Murray & Lanman, Druggists, New York, Florida Water

Murray and Lanman’s Florida Water has been sold as a toilet water or perfume for almost two centuries. This 1885 advertisement called it the “universal perfume,” advertising it “for the handkerchief, the toilet and the bath.”

According to one advertisement, printed in the February 6, 1880 edition of the Oakland Tribune:

The pleasure of bathing is greatly increased by mixing in the tub half or even a quarter of a bottle of Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water. Instantly the whole atmosphere of the bath-room is as fragrant as a blooming flower garden, the mind becomes buoyant, and the body emerges refreshed and strengthened.

Other advertisements from the same era add that it’s also:

delightful and healthful in the sick room, relieves weakness, fatigue, prostration, nervousness and headache.

Some say that it has “magical” properties as well and it’s commonly used in Hoodoo, Voodoo, Santeria and Wicca practices for ritual offerings and purification among other things.

Murray and Lanman’s Florida Water is still made today by the firm of Lanman & Kemp-Barclay, who was featured in a February 7, 1999 article in the New York Daily News. According to that article:

Despite it’s name, Florida Water was never made in Florida. In fact, Florida wasn’t even a state when the company began. The word simply means “of flowers.”

The article went on to touch on the start of the business.

“We go way back,” says Stephen Cooper, president of Lanman & Kemp-Barclay, its makers. “Our company was founded in 1808 by Robert Murray. In the 1830’s, he got together with Lanman and that’s when they began our main product, which is Florida Water”

The earliest NYC directory I could find, Longworth’s New York Register and City Directory, published July 4, 1813, listed Robert J. Murray as a druggist located at 335 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan. The same directory also listed his brother, Lindley Murray, as a druggist at 313 Pearl Street. By 1826, and possibly earlier, they were listed together as Robert & Lindley Murray, druggists, located at 263 Pearl Street, corner of Fulton.

In 1835, it was Lindley Murray along with David Trumball Lanman, who established the partnership of Murray & Lanman. The business was first listed in the 1835 NYC Directory as druggists at 69 Water Street. Lindley Murray was also listed individually as a druggist at the same address. In the same directory Robert Murray was no longer listed, either individually or associated with the business.

Murray & Lanman was listed at 69 Water up through 1847. Then, in May of 1848, several legal notices printed in the Buffalo Courier named David T Lanman as the “surviving partner” of Murray & Lanaman, so Lindley Murray apparently passed away sometime in 1847 or early 1848.

Lanman remained listed individually as a druggist at 69 Water and apparently operated as a sole proprietor until 1853 when he formed a partnership with George Kemp called David T. Lanham & Co. The copartnership notice establishing the business was printed in the January 3, 1853 edition of the New York Times.

Five years later, another copartnership notice, this one printed in the January 1, 1858 edition of the New York Times, indicated that the name of the partnership was changed to D. T. Lanman & Kemp.

The company was listed in the NYC directories this way between 1858 and 1861, then in the 1862 directory they shortened the name to simply Lanman & Kemp. During this period, the business was apparently focused primarily on the foreign market. This advertisement, in the October 22, 1861 edition of the New York Times, called them “wholesale export druggists” further stating; “special attention paid to the execution of drug orders for the markets of Cuba, Mexico, West Indies and South Central America…”

It appears that by the early 1860’s, Lanman was no longer associated with the business. The 1862 NYC Directory no longer listed D.T. Lanman individually at the company’s Water Street address, and by 1865 the company listing in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory included the phrase “George Kemp only” as proprietor.

Lanman & Kemp remained listed at 69 Water Street until 1871 when they moved to 68-70 William Street. It was around this time that George’s brother, Edward, joined him in the management of the business and he continued to run the business after George Kemp’s death in 1893. According to Edward’s January 2, 1902 obituary he facilitated the construction of their long time headquarters at 135 Water Street.

In 1870 he became associated with his late brother George in the firm of Lanman & Kemp, his knowledge of commercial affairs and accurate judgement assisting greatly in making the business highly successful. It was he who built the fine building at No. 135 Water Street, in which the firm’s offices are now located.

The company was first listed at this location in the 1900 directory and they remained there through the mid to late 1950’s when they moved to New Jersey.  The 1957 NYC telephone book listed their general offices at 15 Grand Avenue, Palisades Park N.J., although it still included their 135 Water Street address as well. By 1959, the Water Street address was no longer listed.

They were first listed as Lanman & Kemp- Barclay & Co. in 1933. Today the company is located on Woodland Avenue in Westwood N.J.

Despite the many company name changes over the years, their florida water was always sold under the Murray & Lanman name and in fact, it’s still sold under that name today.  According to Lanman & Kemp-Barclay & Co.’s web site, the product was available in the United States as early as 1808.

Murray & Lanman Florida Water was introduced into the United States market on February 14, 1808. Immediately it gained popularity and approval from the consumer and became a woldwide, well-known cologne, not only because of it’s delightful fragrance, but also because of the more than twenty uses attributed to it.

Although the Murray’s may have been selling their florida water locally in the early 1800’s, a series of D. T. Lanman & Kemp advertisements from the late 1850’s indicate that the product wasn’t widely available in the United States until around that time. This advertisement which appeared in several Ohio newspapers between April 1857 and July 1858 stated under the heading “What Are Its Antecedents” that it was being sold in the Latin American countries for twenty years before being introduced in the United States.

For twenty years it has maintained its ascendency over all other perfumes throughout Cuba, South America and the West Indies. It has been introduced into the United States in response to the earnest demand growing out of its southern reputation.

Another advertisement from the same era stated:

Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water from its great celebrity in the South America and West Indian markets, for which for twenty years it was exclusively manufactured has been extensively imitated in the United States. Now however, the original article has been introduced throughout the Union, and as it bears the distinctive trade-mark of the proprietors, may be readily distinguished by its externals from the simulated preparations.

So, if you believe their own advertising, Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water was being exported to the West Indies and South America as early as the mid to late 1830’s, around the time the company was first established in 1835 and introduced in the United States sometime in the mid to late 1850’s. Recognizing the company’s focus on foreign markets this seems to make a lot of sense.

Like most successful patent medicines of the day, much of their popularity can be attributed to advertising.  Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water along with several of the company’s other products were advertised in their own publication called “Bristol’s Illustrated Almanac.” According to the 1999 Daily News feature:

…these products have been advertised for almost eight generations in Bristol’s Illustrated Almanac, the free booklets Lanman & Kemp give out each year. “Up until a short time before the Second World War, I think, it was published in Spanish, Portuguese, German, French and English,” says Cooper. The 1999 version marks 167 years of continuous publishing.”

And what publishing it is! Interspersed with page after page of shameless product endorsements are poems, recipes, weather predictions and jokes older than Florida water itself. “How to raise beets,” begins one seemingly serious entry in a turn of the century almanac. “Take hold of the tops and pull.”

What strikes me most about this product and the various companies that produced it over the years is the consistency of the image they have portrayed. The cover of their almanac hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Likewise, their bottle and its label have changed little, if at all.  Advertisements from 1887 and 1946 bear this out.

             

Finally, here’s today’s version.

On a final note, while it has the word “water” in its name, Florida Water has more alcohol than water in its formula. In 2004, after a woman, performing a Santeria cleansing ritual involving florida water and candles died tragically  in an apartment fire, the Daily News performed a test comparing the flammability of florida water to rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, nail polish remover and lighter fluid. According to the story, published in their February 26 edition:

In an indoor, controlled setting, Daily News reporters timed how long it took each product to turn a large cotton sweatshirt into a ball of flames.

About 4 ounces of each product was sprinkled on identical sweatshirts suspended on a wire coat hanger and ignited with a candle.

The sweatshirt doused in Murray & Lanman Florida Water was engulfed in flames in 10 seconds.

At 15 seconds, flames were shooting up 2 feet from the shoulders and by 40 seconds the sweatshirt was completely burned off the hanger.

The complete results of the experiment were published in the story.

The bottle I found is the typical florida water shape and is mouth blown. It’s embossed “Florida Water/Murray & Lanman/ Druggists/New York.” I’ve seen examples on the internet that also include the  69 Water Street address so it was most likely manufactured at the William Street location or right after the move to 135 Water Street.

Roller’s Pharmacy, Amsterdam Ave & 88th St

 

roller-long

Emil Roller, drugs, was first listed in the 1889 NYC Directory at 1441 First Avenue.  Over the next ten years, between 1890 and 1899, he both lived and worked as a druggist on First Avenue between East 75th and East 77th Streets in Manhattan. Whether or not he operated his own business during this period is not clear.

Around 1900 he opened a drug store on the west side of Manhattan. Between 1900 and 1908,  he was listed with the occupation “drugs”at 864 Ninth Avenue. The 1905 ERA Directory indicated that his drug store provided services in the following categories: drugs and medicine, drug sundries, tobacco or cigars, books or stationary and that the business had a soda fountain.

In 1908 Roller sold the Ninth Avenue business and purchased another one on Amsterdam Avenue. On October 14, 1908, the “Pharmaceutical Era” reported that:

Francis Zitz, Amsterdam Avenue and 86th Street has been succeeded by Emil Roller. Mr. Roller recently sold his store at 56th Street and Ninth Avenue to S Beck.

Between 1908 and 1914 the business was listed as “Roller’s Prescription Pharmacy” at 535 Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street. Then in 1915 they moved to 574 Amsterdam Avenue on the southwest corner of West 88th Street  

The business incorporated in 1918. A notice in the September 27 issue of the New York Times listed them as a new corporation:

Emil Roller Pharmacy, Manhattan, $6,000; E.Roller, J. Hundy, Martha Hundy, 220 West 88th Street.

The Roller Pharmacy was listed at this location through at least 1925.

It’s not clear when the business ended. By 1933 Roller is still listed with the occupation of “drugs” but I can’t find a listing for the pharmacy. In 1948 Emil Roller is no longer listed as well.

Roller developed a few products that he sold under his own name. A series of advertisements in the April and May, 1910 issues of the New York Age touted “Emil Rollers Unrivaled Skin Balm”

Apparently he sold stomach and liver pills under his name as well. A 1911 issue of the American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record printed the following lyric that they said Roller included in packages to his customers:

Hark, our Stomach, Liver Pills                                                                                      Highly Recommended!                                                                                                          Will relieve all minor ills                                                                                                           In proper time attended

They restore your appetite,                                                                                          Liberate bad gases,                                                                                                                  And make life a real delight,                                                                                                  A joy in all its phases

You won’t have to hang around                                                                              Without spunk, ambitions;                                                                                            You’ll feel active, safe and sound,                                                                                  Alert in all conditions

Nausea, Headaches, Dizziness                                                                                    Disappears like wonder;                                                                                              Billousness and pains, distress                                                                                          Will also have to wander

And all troubles, and all ills,                                                                                         Caused by indigestion,                                                                                                           You can right by Roller’s Pills                                                                                        Quite surely without question

They are to our best belief                                                                                                    Just the medication                                                                                                             When you look for help, relief                                                                                              In Chronic Constipation

Therefore give them a fair trial                                                                                                 Without hesitation;                                                                                                                Buy of Roller’s Pills a vial                                                                                                   And you’ll obtain salvation

Roller, in addition to having a good sense of humor, was apparently a pretty smart guy. A chemist, in 1914 he was part of a team that studied the treatment of malignant growths with Colloidal Glyco-Sulpher-Seleno Preparations. He was also working on a new urinary test for syphilis that “threatens to superseed the Wasserman”. (This probably didn’t happen because the Wasserman test was still quite popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s).

He was also heavily involved with the German Apothecaries Society and at one time was Chairman of the Scientific Committee.

The bottle I found is a small (approximayely 4 oz) medicine with a tooled finish. It has the Amsterdam Avenue and 88th Street address embossed on it so it dates to no earlier than 1915. Embossing on the base indicates it was made by Whitehall Tatum Company (W.T. Co). The fact that there’s no ampersand (between the T and Co) indicates it was made after the business incorporated in 1901. A web site article on Whitehall Tatum puts the specific embossing in the 1901 to 1924 time frame. So it looks like the bottle was made between 1915 and 1924. Recognizing that the bottle is mouth blown I’d say it’s manufacture is within a year or two of 1915.

R W Robinson & Son, New York

 

robinson-long

R W stands for Russel W Robinson. According to an article in the January to June 1907 records of the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Robinson entered the drug business in the late 1840’s and formed the firm of R W Robinson & Son in 1870. He died in 1883.

The NYC directories support and add to this information.

  • Russel W Robinson was first listed in the 1847/1848 City Directory (the earliest one I could find) at 214 Fulton Street with the occupation of “drugs.”
  • Robinson moved to 182 – 186 Greenwich Street in and around 1857/1858.
  • The firm of R W Robinson and Son first appeared in the 1870/1871 Directory at the Greenwich Street address. Russel W Robinson continued to be listed individually at that address as well. The business was also listed in the 1877 Rands NYC Business Directory under “wholesale drugs”
  • Russel W Robinson was still listed individually in the 1883 directory but was not listed in 1886 (the next directory I have access to). The business continued to be listed at Greenwich Street.
  • In the 1897 and 1898 Trow Business Directories for Manhattan and the Bronx, the company remained listed at the Greenwich Street address and an address at 228 Fulton Street was added.

A notice in the November 28, 1903 edition of the New York Times announced that the business had incorporated:

R. W. Robinson & Son, New York, to deal in drugs; capital $80,000. Directors – F.M. Robinson, W.R. Robinson, D.W. Kent, New York.

After incorporation, the company name became R. W. Robinson & Son Company.

In 1906 there appears to have been a split, when several directors and long time employees of Robinson resigned and formed a new company called the C. S. Littell Company. The May 1906 issue of the “Pharmaceutical Era”reported the formation of the new company under the headline “Well Known Drug Men in New Wholesale House”

It was announced by Charles S. Littell, George Thompson and Theodore W. Day that they have resigned as directors of the corporation of R. W. Robinson & Son, Co., severing their connection with that concern, and have formed a co-partnership under the name of C. S. Littell & Co. They will do a wholesale drug business at 228 Fulton Street. The new firm has leased the Fulton Street section of the old building, leaving the Greenwich Street side, which forms an “L” to 186 Greenwich, to the Robinson firm. which will continue in business. The two buildings are, in fact, separate and distinct, being connected by a passageway.

Charles S. Littell, who is prominent in drug trade circles as chairman of the Drug Trade Section of the New York Board of Trade and Transportation, started with the Robinson firm thirty-five years ago as a boy and for twenty years was a partner in the old firm of R. W. Robinson & Son. During the past two years he has been vice-president of the present incorporated company. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Day have both been connected with the business for over twenty years.

It was first the intention of the Robinson Co. gradually to drop their wholesale branch altogether and to confine themselves to their cash jobbing business, which they carry on in their Greenwich Street building, and to the pushing of their laboratory specialties. F. M. Robinson said to an Era representative this week, however, that he had changed his mind about the matter. So much new business has been coming in, he said, that there will be enough to go around between the new and the old concerns without either conflicting with the other. Hence the firm will continue the wholesale department…

There must have been more to the situation than reported in the story because a little over one year later, R. W. Robinson & Son was bankrupt. A bankruptcy notice, that listed assets of $24,184 and liabilities of $156,569 was printed in the October 31, 1907 edition of the N Y Times. A day later, a bankruptcy sale was announced in the paper. The notice provided a description of the business at that time of the sale. It included: a complete manufacturing, wholesale and retail business together with a laboratory. Their property included drugs, chemicals, proprietory medicines, formulas, trade names, office fixtures, typewriters, etc.

C. S. Littell was still listed at 228 Fulton Street in the 1919 Copartnership and Corporation Directory. At some point in the early 1920’s they moved to 330 Spring Street and I don’t see them listed in the 1930’s.

Each year the Robinson Company published an almanac which they referred to as “An ephemeris of the motions of the sun and moon, the true places and aspects of the planets, rising and setting of the sun and the rising, setting and southing of the moon.” The annual almanac advertised the wide variety of proprietary remedies available from R W Robinson and Sons. They were also listed as a dealer for several proprietary medicines in newspaper advertisements over the years. The earliest one I could find is from 1870 for “Hembold’s Buchu.”

Other proprietary medicines they were associated with in advertisements include “Dr. Clark Johnson’s Indian Blood Syrup,” the “Old Squaw’s Cure” and  “Dr. M Caldwell’s Dyspepsia Remedy.” An 1873 advertisement for Dr. Caldwell’s from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle is included below.

The 182 -186 Greenwich Street and 228 Fulton Street addresses no longer exist and the location is currently within the footprint of the World Trade Center site.

The bottle I found is a small medicine (approximately 4 oz) with a tooled finish. It’s embossed R W Robinson & Son and fits with the 1870 to 1907 time frame of the company (probably late 1800’s). There’s no address embossed on the bottle.

Charles S Erb, Pharmacist, 121 Amsterdam Avenue, Cor 65th St, NY

 

erb-long

The November 15, 1897 Issue of Merck’s Report featured Erb as a “Leader in the Drug Trade” It states:

While working as a clerk in the drug store of G F Werner Mr. Erb took a full course at the College of Pharmacy, graduating from that institution in 1886. He speedily worked his way up to trusted manager of a pharmacy, and around 1890 concluded to embark in business for himself. In 1891 he opened the store at 121 Amsterdam Avenue, and by his originality and push he has succeeded in making his establishment one of the features of his neighborhood. He has already attained considerable local celebrity as a manufacturing pharmacist.

Erb was listed in the NYC directories as a druggist at 121 Amsterdam Avenue up through 1905. The 1905 ERA Druggist Directory listed the services he provided under the following headings: Drugs and Medicines, Drug Sundries, Tobacco or Cigars and Books or Stationery. He was also listed in that directory as a manufacturer of proprietary medicines.

In 1906 he moved the business to 108 Amsterdam Avenue. His move was documented in a 1906 Issue of “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record”

On July 1, 1906 Charles S Erb will move from his present location at Amsterdam Avenue and 65th Street to a new store at 108 Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. The building now occupied by Mr. Erb is being torn down to make room for a public school.

The business remained listed in the ERA Druggist Directories at 108 Amsterdam Avenue up through 1913-14.

Erb passed away in February 1914. His obituary, in the March 1914 Issue of the “Pharmceutical Era,” stated in part that he was ex-president of the New York College of Pharmacy Alumni Association, a trustee of the College of Pharmacy, and at one time secretary of the New York State Board of Pharmacy.

Today, the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music occupies the west side of Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. It’s located in a modern high-rise building that takes up the whole block. There’s no sign of the building that housed the Erb business.

The bottle I found is a small (approximately 3 oz) mouth blown medicine with a tooled finish. It has the 121 Amsterdam Avenue address so it’s manufacture date ranges between 1891 and 1906.

Cosmopolitan Pharmacy, Corner Rivington & Willett Streets, New York

 

cosmo-long

The proprietor of the Cosmopolitan Pharmacy was Sigmund Muldberg. A physician who graduated from Belgium’s University of Ghent in 1889, he immigrated to the United States shortly thereafter.

The ERA Druggist Directory in 1905 and 1906 included the following listing under “Retail Druggists”

Sigmund Muldberg (Cosmopolitan Pharmacy), 79 Willett Street.

These are the only two listings I can find that provide a direct connection between Muldberg and the Cosmopolitan Pharmacy. However between 1896 and approximately 1908 Sigmund Muldberg was listed individually in the NYC general directories as a druggist and physician. Generally (but not always) the physician listings included an address of 234 Rivington Street and the druggist address was 79 Willett Street.

According to the 1905 ERA Directory the pharmacy provided services in “drugs and medicines” and “drug sundries.” It did not include other services typical of pharmacies of the time including tobacco products, liquor products or a soda fountain.

This all leads me to conclude that Muldberg probably ran both a doctor’s office and associated pharmacy/drug store out of the same building on the corner of Willett Street and Rivington Street (the location embossed on the bottle). If I’m right, the “Cosmopolitan Pharmacy” name may date back as early as 1896.

Around 1909 Muldberg relocated to 323-325 Second Avenue where he remained listed until at least 1922. In 1925 he was listed at 411 West End Avenue. After 1911 he singularly listed his occupation as “physician”, and no longer included “druggist.” in any listing that I could find.

Muldberg was not listed in the 1933 NYC directory and 1940 census records listed his wife, Annie, as a widow. This indicates that he passed away sometime between 1930 and 1940, probably prior to 1933.

There was a Cosmopolitan Pharmacy listed in the NYC directories between 1909 and 1915 with an address of 612 Tenth Avenue . The name of the proprietor was Reuben Hird. It’s possible that Muldberg sold his pharmacy business to Hird in 1909 but I can’t make a definite connection.

Rivington Street and Willett Street both no longer exist at this intersection. They area is now part of the Samuel Gompers apartment building complex.

The bottle I found is a small (approx. 4 ounce) mouth blown medicine with a tooled finish. It  was made by the Whitehall Tatum Company and it has that company name embossed on the base. The embossing includes an ampersand (between Tatum and Co) indicating it was made prior to 1901 when the business incorporated. This is further evidence that the “Cosmopolitan Pharmacy” name may date back to 1896 and dates the bottle to the period between 1896 and 1901.