,” described a special department for making plaster casts. It also speaks volumes of Coward’s reputation.

A special department of this store is that for making plaster casts of feet which require special lasts. Four men are constantly employed to do-nothing but make these casts. A most interesting sight is a view of these casts, which show the facsimiles of the feet of some of the wold’s most prominent men. Among them the writer was shown the casts of the feet of a late President of the United States… the secrecy of identity maintained.

By this time the company’s merchandise had expanded well beyond simply a “Good Sense” shoe as evidenced by this list of specialties included in a November 26, 1906 “New York Times” advertisement.

It was also around this time, that they began including the “Corn Cure” in their advertisements as evidenced by this ad published in the May 12, 1905 edition of the New York “Evening World.”

The 1909 “Shoe Retailer” feature made it clear that throughout the first decade of the 20th Century, Coward’s Greenwich Street facilities were continuing to expand.

Mr. Coward has recently purchased two old buildings to the south of his present holdings and these later will be razed on August first next and upon the lots there will be erected a modern building containing every convenience, including elevators, to house the wonderful shoe business of James S. Coward.

Coward passed away in 1923 after which his son, John M. Coward, who had been working with his father for years, took over the business. Up to this point Coward shoes were sold from no other place in the world except their Greenwich Street location. The reasoning for this was verbalized by Coward’s son, John in the 1909 “Shoe Retailer” feature.

We have all the business here that we can attend to – I might almost say more – so what’s the use of going somewhere else?” “We believe in letting well enough alone.”

“The success of our house, located here in this out-of-the-way place, on a street that is in no sense a retail thoroughfare, simply bears out to the letter the truth of what Emerson says: ‘If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.’ That’s our case exactly.”

This long time philosophy began to change in 1925 when John M. Coward passed away and his son, J. Mortimer Coward, James S. Coward’s grandson, took over. A little over a year later the company announced the opening of their “New Uptown Branch,” at 37 West 47th Street. This item in the March 19, 1927 edition of a Brooklyn, N. Y. publication called “The Tablet,” announced the opening of the new branch.

The announcement went on to read in part:

Now Coward Shoes will be as convenient to buy as they are comfortable to wear.

Thousands of old friends will find this new store, the first and only branch, easy to reach… A great store it is too, with 11,000 square feet of floor space – the counterpart of the great Greenwich Street store which grew from a workbench in a tiny shop to be the largest single shoe store in all the world.

Less than four months later the company opened a huge store in Boston, Massachusetts, their first location outside of New York City. An August 12, 1927 story in the Boston Globe announcing the opening included this fun fact.

There will be 110,000 pairs of shoes in the store Monday morning when the establishment opens for business, a record number for opening a shoe store.

Stock room boys will be busy all day taking the shoes from the stock shelves to the automatic lifts which will carry the shoes upstairs to fill the places of those sold. In order to make speed in the basement the stock room boys will be provided with roller skates. The floor is a hard cement. This is bound to be a popular job for young boys.

The “Boston Globe” story included this photograph of the sales room that included over 300 leather seats.

Another story, this one in the August 18, 1927 edition of the “Bayonne Evening News” laid out J. Mortimer Coward’s plans for the future.

With the opening of the store, Coward has set in motion plans for expansion of the business into what he hopes will become the world’s greatest retail shoe business.

Sadly, J. Mortimer Coward passed away unexpectedly less than a year later and never saw his expansion plans implemented. Two years later, the April 16, 1930 edition of  the “Montclair Times” reported the business had been sold.

Sale of the Coward shoe stores to Lane Bryant, Inc., announced this week, marks the end of the control held by a Glen Ridge family for three generations. No announcement was made of the consideration. Two years ago $15,000,000 was refused for the Coward stores. Complete control of the Coward business will pass to Lane Bryant.

Policies of the Coward stores and the name will undergo no change because of the sale, it was said. The same administration will continue as when the business was in the hands of the Coward family.

There are but three Coward stores involved, though one of them is among the largest retail stores in the United States…Sale of the business was effected by the estate of the late J. Mortimer Coward who died March 4, 1928, in Havana at the age of twenty-eight.

In 1932 Lane Bryant opened two new stores in New York City under the Coward name. The first, third in Manhattan, was opened in March in the Empire State Building. All three Manhattan locations were pictured in this March 4, 1932 advertisement published in Brooklyn’s Times Union.

The second, located at the corner of Fulton and Hoyt Streets in Brooklyn, opened on December 15, 1932.

Fifty plus years later the Coward Shoe Company was still operating shoe stores in and around the New York area. A March 17, 1988  advertisement for “Revelations Shoes” published in the New York “Daily News” listed four Coward stores in Manhattan (though Greenwich St. and 47th St. were no longer included) as well as one each in Brooklyn, Hempstead, L. I., and Westchester County’s Mamaroneck.

As late as 1991 Coward’s was still advertising in the newspapers, as evidenced by this April 7th ad in Long Island’s “Newsday.”

The very bottom of the advertisement (shown below) indicates they were still operating their Empire State Building  location in Manhattan as well as Hoyt Street in Brooklyn at that time

It appears the end of the road came the following year when advertisements for “Claro Shoes” included the phrase “Claro Shoes Formerly Coward Shoe.”

(Note that the word “formally” is used incorrectly in lieu of “formerly” in the third line of the ad but formerly is used correctly further down.)

Today, all remnants of Coward’s Greenwich Street complex are gone, replaced by modern buildings. That being said, it appears that the building and storefront of their 47th Street location remains to this day. The now, courtesy of Google Maps, and then are both pictured below

Their Empire State Building location certainly remains as well, somewhere in the building’s 34th Street frontage.

Finally, I’ll close the loop on “Coward Corn Cure:”

The inspiration for Coward Corn Cure came as a result of Coward’s mail order business. According to a “Printer’s Ink” feature published in 1916:

The mail order department was still young when customers began asking Coward to send them a box of stockings with a pair of shoes. This suggested the advisability of expanding the stock into “everything for the feet.”

It was obvious immediately that every additional item Coward could sell would add to the net profits from the mail orders, so he has extended his lines until now they include his own make of insoles, foot powder, shoe oil, leather dressings, corn cure, shoe forms, and many other specialties.

As far as I can tell, in 1905 and 1905 only, the company ran specific advertisements for their “Corn and Bunion Paste”

In addition, many general Coward advertisements that year included, at the very bottom, a reference to their “Corn Cure.”

The fact that these ads and references are exclusive to 1905 suggests, at least to me, that the product originated around that time. I’ve seen it referenced in drug price lists (1907 and 1910) and correspondence in a drug publication (1921) so it was certainly on the market from 1905 up through at least the early 1920’s. When exactly it was discontinued is unclear.

C. B. Ellin’s Horseradish, New York

 

Clifford B. Ellin was a native New Yorker born in 1880. He was active in New York City’s wholesale grocery trade during the first two decades of the twentieth century before relocating to Morrisville, in Bucks County,  Pennsylvania.

His business career began at the age of twenty when he  partnered with Charles S. Heron forming  C.B. Ellin & Company. Located in the Bronx, N.Y., the company was first listed in the 1901 N.Y.C. Copartnership and Corporation Directory at 769 East 167th Street.

A year later, the 1902 edition of the same directory listed their address as 1238 Brook Avenue. During this time N.Y.C general directories identified Ellin’s occupation as “teas.”

C.B. Ellin & Company was no longer listed in the 1906 N.Y.C Copartnership and Corporation Directory (the next one I have access to) and after 1903 Ellin’s general directory listing drops the Brook Avenue address; all suggesting that sometime between 1903 and 1905 the formal partnership between Ellin and Heron was dissolved.

Later, sometime in 1906, Ellin apparently went into business for himself as a wholesale dealer in both “pickles” and “horseradish.” Now located in lower Manhattan, the business was originally listed at 425 Greenwich Street until sometime around 1909 when it moved to 503 Greenwich Street

An item in the September, 1915 edition of a publication called “Simmon’s Spice Mill” referred to C.B. Ellin as “the headquarters for horseradish root in wholesale quantities.” The item appeared under the heading: “Queries and Answers of Special Interest.”

Fresh Horse Radish Root

“M. S.,” of Marion, N. C. asks: “Will you do us the favor of telling us from whom we may obtain fresh horse radish root?”

Ans.- C. B. Ellin, 503 Greenwich St., New York, is headquarters for horseradish root in wholesale quantities. We understand that at the present time, however, there is no actually fresh horseradish root on the market and that there will not be any root on the market until after September; but correspondent can obtain cold storage horseradish root from the above named firm.

The company remained at 503 Greenwich Street until 1918 or 1919 when Ellin apparently closed up shop.

By 1920, Ellin had moved to Morrisville, Pennsylvania where, according to a March 12, 1920 story in the Bristol (Pa.) Daily Courier, he established a business operating a bus route between Morrisville and Trenton, N.J. By then he was also serving on the Morrisville Borough Council.

The jar I found is eight-sided and measures 2-1/4-inches wide at the base. Towards the top it transitions to an approximate 1-3/4-inch round opening. It dates to the 1906 to 1918 time period when Ellin marketed horseradish. Blown in a mold, it likely trends to the early end of that range.

 

Leslie Dunham & Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., 1-lb. Pure Honey

 

Leslie, Dunham & Company were wholesale dealers in honey, maple syrup and sugar that operated in Brooklyn, N. Y. from 1888 to 1908. Ultimately the company opened another location in New Jersey where they continued in business until the mid 1920’s and possibly longer.

Their honey was sold with brand names like “Orange Blossom,” and “Choice Extra Clover,” while their maple syrup brands were, among others, “Green Mountain” and “Maple Twig.” “Green Mountain” was apparently one of  their most popular.

The company’s founder and long time senior member was a native Canadian of Scottish descent named Charles G. Leslie who settled in Pittsfield, Massachusetts sometime after arriving in the United States in 1848. According to his September 27, 1907 obituary published in the “Berkshire Eagle:”

Mr. Leslie was born in St. Bridget, Canada, moving to the United States when a young man. He spent most of his life in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was actively engaged in business, being the head of the firm of Leslie, Dunham & Co., which he established some 50 years ago.

The above obituary suggests that the business was established sometime around 1860, a fact that’s referenced in several of the company’s business cards published years later in the Brooklyn city directories.

That year census records listed both Charles G. Leslie and Darius W. Dunham as farmers living in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.  The census records, along with the obituary of Darius Dunham, published in the 1896 edition of the “Pittsfield Sun,” indicate that in 1859 Leslie married Dunham’s daughter Malissa. So the Leslie’s and Dunhams certainly had a personal relationship by then.

That being said, through the early 1870’s there’s no reference to either Leslie, Dunham or the company in the city directories for Brooklyn, New York City or even Boston for that matter, so any business apparently remained local to Pittsfield during that time.

That changed in the mid-1870’s when both Charles G. Leslie, along with Darius Dunham’s son, Jasper T., both began to appear in the Brooklyn directories with the occupation of “syrup manufacturer” and/or “honey” albeit at separate locations; Charles G. at 150 Nassau Street, and Jasper T. at 478 4th Avenue. During the early 1880’s Jasper also spent some time across the Hudson River in Jersey City where he was listed with the occupation of “honey” at 133 Coles Street.

Whether a partnership existed at this point is not clear, however by 1888 they were certainly in business together when this item appeared in the March 24th edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

On Greene Avenue near Grand, Messrs. Leslie & Dunham are about to build a two story brick factory 25 x 95, to cost $8,000.

Subsequently in Brooklyn’s 1890 “Lains Business Directory” the Leslie, Dunham & Company name appears for the first time with an address of 275 Greene Avenue.  That year , their business card was included with the directory listing.

Also listed individually at the Greene Avenue address were both Charles G. Leslie and Jasper T. Dunham along  with Leslie’s son, Merwin. The business remained on Greene Avenue for the next 20 years, listing 281 Greene as their address in later years.

Apparently a relatively small operation, the New York State Factory Inspector’s Report for the Year Ending November 30, 1900 listed seven full time employees, all working a 60 hour week.

In 1904 the company opened a second location, this one at 252 Livingston Street in Newark, New Jersey, where the 1904 Newark Directory named Merwin Leslie as “plant superintendent.”

In 1908, with Charles Leslie having passed away the year before and Dunham either retired or having taken a step back (he passed away in 1944 at the age of 96), the Brooklyn plant disappeared from the Brooklyn directories. The Newark operation, with Merwin now listed as principal, remained at the Livingston Avenue location until sometime in the mid-teens at which time it relocated to 644 Montgomery Street in Jersey City. The company was still located there in 1925 (the latest directory I have access to).

It’s not clear when the business came to an end, however, Merwin Leslie was still living in New Jersey and continued to list his occupation as “merchant, maple products” in the 1930 census records, so its possible the life of the business extended into the 1930’s.

The bottle I found is 6-1/2-inches tall with a 2-1/4-inch square cross section that transitions to an approximate 1-3/4-inch round opening. Its embossing includes the “Brooklyn, N. Y.” location, dating it between 1888 and 1908.

 

 

“GEM” Asbury Paine Mfg. Co., Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.A., Pat-2-3-1880

At first glance you would think this small 1-3/4 inch diameter jar contained some sort of medicinal or cosmetic cream but you’d be wrong.  In fact, it served as the lower portion of a jar that contained oil and could be converted to an oiler by adding a nozzle at the top.

An example of the jar adapted for use as an oiler was recently offered for sale on the internet

Called the “Gem” Oiler, it was on the market from the late 1880’s up through the turn of the century when you could pick one up for between 10 and 15 cents.

Its story begins with a native Pennsylvanian named Reuben Ritter who in the mid to late 1800’s was listed in the directories with a wide variety of occupations that included patent med’s, insurance agent, salesman, foreman, oiler and watchman. That being said it’s clear that he could also have been listed with still another occupation, that of  inventor. As early as 1874 he obtained a U.S. patent for what he called the “self sustaining paper box.” The July 14, 1874 edition of the “Scranton Republican” told the story.

On the 30th, Mr. Rueben Ritter of this city, was granted a patent upon a paper box, samples of which are to be seen at Peacock’s drug store. It is called the self-sustaining paper box, and its merits lie in its being composed of only one piece of paper, (ingeniously cut by a machine for the purpose of which is also the design of Mr, Ritter), and put together so that it cannot come apart, and will hold water, so perfectly is it cut, and yet no paste or any fastening substance is used. The box is called by all who examine it, an admirable invention, and when introduced, Mr. Ritter will not fail of securing an unlimited demand for it.

Six years later, on February 3, 1880 (the date embossed on the base of the subject jar), Ritter obtained a patent (No.234,041) for what he called his “Combined Oiler and Oil Bottle.” According to the specifications included with the patent application, in addition to serving as an oiler the bottle/jar could also be adapted for use as a night lamp.

The bottle may be made with very little cost, filled with oil, closed by a suitable stopper and sold as a bottle of oil.

The purchaser can, at the time of first purchase, procure the oiler nozzle and a night lamp. The device may then be used either as an oiler for machinery or a night lamp.

Both the nozzle and lamp configurations were illustrated on this drawing that was also part of the patent documents.

At around the same time that Ritter was obtaining his patent, George H. Paine was establishing  George H. Paine & Co. in Philadelphia. The company was first listed in 1881 as “commercial merchants” with an address of 105 S Front.  In 1883 William E. Diehl joined Paine and the company changed its name to Paine Diehl & Co. The company operated under that name up through 1894 utilizing several different Philadelphia addresses over that span including 105 S Front (1883), 7 Strawberry (1884 to 1885), 12 Bank (1886 to 1887) and 430 S Penn Sq. (1888 to 1894).

During this time the company marketed several unique household items. The one they advertised the most was called the “self-pouring coffee and tea pot.”

Another was their “Egg Beater and Cream Whip.”

Sometime in the mid-1880’s  Paine, Diehl & Co. apparently obtained the rights to Ritter’s design and by 1889 they were running advertisements for what they called the “Gem” Oiler. One of the first ads I can find appeared in the June, 1889 edition of a publication called “The Iron Age.”

Turning to page 67 you found the following item that touted the oiler’s benefits and described how to use it.

GEM OILER

Patented February 3, 1880

The oiler is made of heavy flint glass – strong, clean and durable; filled with the best of oil. It has a metallic top (the bottom is glass), with a flexible chamber with which to squirt the oil. The cap is screwed onto the bottle, making the oiler absolutely leakless.

Being transparent, the quantity of oil in or being poured into the oiler can be seen at a glance, thus enabling you to fill without spilling the oil. Having the bottom and sides all in on piece and of glass, they are perfectly clean, with no spring bottom to leak or come out.

They are sold so cheap that they can be sold at about the price of a bottle of good oil alone.

To the dealer it is a most convenient article and ready seller.

With the consumer it is a most desirable arrangement, as it enables him to get an oiler with his oil, and a splendid offer too.

In using – Place your thumb on the bottom of the oiler, letting the spout pass between the fingers. To squirt the oil, press down on the washer around the spout. This gives a better flow than a spring-bottom oiler, and is easily regulated.

They are sold by Grocers, Stationers, House-Furnishers, Druggists, Hardware Merchants, Novelty Dealers, Typo-writer Dealers and Sewing-Machine Dealers.

__________

PAINE, DIEHL & CO.

Paine, Diehl & Co. was last listed in the 1894 Philadelphia directory, suggesting that the relationship between Paine and Diehl ended around that time. That same year Paine apparently associated with a man named Charles W. Asbury and they established the Asbury-Paine Manufacturing Company in Trenton, New Jersey.

Within a year, the November 9, 1895 edition of the “Philadelphia Times” announced that the company was set to move their headquarters to Philadelphia. The announcement was included under the heading “New Charters.”

The following foreign corporations have been licensed to do business in this State:…the Asbury Paine Manufacturing Company of Trenton, N.J., headquarters to be in Philadelphia.

The company remained  headquartered at Wayne Junction (Wayne and Berkley) in Philadelphia up through the turn of the century with Paine named vice president and Asbury, treasurer. During this time, in addition to advertising many of the former Paine Diehl products, they added some new ones as well. One, that was advertised quite heavily was called “Witch-Kloth.”

Ashley-Paine also continued to market the “Gem” Oiler as evidenced by the following advertisement that appeared in several 1896 editions of the “Trenton Evening News.”

   

Apparently, the Asbury-Paine Manufacturing Company came to an end in 1900, at which time the company name vanished from the Philadelphia directories. That being said, the “Gem” brand of oilers survived well into the 20th century.

On November 27, 1899, the Gem Manufacturing Company was established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An announcement to that effect appeared in the November 7, 1899 edition of “The Pittsburgh Press.”

An application for a charter for the incorporation of the Gem Manufacturing Company will be filed at Harrisburg, November 27. The company will locate its plant in the building formerly occupied by the Bradley Stove Company, Second Avenue and Wood Street. The larger stockholders of the new company are men conversant with the machinery business and have already purchased the hydraulic presses and the die machinery required for the manufacture of the steel specialties. The incorporators of the company are: William H. Frick, John A. Clark, Edwin S. Fonnes, D.A. McCaffrey and W. D. Forsythe.. The two first named are the secretary and vice-president of the Frick & Lindsey Company, Water Street.

The official organization of the company will take place when the charter is received, about December 1, and the company expects to have the plant in working order not later than January 1.

What connection they had with the former Asbuury-Paine Manufacturing Company or, how they obtained rights to the “Gem” name, is not clear but almost immediately after the Gem Manufacturing Company was established they introduced a newly designed “Gem” Oiler. This advertisement touting its benefits can be found in the June 18, 1900 edition of a publication called “The Daily Railway Age.”

According to another introductory item, this one published in the April, 1900 edition of a publication called “Railway Master Mechanic,” the new design replaced the glass jar with a steel base and bottom.

A New Oiler

The Gem Manufacturing Co., of Pittsburg, Pa., presents a new device in the Gem oiler. The can itself is a departure from methods now obtaining, yet it still preserves the fundamental principle of the old.

In this oiler the bottom is constructed from high carbon spring steel. The body is made from the best grade of basic low phosphorus steel, pressed and drop forged into shape, and flared and spun firmly against the bottom proper. To further strengthen the cans and insure against any leakage whatever, the oilers are brazed upon the inside…

This August, 1900 advertisement in “Steam Engineering” called it “The Best Oiler Made.”

This example of their early steel oiler recently appeared for sale on the internet.

 

Later the company added  the “Gem” Steel Tallow Pot and the”Gem” Engineer’s Set to the “Gem” family of oilers.

These additions, coupled with the company’s choice of publications in which to run their advertisements make it clear that the market for their oiler was expanding. Originally sold in local grocery, drug and hardware stores, Ashley-Paine simply targeted the customer who wanted to fix a squeaky door or oil his wheelbarrow. Under the Gem Manufacturing Company, much of their advertising was now directed toward the professional mechanic.

Another market for their oilers opened up with the proliferation of the automobile. According to this January 11, 1906 advertisement published in a magazine called “The Automobile:”

If you have a high-class car, you need a high-class Gem Oiler.

Not just oilers, in the early 1900’s the “Gem” name began to represent an entire line of products. As early as 1902, this May 26th advertisement in the “Birmingham (Alabama) News” referenced both a “Gem” flue scraper and a “Gem” flexible shaft in addition to the “Gem” oiler.

By 1925, this advertisement in “Hendrick’s Commercial Register” made it clear you needed a catalog to see the entire line of “Gem” Products.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s the company expanded into many other areas including the manufacture of automotive items such as mufflers. That being said, through it all they apparently continued to manufacture oil cans and oilers. As late as 1953 the company was included on a  U. S. government listing under the heading: “Manufacturers of  Lubricating Systems and Devices.”

In March, 1953 the company, still located in Pittsburgh, went into receivership. According to the March 6th edition of the “Pittsburgh Press:”

Uncle Sam today slapped a big tax lien on a Pittsburgh firm now in receivership.

The lien for $185,193 was filed against the Gem Manufacturing Co. Attorney J. Howard is the receiver…The lien covers income taxes for the years 1943 through 1946 which the Government claims the firm has failed to pay.

The business apparently reorganized and was still active in Pittsburgh in 1960 and possibly longer. Whether they were still manufacturing oil cans and oilers at this point is unknown.

Our subject jar held two ounces of oil. Embossing on the base includes the Asbury-Paine Mfg. Co. name dating it between 1895 and 1899 when they manufactured the oiler.

On a final note: Unlike most items presented on this site, this jar was not found in the Long Island bays. Instead it was found by one of my wife’s best friends while tending her beautiful northern Massachusetts garden. Thanks Di and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Horlick’s Malted Milk, Racine, Wis., U.S.A., London, Eng.

 

Horlick’s Malted Milk began manufacture in the late 1800’s and is still produced today by the GlaxoSmithKline plc, a British company headquartered in Brentford, London. According to the Horlicks web site:

Horlick’s was invented by two British-born men, William Horlick (1846-1936) and his brother James (1844-1921) from Gloucestershire, England. James was a chemist, working for a company that made dried baby food. William, the younger brother, had immigrated to America in 1869 and James decided to join him in Chicago in 1873. That same year, they started their own company (J&W Horlicks) to make a malted milk drink. They called their product “Diastoid” and their advertising slogan read: Horlick’s Infant and Invalid Food”

In 1875 the business moved to the outskirts of Racine Wisconsin, and up until 1883 they continued to use the name J&W Horlick. The 1882 Racine City Directory lists them as:

J&W Horlick (James and William Horlick) manufacturers of Horlick’s Food and Dry Extract of Malt. Rapids Road.

In 1883, the business incorporated under the name Horlick’s Food Company. They established a factory on Northwestern Avenue and around this time began using the factory location as their address. Early directories that I was able to find (1888, 1890, 1897, 1901, 1902, 1904, 1910, 1914 and 1916)  listed their address as simply “Northwestern Avenue near the city line.” All of these directories, list James as president and William as secretary/treasurer. Sometime between 1905 and 1910, the business changed it’s name to the Horlick’s Malted Milk Co.

After James’s death in 1921, William became president. The 1929 directory lists William as president and his sons William Horlick Jr and A.J. Horlick as vice presidents.

These early years of the business were featured in a history of Racine Wisconsin called “Racine Belle City of the Lakes and Racine County, Wisconsin, Volume II, published in 1916. It’s a little long and some facts, as presented, differ from the information found in the city directories, but all in all it paints a vivid picture of the company at the time including it’s product development, facilities, relationship with it’s employees and economic importance to Racine.

The name of no productive industry of the United States is perhaps more widely known than that of the Horlick Malted Milk Company, the business of which has developed until it reaches all parts of the civilized world. The company was organized in 1875 and was incorporated in 1878 as the Horlick Food Company by William and James Horlick, brothers, who established their plant in the outskirts of Racine, in Mount Pleasant Township. They began to manufacture a product known as Horlick’s Food, which was a prepared food for infants, invalids and the aged, to be added to milk to modify and enrich it. Their sales at the time covered only Chicago and vicinity. William Horlick, however, realized the great disadvantage of all foods for infants that required the addition of fresh milk, owing to the difficulty of obtaining fresh milk and keeping it so. He therefore began experimenting with the purpose of producing a pure food product containing adequate proportion of pure, rich milk – a food that would complete in itself, that would keep indefinitely in any climate and would be free from all the dangers arising from the use of milk that is impure, adulterated, laden with disease germs or in any way rendered unfit for use. Moreover, he desired that this food should be not only absolutely safe but very nourishing and easily digested by the most delicate infant or invalid, while it should contain at the same time all the elements of nutrition. In carrying on the work of experimentation Mr. Horlick met with many disappointments and leading chemists claimed that it was both a chemical and mechanical impossibility to perfect such a food, advising him to abandon the idea. He never faltered in his purpose, however, notwithstanding his heavy losses of time and expense, and at the end of six years, or in 1887, he produced for the first time in the world’s history a food product in powder form containing clean, rich milk combined with extract of malted barley and wheat that would keep indefinitely. The value of such a product was at once apparent and the business grew by leaps and bounds, so that it was difficult to make the supply meet the demand. A program of building was instituted. New buildings were added from time to time of reinforced concrete construction and the plant today covers an area of fifteen acres. In 1902 plant No. 2 was built, being a duplicate of plant No. 1, and in 1905 plant No. 3 came into existence, a triplicate of the others, but subject to enlargement. Since then the old buildings have all been rebuilt in concrete and steel. All rooms are large and well lighted and there is a perfect fire protection. Sanitation and cleanliness are among the basic elements of the business. There is a forced system of ventilation through the plant, the air being washed by sprays of water.

To maintain such a plant necessitated the employment of a large force of people and in developing the plant the company has shown marked consideration for the welfare of the employees. They maintain an athletic association and there is a whist club and a cricket club for employees and also an employees’ beneficial association. On the pay roll are found three hundred and fifty names. The department of agriculture of the State University at Madison says that the standard of dairying in this part of Wisconsin has been raised very largely owing to the rules of the Horlick factory in regard to the production of good, clean milk and the example furnished therein. Nearly every city in the United States has asked for a copy of the rules of this plant for the production and care of pure milk and these rules have constituted the basis for much municipal legislation in regard to the milk supply of cities. William Horlick owns personally several farms upon which are several hundred head of cows and he also buys milk from one hundred and fifty farmers. In 1915 the company erected a new milk house which is one of the finest in the country.

The process employed in the manufacture of the food consists in boiling the milk in a vacuum, which enables them to boil it without heating above one hundred and forty degrees, for milk “cooks” at one hundred and fifty-six degrees. This results, therefore, in removing all water without cooking. The company has a plant in Slough, England, equal to the No. 2 plant of Racine, and supplies from that point Europe, Africa and a part of India. The trade today covers the entire world, shipments leaving for all parts of the world every week. Every Arctic explorer for the past twenty years has carried a supply of Horlick’s malted milk in powder and lunch tablet form, for it supplies more nutrition to the bulk than any other food and people have lived for many years with no other sustenance. It is standard with all the armies of the world and is regarded as an indispensable accessory on all exploration and camping trips.

In 1889 James Horlick went to New York, where he established a branch, and in 1890 opened the English branch and since that time has been in charge of the English plant. He is the president of the company. William Horlick has been managing director of the home plant and has always lived in Racine. He is secretary and treasurer of the company and his two sons are actively associated with him, the elder, A.J., being vice president of the company, with William Horlick, Jr. as secretary. In 1906 the name was changed to Horlick’s Malted Milk Company. There is no other enterprise that has made Racine as well known throughout the world as this product, today used in every civilized country on the face of the globe.

The story mentions that James went to New York in 1889 to start a branch and then moved on to England in 1890 but the NYC directories say otherwise. There’s no mention of James or the business in the 1889 or 1891 NYC directories but James is listed in the 1892 directory. In that directory, and that directory only, he’s listed at 230 Pearl with the title President. I can’t find any mention of Horlick’s in NYC again until 1904 so it doesn’t appear that James established a NY branch at that point though he may have laid the groundwork.

In 1904 A. J. Horlick, one of William’s sons, is listed as a director in a company called H.W. St John & Co. with an address of 239 South Street. Then between 1905 and 1925 Horlick’s Food Co., and later, Horlick’s Malted Milk Co. is listed and H.W. St John & Co. is included in the listing as their agent. Based on the directories I can find they were located at 239 South Street (1905), 37 Pearl Street (1909 – 1917) and 18 Pearl Street (1918 – 1932). In 1948, H.W. St John & Co. is still listed at 18 Pearl but there’s no mention of Horlick’s.

H.W. St John is still in business today. Their web site calls them freight forwarders and says they were founded in 1902. Based on the fact that A.J. Horlick was one of their early (and probably initial) directors, I have to think that the Horlick’s were instrumental in starting the company in NY as an instrument to distribute their products.

As described in the above feature, the secret to Horlick’s success was developing the process of drying milk into a powder. They obtained a patent (278967A) for the process entitled “Granulated food for infants and process of preparing the same” on June 5, 1883, not 1887 as stated in the story. Four years later, in 1887, they trademarked the name “malted milk. The 1883 date is confirmed in a Horlick advertisement entitled “A Discovery that Benefits Mankind” found in the June 25, 1919 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

A 1921 National Association of Retail Druggists price list demonstrated that by then they were not only selling malted milk in different size cans or jars including a “hospital” size but also selling what they called “malted milk lunch tablets.”

Originally intended for infants and invalids, Horlick’s malted milk was a perfect fit for the back packs of explorers and soldiers. According to the Horlick’s web site the drink has made it’s way to both the North and South poles and in fact, Richard Byrd named the Horlicks Mountains on the Ross Ice Shelf in honor of the company’s $30,000 sponsorship.

The 15 acre factory site, located on Northwestern Avenue must have been in a constant state of flux what with the constant building additions and modifications described in the story. The grounds however appeared to be kept perfectly manicured at all times. A February 1912 article in the Practical Druggist summed it up this way:

To gain an adequate idea of the extreme beauty of the surroundings of the Horlick plant, one must visit it during the summer, when the eye can feast on the vision of green turf, the abundant foliage and many-hued flowers and the lagoon.

A couple of Horlick postcards capture both the size of the operation and the impeccable landscaping.

According to a 2001 article in the “Journal Times” the Company shut down in 1975. Today, some of the Horlick building complex remains. Haban Manufacturing was utilizing a portion of it to manufacture snow blowers and related equipment but that company went out of business in 2000.

This photo appears to be the current view of the building to the right in the first Horlick Post Card above.

I’v found two Horlick’s jars over the years, both early machine made. The smaller one is 5 inches tall, 2-1/2 inches in diameter  and includes the embossed locations, “Racine” and “London.”  I suspect this jar was made prior to 1908 when they opened their factory  in Slough Bucks, England.

The second is larger, 7 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter. It’s embossing includes the Slough Bucks location, likely dating it 1908 or later.

Both were probably wrapped in paper as evidenced by this early 1920’s advertisement from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that pictures what they call “the old reliable round package”

Huyler’s, New York

According to the “History of Huyler’s Candy Company” by Jennifer Walkowski excerpted from the “Huyler’s Candy Company Building (in Buffalo NY) Nomination for Listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places:

Huyler’s chocolate and candy company was once the largest and most prominent chocolate maker in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, the Huyler’s company operated a large chain of Huyler’s branded stores across the country in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and their high-quality chocolate products were a part of daily life, given as holiday gifts, used as special indulgences and as treats for young girls and boys.

It is said that Milton Hershey worked at Huyler’s in the mid 1880’s before moving to Pennsylvania and starting the Hershey Co.

The company was founded by John S. Huyler.

His obituary in the October 1, 1910 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle describes the early days of the business

Mr. Hurley was born in Manhattan in 1846, his father being David Huyler. In 1875 he started the business which proved to be the foundation of his fortune, on Broadway near Eighteenth Street, Manhattan. There it was that he made the announcement of “Huyler’s Taffy. Fresh Every Hour.”

This proved a trademark that was on everyone’s tongue, while the candies were in so many mouths that the business speedily grew to immense proportions, and branches were established all over Manhattan Borough.

In 1881 Mr. Huyler formed a corporation under the name of “John S. Huyler” of which his father, David, was made the president. It is a family corporation. Mr. Huyler’s father dying in 1885, John S. became the president in his stead. There are about sixty Huyler stores all over the country. Nineteen are in Manhattan, four are in Brooklyn, and there are branch stores in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Newark, Atlantic City, Long Branch, Newport and other cities. The factory is in Manhattan.

The growth referred to in the obituary is documented in the New York City Directories.

  • The 1876/1877 Directory listed John S. Huyler at his first location at 863 Broadway. His occupation is listed as “candy and old fashioned molasses candy”
  • By 1886, the factory and offices had been established at 64 Irving Place and were listed along with what appear to be three Manhattan retail locations; the original store at 863 Broadway as well as 150 Broadway and 17 W. 42nd Street.
  • By 1905, two additional Manhattan retail locations were added; 508 Fifth Avenue (pictured below) and 469 Broadway.
  • Then four years later in 1909, in addition to the Irving Place factory and offices, the number of Manhattan retail locations had soared to 21 (as opposed to 19 mentioned in the obituary).

Most of the NYC store openings were announced in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The announcements provide some insight into the store decor and products. The following is from the June 14, 1906 issue of the Brookyn Daily Eagle announcing the opening of the store at 81 Nassau Street.

Another Huyler store has opened at 81 Nassau Street, Manhattan, where the well-known Huyler candies and chocolates will be on sale to relieve the rush of their other downtown stores. The new store makes eleven opened by Huyler in greater New York, and the twenty-sixth in the chain of stores operated directly by the Huyler Corporation in various parts of the States and Canada. The store is handsomely appointed, finished in mahogany and with a tasty color scheme carried out on walls, ceiling and decorations; it cannot fail to satisfy those who come in to enjoy their famous fountain drinks, which will be served to perfection. The store will have a soda counter fifty-five feet in length, able to accommodate the crowds that will flock there for their celebrated ice cream soda, phosphates, etc. It is located handier to the Wall Street and jewelers district than any other in their chain.

Another, this one in the May 14, 1908 issue announced a new store in Hudson Terminal (now the World Trade Center PATH Station) with a sales approach aimed at daily commuters. It describes a process that still thrives today in commuter terminals.

The opening of the latest Huyler store today in the Hudson Terminal Building at Cortlandt and Church Streets just west of Broadway is an instance of the up-to-dateness of the big company, which aims to keep its advance line of stores abreast of the shifting lines of demand. For customers in a hurry to catch ferries or elevated trains they will make a special feature of carrying in stock a full supply of freshly packed boxes ready to carry without a moments delay…

John Huyler was a man who apparently appreciated those who worked for him as evidenced by this paragraph that was included in his obituary:

He was in the habit of giving his employees in Manhattan an annual outing, hiring a steamboat for the day. It was also his policy to look after the welfare of old employees, providing them with a home. He purchased ground on the Hudson for that purpose. He was also a generous contributor to Syracuse University, a Methodist institution, of which he was a trustee. He recently made a gift of $20,000 to that institution.

After his death, the business remained in the Huyler family. The 1915 NYC Directory listed Frank DeKlyn Huyler, his oldest son, as president, B. F. DeKlyn, a relative by marriage, as Vice president, and two other sons, David and Coulter as treasurer and secretary respectively. By this time the retail store count had reached 23 Manhattan locations and another 5 in Brooklyn.

In the early 1920’s, Huyler’s began expanding outside of the candy world, opening restaurants. An announcement in the December 13, 1924 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for a new store in Brooklyn described both the restaurant and the target audience.

Huyler’s are opening a new store at 529 Fulton Street, between Duffield and Gold Streets, Brooklyn, in the heart of the theatre and shopping district. Distinguished in the candy world for 50 successful years, they need no introduction to the Brooklyn public. Huyler’s candy has maintained its superiority for years and has become a standard of excellence today. The soda fountain should be mentioned also for it’s cleanliness and order, its efficient and tasteful service, and its delicious fresh fruit syrups.

The distinctive feature of the new store is a fine restaurant equipped with all the modern conveniences to meet the demands of the busy shopper as well as a more leisure tete-a-tete. You will find there all the refinement and good taste which characterizes all the Huyler’s restaurants.

A men’s grill in early American style will be opened very soon to serve the business man who insists on pleasant surroundings, as well as a well cooked, substantial meal at moderate prices.

A comfortable waiting room has been provided so that there need be no waiting in line during the rush hours.

The many friends and patrons of the Huyler’s store, located for years at 458 Fulton street, will be glad to know that this new store is opening almost directly across the street, and that it will be managed by Miss Godsil, well known and liked by a highly esteemed clientele.

Finally, after 50 years, the family sold the business in 1925. Subsequently owned by several different entities, I don’t find any advertisements for them after the early 1950’s. The original store location was still in business as late as 1944 as evidenced by a June 28 classified ad that used the 863 Broadway address.

The jar I found is a small (4 1/2 inches high), early machine made jar. A 1905 advertisement for Frederick Loeser & Co. listed Huyler jars that contained “assorted fruit balls, lemon balls and horehound sticks.”

It also could have contained powdered chocolate or cocoa which were also Huyler products.