Armour and Company, Chicago (Armour Laboratories)

Established in the mid 1860’s by Phillip Danforth Armour and John Plankinton, Armour and Company was a meat packing business that by the turn of the century had grown into one of the largest companies in the United States. For many years its presence in Chicago’s Union Stock Yards contributed, in no small way, to that city’s reputation as the capital of the American meatpacking industry.

Not only a meat producer, the company was heavily involved in the manufacture of by-products utilizing materials that were typically wasted in the slaughtering process. According to an October 20, 1901 story in the Buffalo (N.Y.) Times:

It is a saying in Chicago that the house of Armour & Co., in the slaughter of hogs, “loses nothing but the squeal of the hogs” when they are led to the slaughter. Employing many thousands of men in the varied industries growing out of their vast slaughtering business, the firm has found it immensely profitable to utilize all portions of the raw material by the firm.

The story went on to provide this menu of  products manufactured under the Armour name at the turn of the century. The list would grow well into the hundreds by the 1920’s

The business got its start with John Plankinton, not in Chicago but further north in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His biography, available on wisconsinhistory.org tells the story.

John Plankinton was a meat packer and businessman. In 1849 he began the packing of beef and hog products, and in 1852 formed a partnership with Frederick Layton under the firm name of Layton and Plankinton Packing Co. In 1861 Layton withdrew and Plankinton continued the business alone until 1863, when he was joined by Phillip D. Armour, and the firm became Plankinton, Armour and Co. (Plankinton & Armour)

Armour had arrived in Milwaukee by way of California where he had been lured by the gold rush.  Whether he made any money on the west coast is apparently open to speculation. According to his biography published in “A History of the City of Chicago,” published in 1900:

Mr Armour returned to the East in 1856, after having a varied experience in mining enterprises, and it was conjectured at the time that he brought back with him considerable of the golden dust, but the facts of this interesting matter are known only to himself.

Another biography, this one published in the January 7, 1901 edition of Chicago’s “Inter Ocean,” described Armour’s Milwaukee years leading up to his association with Plankinton.

Mr. Armour went to Milwaukee, where he had a friend, Frederick S. Miles, who was engaged in the wholesale grocery and commission business, and soon became his business partner, the style of the firm being Miles & Armour. The firm was prosperous, but in 1863 Mr. Armour withdrew from it to engage in the shipment of wheat, in which he saw more money. He purchased the largest grain elevator in the city, and was again as successful as could be desired.

In the meantime the pork-packing firm of Plankton & Layton was dissolved, and John Plankinton formed a new firm, in the same business with Mr. Armour, under the style of Plankton & Armour.

       

It appears that shortly after his association with Plankinton the financial foundation for the Armour business was laid. His “Inter Ocean” biography went on to say:

The firm was successful from the first, and suddenly amassed a great fortune, all through the brilliant management of Mr. Armour. This happened in the spring of 1863, when the war of the rebellion was drawing to a close. At that time pork was selling at $40 a barrel, and the New York operators were buying it recklessly under the impression that it would go to $60. Mr. Armour believed that the war would soon end, and that pork would decline to $20 or less. He laid his plans before his partners, who gave him their approval, and then went posthaste to New York, where he sold pork short for $40 as long as anybody would buy it. Sure enough, pork soon fell to $18, and Mr. Armour and his partners were made millionaires.

In the meantime Phillip’s brother, Herman O. Armour, had started a grain commission business in Chicago sometime in 1862 and by 1864 the two brothers along with Plankinton had joined together in that city under the name H. O. Armour & Co. In 1868 they began packing pork under the name Armour & Co. and by 1870 all the business transacted in Chicago was  done under the Armour & Co. name.

According to a story written years later in the December 2, 1951 edition of the Tribune, the Chicago operation moved to the Union Stock Yards in 1872 where it would remain until the late 1950’s.

The first Armour hog plant was the old Bell house in the Archer Avenue packing center which had been built up during the Civil War. About 1868 packers began to move south to the area just west of the stock yards and Armour followed in 1872.

As early as 1865 Herman left another brother, Joseph, in charge of the Chicago operation and opened an office in New York under the name Armour, Plankinton & Co. The office was first listed in the 1866/1867 New York City directory at 129 Broad Street in Manhattan.

By the end of the decade the Armours had also established another plant, this one in Kansas City run by a fourth brother, Simeone Armour, under the name Plankinton & Armours.

As early as the mid-1870’s a story in the Kansas City Times clearly viewed their operation as the leader in the country and world’s meat packing industry.

Thoroughly identified with the packing business of the whole country, there are no names in the United States more familiar to the trade than those of the Plankinton’s and the Armours, there being two of the former-father and son-and four of the latter-brothers. These six gentlemen stand at the head of beyond all comparisons the heaviest beef and pork packing business of the world…

A May 10, 1880 story published in the The (London) Times featured the American bacon and pork industry and included this description of the Armour business.

A few hogs are slaughtered and salted by the farmers, but the great bulk pass to the packers…

Messrs. Armour & Co. handle nearly 1,000,000 hogs annually at Chicago, and have similar establishments at Milwaukee and at Kansas City, at each of which upwards of 400,000 are slaughtered and packed. From small beginnings in 1860 their business has steadily increased; within six years it has doubled. At the Chicago works at the stock yards, 10,000 pigs are frequently killed daily in summer; 20,000 constitute a full day’s slaughtering in winter. Two thousand tons of meat are sometimes dispatched in a single day from the railway sidings which are conveniently brought into the premises. The work covers 14 acres; the buildings are four stories high, and are being constantly added to. There are six lifts, and hydrants and fire hose are fixed at convenient points on every story. A trained fire brigade is recruited from among the operatives. The premises are insured for a million dollars, the annual premium on different parts of the works varying from 1 to 1 3/4  percent. Two thousand men are employed in summer and 3,500 in winter.

The raw material which keeps this great establishment moving is conveniently found in the contiguous market where 60,000 hogs are sometimes pitched (sold) in a morning, and on one occasion last summer the number ran up to 80,000… Messrs. Armour have large pens and yards where their purchases are fed and watered until required. No fasting is practiced as in England. The grunter has his breakfast even if he is doomed before dinner time.

An advertisement published in the March 18, 1882 edition of the (New Orleans) Times-Democrat, for one of Armour’s agents, McCloskey & Henderson,  provided this list of canned meat products being  produced and shipped out of Chicago by Armour at the time. By this time the business included beef and even chicken soup, as well as pork.

Over the course of several years during the early 1880’s the Armours and Plankinton severed their various business relationships, apparently amicably. As the dust settled, the resultant situation was summarized in the October 26, 1884 edition of the Kansas City Times.

As appears from a dissolution notice published in the advertisement column of THE TIMES this morning, the partnership which has existed for twenty-five years between Mr P.D. Armour and Mr. John Plankinton, has been dissolved, Mr. Armour retiring from the Milwaukee house and Mr. Plankinton from the Kansas City house, which will in the future be known under the firm name of the Armour Packing Company.

The dissolution does not effect either the Chicago or New York houses, as Mr. Plankinton has not been connected with the former business for several years and a few weeks ago sold his interest in the New York house to Mr. H. O. Armour retaining an interest in but one establishment, that of Milwaukee, of which he is the chief owner.

It was during the remainder of the 1800’s that the Armours laid the foundation for much of the company’s expansion into industries related to their meat packing business, adding a glue factory, soap works and a pharmaceutical department among others to their operation.

A story in the January 1, 1886 edition of the Chicago Tribune announced the acquisition of the Wahl Bros. glue factory.

In a circular-letter to the trade, dated December 21, 1885, they announce the purchase of Wahl Bros’ extensive glue factory (which covers eight acres) in this city, together with the good will and all appurtenances. They will continue to produce glue in all it’s varieties, and all other products that their predecessors did, including gelatin, brewers’ isinglass, size for papermakers, bone-meal, neatsfoot oil, etc., etc. The regular packing business of the firm furnishes them with a fresh daily supply of materials, which is such an essential feature in securing superior qualities and perfect results… They employ 300 hands in the glue factory.

Ten years later, another item published in the Chicago Tribune, this one on May 5, 1896, announced the formation of their soap works.

Commencing this day the firm of Armour & Co. has added another feature to their business, to be known as the Armour Soap Works. The new building and plant are situated at Thirty-first and Benson Streets. With the inauguration of the soap works Armour & Co. now utilize everything in the way of raw material from the hog and steer.

An April 17, 1897 advertisement For Oshkosh Wisconsin’s “Kruschke’s” Department Store, confirmed that less than a year later the soap works was manufacturing at least three different soap brands.

Both the glue works and soap works were included in this May 28, 1897 advertisement in the Chicago Chronicle.

By the early 1890’s a pharmaceutical department had also been established  as evidenced by this excerpt from an April 10, 1892 Chicago Tribune article.

In the downtown office of Armour & Co. are several rows of shelves filled with bottles and at first sight a stranger would think the “old man,” as P.D. Armour is called by his employees among themselves, was running a drug store on the side to make both ends meet. In these bottles are a great and unique variety of preparations extracted from animals killed at the yards. The man who manages this department is a duly licensed druggist and physician, and the big packer’s hobby when receiving visitors is to invite them to sample his dried bullock’s blood or desiccated ox gail.

It’s likely that the above mentioned licensed druggist and his department were the very beginning of  Armour Laboratories. According to a November 13, 1949 Tribune story:

One of their earliest (products) was pepsin, a commercially valuable compound recovered from the stomach linings of hogs. For many rears the rudimentary laboratories at Armour’s were called the “pepsin department.”

On April 15, 1900 Phillip Armour formed a corporation that included most, though not all, of the Armour businesses. His reasoning was explained in a February 18, 1900 Chicago Tribune story.

The business of Armour & Co always has been carried on as a partnership. The recent death of Phillip D. Armour Jr., and the illness of Phillip D, Armour, the founder and head of the firm, are said to have supplied the reasons for deciding to put the business in a stock company. For several months the elder Armour has been ill, but it was not believed his illness was sufficiently grave to warrant any change in the management of the business. The death of his son was a severe blow, however, and is said to have determined the plan of incorporation.

The new corporation included the packing houses (excluding the Armour Packing House of Kansas City),  glue factory and soap factory, as well as a felt and hair factory and rail car shops.

The factories that will be taken into the stock company are large concerns. The glue factory is one of the largest in the country. The soap factory of Armour & Co., a more recent establishment, is also an important plant. The hair factory has an output which is said to be unequalled by that of any similar institution. The car factory is used to manufacture and keep in repair the hundreds of cars used in the transportation of the meat and other products of the various Armour industries.

In addition to the manufacturing plants, the packing house includes the large cattle interests of the firm. The agencies of Armour & Co. also will fall into the corporation. In every city of any size in the United States Armour & Co. has an agency for the distribution of dressed beef and the other packing house products of the firm. There are besides agencies in foreign countries. These are to be found in every port of consequence in Europe. In Asia and Africa the firm also carries on its widespread business.

The stockholders of the new corporation were Phillip D. Armour (50%), his son, J. Ogden Armour (25%) and the estate of his deceased son Phillip D. Armour, Jr. (25%). Shortly after the business incorporated, Phillip Sr. also passed away and J. Ogden Armour assumed the presidency. It was J. Ogden Armour who, according to an August 17, 1927 Chicago Tribune story, developed the business into a world wide organization.

Expansion in this country was followed by invasion in the South American field. In 1909 Armour & Co. acquired an interest in an Argentine packing plant. Now (1927) it has in that country five large plants whose products go to the world meat trade.

In the teens their food product menu extended well beyond the by-products of their meat packing business.  A product list published in 1919 bears this out.

According to the February, 1917 edition of a journal called “Advertising & Selling,” their food product line alone had reached over 300 items that were being distributed by 350 branch houses throughout the country. So it was out of necessity that around this time they unified much of their advertising under the “Armour Oval Label”

According to the 1917 story in “Advertising and Selling:”

About two years ago (1915) it was adopted as a permanent trademark for all Armour top grade products, and since then has appeared in all the advertising of these products; newspaper, poster, magazine, window display, booklet advertising, alike, all have the Oval Label as a prominent and permanent feature of the copy. (A label committee , composed of representatives from the selling, operative and executive departments, decides upon the eligibility of a product for the Oval Label, only the highest quality products being admitted to this class.)

Armour Laboratories had also grown significantly from the fledgling department of the early 1890’s.  An advertisement published in the 1919 edition of the “Modern Hospital Year Book,” included the laboratory’s pitch to the medical community.

We are headquarters for the organotherapeutic agents. Our abattoirs supply enormous quantities of glands and membranes from which digestive ferments and endocrine gland preparations are made. Raw material is selected with rigorous care. Nothing but healthy normal material is employed, and this is put into process before any deterioration has set in.

The laboratory is conveniently located. All desiccating is done in vacuum ovens at a low temperature, which prevents injury to active principles.

The advertisement went on to provide a descriptive list of their preparations.

The post World War I years brought pressures on the business that would ultimately, in the 1920’s, transition it from a company closely held by the Armour family to a publicly held company. A feature on J. Ogden Armour published at the time of his death in the August 17, 1927 edition of the Chicago Tribune described the influence of World War I on the corporation.

During the war American packers carried tremendous meat supplies, both for the American armies and for those of European allies. Prices of live stock and meat joined the wartime inflation.The business of Armour & Co. increased sales to around $1,000,000,000 a year…

With the abrupt ending of the war American packers and the allied governments alike had vast quantities of meat on hand. The wartime demand faded. Governments cancelled contracts and threw their surplus stocks on the market for whatever they would bring. Prices of live stock and meat dropped. With the post-war depression the currencies of Europe also plunged down in value.

The result of all this was that the large inventories of American meat packers lost tremendously in value. Their stocks in Europe were paid for in constantly depreciating currencies. It is estimated that Armour & Co. lost around $125,000,000 in two years.

Ultimately in 1923 a refinancing of the business was effected that ultimately resulted in J. Ogden Armour both relinquishing the presidency and selling the majority of his stock.

The Associated Press announced the organizational change on January 3, 1923.

Armour & Co. for the first time since it was organized in 1862, today operated without a member of the Armour family in the president’s chair.

Instead F. Edison White, a worker from the ranks, occupied the controlling station made vacant by the resignation of J. Ogden Armour yesterday, who became chairman of the board of directors.

However, members of the Armour family will retain important positions with the company. Phillip D. Armour III who has been a vice president of the company was designated first vice president, and Lester Armour was continued as a member of the board of directors.

A Chicago Tribune Story, dated February 14, 1925 revealed that the refinancing plan also included an option to purchase the bulk of Mr. Armour’s stock holdings within five years. The story went on to say that the purchase began at that time with a third of his holdings.

Armour & Co., largest of the packing concerns, will be owned by a large body of investors and will cease to be a family corporation with the working out of plans made known yesterday.

It is understood that about one third of the total stock holdings of J. Ogden Armour will be bought by the banking group, which conducted the financial reorganization of Armour & Co. two years ago, and then offered publicly to investors. Later on and as market conditions permit, further offerings of stock will be made.

J. Ogden Armour’s 1927 Chicago Tribune obituary mentioned that Armour’s stock holdings at the time of his death were not large, so it appears much of his remaining stock was sold over the next two years. Four years later in January, 1931 P. D. Armour, the grandson and namesake of the founder, resigned as first vice president. He would be the last member of the Armour family to hold an executive position in the corporation.

Overall the company had its ups and downs but continued to grow through the 1930’s and early 1940’s as evidenced by this financial snapshot included in the Chicago Tribune’s January 23, 1943 edition.

Stockholders were given a glimpse of company progress as indicated by a comparison of balance sheets of last year and of 1923, after a reorganization. Funded debt was reduced from 144 million to 62 million dollars during the 20 years, and sales increased from slightly more than 800 millions to 1 billion 300 millions.

Around this time they were contributing significantly to the World War II effort, so much so that an April 11, 1943 Chicago Tribune story announced that 90 to 95 per cent of Armour’s total production was devoted to war production. As a result, the army and navy awarded their E flag to company officials.

Notice that Armour & Co. had been elected to the award came in a letter from Robert P. Patterson, Undersecretary of War. The letter read in part; “You men and women of Armour & Co. are making an outstanding contribution to victory. You have every reason to be proud of the record you have set, and your practical patriotism stands as an example to all Americans.

Among the company’s specific accomplishments in aiding the war, (Armour)President Eastwood cited the following: “The development of wood veneer drums to replace metal drums, such as are used in the shipment of lard; a new method of smoking ham and bacon for army use which takes 96 hours instead of seven days; the telescoping of lambs to save shipping space.”

He also pointed to a new product “Tushonka,” a canned pork popular with Russians; to a new style of “stuffing horn” for packaging of ground beef; and, finally to the formula for “Pemmican,” an emergency ration carried by airplanes and ships.

The award also recognized the achievements of Armour Laboratories.

Brig. Gen. C. C. Hillman, acting Surgeon General, Washington D. C., said in his statement of the award to Armour Laboratories that they had “given a rich endowment, not only to the war effort but to the entire field of medicine. Listed on the chart of Armour’s achievements will be their production of ligatures, insulin, and other medical supplies for the military service. In addition to this, your conversion of facilities for the absorption of great production loads all shall be listed on the war chart victory.”

After the war the company continued to introduce new products and innovations. In 1948 the company introduced their famous brand, DIAL deodorant soap.

An August 11, 1948 Chicago Tribune advertisement bragged that the soap was so popular that after being introduced, it immediately sold out.

In the mid-1950’s Armour became the first company to vacuum package their bacon as well as other meats. A May 5, 1956 Chicago Tribune feature provided the details.

Armour was the very first to discover how to keep bacon slicer-fresh from packing house to your pan. Old style packages of bacon usually lost freshness after a week or 10 days, so Armour research set about developing a package that would maintain freshness for three weeks.

Since air was known to be the villain that made bacon lose flavor, the obvious solution was to remove the air and pack bacon in a vacuum.

Obvious? Well not exactly. While vacuum packed jars and cans have been used for years, the requirement that a bacon package be both flexible and transparent gave the problem new complexity.

Several hundred kinds of materials, and nearly as many different shapes and types of packages were tried and discarded.

Finally, a new plastic was tested and found to have just the right combination of strength and pliability for use in newly developed vacuum packaging machines.

Subsequent taste tests revealed that bacon packaged the new way keeps fresh much longer than was once thought possible. This fundamental research on bacon packaging was so successful that it soon led to vacuum packaging of many other products.

Armour Laboratories was also making significant advances during the late late 1940’s and 1950’s. Some were enumerated in a December 2, 1951 story.

Recently the science of animal utilization has reached its highest point at Armour & Co., which is now headed by Frederick Specht. The company views its laboratory accomplishments primarily from a humanitarian, rather than a money making angle.

The outstanding achievement was development of the pituitary hormone , ACTH, which was ordered into production in the early summer of 1949. It has been used in treating arthritis and 20 other diseases. A later development is trypsin, which has the ability to turn dead flesh into liquid without damaging live tissue. Trypsin, like the insulin used by diabetics, come from a meat animal’s pancreas.

Hormones are not the only medical products of meat packing. Liver extracts are used in treating anemia, many products are made from animal blood, and a stomach lining substance is used for ulcer.

As the 1960’s approached the overall corporate picture was apparently beginning to lose some shine. In 1959 Armour discontinued all slaughtering operations in Chicago. A story dated June 9, 1959 in the Chicago Tribune detailed the facts and reasoning behind the decision.

Armour & Co. announced Monday that it will discontinue all slaughtering operations at six plants, including the one at Chicago…

Approximately 5,000 employees will be affected at all plants, including 2,000 in Chicago. Armour employs nearly 3,000 persons in its Chicago unit, but not all of them work in slaughtering operations. Such Chicago operations as refining of fats and oils, wool pulling, soap manufacturer, and sales and distribution will be continued. In addition, Armour will continue to buy cattle on the Chicago market for its eastern plants…

The company said there were several basic causes for its inability to reverse substantial losses encountered at these plants. These include obsolescence of buildings, many of which were constructed more than 50 years ago; shifts in live stock numbers sectionally; declining receipts of live stock at some markets; and a general and widely recognized condition of excess production capacity in the meat packing industry.

Ultimately Armour was acquired by the Greyhound Corporation in 1970. This strange marriage is explained by company histories.com.

The country’s leader in the motor coach industry since 1930, Greyhound under chairperson and CEO Gerald H. Trautman had begun to diversify its operations in the 1960’s in response to declining bus ticket sales. As automobiles and airline tickets became less expensive and bus line profits dwindled, Greyhound acquired small companies in the fields of automobile leasing, money orders, insurance, and catering. Greyhound board members were approached by Armour in the late 1960’s when General Host threatened Armour with a hostile takeover, and Greyhound was persuaded to add Armour to its subsidiaries. The 1970 $400 million purchase was Greyhound’s first major acquisition. To reduce its investment, Greyhound immediately sold $225 million of Armour assets, retaining only the meatpacking and consumer products subsidiaries. The meatpacking operation was renamed Armour Foods, while the consumer products operation was renamed Armour-Dial.

Less than a year later, and after more than 100 years, the Arizona Republic announced that, now a subsidiary of Greyhound, the Armour headquarters was leaving Chicago for Phoenix Arizona.

Greyhound Corp. the nation’s 29th largest firm, and its big subsidiary, Armour and Co., are moving from Chicago to Phoenix.

Gerald H. Trautman of Paradise Valley, chairman and chief executive said the move will affect ” a few hundred”employees of the headquarters staffs of the Greyhound Corp. and of these subsidiaries:

Armour and Co., Greyhound Bus Lines, Greyhound Leasing and Financial Corp., and Greyhound Computer Corp., except its service center personnel.

The largest of Greyhound’s subsidiaries is Armour and Co., acquired in 1970. From its start in meat packing, that firm has diversified into a modern industrial complex.

 

Today Armour meat products continue to be sold by Smithfield Foods and are still marketed under an oval label.

Over the years I’ve found two Armour bottles, both small and mouth blown. One embossed “Armour Laboratories,” is colored brown and approximately one ounce in size. The Armour Laboratory Pharmaceutical List, published in the 1919 “Modern Hospital Yearbook” included a one ounce bottle size for both pepsin and pancreatin powders.

The second bottle is approximately two ounces in size and embossed “Armour and Company,” not “Armour Laboratories,” which leads me to believe its not a pharmaceutical bottle. Armour produced lemon, orange and vanilla flavoring extracts in several size bottles, including two ounces, so I’m leaning in that direction.

 

Gowdy’s Medicated Beer, Manufactured 10 Ormond Place, Trademark L&S (Smith & Layton)

 

The L&S trademark embossed on the bottle represents the Brooklyn, N.Y. business of James E. Smith and Elbert (sometimes Albert) Layton. The roots of the business date back to 1875 when Smith was listed individually in the Brooklyn City Directory at 10 Ormond Place with the occupation of “root beer.”

Layton apparently joined Smith in business sometime in the early 1880’s and the partnership of Smith & Layton was first listed at the Ormond Place address in 1883. It remained listed in the Brooklyn directories up through 1911, always with the 10 Ormond Place address.

Their bottling notice was published in several February and March, 1889 editions of the Brooklyn Citizen.

The letters “L&S,” trademarked on July 24, 1890, and the pictorial representation of a five-pointed star highlighted in the notice are clearly visible, embossed on the subject bottle.

An August 7, 1892 story in the Brooklyn Citizen featured the business and their products.

It is often a question of a great many people during very warm weather such as we have been experiencing during the past two weeks, what it is best to drink…

While he is making his examination it would be well for him to remember that there is nothing more refreshing than a drink that is impregnated with carbonic acid gas. At the same time such a drink is quite healthful, and provided the flavoring extracts are not injurious, there is no reason why a carbonated beverage should not be the one chosen by the seeker after healthful, and at the same time refreshing drinks. Among the manufacturers of these carbonated beverages is the firm of Smith and Layton, whose establishment is at No. 10 Ormond Place. They have established a reputation that is more than local, because of the delightful flavor of the goods they turn out, and above all, because of the purity of the flavoring extracts with which they impart the palatable flavor that has helped to make their goods so popular. Then the water used by this firm is all filtered and distilled, and thereby is freed from the possibility of its being impure from organic matter or microbes. They manufacture lemon soda, ginger ale, sarsaparilla, root beer, and have recently placed a new drink on the market which they call Neopolitan cream.

Later that decade, a company advertisement in the February 13, 1898 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that their mineral waters had won an award at Brooklyn’s annual Food Show.

As early as the late 1880’s the company’s territory had expanded beyond Brooklyn, reaching east to parts of Long Island as evidenced by their inclusion in this July 1, 1889 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement for the Northport (Suffolk County) business of Green & Wheeler.

While the company could certainly have served as the bottler for a brewery (PABST was making a medicated beer in the 1890’s), there’s no mention that I can find for a Gowdy’s brewery. That, coupled with the fact that the business was always listed in the directories as a manufacturer of mineral water and soda, leads me to believe that their medicated beer was actually a root beer. A description of root beers in a July 2, 1875 Brooklyn Union Times Story seems to bear this out, referencing medicated beer as a class of root beer.

Of root beers there is an endless variety of names, but they are much the same in composition. Birch beer, spruce beer, root beer, Ottawa beer, medicated beer, Green Mountain beer, Otaki beer, Madoc beer, and scores of others are of about the same taste, chiefly compounded of essential oils of sarsaparilla, sassafras, birch, dandelion, dock, wintergreen and other healthful botanical substances. They are ready for use in a few days after brewing, as yeast which is the “working” principle operates very speedily upon the whole mass. Molasses and sugar are used for sweetening , and the compounds are either manufactured in the shops where they are sold, or exported from the factories in store bottles and kegs, and placed on draught. Root beers are generally healthful, but should, like all fermented drinks, be used moderately as they are liable to exercise a purgative influence.

Whether the name Gowdy’s was their brand or the brand of another business that they manufactured and bottled for is unclear.

The Smith & Layton business dissolved in July, 1911. The Dissolution Notice, published in the July 25, 1911 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle indicated that neither original partner was still associated with the business at that time.

As fas as I can tell, Wilson Smith was the younger brother of James E. Smith and William Marquart was a grocer whose store was listed within several blocks of Smith & Layton at 1165 Fulton Street.

Note: Elbert Layton was no longer listed in the Brooklyn directories by 1907 so its possible he retired, moved or passed away around that time with his place in the firm being taken by local businessman Marquart. Smith was still listed individually in 1910 but not in 1914 so his younger brother may have inherited the business in 1911 with no interest in continuing it. (All conjecture on my part.)

Ormond Place, located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, was later renamed Claver Place. According to street easy.com, the current building at 10 Claver Place was built in 1930 so it doesn’t date back to the days of Smith & Layton.

The bottle I found is approximately 27 oz. with a tooled blob finish. It fits the time frame from 1890 (registration date embossed on the bottle) to 1911 (dissolution of the business).

 

Holbrook & Co. (Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce)

The “Holbrook” story got its start in the West Midlands of England in the late 1860’s with a company that manufactured vinegar called Tompson, Berry and Co. Also referred to as the Birmingham Vinegar Brewery, the business included three partners; John Tompson, his son, John L. Tompson and Edward Berry. This advertisement for the brewery that appeared in several September 1869 editions of the Birmingham Daily Post, appears introductory in nature, so it’s likely that the business got its start sometime that year.

Four years later, on June 17, 1873, the partnership was dissolved  when the Tompson’s and Berry went their separate ways. The dissolution notice was included in the 1876 “Birmingham & District and Sheffield & Rotherham Commercial List:

After the dissolution, the Tompson’s established John Tompson & Co., to continue the manufacture of vinegar and, on January 15, 1874,  published a notice in (London’s) the Guardian announcing the hiring of W. D. Holbrook.

A year later John Tompson & Co. began to manufacture pickles and sauces under Holbrook’s name and the Holbrook brand, still around to this day, was born.

A legal item published in the June 13, 1888 edition of the (London) Times laid out the early course of events.

In 1875 they commenced to manufacture pickles and sauces, and…it was thought expedient to give a special or fancy name to the sauces and pickles manufactured by the firm, and it was accordingly…arranged that the articles should be labeled and advertised by the name of Holbrook, and the articles became known and acquired a reputation by that name in question.

Interestingly, the business associated the name of “Holbrook & Co. with their products but according to W. D. Holbrook’s testimony in an 1895 court case (Powell v. The Birmingham Vinegar Brewery Company, Ltd.):

there never was a firm “Holbrook & Co. in actual existence.

When the business incorporated in May, 1879 as the Birmingham Vinegar Brewery Company, Ltd., they continued to associate the Holbrook & Co. name in connection with the Holbrook brand. W. D. Holbrook left the business in 1888, but the courts ruled that the Holbrook name, along with the reputation of their products, would remain with the firm.

Their first newspaper advertisements I can find for their Worcestershire Sauce appeared in 1884. This one was published in the June 1, 1884 edition of (London’s) Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper.

Right from the start one of their primary selling points was price and their early advertisements included phrases like “half the cost,” which was an obvious reference to their main competitor, Lea and Perrin’s. Some advertisements, like this 1885 advertisement published in the Christian Messenger, actually went as far as mentioning Lea & Perrin’s by name, albeit in small letters.

A story in the August 1, 1887 British Trade Journal made the same point a little more eloquently.

The high quality of Holbrook’s Worcester Sauce is well known for good keeping qualities, piquancy, and fullness and choiceness of flavor; it is one of the best on the market, while its price is not its least recommendation to popular favor.

The British Trade Journal story went on to say that as early as the 1880’s the sauce was gaining recognition, having won awards world wide.

We may say that by 1883 their sauce has carried off the highest awards at all the principal exhibitions, from Tasmania, Antwerp, Melbourne, and New Zealand, to Edinburgh and Chicago.

The story included this photograph of their display at the Brussels International Exhibition which they described like this:

A prominent object in the British section is the pyramid formed of bottles of Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce. It measures about 20 ft. high by 20ft. square, the bottles being arranged upon twenty tiers, the base being protected by turned wood standards and rails and embellished with mirrors and ferns.

The business reorganized in 1897 under the same name; the Birmingham Vinegar Brewery Company, Ltd., and later, in 1901, reorganized again, this time as Holbrooks, Ltd. By the turn of the century, in addition to Birmingham, the business was operating a second brewery in Stourport which they had acquired in 1876 and they maintained facilities in London as well. The prospectus associated with the 1897 reorganization, published in the April 13, 1897 edition of (London’s) Morning Post provided a good description of their facilities around the turn of the century.

The brewery and manufacturing premises in Birmingham are situated in Ashten Row, Dartmouth Street, and Windsor Street, standing on upwards of two acres of land, occupying valuable frontages and intersected by a branch of the Birmingham Canal, which affords direct water carriage to London. Included in the Birmingham premises is a complete printing establishment equipped with modern machinery, which enables the company to produce its own show cards, tablets, wrappers, advertisements, etc.ander its own supervision and control.

The brewery and premises in Stourport occupy an important position on the River Severn at its junction with the Stour, thus obtaining direct water communication with the canal system and the Bristol Channel.

The premises in London of freehold tenure are situated at Nos. 138 and 140 Commercial Street East, forming an imposing block, and having frontages to Commercial Street, Fleur de Lis Street and Pearl Street.

The trade has been of steady growth and is still expanding. To meet its requirements it has been found necessary to acquire a freehold site in Birmingham, adjoining the company’s original premises, and to erect thereon an additional factory, which is now upon the point of completion.

What could be described as the monument to their success was described in the November 26, 1906 edition of the Ottawa (Canada) Citizen. It was their storage vat located at Birmingham.

Thousands of tourists who have visited the famous castle of Heidelberg remember with interest the great vat which stands in its cellars and which was once filled with the delicious wines of the Rhine country. It stands within the heavy walls as a permanent testamonial to the drinking powers of the nobles who inherited the castle in years gone by… For centuries (it) was famous as the largest in the world.

It can no longer, however, claim that distinction, for in England there is one which is three times as large. This is the great vat at the works of Holbrooks, Limited, in Birmingham.

It contains three times more space than the Heidleburg vat and is capable of holding the contents of two and a half millions of bottles of Holbrook’s Worsetershire Sauce, equal to 100,000 gallons. In the picture here given a man standing on a long ladder may be seen clinging like a spider against its side. The famous vat is now, and doubtless will remain, for many years, the largest in the world.

In 1898, their world wide sales were five and a half million bottles annually. That included local sales as well as exports to France, Germany, India, Ceylon, New Zealand and the Australian Colonies, the West Indies and South America and South Africa. What lacked was any significant effort to expand into the United States.

They sought to remedy that in 1898 when they formed a new company called “Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce, Ltd.” The company’s prospectus spelled out the reasoning behind it’s formation.

The Company is formed to purchase and acquire all the trading rights in the sale of “Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce” for the United States of America and Canada from the Birmingham Vinegar Brewery Company, 1897 (Limited)…

The Birmingham Vinegar Brewery Company, 1897 (Limited), owing to the rapid expansion of their business in the United Kingdom, the Colonies, and elsewhere, have hitherto been unable to direct concentrated attention to the development of the American and Canadian trades. The Directors of this Company believe that, with the support of the Parent Company, a lucrative and increasing business can be speedily founded.

The prospectus went on to name Horace De Lisser as their U. S. vendor. In retrospect, with no apparent experience or connections in the grocery trade De Lisser appears to have been an odd choice. According to his biographical profile published in the July 1, 1919 edition of a publication called “India Rubber World:”

In 1894 he conducted a bicycle tire factory in England, which was later sold to a London syndicate. In disposing of this business he agreed to remain out of the rubber business for five years, and therefore took the United States agency for the Holbrook Sauce Co. of London.

Under De Lisser’s lead, the Holbrook Worcestershire Sauce Co. was listed in lower Manhattan at 90 West Broadway in the early 1900’s. The company’s approach to growing the business in those early years was described by De Lisser’s brother in the September 18, 1901 edition of an advertising publication called “Printer’s Ink.”

We began and are still continuing an elaborate and thorough house-to-house canvass, not only in most of the large cities, but also in the smaller towns and in the agricultural districts. We started by having six very elaborate wagons built – vehicles that cost us, even with the advantages of wholesale prices, a little more than $600 each. They are gorgeous, and manned each by a driver, a tiger and six distributors. Each of this force is attired in a striking uniform, and the horses are gaily harnessed. Soon after the first six had begun their rounds, we added six more, and continued to add wagons and crews until we now have nearly forty. This distribution has been continued steadily ever since except in the summer months. All parts of the country have been visited, except the extreme parts of New England and the South.

While newspaper advertisements during this time were scarce, I did find several in the Brooklyn newspapers that included little poems or jingles. This advertisement in the December 21, 1901 issue of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was typical.

De Lisser’s attempts to grow the business proved unsuccessful. As early as November 5, 1901, the Solicitor’s Journal and Reporter listed “Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce Limited as “in liquidation,” and by 1906 it was no longer listed in the New York City directories. After his five-year moratorium, De Lisser was back in the rubber business where in 1905 he established the Ajax Standard Rubber Company.

At this point, the company established a Canadian presence but took a different approach in the United States where they began looking for local agents in various parts of the Country. Their classified advertisement in the New York area was published in the November 28, 1906 edition of the New York Tribune. Similar advertisements appeared in Boston and St. Louis newspapers.

It’s not clear exactly who or how many agents they assembled but their Worcestershire Sauce was only listed sporadically in U. S. grocery store and department store advertisements up through the late 1920’s. After that, it’s hardly mentioned at all, so it doesn’t appear that the product ever caught on in the United States the same way it had world wide.

According to Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History, in 1954 Holbrooks, Ltd sold their British business to British Vinegars Ltd., a company consisting primarily of Distillers Co., and Crosse & Blackwell.

No longer made in England, today Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce is manufactured and sold in Australia by Goodman Fielder.

The bottle I found is approximately 6 oz in size. It’s embossed with the unofficial company name of Holbrook & Co. I also found a glass stopper that fits with the bottle, however the bottle and stopper were found at different times at different locations. Mouth blown, the bottle was likely made sometime after 1898 when the company established a presence in the United States and the late teens, when I would expect a machine-made version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bay Shore Bottling Co., Bay Shore, L. I., N. Y.

This advertisement published in  several editions of Babylon’s South Side Signal between August and November, 1896 identified the Bayshore Bottling Company as a carbonated water manufacturer that produced mineral water, as well as soda, sarsaparilla, ginger ale and root beer.

They also bottled beer as evidenced by this July 7, 1907 advertisement published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that listed the company as a local bottler for Brooklyn’s S. Liebmann Sons brewery (3rd on the list).

A story published in the April 20, 1978 edition of the Islip Town Bulletin identified the proprietor as Lou Smith and listed the company’s location as the “northeast corner of Union Blvd and Fourth Avenue.” The story went on to describe the end of the business.

Lou Smith grew old, as we all do, and when his sons expressed no desire to continue the business, he sold it to Charles Mecklenberg along with the boarding house which went with the property. The year was 1919…

Upon purchasing the Bottling Plant a gas station was erected and a regular oil and kerosene depot emerged.

The story mentioned a boarding house associated with the property. Census records listed Lewis (sometimes Larvis, sometimes Louis) Smith’s  occupation as “hotel proprietor” in both 1900 and 1910. That being said, it’s almost certain that the hotel and bottling operations were connected (which was common back then) and operational from at least the mid 1890’s to 1919.

1870 Census records listed Lewis Smith’s mother, Caroline, with the occupation “selling liquors,” so it’s possible that the roots of the business date back much earlier than the 189o’s.

Courtesy of Google Earth, its evident that today the northeast corner of Union Boulevard and Fourth Avenue remains an operational gas station.

The bottle I found is the Hutchinson style with a tombstone slug plate that fits a late 1800’s to early 1900’s time frame.

Thanks to Howie Crawford, President of the Long Island Antique Bottle Association, for pointing me in the direction of the 1978 Islip Town Bulletin story.

Union Bottling Co., 240 & 242 East 20th St., New York

The Union Bottling Company story starts with Isaac A. Moran who, according to 1860 census records, operated a “public house” in Manhattan where he’s listed in the NYC directories as early as 1845 at East 17th St., corner of Third Avenue.

In 1868, he partnered with his brother Marcius (sometimes Marcus) and they established a soda/mineral water manufacturing and bottling business at 83 Third Avenue (later 91 Third Avenue) under the name Isaac A. Moran & Brother.

Sometime in 1873 they changed the name of the business to the Union Bottling Company and, around the same time, established factories at 240 East 20th Street and 119 East 124th Street. According to this item published in the August 1, 1875 edition of the Daily Herald, at the time the company bottled soda water, ginger ale and cider, as well as beer and ales.

Up through 1888 Marcius and Isaac Moran served as president and secretary of the company respectively, then in 1889 a second company was established with the Moran Brothers associated with both.

The Union Bottling Company continued to be listed in the 1890 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory with Peter P. Krummeich now named as president and Marcius Moran, secretary. The company address was solely listed at the 240 East 20th Street location.

The new company, called the Moran Bottling Company, was listed at the 119 East 124th Street address with Issac A. Moran named as president. Initial directors of the company included New York City brewers William and Phillip Ebling, so its possible that the business had been established to serve as a bottler for the Ebling brewery but I haven’t been able to confirm this.

The Moran’s remained associated with both companies until 1894 when they apparently retired. According to an item published in the September 15, 1896 edition of the New York Times, on January 1, 1894 Krummeich partnered with Lorenz Geuken, and bought the Union Bottling Company plant and continued the business as a copartnership. Around the same time, they moved the company to 517 West 25th Street.

Within three years, the business, likely financed by a relative of Geuken’s, was in financial trouble. The New York Times item went on to say:

Lorenz Geulen and Peter P.Krummeich, doing business as the Union Bottling Company, bottlers of beer and beverages at 513 to 519 West Twenty-fifth Street, made an assignment yesterday to James Graham, giving a preference to Cornelia Geuken of Rotterdam Holland, for borrowed money…

They have suffered from hard times and the Raines law, and collections have been very slow. Their liabilities are said to be about $40,000 and nominal assets $54,000, a large part of which consists of the plant.

The Union Bottling Company was still listed in the 1901 Copartnership and Corporation Directory with Lorenz Geuken now named as the sole proprietor, so the business survived its financial difficulties, losing Krummeich along the way.

The next year a New York Corporation named the Manhattan Union Bottling Company, capital $15,000,  was listed at the 517 West 25th Street address with Charles A. Miller and Charles W. Hagemann, named as president and secretary, respectively. Gueken was no longer mentioned. Short-lived, the corporation was no longer listed in the 1906 directory.

The Moran Bottling Company continued to be listed at 119 East 124th Street up through 1904 with several different proprietors including James A. McKain (1901), Charles Polansky (1902) and Julius Goldberg (1903). The last listing I can find for the company was in 1906, with an address of 502 East 118th Street.

The bottle I found is mouth blown. Oddly, it’s not exactly a hutchinson or a pony, but shaped more like a can with abrupt shoulders and a blob finish. It’s embossed with the 240 & 242 East 20th Street address which dates it no later than 1894 when the Union Bottling Company moved to West 25th Street.

 

Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters

Hostetter’s Bitters was an extremely popular patent medicine sold in this country from 1853 up until the early 1960’s. The bitters was named after a third generation Pennsylvanian named Jacob Hostetter who was born on April 18, 1791. A graduate of the Jefferson Medical College, he was known locally in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as an able practitioner.

This December 1892 advertisement published in McBride’s Magazine boldly described the bitters as:

…not only a national but a universal remedy, the round world over.

Their purported benefits were many as evidenced by this July 6, 1855 advertisement in the Monongahela Valley (Pa.) Republican.

Acknowledged to be the best and most pleasant tonic medicine of the age; the best blood purifier in the medical market; is a sure cure for dyspepsia; will remove all flatulency or heaviness from the stomach; keeps you free from costiveness; assists digestion; gives a good appetite, and imparts a healthy tone to the whole system. It is a certain preventative of fever and ague; it disperses bile, and imparts a bracing impetus to the whole system, which alone puts these Bitters at the head and front of all prescriptions of the kind in the market.

According to another advertisement published at around the same time, depending on your ailment, one, two or three bottles was all you needed to do the trick.

Three bottles of Hostetter’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters will cure the Dyspepsia. One bottle will create an appetite, force off the impure bile, purify the blood and invigorate the system. Two bottles will cure the worst form of liver complaint. One bottle will dissipate  that weakness at the pit of the stomach, give color to the countenance, impart tone and strength to the system, and lend cheerfulness to the mind. Every family should have Hostetter’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters. No article is so peculiarly adapted to the depressing effects of summer weather.

An April 1, 1865 ad in the Druggist Circular & Chemical Gazette succinctly summed it up in one line.

Steadies the Nerves and Tends to Prolong Life.

So what formula was able to accomplish such wonderful results? Well, if you believe the 1865 Druggist Circular and Chemical Gazette advertisement:

Hostetter’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters is of botanic derivation. Its remedial elements comprise some of the most effacious vegetable juices known to medical botany, harmoniously combined by careful scientific processes, with a purified spiritous basis, pronounced by competent analysis free from all hurtful contamination.

What they fail to mention is that the spiritous base mentioned above resulted in a preparation that contained a significant percentage of alcohol. According to the  Journal of the American Medical Association, dated May 29, 1920, the Bitters alcoholic content varied over its life span. In 1906 the state chemists of North Dakota reported finding 43%; in 1907, when the Food and Drug Act went into effect the label declared the presence of 39% and by 1914 it was 25%. The 1920 Journal report included the following chart  which was self explanatory.

Applying the same logic to the earlier 43% alcoholic content would almost double those numbers, so its no surprise that the Bitters was not only available at the local drug store, but according to their early advertising:

It can be had at any of our first class hotels and restaurants.

Who originally developed the formula for the Bitters is open to debate. Jacob Hostetter, a druggist named Charles Green or possibly a team effort between the two are all possibilities. What we do know is that in 1851, according to an item published in the December 13 edition of the (Lancaster Pa.) Express, Green had just arrived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and had set up an office on South Prince Street. Within several months of his arrival, Green was advertising a product called “Dr. Charles Green’s Celebrated Aromatic Homeopathic Bitters.”

Sometime in 1852 Green and Hostetter established a company called Dr. Green & Co. whose directors included Green and Jacob’s son David. The company produced what they called a “Temperance Stomach Bitters,” as evidenced by this advertisement for Dr. Green & Co. that appeared in several January, 1853 editions of Lancaster’s Saturday Express.

The business, after apparently establishing a local following, ultimately dissolved on March 22, 1853. The dissolution notice was published in the March 23, 1853 edition of the Lancaster Examiner.

Green continued to manufacture and sell bitters in Lancaster, while at around the same time the Hostetter’s partnered with George Smith and a local banker named Charles Bougher to manufacture bitters under the firm name of Hostetter, Smith & Co. By the end of the year, their company had established a factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This December 22, 1853 advertisement in the Pittsburgh Daily Post listed their address as 276 Penn Street. It’s also the earliest advertisement I can find that associated the Hostetter name with the Bitters.

Two years later, on November 29, 1855, with Bougher no longer involved in the business, Jacob bought out his son David and the name of the business was changed to Hostetter & Smith. The announcement was published in the December 27, 1855 edition of the Pittsburgh Daily Post.

David Hostetter continued to be associated with the company as a confidential agent and a little over two years later, on February 17, 1858, with Jacob’s mental condition deteriorating, he sold his entire interest in the company to David. Jacob would pass away the following year.

Throughout the 1850’s the business had apparently grown leaps and bounds based primarily, if not exclusively, on this one product. Five years after their start in Pittsburgh, Hostetter’s Bitters  was appearing in newspaper advertisements in almost every state east of the Mississippi River and had made its way to California as evidenced by its inclusion in a  February 24, 1857 advertisement for a Sacramento, California drug store named Alban, Thomas & Co.

In New York City, a July 11, 1859  advertisement in the New York Times mentioned that in addition to their principal depot at 13-15 Park Row, the bitters was available in Manhattan from over 30 wholesale druggists.

Certainly driven by this increasing demand the company moved to a new location in 1858. The move was announced in an item published in the March 2 edition of the Pittsburgh Gazette.

This new facility was described several years later in the company’s 1867 Illustrated Almanac. The almanac quoted an April 17, 1866 Chicago Post story that, while a little lengthy, provides a good feel for the size of the operation, which at the time was employing approximately 40 hands.

Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters are prepared in a vast laboratory by one of the most efficient and experienced chemists in the United States. The establishment is in Pittsburgh, and covers all the space occupied by the immense stores and warehouses at Nos. 58, 59 and 60 on Water and First Streets, in that wide awake and progressive city. The buildings comprise four stories of immense height, and the outside measurement in front is 75 by 190 feet.

On going over the building, which is almost of cathedral dimensions, we found that the uppermost story was the laboratory, in which the ingredients were carefully measured and concocted for the distillation of the bitters. The herbs were of the rarest and some were quite new to us.

When the herbs and other compounds are ready for use, they are deposited in the twenty-one enormous tanks, which measure five feet in depth by forty-eight feet in circumference. The liquor with which the Bitters are mixed is brought up from the basement by means of an elevator, and, when it has undergone the proper chemical process, it is conducted by pipes to the third story, which is the same size as the other; indeed they are all alike in this respect. These pipes are connected with ten immense receivers, which are nine feet deep and eighteen feet broad, where the liquor which is brought from the mixing room above is clarified. There is another chemical process, and it remains a secret with the manufacturers. As soon as it is prepared, however, it is conveyed by other pipes to the bottling room…

A July 1887 advertisement in Harpers Magazine offered a glimpse of their facility’s interior. A rendering captioned: This cut represents one floor of our vast laboratory,” was likely a view of their 10 – nine foot deep receiver tanks.

Much of their expansion was driven by a healthy dose of advertising, which, in addition to ads in newspapers across the nation, also included their annual publication of “Hostetter’s United States Almanac.”

The 1867 edition was typical and contained feature stories/glorified advertisements with titles like: “Prevention of Disease by the Increase of Vital Power.” Interspersed with these stories was general information like sun and moon rise, humorous anecdotes and wise old sayings:”Small faults indulged are little thieves that let in greater.”

David Hostetter, along with George W. Smith, managed the business as a partnership from 1858 up until Smith’s death on October 30, 1884.  At that time  the partnership was dissolved and  David Hostetter continued to manage it under a new name; Hostetter & Co. The dissolution notice, dated December 1, 1884, was published in the December 4 edition of the Pittsburgh Post.

David Hostetter passed away four years later on November 5, 1888. Shortly afterward, in April 1889, his widow, Rossetta Hostetter along with his surviving children incorporated the business. The notice of incorporation was published in several March and April editions of the Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Hostetter’s sons, D. Herbert and Theodore R. Hostetter were named president and vice president respectively, and, according to a brief feature on the company published in the June 23, 1934 edition of the Pittsburg Press, the company would remain under the control of the Hostetter family for a fourth generation as well.

Theodore R. Hostetter died in 1902 and D. Herbert Hostetter Sr., in 1924. Upon the death of the latter, Frederick G. Hostetter, and D. Herbert Hostetter Jr., sons of the deceased, were elected president and vice president respectively. Frederick G. Hostetter died in 1931, and his brother, D. Herbert Hostetter, Jr., succeeded him as president.

The 1934 feature went on to say that the company’s business peaked sometime in the early 1870’s but up through 1920 was still doing quite well.

From the early sixties the business developed from several hundred thousand dollars until 1872, it had reached the million dollar mark. During the eighties and the nineties, the gross business fluctuated around the half-million mark, and so continued for the succeeding thirty years until 1919 and 1920, when the gross business for each of these years exceeded the million mark.

In 1903 the business began listing a second company address, 60 First Avenue, in the Pittsburgh directories.

The company remained active during the Prohibition years and Hostetter’s advertisements, though now less numerous, continued to appear in the newspapers.

             

This 1920’s advertisement, though toned down, delivered a similar message as those from the mid 1800’s.

HOSTETTER’S Celebrated Stomach Bitters tone up the digestive organs, stimulate the appetite and promote a feeling of physical fitness.

Whether it was lack of management after the death of D. Herbert Hostetter, a reduction in the alcohol content to 25%, or likely a combination of both, the prohibition years were not kind to the business. By the early 1930’s they had dropped the Water Street address from the Pittsburgh directories, apparently consolidating at the newer location. Then, in 1936, with the Hostetter family apparently no longer involved, the company initiated a stock offering. The reasoning behind the 78,200 share offering was explained in a July 28, 1936 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The offering is being made at $2.50 per share by Charles E. Doyle & Co., New York, principal underwriter, which firm was instrumental in greatly strengthening the management of Hostetter Corporation.

Advertising expenditures of the predecessor Hostetter companies totaled over $4,425,000 in the period from 1889 to 1920, and the present Hostetter Corporation announces that of the net proceeds from the sale of this issue, which will total $150,562, $90,000 will be devoted to an advertising program. The balance will be devoted to raw materials, plant equipment, machinery improvements, organization expenses, working capital, etc.

The promised advertising campaign materialized in 1937 with newspaper advertisements focused primarily on Pennsylvania as well as a number of midwest states.

Apparently the stock offering and advertising campaign didn’t do the trick and by 1939 the extent of their advertising had been reduced to three lines in the classified sections.

Their advertisements disappear completely in the early 1940’s but the company remained active, though just barely. Then, in 1954, this March 21 item in the Pittsburgh Press announced an attempted revival along with a change in name to Hostetter’s Tonic.

A famous old product name in Pittsburgh has changed hands, and is scheduled to again become big business.

It is Hostetter Stomachic Bitters, first made here more than 100 years ago, and now headed for distribution as Hostetter Tonic.

Charles G. Brown and Associates of Pittsburgh have purchased Hostetter Corp. In announcing acquisition of the almost dormant company, Mr. Brown said labeling and packaging of the medicine would be modernized, but the ingredients would remain the same as they were for more than a century…

Fifty million bottles of the packaged medicine have been sold since Dr. Jacob Hostetter first wrote the prescription in 1853. Produced in only small quantities in the past 15 years however, output is being stepped up rapidly.

This April 5, 1960 advertisement in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News for Hostetter’s Tonic is one of the last ones I could find.

The business came an end, at least in Pittsburgh, sometime prior to 1967. That was the year that the Hostetter Building on First Avenue was demolished. A humorous story in the April 26, 1967 edition of the Pittsburgh Press described the publicity stunt associated with the official end of the Hostetter era.

When it comes to building demolition, Pirate Pitcher Vernon Law had better stick to baseball.

He threw a dozen baseballs, then had to resort to rocks today before he was able to “strike out” a large plate glass window in the Hostetter Building at First Avenue and Stanwix St., downtown.

It was all part of a publicity gimmick marking the start of demolition of the structure to make way for Equitable Life Assurance Society’s new Gateway Center 6 office building.

“I guess I’ve got too much control for this sort of thing.” drawled the big right hander.

It took him 12 baseballs to make only five holes in a second floor window. He kept firing them through the same holes.

At the suggestion of several onlookers, he scooped up half a dozen rocks from the street and was able-finally- to shatter the glass.

Law finally left the “mound” to let a “relief” demolition crew take over the chores.

They got better results with their 1,000-pound, crane mounted headache ball, painted white with black seams to resemble the horsehide sphere Law is used to hurling.

Equitable’s new building, a 23-story, 400,000 square foot structure will rise on the site

A photograph of the building under demolition appeared in the May 20, 1967 edition of the Pittsburgh Press. Today, courtesy of Google Earth, the 23 story tower (black on the right) is visible in its place.

 

The bottle I found is a typical Hostetter’s bottle; brown with a square cross section. Advertisements as far back as 1854 describe the same bottle design: full quart with Dr. J. Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters blown in the glass.

At one time the bottle also included a paper label that included the company trademark, St. George and the Dragon. This labeled example recently appeared for sale on the Internet.

According to this October 1890 advertisement in the Overland Monthly, the trademark dates back to the start of the business as well.

For the last 35 years it has heralded the curative powers of the great tonic HOSTETTER’S STOMACH BITTERS.

John Fennell, Boston

Beginning in 1879 John Fennell managed a wholesale wine and liquor business in Boston Massachusets. He owned the business for over 30 years from 1886 to 1919.

Census records indicate that Fennell was born in Ireland sometime in the early 1850’s and by the mid-1860’s had relocated to Canada where he became associated with Thomas Furlong. Furlong ran a wholesale and retail liquor business in St John, N. B. where he was listed in the St. John and Fredericton Business Directory as early as 1862. That directory also included an advertisement touting  his wines, liquors and a product called “Allsop’s Ales.”

When Furlong opened a branch location in Boston he named Fennell as his manager. The notice announcing the opening of Furlong’s Boston branch appeared in the March 14, 1879 edition of the  Boston Globe.

MR. THOMAS FURLONG, the well known wine merchant of St. John, N. B., has opened a branch of his establishment at 161 Devonshire Street and 22 Arch Street, under the management of Mr. John Fennell, who has been with Mr. Furlong for twelve years, and in whom he reposes every confidence. He has just issued a neat and comprehensive catalogue, embracing the wines of Spain, Portugal, France and Germany… Mr. Furlong has had experience of twenty-five years in the wine trade, and his selections can be relied upon as of the very best.

It wasn’t long before Furlong was advertising in the local newspapers. Advertisements for “Furlong’s Irish Malt Whiskey” began appearing as early as the March 30, 1879 edition of the Boston Globe.

The Boston branch continued to operate under Furlong’s ownership and Fennel’s management up until October 16 1886 when Furlong turned the business over to his long time manager. Fennel announced the change in ownership in the October 17, 1886 edition of the Boston Globe.

161 DEVONSHIRE STREET, October 16, 1886.

Mr. Thomas Furlong has relinquished the wine and spirit business carried on by him at 161 Devonshire and 22 Arch Streets, Boston, through me and under my superintendence for a number of years past. I have, therefore, the pleasure of announcing that I have opened at the old stand, and that in the future the business will be conducted as heretofore, but in my name solely.

My stock of wines, Cognac brandies, whiskeys, etc., is a very extensive one; and all goods being personally selected, I am in the position to give my customers, as in the past, the same pure and reliable goods at reasonable prices. Soliciting a continuance of the support given in the past, I am most respectfully,

JOHN FENNELL

An advertisement that appeared in several 1893 editions of the Fall River (Mass) Daily Herald provided a general overview of Fennell’s wine and liquor menu along with his related sales pitch.

FINE WINES – Having visited most of the wine-producing districts of Europe last summer, and personally selected a large line of fine wines, that are not held at fancy prices, but are honestly graded according to age and quality, I would call particular attention to my stock of sherries and ports. They embrace every variety, from the sound young wine to the rare old vintage of 1847, and ranging in price from Eight to Fifty dollars a dozen and from $2.50 to $10 a gallon.

OLD BRANDIES – have been selected from leading houses of Cognac, and I am in a position to offer my customers pure and reliable goods from the celebrated vintage of 1858, costing $48 per dozen, and fine champagne brandies from $6 to $14 per gallon.

PURE WHISKIES – that are stored in sherry wine casks have a mellowness not found in other whiskies, and being honestly aged are free from those heating qualities usually found in so called old goods. Buying all whiskies from the distillery direct, I can sell fine goods from $8 a dozen up to the celebrated O.F.R., costing $30, and ordinary and special, in wood from $8 to $10 pre gallon.

As evidenced by this March 24, 1887 Boston Globe advertisement, he also continued to sell the same “Allsop Ales” that Furlong marketed back in 1862.

Up through 1902 the company address continued to be listed as 161 Devonshire and 22 Arch Streets. Actually one location, the building occupied the short block between Arch and Devonshire with addresses on both streets. Then, sometime in 1903 or 1904 their address changed to 177 Devonshire and 38 Arch Street.

Fennell’s 1904 liquor license notice described the property like this:

No.s 177 Devonshire St., 38 Arch St., and elevator entrance to cellar at 40 Arch St. in said Boston, in two rooms, first floor, cellar for stock only, of said building.

The company remained at that location until, according to this May 29, 1919 story in the Boston Globe, they closed the doors for good, a victim of Prohibition.

Prohibition claims its first victim in Boston today, when John Fennell will lock up for all time his long-famed wine shop at 175 Devonshire St. and 34 Arch St…”Prohibition is coming and you can’t stop it,” mused Mr. Fennell yesterday amid the mellow atmosphere of jugs, dust laden bottles and ambrosial liquids. “It’s coming like a great wave headed for the bow of a ship and its going to break soon. But it’s going to miss me.”

Here’s some information. Whisper it about. In the past year $200,000 in liquor has passed out of the Fennell shop – and not all, certainly, for immediate consumption. Are the bugs loading up?

“Why look here,” said the veteran liquor merchant, “six weeks ago I said to myself I never could unload my stock by this time. But here I am cleaned out. Not a bottle in the shop.”

Nine years later John Fennell passed away while on a trip to England. According to his obituary published in the June 2, 1928 edition of the Boston Globe:

Mr. Fennell went to England in April and was taken ill on the trip across. He recovered while on a visit to relatives in Liverpool but then had a sudden relapse and died Thursday.

The bottle I found is a cylinder that likely contained a fifth of whiskey. Blown in a three piece mold it’s embossed John Fennell, Boston, so it was likely manufactured no earlier than 1886 when Fennel took over the business.

Note:

Fennell’s obituary stated that he was born in St. John, N.B. This conflicts with census records from 1880 through 1920 that list his birthplace as Ireland. For purposes of this post I chose to accept the census records.

Higgins Inks, Brooklyn, N. Y.

Higgins Ink was manufactured in Brooklyn, New York from the early 1880’s up through the late 1960’s and possibly longer. Still available today, it’s bottled and packaged in Leeds, Massachusetts by Chartpak, Inc., and still bears the name of its founder, Irish immigrant and long time Brooklyn resident, Charles M. Higgins.

An October 23, 1929 Brooklyn Times Union feature on Higgins provided some background.

Born in Moluch Brach, County Roscommen, Ireland, on October 4, 1854, Mr. Higgins came to America at the age of 6. Arriving here with his brothers and sisters, he joined his parents, who had proceeded them. They settled in Brooklyn’s Park Slope section where he lived all his life.

In the mid to late 1870’s, Brooklyn city directories listed Higgins as a patent solicitor living on Hoyt Street and later Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. In the early 1880’s he set up shop in Manhattan where his patent business was first listed at 10 Spruce Street. By 1883 he had moved the business to 5 Beekman Street where it would remain listed through 1900. His business card appeared in the February 3, 1887 edition of the American Stationer.

It was during his early years as a patent solicitor that Higgins Ink got its start. An article summarizing the Higgins business written years later in the September 8, 1941 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle provided this early history.

Mr. Higgins secured his first patent as early as 1875 when he was but 19 years old. He drifted into the drafting position and after several years opened his own offices to conduct a patent solicitation business. Meanwhile his spare times and evenings he spent in his sister-in-law’s kitchen, on Brooklyn Heights, conducting experiments in ink making. He produced many articles and in 1880 concluded an agreement with a Manhattan firm to act as a selling agent for distribution of Higgins Inks.

At the outset ink sales were scant so that for several years the fluid was manufactured at home while Mr. Higgins carried on his patent business. However, in 1885 a copartnership between Mr. Higgins and his brother-in-law, John Gianella was formed to make the ink under the name of Charles M. Higgins & Co. After several years Mr. Higgins devoted his entire efforts to the new business and the first plant was erected and placed in operation at 168 8th St., Brooklyn.

New York City directories support and add to the above story and also serve to better establish time frames. It was in 1883, the same year he moved to 5 Beekman Street,that the directories mention inks for the first time. That year his occupational heading in the Manhattan and Bronx Directory read “Patent Solicitor and Manufacturer of Carbon Inks.” The business of Charles M. Higgins & Co. initially appeared two years later in the 1886 directory, also at the 5 Beekman Street address.

While Higgins maintained his patent office in Manhattan for another 15 years or so, by 1888 he had moved his ink operation to Brooklyn. Located between Third and Fourth Avenues, his factory building and yard occupied the entire 75 foot wide footprint between 168-172  Eighth Street and 197-201 Ninth Street.

Over the course of the next twelve years the company expanded until, according to the 1941 Brooklyn Daily Eagle story, they were forced to move to new quarters located one block away between Fourth and Fifth Avenues:

Shortly thereafter the selling agent failed and the Higgins firm inaugurated the policy of selling directly to the trade leading to great expansion. The company line was added to with various other types of inks and commercial pastes. Between 1890 and 1900 Mr. Higgins was granted 21 patents relating to manufacture of inks and adhesives. The next year new quarters at 244-248 8th Street were erected and occupied.

At around the same time that Higgins erected the factory at 244 Eighth Street the company began to list their main office at 271 Ninth Street. Like their previous location, the back to back properties encompassed the entire area between Eighth Street and Ninth Street. By the early 1900’s the company was advertising London and Chicago offices as well as the main office in Brooklyn.

In 1904, no longer in need of their former site at 168 Eighth Street, they offered it up for sale. The classified advertisement, published in the February 28, 1904 edition of the Brooklyn Citizen, certainly made it clear that their Brooklyn location, with its nearby transportation facilities was, in no small way, a contributing factor to the the company’s expansion. So it’s no surprise that the company’s new facility remained in the same area.

By the time the company had settled into the new location, their product line included a line of adhesives in addition to their inks. A feature on the Charles M. Higgins Co. published in the September 1910 edition of “Dun’s Review” highlighted several adhesives including Higgins’ Office Paste, describing it as:

A pure opalescent white paste for general office and home use and the fine stationery trade. This spreads with great ease and smoothness, catches quickly and dries quickly and does not strike through or warp the paper.

Several other brands of paste and glue that were manufactured during this period were listed by this newspaper and magazine advertisement that appeared throughout much of the early 1900’s.

Ink however was their mainstay and the company produced both drawing inks and writing inks. According to the 1910 “Duns Review” feature their drawing inks were the ink of choice for those involved in the development of technical drawings.

Higgins’ American drawing inks are used by leading artists, architects, engineers, schools and colleges, and the manufacturers state three-fourths of the professional draftsmen use no other drawing ink. This ink is made in black and in twelve colors, the black ink being of two kinds – waterproof, which is insoluble when dry, and general, which is soluble when dry.

     

A price list found in the August 1910 edition of W. & L. E. Gurley’s “Manual of the Principal Instruments Used In American Engineering and Surveying” illustrated the ink’s menu of colors.

The company’s writing inks were manufactured under two names: Higgins’ “Eternal” Ink and Higgins’ “Engrossing” Ink. Both names were registered as trademarks on March 6, 1883.

      

An article written under the heading “Industrial Progress,” and published in a 1910/1911 edition of a publication entitled “Architects and Builders Magazine,” suggested that the inclusion of carbon in their writing inks was the secret to their success.

The ordinary ink of commerce is made of iron and nutgalls and within a short time turns a dim brown, or yellow, but the ink manufactured by the Chas. M. Higgins & Co. is made of pure carbon in solution, the only permanent everlasting coloring matter.

The writing in ancient manuscripts hundreds and thousands of years old is today as black and clear as when first written. This is because the inks were not chemical inks, were not made from iron and nutgalls, but were made from PURE CARBON.

An ink that would write a true black from the pen point, that would stay black forever, proof to effects of age, air, sunshine, chemicals and fire, the unchangeable ink of the ancients, has been considered a lost art.

And it was lost until by careful research and experiment Mr. Chas. M. Higgins mastered the secret of holding carbon in permanent suspension or solution, as was necessary in making a practical carbon writing ink.

The “Duns Review” feature explained the distinction between the “Eternal” and “Engrossing” brands.

For writing ink the firm manufactures the Higgins’ “Eternal” ink, which always remains black from the instant it leaves the point of the pen and is proof against age, air, sunshine, chemicals and fire. The ink can be diluted for use in fountain pens, while it is furnished in just the right consistency for bank, legal and corporation use, business and general correspondence and official records. For the last purpose, however, as well as for engrossing and fancy penmanship, the firm manufactures a dense black indestructible ink known as Higgins’ “Engrossing” ink.

Charles Higgins passed away in October, 1929 after which his son,Tracy Higgins, assumed the presidency.  According to the elder Higgins’ October 23, 1929 obituary, he had been “ailing for eight years,” so it’s likely that Tracy was managing much, if not all, of the business for some time prior tp Charles’s death.

In 1941 Tracy changed the name of the business to the Higgins Ink Co. The reasoning behind the name change was explained in a June 11, 1941 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The firm founded by the Higgins family in 1880, and operated for 60 years under the name of Charles M. Higgins & Co., will be known in the future as Higgins Ink Co., Inc., it was announced today.

The change in corporate title, it was explained by Tracy M. Higgins, president of the firm, at his office, 271 9th St., signifies no changes of ownership or policy, but is merely an effort to use a shorter name more easy to remember.

The A. W. Faber-Castell Pencil Co., Inc. acquired the Higgins Ink Company in 1964. The acquisition was reported in the October 8, 1964 edition of the (Passaic, N. J.) Herald News.

Two of the oldest and best known firms in the drawing materials industry have been combined.

The 121-year-old A. W. Faber-Castell Pencil Co., Inc., of Newark announced yesterday it has acquired the 84-year-old Higgins Ink Co., of Brooklyn.

Harry U. Bittman, president of Faber-Castell, said Higgins Ink will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary but retain its identity and maintain its headquarters and factory in Brooklyn.

Peter O. Everson, president of Higgins Ink, and Tracy Higgins, executive vice president, will continue in their present positions.

Irish-born patent solicitor Charles M. Higgins founded Higgins Ink in 1880. He developed a formula for ink which is still the basis of the firm’s present production of 4 million bottles a year.

Higgins Ink Co. was still listed at their Brooklyn location in the late 1960’s (1967 is the last directory I can find). It’s not clear exactly when the company left Brooklyn but it was likely sometime in the 1970’s.

Higgins Inks continued to be associated with Faber-Castell up through at least the mid-1990’s as evidenced by this August 31, 1994 advertisement in the Baltimore Sun.

Today Chartpak, Inc. owns the Higgins brand and you can still buy their drawing inks as well as their “Eternal” writing ink.

Their long time Brooklyn office and factory buildings still exist to this day. The office building at 271 Ninth Street is actually a three story mansion that, according to Brownstoner.com was originally built in 1857 for a banker named William Cronyn.

The factory, built at the turn of the century and located behind the office at 244 Eighth Street is now a residential apartment building.

The bottle I found is a small mouth blown ink bottle with “Higgins Inks, Brooklyn, N. Y. embossed on the base. It matches the drawing ink bottle included in several late 1800’s/early 1900’s advertisements.

 

Today their drawing ink bottle, though now made of plastic, still pretty much maintains the same shape as it did back then.

On a final note, an article written by Fred N. Holabird entitled: “The Original Higgins Ink, A Nevada Invention,” published in the Spring, 2003 edition of “Bottles and Extra’s,” speculates that there might be a connection between the Higgins Ink of Brooklyn and Rufus L. Higgins of Virginia City, Nevada whose inks date back to the 1860’s. Rufus left Virginia City in 1876 after his grocery store burned down, never to be heard from again.

The fact that both share the Higgins name and that Charles, a patent solicitor, came up with his ink recipe around the time Rufus disappeared certainly fuels that speculation. Holabird writes:

The coincidence of Charles Higgins “inventing” his ink just after R. L. Higgins made his in Virginia City, only to have his business and inventory destroyed by fire, is remarkable. Both events happened within a year of each other. Were the two relatives? Did a depressed and broke Rufus give away the formula to his relative? Do Charles original notes contain Rufus’ name? Did Rufus quietly move to the East Coast to help Charles?

In our research, we were unable to locate Rufus in the West or New York after 1876, nor able to construct a family tree of either man. Meanwhile, the coincidence of timing, product commonality and surname certainly point to shared knowledge…Only more advanced research will answer these questions.

 

Wm F. Kidder, New York

William Kidder was a wholesale drug merchant and later manufacturing chemist located in New York City’s Borough of Manhattan. Companies associated with his name were in business from the late 1860’s up through the early 1900’s.

Initially Kidder ran a wholesale drug depot in partnership with Eugene Wetherell. Although not listed in New York City directories prior to 1870, November and December 1869 advertisements for Durno’s Catarrh Snuff made it clear that they were certainly in operation by then at 32 Cedar Street under the name Kidder & Wetherell.

Later an April 1870 advertisement, also for Durno’s Snuff, included Kidder & Wetherell’s address as 104 William Street and that’s where the company was initially listed in New York City’s 1870/1871 directory.

The partnership with Wetherell continued for several years using several different addresses; 104 William Street (1870-1871), 57 John Street (1872) and 83 John Street (1873). Directories during this period classified them under several categories including merchants, importers and soaps.

Then in 1874 the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed the partnership as dissolved. A pair of advertisements published in New York’s Christian Leader suggest that the dissolution took place sometime in November of 1873. The first, for Morison’s Pills published on November 8, 1873, named the business as Kidder, Wetherell & Co. The second, for Buchan’s Carbolic Soaps published a week later on November 15, 1873 in the same newspaper, named the business as William F. Kidder & Co., successors to Kidder, Wetherall & Co.

     

     

Between 1874 and 1877 Kidder remained in business at 83 John Street operating under the name Wm. F. Kidder & Co. Newspaper  advertisements during this time indicate that the company continued to operate primarily as wholesale agents for a wide variety of products that not only included patent medicines but also items like Hawthorne Spring Water and Frese’s American Mende Cement.

       

       

Sometime in 1877 or 1878, Kidder formed another partnership, this time with George W. Laird. The business operated under the name Kidder & Laird from 1877 up until 1884. Sometime around 1880 advertisements for Kidder’s Saccharated Pepsine began appearing in the trade magazines suggesting that by then, in addition to acting as wholesale agents, they had added a manufacturing arm to the company.

Ultimately, with Laird experiencing financial difficulties, the  Kidder & Laird partnership was dissolved on May 3, 1884. The dissolution notice appeared in the May, 4, 1884 edition of the New York Tribune.

At this point, Kidder, now associated with a man named Vass Houghton, carried on the business as Wm F. Kidder & Co. and by the mid 1880’s was heavily advertising several specialty products. One called “Digestylin,” was labeled as “a sure cure for indigestion and dyspepsia” in a series of newspaper advertisements that ran throughout the eastern half of the country in September through December of 1887.

Another was Kidder’s Wine of the Purified Hypophosphites of Lime and Soda that was primarily advertised to the medical profession in pharmaceutical trade magazines.

Physicians will find this wine an efficacious remedy, where disease indicates the administration. Of all preparations of Phosphorous the Hypophosphates are the most easy assimilated thus rendering it a superior medicine in an improved condition of the system, as in Phthisis, Nervous Depression, Scrofulous Ulceration, Debility from prolonged lactation, and in all diseases in which the vital forces are impaired. The combination with pure wine aids its tonic action and makes it palatable and acceptable to the most delicate stomach. This preparation, alternated with Hydroleine (Hydrated Oil), will greatly aid in building up the debilitated system.

The  mention of Hydoleine in the above advertisement was no coincidence because Kidder was also the sole U. S. agent for that product as well.

According to a January 14, 1888 story in The New York Times, it was the advertising costs associated with these products that, in part, forced a suspension of the business at that time.

BUSINESS TROUBLES

William F. Kidder and Vass Houghton, comprising the firm of William F. Kidder & Co., 83 John St., New York made an assignment recently to Benjamin Y. Pippey. The failure caused great surprise in the trade, as a year ago $150,000 had been claimed as available means. Mr. Kidder who lives at East Orange, did not come over to his office yesterday, and his clerks could not give any details of the failure. It was stated, however, that Mr. Kidder had spent large amounts in advertising his specialties and the returns had come in very slowly lately. Business had been dull and obligations were maturing which he could not meet. The failure of his former partner, George W. Laird, some time ago, had also affected him indirectly, as he had added one of Mr. Laird’s creditors to a considerable extent. Mr. Kidder had hoped to pull through, but found he was unable to.

Several weeks later a slightly more optimistic item appeared in the March 1888 edition of the Druggist Circular and Chemical Gazette.

The assignee of Wm. F. Kidder & Co., reports the nominal assets at $38,000, actual assets $21,000 and gross liabilities $62,000. There is an effort being made to effect a settlement with the creditors that business may be resumed.

It appears that Kidder did in fact continue in business, remaining with the company for several more years. Both the company and Kidder were still listed at 83 John Street with the the classification “patent medicines” in the 1890/1891 NYC Directory. However, the next year the company moved to 19 Beekman Street and by that time Kidder was no longer included at that address.

The 1895 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed Wm F. Kidder & Co. as a New Jersey Corporation with capital of $12,000 (I don’t have access to 1891 to 1894). Still located at 19 Beekman Street, George Currier was named as president and Frank W. Bailey and Horace W. Campbell as secretary and treasurer respectively.

Sometime around 1900 the company moved to 26 Cliff Street where it was still listed with the same officers in the 1902 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory. It had vanished from the directories by 1904.

The bottle I found is a 12 oz mouth blown medicine embossed “Wm. F Kidder, New York.” That puts it within one of two time periods when the company operated solely under his name – 1874 to 1877 or 1884 to 1903. The bottle was almost certainly manufactured during the latter. I suspect it’s from the mid to late 1880’s when the company heavily advertising “Dygestylin” to the general public (price $1 per large bottle according to the above advertisement).

T. A. Snider Preserve Co., Cincinnati, Ohio

 

Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, T.A. Snider was famous for their condiments, particularly their catsup, from the 1880’s up through the mid – 1900’s. Ultimately, they were absorbed by Hunts Foods, Inc.

A June 13, 1909 story in the Cincinnati Enquirer explained that the business was the product of a husband and wife team.

In the early eighties Mrs. Snider kept a boarding house on Broadway. She was a refined and talented woman, whose catsups, chili sauce and other table delicacies were celebrated. All the later creations of the company were from the formulas of Mrs. Snider, who lived long enough to see her husband begin to reap the benefits of her genius and his industry.

Another story, this one in the January, 1910 edition of the “American Pure Food and Health Journal” added:

At the time only sour catsup was known, comprised of fermented tomatoes, but Mrs. Snider’s valuable catsup recipe was made from fresh, sound, whole, ripe, red tomatoes, and thus a solid foundation was laid for a great firm whose products are known and used the world over.

The “Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of Cicinnati and its Environs,” published in 1886 stated that T. A. Snider & Co. was established in 1879 at No. 177 West Canal Street by Thomas A. Snider. The next year, according to a July 26, 1880 item in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Snider took on R. T. Skinner as partner.

Also referred to as the Cincinnati Preserving Co., the business was described in an August 14, 1880 story in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Still in its infancy, the story sounds introductory in nature yet talks of shipping to all parts of the country. I’m guessing that, in an effort to promote the new business,  the local newspaper may have embellished a little.

CINCINNATI PRESERVING COMPANY

T. A. Snider & Co., proprietors, located at Nos. 177, 179 and 181 Canal Street. The firm does a business in fine goods, and the only one in the city whose leading specialty is preserves. The firm also does an immense trade in bulk goods, shipping to all parts of the country in buckets and tin-pails. Their jellies, preserves, fruit butters and marmalades are sought after by jobbers who know them throughout the United States, and no manufacturer has a better reputation for first-class goods than this firm…

Their premises are well arranged, and contain all the facilities necessary for the transaction of their large and rapidly increasing business. The season finds them in splendid working order, with every prospect of a most successful trade. Their capital is ample, and they are in every respect fully prepared to meet all requirements of the trade.

Cincinnati directories listed the T. A. Snider Co. at 132 West 2nd Street in 1881 through 1883. Whether this was another address for the Canal Street location or it moved there in late 1880 is not clear.

In any event, by 1884 the business had incorporated as The T. A. Snider Preserve Company with Snider named as president and Skinner as secretary and treasurer. Around the same time they moved to a new building at the northwest corner of Smith and Augusta. The Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of Cincinnati” described it like this:

The splendid building they now use was erected by them and occupied in 1884. It is a five-story brick, 50 x 80 feet in measurement, and arranged expressly for the accommodation of the business.

The company continued to grow at such a rapid pace that just four years later they moved again, listing their office and factory at 49 and 51 Sycamore in 1888. That year they also listed their first branch factory in Milldale Kentucky. By 1891 they were listing a second Cincinnati plant at 30 East 2nd Street.

The company’s menu of products at around that time was presented in this 1888 advertisement that appeared in a publication called “PAR Excellence A Manual of Cooking.”

While 1880 may have been a stretch, by the mid to late 1880’s Snider products were certainly being shipped to many parts of the country as evidenced by this September 18, 1888 news item that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

A Catsup Train

A few days ago the Big Four and Kankakee Line took out of here an elegant train of fifteen cars of catsup, the product of the T. A. Snider Preserve Company. This is the largest single shipment of the kind ever made, and shows that this enterprising Cincinnati firm has distanced all competitors in their line…While Chicago may be ahead in dressed beef, Cincinnati will”catsup” to her in other products.

An October 12, 1890 story in the San Francisco Examiner made it clear that by then their products had reached the west coast. The story, centered around the San Francisco Mechanic’s Fair, highlighted Snider’s exhibit.

The artistic display which the T. A. Snider Preserve Company of Cincinnati makes is a feature of the fair. The Pacific Coast Mercantile Company are the general agents for their products on this coast, which will in the near future be as well and as favorably known here as they are now in the East.

Another story describing the fair mentioned that Mrs. Snider was still involved with the business at that time as well.

Behind the counter stands Mrs. T. A. Snider, who has the reputation of being one of the most expert housekeepers in the State of Ohio, but all her grace and persuasive manners would fail to draw the crowd as it does were it not for the superior purity and excellence of the material she offers each, served in a dainty little cup and partaken of with gusto. These samples are of the Snider Catsup and Tomato Soup, without which no cuisine in Eastern cities would deem itself complete.

This June 1890 advertisement in “Scribners” magazine touts both the catsup and soup mentioned in the above story.

Snider managed the business up until 1901 at which point long time employee Jefferson Livingston acquired controlling interest (75 percent) in the company.

For the next several years Cincinnati directories listed Livingston as president and Snider as vice president. Subsequently, on June 12, 1909, Livingston acquired the remaining 25 percent. The June 13, 1909 edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported the transaction.

A great financial deal was completed yesterday, which will be of interest not only to the business men of this city, but will attract attention throughout the country. On that date Jefferson Livingston gave a check for $170,000 to T. A. Snider, founder of the T. A. Snider Preserve Company, for his remaining one-fourth interest in the firm. The transaction makes Mr. Livingston absolute owner of the big establishment…

By this time, in addition to their Cincinnati facilities,the company operated six branch factories; one in Ohio and the others in neighboring Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

The story went on to say:

The company is the largest manufacturer of catsup in the world, and it is to be found on the tables of every first-class restaurant in Europe and America. Other products of the concern, all of which enjoy an international sale and popularity, are chili sauce, pork and beans, salad dressing, oyster cocktail sauce and tomato soup.

This early teens advertisement mentioned their pork & beans in addition to their catsup.

According to Court records, (Wade L. Street, et.al. as Executors of the Last Will and Testament of Jefferson Livingston, Deceased, Petitioners v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Respondent) Livingston dissolved the corporation in 1911 and operated the business as a sole proprietorship up until August, 1920. It was during this period, likely sometime in 1913, that he moved its main plant and office to Chicago, Illinois where it was listed with an address of 168 N Michigan Avenue.

The court records go on to say that in 1920 he re-incorporated the business and between 1920 and 1923 was looking for a buyer, ultimately selling it to New York Canners, Inc., in February 1923. Just before the sale, Moody’s 1922 Analyses of Investments reported that the company had nine separate packing plants in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Delaware and Florida and was valued at almost $1.3 million.

Some background on the Rochester, New York based New York Canners Inc., can be found in a July 21, 1923 item published in the”Magazine on Wall Street:”

New York Canners, Inc. was incorporated in 1919 and acquired the business and properties of several companies engaged in canning fruits and vegetables in New York State. The principal companies taken over, namely – Winters and Prophet Canning Co., Fort Stanwix Canning Co., Burt Olney Canning Company and Cobb Preserving Co., have been established for a long period of years and their products distributed under their own brands throughout the United States.

The item goes on to say:

In February 1923, the company purchased control of the T. A. Snider Preserve Co… The acquisition has given the company a distribution of special food products and condiments which supplement its previous lines.

A little over two years after the acquisition this description of the New York Canner’s business in a December 4, 1925 stock offering, demonstrated the standing of the Snider brand within the organization.

The company (including subsidiaries) is the largest packer and distributor of vegetables, fruits and jams in the United States, outside of California, and through its principal subsidiary, manufactures and distributes the nationally known Snider brands of catsup and chili sauce. The company’s products have a long established reputation for high quality and excellence and are marketed principally under the widely advertised Snider, Lily of the Valley. Burt Olney and Flag labels.

Ultimately, New York Canners, Inc. adopted the Snider name at a May 2, 1927 stockholders meeting. The May 3, 1927 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced the name change.

The stockholders also voted approval of a change in name to Snider Packing Corporation, thus directly identifying the corporation with its subsidiary, the T. A. Snider Preserve Company and its famous “Snider” products.

Around the same time the corporation, now called Snider Packing, Inc., incorporated a new wholly owned subsidiary with the New York Canners name.  According to a May 6, 1932 article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, this new company handled distribution while the T.A. Snider Preserve Company handled production. Together they employed approximately 450 permanent workers however, during the June through December canning season the addition of temporary workers could increase that number to upwards of 7,000. The article went on to say that at that time the company owned and operated 27 plants with total floor space of about 1,550,500 square feet in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois and Indiana.

The Snider Packing Corporation merged with General Foods on June 23, 1943. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported the transaction.

Stockholders of the Snider Packing Corporation yesterday voted to merge the company with General Foods Corporation, and all assets of Snider will be delivered to General Foods at 10 a.m. today at 250 Park Avenue, New York City.

Bert C. Olney, Snider president will become general manager of the Snider Packing Division of General Foods Corporation.

Under General Foods’ management advertisements in Life Magazine, published during the mid to late 1940’s, show that they continued to manufacture their catsup as well as several other long time products including their preserves as well as their chili and cocktail sauces.

Ten years later, a January 7, 1953 item in the San Francisco Examiner announced that Hunts Foods, Inc., had acquired both the Snider business and label.

Hunts Foods, Inc., has purchased the Snider condiment business from General Foods it was announced jointly today by Frederick R. Weisman, president of Hunts Foods, and G. O. Bailey, vice president of General Foods.

The announcement said the purchase includes the Snider label and trade mark and Snider factories at Albion, N. Y., and Fairmount,Ind.

We plan to continue full use of the Snider label and to integrate the Snider operation into our overall activities.

Snider catsup continued to be mentioned in grocery store advertisements up until the early 1970’s.

The bottle I found is certainly a half-pint catsup bottle with screw threads. The 1888 advertisement reproduced above from “Par Excellence A Manual of Cooking” mentioned that the company was using the screw thread finish on their catsup bottles by that time.

Packed in handsome screw top bottles, with non corrosive caps, thus overcoming the great annoyance and bad appearance of the old fashioned cork stoppers.

Mouth blown, embossing on the base of the bottle includes the Cincinnati location indicating that it was made no later than 1914 when the company left Cincinnati for Chicago.

While the bottle has no maker’s mark, according to this February 23, 1900 news item in the (Mansfield Ohio) News Journal, it could have been made in Cincinnati by the Muncie Glass Company.

Big Bottle Contract

Cincinnati. Feb 23. – The Muncie Glass Company, whose new factories are being built here secured the contract to furnish the entire requirements of the T. A. Snider Preserve Company for catsup bottles amounting to enough for one thousand car loads of finished goods.

On a final note, T.A. Snider, retired, widowed and apparently remarried, died tragically in June, 1912. The June, 12 edition of the Retail Grocers Advocate reported the sad news.

Thos. A. Snider of Cincinnati and his bride of three months were instantly killed near Erie Penn., when their machine in which they were making a transcontinental tour was struck and demolished by a fast train of the Lakeshore Railroad. Mr. Snider was over 70 years of age , the originator of the famous Snider’s Catsup, through which he became a millionaire several times over.