Fraser & Co.

Fraser & Co. was a New York City based business that maintained both a drug manufacturing facility and a retail pharmacy. They were pioneers in the manufacture of measured doses of medicines in tablet form.

The founder, Horation Nelson Fraser, was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1851.

After spending much of his childhood in Davenport, Iowa, he returned to Providence where soon after he entered the pharmacy business. His early education, along with his early work history were summarized in a March 9, 1903 feature published in the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record.”

…he was apprenticed to the drug business, engaging with W. R. Blanding, at that time one of the foremost and most respected pharmacists in New England. When his term of apprenticeship ended he continued his studies and soon after matriculated at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Immediately after obtaining his diploma he went to Chicago and became connected with the firm of E. H. Sargent & Co., then, as now, the leading firm of retailers in the West. After a brief experience in the Western metropolis he moved East and entered the employment of Caswell, Hazzard & Co.

It was while working for Caswell & Hazzard that the seeds of his future were sown when he met Dr.Robert M. Fuller  who, at the time, was working on the idea of administering medicines in tablet form.

According to Fraser’s own words found in the May 11, 1899 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Era.”

I think it was in the year 1879 that Dr. Robert M. Fuller invited me to call at his office at 136 West 42nd Street. On my arrival he told me that for sometime past he had been working on the subject of dividing medicines into quantities of desired size for exact and practical dispensing and administration.

For some reason, which I have never considered it proper to ask him, he confined himself in his conversation entirely to the mechanical part of the invention (for clearly it was an original idea) and thoroughly described to me the process and application of his method. It consisted first in thoroughly triturating the substances together, and second, in moulding this trituration into divisions to which he had already given the name “Tablet Triturates.”

The 1903 “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record” feature went on to explain that it was Fraser who was credited with manufacturing them in such a manner as to make their production commercially viable.

Mr. Fraser assisted him in the mechanical part of the work, and put the method into practical operation. After vainly endeavoring to get his employer, Mr. Hazzard, interested in the development of Dr. Fuller’s idea, Mr. Fraser decided to branch out into business for himself and start the manufacture of tablets by the Fuller process in connection with the conduct of a retail pharmacy. Leaving Caswell & Hazzard & Co. on July 21, 1881, he engaged in business by opening the pharmacy at 208 Fifth Avenue, and with a plant consisting of a mortar and pestle and twenty hard rubber molds he commenced the manufacture of tablet triturates, besides making a bid for such prescription business that might come his way.

An advertisement for Fraser’s Tablet Triturates found in the 1889 “Medical Directory of the City of New York” included his sales pitch to the medical profession:

According to this circa 1886 advertisement, the tablets were originally sold

in four ounce glass stop bottles each containing 1,000 tablets. They are all the same size but contain different doses.

For several years Fraser both manufactured tablet triturates and operated his pharmacy business out of the basement at 208 Fifth Avenue under the name Fraser & Co. This circa 1886 advertisement described the business as:

Manufacturers, Importers and Wholesale Dealers in Medicines and Physicians Supplies

Sometime in late 1887 or 1888 Fraser moved the tablet manufacturing operation to 311 West 40th Street and by 1890 had incorporated that piece of the business under the name of the “Fraser Tablet Triturate Mfg. Co.” That year, the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory named Fraser, president and Giles A. Manwaring, secretary of the newly formed corporation. Shortly afterwards the manufacturing operation moved again, this time to 23 Vandewater Street. By 1890, a wholesaler named Chas. Truax & Co. needed 15 pages in their catalog to cover the menu of Fraser’s Tablet Truturates. Here’s the first of the 15 pages:

Continued growth dictated another factory expansion in 1895, this time across the East River in Brooklyn. An April 10th story in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” provided the details.

…The transaction which has just been completed is with the Fraser Tablet Triturate Manufacturing Company, whose present place of manufacture is on Vandewater Street and which will within a few days take possession of the Brasher property on Ninth Avenue between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets. The property has a frontage of 200 feet on Ninth Avenue and a depth of 325 feet on Nineteenth Street and 275 feet on Eighteenth Street. The three story brick buildings and engine house will be put in order by the new owner for immediate use. The consideration is placed at $200,000.

Horatio N. Fraser, president of the manufacturing company, says in regard to his purchase: “I have sought Brooklyn as the scene of our industry as the most desirable within a reasonable distance from New York City. We will start work as soon as possible and will give employment to about two hundred and fifty Brooklyn people on an average. Our present place in New York is entirely inadequate for our business and, in my judgement, Brooklyn presents the most desirable attractions for manufacturing industries hereabouts. I feel that it will be only a very short time before many other New York concerns will do as we have done and secure a site in Brooklyn while they may.”

According to an item in the December 10, 1895 edition of the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record,” Fraser was up and running there by the end of the year. The story mentioned that their facility occupied 30 city lots and was three times the size of their Vandewater Street location.

Meanwhile, back in Manhattan the pharmacy portion of the business continued at 208 Fifth Avenue where it was listed under the name Fraser & Co. It remained there until the early 1890’s when the company leased an entire building further north at 262 Fifth Avenue.

In 1901 the Fraser Tablet Company was incorporated to take over both the pharmacy interests of Fraser & Co. and the manufacturing operations of the Fraser Tablet Triturate Mfg. Company. The September 14, 1901 edition of a publication entitled the “United States Investor” described Fraser’s operation at the time of incorporation.

The company was recently incorporated by Horatio N. Fraser, under New York state laws, his object being to unite the different branches of his business. These interests conducted under the names Fraser & Co., and the Fraser Tablet Triturate Manufacturing Co., have been taken over by the new company. The company’s business not only includes the manufacture of drugs and medicines, as might be inferred from its name, but in addition, it engages in the preparation and sale of bags, chests, show cases, books, catalogues, sick room and medical supplies, etc.

New York City’s 1902 Copartnership and Corporation Directory  listed the new company with capital of $1,500,000 and named Horatio N Fraser as president. The listing named “Fraser & Co.” as the Registered Trade Name (RTN) of the corporation.

Their retail pharmacy at 262 Fifth Avenue, which included both a prescription department and analytical department/laboratory was described  in the 1903 “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record” feature.

Besides prescription compounding proper, which calls for the services of nine licensed pharmacists, an extensive department of analytical and bacteriological examination is conducted. The average monthly  receipts from this department alone amount to $1,500.

The feature included this view of their laboratory…

…and the March, 1902 edition of a publication called the “Medical Examiner and Practitioner” laid out the services it provided.

The 1903 feature went on to say:

…the income from all departments of the retail pharmacy amounted to $85,000… The store is unique, original and complete – a prescription work shop, with all counters and work open to inspection: no fancy goods, no perfumes, no confectionary, no soda water, no trade sundries, but everything in the way of medicines and sick room comforts that a physician wants.

The feature also included this view of their prescription department…

In 1901 the company also established another pharmacy location, this one in Chicago, Illinois at 28 E. Washington Street.

The 1901 “United States Investor” story summed up their turn of the century operation like this.

The company states the assets are about $489,000. It also says that there is a $40,000 mortgage, but there has always been sufficient stock sold to clear it off. From what we can learn, the company appears to be in a prosperous condition, and is well thought of. The company is well known among the wholesale druggists, and the trade speaks well of Mr. Fraser and the company, of which he is the head.

The above turn of the century assessment appears to have been made around the time that the company was at its peak. Several years later a fire in their Brooklyn factory may have served as the catalyst for a downturn. The fire was reported in the February 22, 1904 edition of the “New York Sun.”

The three story brick factory building of the Fraser Tablet Triturate Manufacturing Company on Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Brooklyn was entirely destroyed last night by fire, which caused $350,000 damage, on which there is insurance for about $250,000. The damage to a large extent was due to the fact that there was an extremely small pressure of water. The property was on the highest point in Brooklyn and the water pressure was low anyway…

Mr. Fraser said that there were over 2,000,000 tablets in the factory. Two hundred persons are out of employment as the result of the fire.

Afterwards the company continued to list their address on 19th Street in the directories so they apparently rebuilt at either the same or an adjacent location. That being said, the fire certainly had an impact on the business as evidenced by this item that appeared in the September 15, 1905 edition of the “Wall Street Journal” under the heading “Answers to Inquiries”

Is there any market value for the stock of the Fraser Tablet Co., of New York? – F.N.C., Omaha

Answer – An official of the Fraser Tablet Company states that since their fire, which has put them back somewhat, there has scarcely been any demand for their stock, none of which however, has been sold by them below par. The company is making money but it will be impossible for them to pay dividends until some of their fire loss is paid up.

By 1908 their New York pharmacy business had moved out of 262 Fifth Avenue after which they moved around quite a bit, listing Manhattan locations at 563 Fifth Avenue (1908 to 1910), 583 Fifth Avenue (1911 to 1916) and 5 East 47th Street (1918 to 1919).  This advertisement referencing their 583 Fifth Avenue location appeared in the December, 1916 edition of a publication called “Military Medicine.”

Throughout that period they continued to maintain their Brooklyn manufacturing site usually with the address of 453 19th St.

Sometime in the early 1920’s the company was sold to a cooperative concern of pharmacists called the Ruth-Patrick Drug Company. The sale was mentioned in a December 8, 1921 feature on Ruth-Patrick in “The Buffalo (N.Y.) American.”

A company started five years ago in San Francisco in a very small laboratory without a large capital. Today it is a $10,000,000 corporation, the third largest manufacturing drug concern in the world. It is now operating the largest pharmaceutical laboratory on the Pacific coast and another one in Chicago, besides the one in New York City. It has just purchased the Fraser tablet company one of the oldest and largest tablet concerns in the world.

At this point Fraser, according to his November 9, 1942 obituary published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, retired. He would live in retirement to the age of 90. The new management team listed in the 1922 Brooklyn and Queens Copartnership and Corporation directory consisted of H. Lees Smith as president and S. R. Break as secretary-treasurer.

Three years later, the company was declared bankrupt and sold at public auction. By then, the company’s menu of medical preparations had been reduced to medicated candies and mints. The December 2, 1925 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle”provided the details.

FRASER TABLET CO. SOLD AS BANKRUPT.

At a public sale before Bankruptcy referee Theodore Stitt, the Fraser Tablet Company, manufacturers of domino mints and medicated candies at 453 19th St., this boro, has been bid in for $111,000 by John J. McCue of west Orange N. J. The purchase price represented $40,000 cash and an assumption of $71,000 of obligations not dischargeable in bankruptcy…The Fraser Company was adjudicated bankrupt on Nov. 10 last.

Another December 2, 1925 story, this one in the Brooklyn “Times Union,” included this vague reasoning for the bankruptcy, which suggested mismanagement by the cooperative.

The Fraser Tablet Company was petitioned into bankruptcy about two months ago when its managers discovered that the working capital was insufficient to maintain it as a going concern. It has recently suffered somewhat from financial manipulation which had depleted its capital.

The next year McCue took out a mortgage on the Brooklyn factory as evidenced by this June 17, 1926 story in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

MORTGAGE ON SOUTH BROOKLYN PLANT

Robert A. Martin Company, Inc., has procured for Fraser Tablet Company, a first mortgage loan of $85,000 on the borrower’s chemical manufacturing plant located on 18th and 19th Sts., between Prospect Park West and 9th Ave., this boro, a plot fronting about 200 feet on each street.

Four years later, a notice published in several November, 1930 editions of the “Times Union” announced that a judgement of foreclosure had been issued on the property and it was being offered for sale on November 28, 1930.

The Fraser Tablet Company apparently survived and according to N.Y.S. Supreme Court records (Dr. Miles Laboratories, Inc. against American Pharmaceuticals Company, Inc. and Philip Kachurin), sometime in 1930 the company moved its plant and business to Manhattan, where they were listed under the heading “patent medicines” at 11 Park Place in 1932 and 1933. Later the company moved the plant to Queens where, throughout most of the 1940’s they’re listed in Richmond Hill with an address of 84-40 101st St. By the early 1950’s I don’t  see them listed.

As far as I can tell the company continued to maintain a Manhattan pharmacy now listed again under the Fraser & Co. name, up through at least 1960. The location in the 1930’s was 251 4th Avenue and later from the 1940’s up through 1960 it was 502 Park Ave (59th St.and Park Ave).

Their long time pharmacy location at 262 Fifth Avenue was recently a vacant lot, this view of which is courtesy of Google Earth (on the right). The adjacent building (on the left) is clearly visible in both today’s photo as well as the 1903 Pharmaceutical Era photo.

In the future the site will accommodate one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan, a 1,043 foot residential tower currently under construction.

As far as I can tell, their Brooklyn factory site was ultimately incorporated within the right-of-way of the Prospect Expressway which was built in the late 1940’s and 1950’s so it was likely acquired and condemned by New York State around that time.

The bottle I found is mouth blown, no more than 2-1/2 inches tall and is embossed on one side “FRASER & CO.” Advertisements as early as 1886 were illustrating this type of bottle.

That being said, these early ads only mentioned a four ounce size containing 1,000 tablets. Later, according to this May 11, 1899 advertisement in the “Pharmaceutical Era,” they were packaging them in amounts as low as 100.

A labeled example containing 100 tablets that recently appeared on the internet appears to closely match our bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

Glyco-Thymoline (Kress & Owen Co.)

Glycol-Thymoline dates back to the late 1800’s, when it was advertised as:

An alkaline, antiseptic, non-irritating, cleaning solution for the treatment of diseased mucous membrane, especially nasal catarrh.

The preparation had its roots with Oscar Kress, who, according to his January 3, 1895 obituary in the Pharmaceutical Record, was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States after graduating from the University of Munich.

A medical paper entitled “Chronic Nasal Catarrh and what the General Practitioner Can Do for it,” presented in May, 1893, mentioned that Kress introduced Glyco-Thymoline to the medical profession around that time.

Glycolic-thymoline is a preparation recently introduced to the profession by Mr. Oscar Kress, a pharmacist of this city. It is composed of glycerine, thymol, sodium, borax , benzoin, salicylic acid, eucalyptol, menthol, gaultheria, oleum pini pumillonia, and solvents, in proper proportions.

A druggist, Kress was first listed in NYC’s general directories in 1870/1871 with an address of 781 Seventh Avenue. Later, in the 1880/1881 NYC Directory the business was listed as Oscar Kress & Co.and two addresses were included: 1670 Broadway and 918 Sixth Avenue. According to an item in the July 15, 1894 edition of the Pharmaceutical Era, it was the Broadway location that accommodated the early manufacture of Glyco-Thymoline.

Oscar Kress of 52nd Street and Broadway, and of Sixth Avenue, is one of the most enterprising druggists in this city. He prepares a solution known as Glyco-Thym0line, which has an immense sale; in fact, he keeps six men on the road all the time. Mr. Kress is now enlarging the basement of his Broadway store to accommodate the additional apparatus needed in his manufacture. The cellar will be carried out under the sidewalk and will give him much more room on both the street and front sides

At some point prior to his death in December, 1894, Kress associated with Samuel Owen who, when Kress passed away, continued its manufacture. Ultimately on June 8, 1895, the business incorporated under the name of Kress & Owen. The announcement was printed in the June 13, 1895 edition of the Pharmaceutical Record.

The Kress & Owen Co. has been incorporated to manufacture and deal in drugs and medicines in this city. It’s capital is $100,000. and the directors are Samuel Owen, Alfred H. Kennedy, and William H. Pearson of Newark, N.J., Artur A. Stillwell, Max J. Breitenbach and Edward G. Wells of New York, Thomas W. Mullet of Jersey City and William A. Demerust of Brooklyn. The firm will manufacture its specialties at its present quarters, No. 374 Pearl Street. The “Kress” in the firm name represents the estate of Oscar Kress, the late druggist of 6th Avenue, who was interested in the concern.

Samuel Owen was named the company’s first president and the NYC directories and phone books continued to list him as president through the mid-1920’s.

The announcement referenced the initial corporate address as 374 Pearl Street but that location was apparently short-lived and by 1897 they were listed at 221 Fulton Street where they remained until approximately 1903, when they moved to 210 Fulton Street. Other than a temporary relocation due to fire, the business remained at 210 Fulton Street until 1912. The fire and resultant  relocation were described in the March 11, 1907 edition of the Pharmaceutical Record.

A disastrous fire completely gutted the five-story white stone building at 210 Fulton Street, occupied by the Kress & Owen Co., manufacturers of Glyco-Thymoline on Sunday night, March 3. Though the building was so ruined by the flames that it will have to be entirely rebuilt before it can be used again for commercial purposes, the Kress & Owen Co. has not permitted the disaster to interfere seriously with its business and is now ready to fill all orders from its new location at 92 Chambers Street. The company lost almost all of its stock at the Fulton Street site but fortunately saved many of its most valuable files. The total loss by fire amounted to $75,000 but the stock, machinery, tanks, fixtures, drugs and chemicals of the company were fully insured so that it will sustain no actual loss except a temporary cessation of business.

The company rebuilt at 210 Fulton Street and continued to list it as their address until May 1912, when they moved to 361 Pearl Street.

A long time employee, Dr. Charles L. Constantinides, replaced Samuel Owen as president in the mid-1920’s. According to his August 4, 1955  obituary:

He was graduated from the Toronto Medical College in 1903 and joined Kress & Owen, manufacturing chemists, in 1906. He retired from the firm in 1949 after 25 years as as president.

The company remained at Pearl Street in New York City until the early 1950’s when they built a 14,000 square foot facility in Middletown New Jersey. By this time, Alfred Owen, a nephew of Samuel Owen was serving as president.  The opening of the new plant was highlighted in the January 24, 1952 edition of the (Long Branch N.J.) Daily Record.

One of the newer additions to Monmouth County’s rapidly growing roster of industry is that of Kress & Owen Company, makers of Glyco-Thymoline, an alkaline preparation for oral application.

In operation since the new year, in a modern plant recently erected on land owned by the company on Route 35, Middletown, Kress & Owen merchandise is now being shipped from here to all parts of the world.

The June 28, 1951 edition of the (Long Branch N.J.) Daily Record included a rendering of the new building which, according to another Daily Record story around the same time, would, due to automation, employ only 12 to 15 persons.

The company remained at this location for less than twenty years. An item in the January 7, 1969 edition of the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, stated that at that time Kress & Owen no longer occupied the building and it was being remodeled for office use.

Over the years, advertisements for Glyco-Thymoline focused primarily on treatment of the nose and throat. One, from December 1899, included this quote from the March 1898 issue of the Chicago Medical Recorder.

In acute and chronic rhinitis and post-nasal catarrh it will be found specially effacious, diluted in from one to three parts of water, and slightly warmed before using. As a gargle in diphtheritic inflammations and other forms of pharyngitis , its bland and non-irritating properties render it most soothing and curative to the inflamed membrane.

Many of their early advertisements promoted the use of Glyco-Thymoline in concert with a nasal applicator called the Birmingham Douche. (A precursor to today’s Neti Pot?) This 1899 advertisement printed in the American Journal of Surgery and Gynecology was one that promoted them together under a single process.

The application of Glycolic-Thymoline (Kress) to the nasal passages with our Birmingham Douche, obviates the danger of drawing Muco-Pus into the Eustachian tube.

“An ideal little instrument, safe, cheap, effective”

In case you were wondering how the Birmingham Douche worked, this young lady from an early 1900’s advertisement, served to clarify.

       

Sometime in the 1920’s, their advertisements had added a nasal spray as another type of application designed to target what they referred to as “the zone of infection.”

By the mid-1940’s bad breath had been added to the list of conditions addressed by the preparation as evidenced by this March 12, 1948 Los Angeles Times advertisement.

Other than that, over the years their advertising message did not change much. The last set of newspaper advertisements I could find for Glyco-Thymoline was released in the Spring of 1967. One such ad, printed in the April 5, 1967 edition of the New York Daily News, delivered the same message as those from the 1890’s.

Apparently dormant for a while, the Kress & Own Company, Inc. is once again active and being run by members of the Owen family.  Their web site, glyco-thymoline.net, lists their address as a P.O. Box in Owings Mills, Maryland and states that in 2008:

Kress & Owen Company launches the Glyco-Thymoline web site and reintroduces the 100 year old “premier” oral hygiene product. We intend to get Glyco-Thymoline back in the local pharmacy, grocery and retail stores near you. Our product has been recommended by dentists and physicians for over 100 years.

Today, you can purchase Glyco-Thymoline on Amazon.

The bottle I found is machine made with a square cross-section. Six ounces in size, it was one of three sizes utilized by the company in the early 1900’s. This December 1913 advertisement indicated that the six ounce size was originally furnished with a sprinkler top.