Dr. D. Jayne’s Expectorant, Philadelphia.

Dr. D. Jayne’s Expectorant was a patent medicine on the market for well over 100 years from the mid-1830’s up through the 1940’s and possibly longer. Much of that time its ingredients included small doses of the drug opium.

An early  advertisement, published in 1854, touted it as:

A Safe and Standard Remedy for all Pulmonary and Bronchial Complaints.

The advertisement went on to provide some detail on the medicine’s purported benefits.

Recent Coughs and Colds, Pleuritic Pains, etc., are quickly and effectually cured by its diaphoretic, soothing, and expectorant power.

Asthma it always cures. It overcomes the spasmodic contraction of the air vessels, and, and by producing free expectoration, at once removes all difficulty of breathing.

Bronchitis readily yields to the expectorant. It subdues the inflammation which extends through the wind tubes, promotes free expectoration, and suppresses at once the cough and pain.

Consumption –  For this insidious and fatal disease no remedy has ever been found so effectual. It subdues the inflammation, suppresses the cough and pain, and relieves the difficulty of breathing, and by causing an easy expectoration, all irritating and obstructing matters are removed from the lungs.

Hooping-Cough is promptly relieved by this Expectorant. It shortens the duration of the disease one-half, and greatly mitigates the sufferings of the patient.

In all Pulmonary Complaints, in Croup, Pleurisy, etc., it will be found to be prompt, safe and reliable.

Fifty years later, in the early 1900’s, the patent medicine was still being advertised as having the ability to cure your cough as evidenced by  this item published in the September 6, 1906 edition of the”Philadelphia  Inquirer.”

Generally sold as a liquid, in 1912 it was introduced in tablet form as well. Directed at retail pharmacists, this introductory advertisement for Dr D. Jayne’s Expectorant Tablets appeared that year in the February edition of “The Practical Druggist.”

Three years later, in response to enactment of the Harrison Narcotic Tax Act that regulated the production, importation and distribution of opiates and cocoa products, a notice published in the March, 1915 edition of “The Practical Druggist”  announced that both the liquid and tablet forms of the Expectorant contained a small amount of opium.

While the notice went on to say that “the new law in no way affects the sale or possession” of the Expectorant, by 1920 the opium had been replaced as an ingredient. The change was announced in an advertisement published in the July, 1920 edition of “The Practical Druggist.”

After several months of research work we have succeeded in replacing the very small amount of opium in these preparations with a non-narcotic equivalent that does not impair in the slightest degree the efficiency of these remedies.

This will eliminate the former necessity of keeping a record of each sale and therefore greatly facilitate the handling of these preparations by the druggist.

Recommend these Remedies to your customers. Aside from using a substitute for the opium the formulas have not been changed.

Subsequently, the tablets were advertised to the general public under the brand name JANEX. This advertisement for JAYNEX appeared in the February 25, 1921 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer.”

As you might expect, as the 20th Century progressed  the curative claims associated with Jayne’s Expectorant softened quite a bit such that by the late 1930’s it was pitched as nothing more than a cough medicine. This wording in a February 23, 1938 advertisement in Allentown Pennsylvania’s “Morning Call” was typical of the era.

The favorite for a century. Colds and coughs strike without warning. Be prepared to fight. Keep Jayne’s Expectorant handy. It soothes the tender throat, losens the irritating phlegm and helps to expel it. Just what’s needed. Get it now.

Specific newspaper advertisements promoting Dr. D. Jayne’s Expectorant vanished by the early 1940’s, but it continued to be listed sporadically in drug store advertisements up through the end of the decade. As late as February 12, 1948 you could still get it at “Peck’s Cut Rate Drugs” in Port Huron Michigan (2nd last).

While it’s not clear exactly when the expectorant was discontinued, newspaper references to it completely disappear by 1950.

The expectorant’s original formulator and namesake was a man named David Jayne.

His story gets its start at the turn of the 19th century when, according to his March 6, 1866 obituary published in Philadelphia’s “The Evening Telegraph,” his initial occupation was not as a druggist, but as a school teacher.

Dr. Jayne was born in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, on the 22nd day of July, 1799…He was the son of the Rev. Ebenezer Jayne, a Baptist clergyman, and received the most of his education under the auspices of pious parents. When quite a youth he removed to Cumberland County, New Jersey, and commenced life as a poorly paid school teacher.

Jayne’s obituary went on to say that in the early 1820’s he switched his focus to medicine.

About 1821 he commenced the study of medicine under the tutelage of Dr. E. Shepherd, a practitioner of marked ability and influence. He pursued his studies with untiring industry, and in due time was admitted to practice.

Whether Jayne actually graduated from medical school is not exactly clear (at least to me) as his rather lengthy obituary makes no mention of it. In addition, the 1850 edition of his  annual advertising vehicle, “Jayne’s Medical Almanac,” also leaves the issue open with this vague statement in Jayne’s own words:

I would here take occasion to remark that I was a student of one of the best medical institutions in the United States (the University of Pennsylvania) and have now had over thirty years experience in an extensive and diversified practice….

All that aside, his obituary went on to say:

He performed the duties of country physician for some years with eminent success, but had the ambition to desire a wider field of usefulness.

Early newspaper advertisements suggest that it was during his time as a country physician in New Jersey that he began to manufacture his own line of patent medicines. This early newspaper advertisement for what’s most likely his first concoction, “Jayne’s Carminative Balsam,” appeared in the July 30, 1834 edition of the “Alexandria (Va.) Gazette.” The endorsement at the bottom of the advertisement was dated May 4, 1831 suggesting that Jayne had begun the manufacture of his balsam by that time.

In 1836, advertisements for his expectorant, originally called “Dr. D. Jayne’s Indian Expectorant” also began to appear in newspaper advertisements. One of the earliest was published in the November 3rd edition of Newport Rhode Island’s “Herald of the Times.”

Less than a year after the above advertisement was published Jayne picked up and moved his entire operation to Philadelphia where he initially settled at 20 South Third Street. Notices announcing his arrival began appearing in Philadelphia newspapers as early April, 1837.

By June, with his medical practice now up and running in Philadelphia, Jayne’s notices began to include Philadelphia references.

That being said, it’s clear that Jayne continued to focus on his patent medicine business as well. According to his 1866 obituary, when Jayne arrived in Philadelphia

he commenced as a practicing physician, but after a short time found himself gradually becoming a leading druggist and from that time to the present has been entirely engaged in that line of trade.

The transition from physician to druggist, if not complete, had certainly made significant progress by 1840 when the number of patent medicines associated with the Jayne name had increased to five. Now referred to as “Doctor Jayne’s Family Medicines,” they were listed in the December 9, 1840 edition of the “Lancaster (Pa.) Examiner.”

It was also around this time, actually 1843, when Jayne began the annual publication of “Jayne’s Medical Almanac and Guide to Health,” in which he shamelessly pitched the use of his patent medicines. Early versions state in Jayne’s own words:

…It contains a vast amount of valuable information suited to the wants of all; among which will be found a Catalogue of Diseases, with suitable directions and prescriptions for their removal, together with the full and explicit directions for the use of my various preparations…

In 1845 Jayne moved up the street, relocating from 20 South Third Street to 8 South Third Street. Again, notices announcing the move appeared in the Philadelphia newspapers beginning in May of that year.

Other than offering “advice gratuitously,”the ad doesn’t mention medical services suggesting that by then Jayne was no longer a practicing physician. Now, apparently fully invested in his drug business, he was not only manufacturing and  selling his “Family Medicines,” but, according to the ad, acting as a wholesale dealer for “everything usually kept by dealers in drugs and medicines.”

The business grew rapidly, and  according to his “Evening Telegraph” obituary, by 1849 he was planning another move. ”

 His immense business forced him to seek more extensive quarters, and in 1849 he commenced the erection of his magnificent Quincy granite structure, in Chestnut Street, below Third. The center building was finished in 1850 and the wings added in 1852.

As early as 1852 the cover of Jayne’s Medical Almanac and Guide to Health” featured the completed center building…

…and later almanacs featured the completed building, including the wings.

The “Jayne” building, sometimes referred to as Philadelphia’s first skyscraper, was initially listed with an address of 84 Chestnut Street. Shortly afterwards, what appears to be a revision to the numbering system, changed the address to 242 Chestnut Street.

This description of the new building was included as part of a feature on Philadelphia, published in the  March 15, 1852 “Pittsburgh Post.”

The next place of interest in Philadelphia to visit is Dr. Jaynes great building on Chestnut Street. It is 42 feet in width, 135 feet in depth, and is eight stories high. The height of the building above the pavement is 96 feet, and the height of the cupola 33 feet, making the elevation above the pavement 129 feet, to which may be added 27 feet for the stones under ground, or foundation, which makes the entire altitude, from bottom to top, 156 feet! The material of which this immense structure has been constructed is granite, from the Quincy quarries in Massachusetts. The front of this building has numerous columns, which inclose Gothic windows, and the whole is crowned with Gothic cornice. I was also taken through the building from foundation to turret, by one of the polite clerks of the establishment. From the top I had (a) magnificent view of Philadelphia and its environs, the shipping, navy yard, Camden, etc., etc. The cost of Jayne’s building exceeds $350,000 -the ground alone cost $144,000.

This early photograph the building is courtesy of the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection.

As you might guess, constructing a building of that size in 1850 had its issues, not the least of which, according to the December 11, 1850 edition of Philadelphia’s “Public Ledger,”  was fire protection.

The Jayne Palace – In a few days, the Diligent Engine Company will make an attempt to throw water to the top of Dr. Jayne’s new building in Chestnut Street… The effort will be made at the request of Dr. Jayne, in consequence of one of the Insurance Companies refusing to insure the property if the feat cannot be accomplished.

The successful attempt took place the following spring and drew quite a crowd. It was described in the April 18, 1851 edition of the “Public Ledger.”

A Great Feat. – An attempt to throw water over the cupola of Dr. Jayne’s granite palace in Chestnut Street was successfully performed yesterday with the Diligent Engine, in the presence of a great throng of persons attracted to the spot by the great novelty of the undertaking. The engine was manned by about fifty men, a large portion being members of the Good-Will Engine, who had volunteered for the occasion. The gallery stream was first tried with a 1-1/8 inch nozzle, and the stream was thrown above the cupola with perfect ease. Several persons were standing in it, and probably deemed themselves above all the efforts of the fireman, but they soon found themselves deluged, one of the gentlemen having his hat washed off by the sudden gush of the watery element. He acknowledged the triumph of the engine, by waving a very wet handkerchief, amid the cheers of the spectators below. The breastwork of the cupola is 134 feet above the Chestnut Street pavement, and the height to which the water was thrown was therefore fully 140 feet. The water was next forced through two side streams with 7/8 inch nozzles, and each of these streams went over the cornice, which is 96 feet above the pavement. The whole power of the engine was then applied to a single side stream, and though the pipe was held by a person standing on the ground, this stream was thrown at least twelve feet above the top of the cupola, attaining an actual height of 146 feet….The Diligent has in this instance handsomely sustained the reputation it has hitherto borne of being the most powerful engine attached to the fire department.

On a side note: Ironically, 20 years later, on September 4, 1872, the building was partially destroyed by fire when firemen were unable to get water to the cupola. A story in the March 7, 1872 edition of the “Carlisle (Pa.)Weekly Herald” reported:

…after burning for twenty minutes the cupola collapsed inside the building.

In 1850, just as the new building was about to open, Jayne formed a business partnership with family members to run the wholesale drug piece of the business.  According to an 1896 publication entitled “Men of the Century:”

…Dr. Jayne formed a partnership with his son, David W. Jayne, and his nephew, Eden C. Jayne, to conduct the wholesale drug business. This attained large proportions, but was not so remunerative as desired, and was discontinued in 1854, a new partnership being formed in 1855, including the three partners named and John K.Walker, Dr. Jayne’s brother-in-law, under the firm name of Dr. D. Jayne & Son.

According to Eben Jayne’s obituary, published in the November 21, 1900 edition 0f the “Lewiston (Pa) Journal,” the 1855 partnership was established to consolidate the wholesale drug business with Jaynes patent medicine business.

Under the new partnership, the menu of Jayne’s Family Medicines continued to grow and by the late 1850’s had more than doubled. This expanded list of medicines appeared in the 1865 Philadelphia City Directory.

Shortly after forming the partnership David Jayne turned the day to day management of the business over to his partners. Now focused on real estate, David Jayne went on to build several more iconic buildings in Philadelphia before passing away in 1866. After his death ownership of the company passed on to his estate while it continued to operate under the management of his brother-in-law, John K. Walker and nephew, Eben C. Jayne. (David Jayne’s son, David W., had previously passed away in 1863.)

It was under their management that the company survived the March 1872 fire, announcing in the March 6, 1872 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer” that they were temporarily resuming business at 622 Chestnut Street…

…and less than six months later, on August 24, 1872, another “Philadelphia Inquirer” notice announced they were back in business at 242 Chestnut Street

It was also under their management that the business continued to grow. In the late 1860’s/early 1870’s newspaper advertisements for Jayne’s medicines were appearing throughout much of the northeast and mid-west as well as California suggesting that the company’s reach was nearing national proportions; an amazing fact considering the mode of distribution described in a December 19, 1877 “Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer” story.

A valuable old mare, the property of Dr. D. Jayne & Son, has just reached Philadelphia in good order after having traveled eleven months a year for the last six years, through Virginia and Pennsylvania, traveling during this period the immense distance of 46,500 miles by actual measurement. From the record of her driver, William Shall, while collecting for the firm she was always driven with a mate; a new one however, had to be supplied every year.

It was also in the mid -1860’s that the company was shipping their medicines overseas to agents in places like England and Australia.This advertisement for Dr. D. Jayne’s Expectorant that appeared in the October 21, 1865 edition of a British publication called the “Cambridge Weekly News,” identified their London, England agent as Francis Newberry and Sons, 45 St. Paul’s Churchyard, London.

By the turn of the century their medicines had even made their way to China where in 1899, and possibly earlier, agents for the company were being listed in “The Directory & Chronicle for China, Japan, Cores, Indo-China, Straits Settlements, Malay States, Siam, Netherlands, India, Borneo, the Philippines, etc.” This business card advertisement was included in the 1909 edition of that publication.

Highlighting their world wide reach was a notice to druggists promoting Jayne’s 1910 Almanac. It pointed out that not only were seven million copies being printed but it was being published in seven different languages.

David Jayne’s brother in law, John K. Walker, passed away in 1881 after which his nephew, Eben C  Jayne, continued as head of the firm until his death in November 1900. That being said, as late as 1926 the company was still being managed by the Jayne family, with a grandson, J. Maxwell Bullock, listed in the Philadelphia directory as “General Manager.”

In 1927 the company announced that they were moving from their long time home in Chestnut Street’s Jayne Building to a new location along the Philadelphia waterfront. Also owned by the Jayne estate, the property was located at Delaware Avenue and Vine Street. The move, announced in concert with a plan to standardize both their bottle type and size (5 ounces) was announced in the June, 1927 edition of the “Practical Druggist.”

For many years almost from the foundation of the business, Dr. D Jayne & Son have put up their preparations in various sizes and styles of bottles, but today with the greatly increased manufacturing costs and with the impossibility of advancing prices to the public, Dr. Jayne & Son decided to adopt a uniform size and style bottle for all of their preparations, and in their advertisement in this issue they quote both the old and new wholesale and retail prices, and where the price has been raised, it is only nominal as the quantity has been increased, so that it is not really a price raise.

The making of these changes in prices and uniformity of size was under consideration for some time and an excellent opportunity to make the change (occurred) when Dr. Jane & Son were able to dispose of their building on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, and remove to property that they owned at Vine Street and Delaware Avenue. When the removal was decided upon, plans were made to install the latest styles of pharmaceutical apparatus and bottle labeling machinery with the result that today Dr. D Jayne & Son are in a position to fill all orders more expeditiously than at any time in the long history of the business. In the removal to their present premises there is a great advantage in receiving and shipping facilities as the Belt Line railroad is within a hundred feet of the building, and for water shipment only the distance of the width of Delaware Avenue.

Ownership of the company remained with David Jayne’s estate until 1931 when Jayne’s estate was distributed among the surviving heirs. A May 24, 1931 “Philadelphia Inquirer” article tells the story.

Sixty-five years after his death and nearly a century after he settled in Philadelphia and first began to amass a fortune from patent medicine and real estate transactions that made him one of the wealthiest men of his time, final distribution of the estate of Dr. David Jayne, physician, philanthropist and civic leader is about to be made…

There were twelve grandchildren, ten of whom are now living. Harry W. Jayne, a deceased grandson left two sons and J. Maxwell Bullock. another deceased grandson, left three sons.

Real estate which has not yet been converted includes the premises 611-27 Chestnut Street, valued at more than $600,000; Pier 15 North Wharves, Delaware Avenue and Vine Street, and 216 Vine Street.

Less than a month after the announcement, the business incorporated in the State of Delaware. The incorporation notice appeared in the June 5, 1931 edition of the Wilmington Delaware’s “News Journal.”

Seven years later, in 1938, David Jayne’s heirs sold the Vine and Delaware property to the corporation. The sale was reported in the March 12th edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer.”

Jayne Heirs Convey Stores 2 to 16 Vine St. for $50,000

2 to 16 Vine St. eight store properties, lot 153 by 81 feet have been conveyed by A. R. Bullock, Charles H. Jayne, Horace F. Jayne and other heirs of the Jayne estate to Dr. D Jayne & Son, Inc. for $50,000. They are totally assessed at $79,400.

The company continued to publish their almanac up through the early 1940’s. As far as I can tell the last (98th) edition came in 1941.

Newspaper advertisements continue to locate Dr. D. Jayne & Son in Philadelphia at 2 Vine Street as late as 1946 after which I lose track. That being said, as late as the 1960’s, newspaper advertisements for their “Vermifuge,” now called “Jayne’s P-W,” continued to appear sporadically. The last one I can find appeared in the October 29, 1969 edition of the “South Bend (Ind.) Tribune.”  The ad closed with the line:

Perfected by Dr. D. Jayne & Son, specialists in worm remedies for 100 years.

The subject bottle is mouth blown with a tooled finish and eight ounces in size. This likely dates it sometime around the turn of the century. At that time Jayne’s Expectorant, in liquid form,  was being sold in three different size bottles. For much of its history it was sold in what the company referred to as the “Dollar” size. Then, as early as 1893 they began offering it in “Half Dollar” bottles as well.

In 1905 the company took it a step further, announcing the addition of a two ounce size.

This 1917 price list refers to the three sizes as “Large,” “Half” and “Quarter” respectively.

We know from the 1905 advertisement that the “Quarter” contains two ounces. Therefore, logically the subject bottle, containing eight ounces, is what the company called the “Large” or “Dollar” size which in 1917 was selling for $1.20.

Bromo Caffeine (Keasbey and Mattison)

 

“Bromo Caffeine” was a headache remedy manufactured by the firm of Keasbey and Mattison from the early 1880’s up through at least the late 1930’s.

Keasbey & Mattison opened its doors as a patent medicine manufacturer in Philadelphia, Pennslvania sometime in 1873. According to a feature on the business published in the October 10, 1899 edition of the “American Drug and Pharmaceutical Record:”

An unusual combination of commercial sagacity and technical skill was brought together when Henry G. Keasbey and Richard V. Mattison both of whom graduated in the class of 1872 of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, entered into a partnership and opened a laboratory on North Juniper Street, above Arch, shortly after graduation.  Dr. Mattison (he later earned a medical degree in 1879) undertook the introduction of their granulated effervescent salts to the medical profession, and traveled all over the United States interviewing physicians and druggists.

One of their granular effervescent salts, Citrate of Caffeine, was apparently the predecessor to Bromo Caffeine. As early as 1875, Citrate of Caffeine was promoted in medical publications with names like the “Baltimore Physician and Surgeon,” where advertisements began appearing in May of that year.

The small print went on to say:

We ask the special attention of our medical friends to our Granular Effervescent preparation of Citrate of Caffeine. Its recent and extensive usage in cases of Neuralgic and Sick Headaches has caused us to place it upon our list and direct special attention to it. A teaspoon full, containing one grain of the Citrate of Caffeine, in half a glass of water, should be given in Neuralgic and Sick Headaches, and repeated, if necessary during the paroxysm. The satisfaction found attending its use is so general, and the many favorable reports from the Physicians who have prescribed it, warrants us to strongly recommend it to the notice of the Profession.

Very respectfully, KEASBEY & MATTISON, Chemists, Philadelphia.

As far as I can tell, sometime in the early 1880’s Keasbey & Mattison combined their citrate of caffeine with potassium bromide and sodium carbonate and began advertising it under its long time and more marketing friendly name, “Bromo Caffeine.” This April 1, 1884 advertisement in the “Leavenworth (Kansas) Times” is one of the earliest newspaper advertisements for “Bromo Caffeine” that I can find.

A more detailed description of its supposed benefits can be found in a feature on Keasbey & Mattison published in the December 31, 1896 edition of “The Pharmaceutical Era.” It referred to “Bromo Caffeine” as “the best general remedy for nervous headaches ever devised,” and went on to say:

It has had, as it now enjoys, an immense sale through the channels of its employment by the most renowned medical men upon this continent, and is today the most universally used remedy for nervous headaches. For overworked brain-workers it is almost indispensable, its physiological action being that of a primary and direct stimulant to the nerve centers, and, through these, a stimulant in the entire muscular and vascular system and upon the brain. While not a hypnotic in the true sense of the word, it produces a calming effect on the nervous system and produces and maintains that tranquillizing condition most favorable for quiet rest and refreshing sleep. In the countries of the East it is the remedy most depended opon by Europeans, and is widely used in cases of heat exhaustion, sunstroke, etc.

The 1901 “Spatula Soda Water Guide” suggested that you could administer it by mixing it with soda water.

as a medicinal drink for headache; “put a tablespoon full of bromo caffeine granules in mineral glass. Fill another half full with soda and mix by pouring.”

Or,  you could just head down to the local drug store as this July 18, 1886 advertisement in the Wilmington (N. C.) Morning Star suggested, where it was available on draught at the soda fountain.

Originally manufactured in Philadelphia, Keasbey & Mattison maintained facilities there for 15 years, where expansion forced them to relocate several times. Philadelphia directories listed them at 117 Filbert in 1875 and 332 N. Front Street between 1876 and 1885. Sometime in the early 1880’s, the company added the adjoining properties at 328 and 330 Front Street and established a factory for the manufacture of quinine, where by 1883, according to an August 1oth story in the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” they were one of only four quinine manufacturers in the United States. The company was last listed in Philadelphia directories at 9 North 5th Street from 1886 to 1888.

Sometime in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s the company began migrating  to what would become their long-time home in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The following excerpt from a story published in the January 27, 1915 edition of “The (Perkasie Pa.) Central News” suggested that the migration started in 1879 when they built a factory there to manufacture magnesia, an ingredient found in many medicines.

The Keaseby & Mattison Co., located in Ambler in 1879 building a branch factory at the start for the manufacture of magnesia. Dr. Mattison himself selected Ambler as the location for for the firm’s future operations because of the water, free from iron salts which would injure the magnesia product.

The manufacture at Ambler proved to be so satisfactory that other departments of the Philadelphia laboratory were moved from time to time to the Montgomery County works until finally all of the manufacture was centered in Ambler…

Their move to Ambler was accomplished in its entirety by 1888 after which the business can no longer be found in the Philadelphia directories.

Around the turn of the century, the company was certainly well established in the pharmaceutical industry and advertising a wide variety of effervescent salts as evidenced by this 1903 price list, published by the Stein-Gray Drug Co., of Cincinnati.

In addition to “Bromo Caffeine,” several other effervescent salts were also marketed under proprietary names. They included “Alkalithia,” “Cafetonique” and “Salaperient.”

It was “Bromo Caffein” however, that was, according to an October 10, 1899 feature in the “American Drug and Pharmaceutical Record,” their signature pharmaceutical product.

It is as the manufacturer of Bromo Caffeine, that the Keasbey & Mattison Co. have become most widely known among the trade. There is probably no other preparation which has been so widely imitated as has been Bromo Caffeine. In the line of pharmaceuticals the Keasbey & Mattison granulated effervescent salts are probably more widely known than those of any other makers.

Another “American Drug and Pharmaceutical Record” story, this one in their December 31, 1896 edition, made it clear that by then the remedy was available world-wide. The message however, was delivered with a little more flair.

We say world-renowned for the reason that “Bromo-Caffeine” can be found under the burning rays of an Egyptian sun, upon India’s coral strand, among the ruins of the ancient capital of the Roman Empire, or in the gayest city of modern civilization, as well as in the country doctor’s modest office.

That being said, by the turn of the century, the manufacture of pharmaceuticals was only half of the Keasbey & Mattison story.  It was in Ambler that the company established another completely distinct line of business. A story published  years later in the September 8, 1986 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer” tells the story.

In 1886, Mattison discovered the insulating properties of magnesium carbonate and began to manufacture insulated pipes.

Mattison experimented with magnesium carbonate, from which he developed asbestos, a fire-retardant. He discovered that asbestos could be used for various products, including paper and millboard, textiles and shingles that can still be seen on Ambler homes built during that era.

According to the 1896 “American Drug and Pharmaceutical Record” feature, with quinine in decline the decision was made to repurpose their quinine plant to focus on this new line of business.

However,the future course of acting having been decided upon, the manufacture of alkaloids was abandoned and the splendid plant ruthlessly dismantled, to be as promptly replaced with vats and tanks, engines and pumps, condensers and motors and other machinery, which now contribute toward making up the largest plant in the world for the manufacture of non-heat conducting products for technical purposes.

The feature went on to say:

The decision marked an epoch in the history of the business and the art of preserving heat and the economical distribution of it, has since had that close attention formerly given to the manufacture of chemical products.

In 1892, Keasbey retired and the business incorporated. By the late 1800’s, with Mattison now president, the company was well on its way to becoming one of the largest asbestos manufacturing operations in the world. The extent of their growth can be gauged by this description of their clientele which included all the major railroads. The description appeared in the December 31, 1896 “American Drug and Pharmaceutical Record” feature.

The Keasbey & Mattison Company’s magnesia products for the drug trade are doubtless well known to and sold by every reader of this sketch, but it is probably not generally known to apothecaries that a large number of the locomotives running on such representative roads as the Pennsylvania Railroad, Lehigh Valley, Grand Trunk, Rock Island, Illinois Central, Union Pacific, etc., etc., are covered with magnesia lagging, which is a commercial product made of about ninety parts of carbonate of magnesium and ten parts of fine, silky asbestos fiber. This mixture is pressed into blocks, and these are fashioned to fit the boilers of the ordinary locomotives, instead of the wood lagging formerly used, and the magnesia after being applied, is then covered with planished sheet iron.

The story went on to include the U.S. Navy as a client as well.

The war vessels of the United States Navy, the Philadelphia, New York, Yorktown, Bennington, Miantonomah, Charleston, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Newark, Massachusetts, the so called “pirate,” the armored Columbia, and its sister ship, the Minneapolis, etc., etc., as well as the dynamic cruiser Vesuvius, all have their boilers, steam pipes and other radiating surfaces covered with magnesia from this Ambler plant.

At this juncture the company’s Ambler complex encompassed three and a half acres whose buildings totaled over 15 acres of floor space. The feature provided this view of the main building which was 625 feet long by 75 feet wide.

In case you’re interested, it also included a view of Mattison’s office.

The company’s menu of asbestos products was certainly expanding during the first decade of the 1900’s, as evidenced by this December 17, 1904 item in the (Duluth Minnesota) “Labor World.”

The firm of Keasbey & Matron company are manufacturers of the only pure and genuine magnesia pipe coverings, containing 85 percent of pure carbonate of magnesia, Ambler asbestos air cell sectional covering, asbestos air cell fire board, asbestos corrugated paper for furnace pipe covering, asbestos papers, (all thicknesses) asbestos cement, (all grades) asbestos wick packing, magnesia cement, wool felt of all kinds, hair felt, sectional covering and all kinds of asbestos materials, roofing, etc.

A story that appeared in the “Minneapolis (Minnesota) Journal” on October 22, 1904 suggested that there were also some unique products such as theatre curtains.

Absolute fire protection is afforded the audience between the stage and auditorium by the Asbestos Fire Proof Curtain furnished by the Keasbey & Mattison Co. This firm is well known for their extensive manufacture of fire curtains from asbestos and have supplied the Orpheum with one of their best makes, which is second to none in the country. The cloth is made of fine strands of brass wire insulated by a heavy coating of asbestos tightly wound, and then woven closely, thus forming a protection which no fire can overcome. As a demonstration of this a blowpipe was used against the curtain for a period of one and one quarter minutes last week. The curtain became red hot from the intense heat, but remained intact in every detail, the spot not being detected after cooling. This exhibition was witnessed by Mayor Haynes, Chief Canterbury, the owners of the theater, architects and builder, all expressed their approval of the qualities existing.

If that wasn’t enough, the January 14, 1904 edition of “The (Perkkasie Pa.) Central News” announced that the company was building another factory in Ambler, this one specifically to manufacture asbestos shingles.

The Keasbey & Mattison Company, of Ambler, who was recently negotiating for a site along the Delaware for the erection of a plant to manufacture asbestos shingles, have resolved to locate the new industry at Ambler in connection with their extensive plant for the manufacture of other products. The first part of the building has been completed. The building which will be nearly 300 feet long, will be sheathed and covered with asbestos shingles. Dr. Mattison, president of the company, some time ago inspected a site at New Hope for the location of the plant, but the railroad facilities there were not considered as favorable.

This advertisement for their Asbestos “Century” Shingles appeared in 1908/1909 Oklahoma newspapers.

Ultimately with demand for their products exponentially increasing, the company acquired the largest asbestos mine in the world. A May 3, 1906 story in “The Central News” told the story.

The Keasbey and Mattison Company of Ambler, has purchased the largest asbestos mine in the world, with associated rights and property. This valuable accessory to the large local plant is located at Thetford, Quebec, near the Quebec Central Railroad. Despite the enormous output of this mine, it will require about one half again as much more asbestos to supply the needs of the Ambler plant, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

Just as pressing as the need for raw materials was the need for a local labor force. Consequently, on January 5, 1908, the Philadelphia Inquirer announced that Mattison was building a village in Ambler to house them.

AMBLER, Jan 4. – Dr. Richard W. Mattison, owner of Lindenwold Farm, at this place, and with a villa at Newport, where he spends his summers will, it is said, build a village here for the men in his employ at the extensive Keasbey-Mattison plants and at his other interests. It is understood, that with this object in view, and to make the proposed village as idealistic as possible, Dr. Mattison will sail for Italy in the early spring, and will spend a couple of months in that country to procure detail to make the projected operation a complete success.

A story in the Philadelphia Inquirer published years later, on September 5, 1999, made it clear that Mattison made his plan a reality.

Italian stone masons were brought over to build homes for his employees. They constructed about 400 homes within the borough, which were rented out to company executives, foreman and blue collar workers at reasonable rates.

Another story, this one in the March 28, 1985 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, further explained:

The street on which the employee lived indicated his position in the company, with blue collar workers on Church Street in row houses, supervisors on Highland Avenue in twin houses and executives on Lindenwold Terrace in mansions.

The story included this photo of Mattison’s home (in 1936) at 1 Lindenwold Terrace.

It appears that the Keasbey & Mattison business peaked sometime in the late teens  when advertisements concisely summarized their menu of products like this:

That success continued until the late 1920’s when Keasbey, long retired but still a partner in the firm, charged Mattison with unlawful mismanagement of the business. According to a June 23, 1928 story in “The Bristol (Pa.) Daily Courier:”

Charges of unlawful acts on the part of its president, Richard V. Mattison, and mismanagement of the affairs of the Keasbey and Mattison Company, of Ambler, are made in a bill in equity filed in the office of the Prothonotary by Attorneys High, Dettra and Swartz in behalf of Henry H. Keasbey, owner of almost half of the stock in the firm, against the Keasbey and Mattison Company and Richard V. Mattison.

In May, 1927, Mr. Keasbey states, he returned from a sojourn abroad and because of information received by him concerning the management of the company by Mattison he made an investigation and as a result avers that Mattison has not managed the business and affairs of the company “fairly, lawfully and efficiently, but for many years has managed the affairs of the defendant company inefficiently and unlawfully to the personal gain of the defendant, Mattison, and to the loss and disadvantage of the plaintiff, Keasbey.

The suit, settled out of court, was followed closely by the stock market crash and “Great Depression,” all of which led to a bank takeover in 1931.  A little over two years later the company was acquired by the British firm of Turner and Newall. “The Birmingham (England) Gazette” reported the acquisition on January 13, 1934.

The very sharp rise in Turner and Newalls sharers during the last few weeks has been latterly accompanied by rumors and important developments were pending. These are now publicly announced in the course of a letter to the stockholders. The board have entered into an agreement to purchase a controlling interest in the businesses of the Keasebey and Mattison Company and the Ambler Asbestos, Shingle and Sheathing Company.

The Keasbey and Mattison Co., established in 1873, manufactures asbestos textiles, friction linings, magnesia and other insulation and pharmaceutical products, and also owns and operates the well-known Bell asbestos mine at Thetford, Quebec, Canada. The Ambler Asbestos, Sheathing and Shingle Co. was established about 25 years ago, and although closely associated with the businesss of the Keasbey and Mattison Co., is not a subsidiary company but owns, in its own right, and operates factories for the manufacture of asbestos cement products.

It is proposed to merge the business of the Ambler Asbestos, Shingle and Sheathing Company with that of the Keasbey and Mattison Company, after which Turner and Newell, Ltd., will acquire 60 percent of the capital stock of the enlarged Keasbey and Mattison Company…The Keasbey and Mattison Company will remain under American management and Mr. A. S. Blagden, who has been president since 1931, will continue in that capacity.

A January 16, 1934 “Philadelphia Inquirer” story on the merger added that:

The enlarged business will retain the name of the Keasbey & Mattison Company.

After the acquisition, the company continued the pharmaceutical branch of the business, at least for a short while, manufacturing “Bromo Caffeine” up through at least the late 1930’s as evidenced by this advertisement that continued to associate Keasbey & Mattison with the product. It appeared in several editions of the “Philadelphia Inquirer” during the Spring of 1937.

In 1940, several years after these ads appeared, Keasbey & Mattison renewed the “Bromo Caffeine” and “Alkalithia” trademarks but assigned both to the Alkalithia Company of Baltimore, Maryland. The renewal/assignment notice appeared in the June 18, 1940 edition of the U.S. Patent Gazette. I suspect that this marked the end of Keasbey & Mattison’s pharmaceutical division.

This bottle of “Alkalithia,” recently offered for sale on the internet, exhibits the Alkalithia Company name and listed their address as 220 W. Lombard Street in Baltimore.

How long the Alkalithia Company continued to manufacture Bromo-Caffeine is not clear. The product disappeared from newspaper advertisements for drug stores in the early 1940’s, however, the following “Question & Answer” column found in the October 11, 1967 edition of Long Island’s “Newsday” stated that the company manufactured Bromo Caffeine as late as 1950.

Q. In a box od sea shells left from an estate, I found three small, corked blue bottles marked “Bromo Caffeine.” Can you tell me when this was made and if the bottles have any value?

A. This product, similar to another bromo fizz cure for upset stomachs, indigestion or hangovers, was made from 1941 to 1950 by the Alkalithia Co. of Baltimore, Md., which is no longer in existence…

Keasbey & Mattison’s asbestos line continued well into the 1960’s under Turner & Newall’s ownership. According to a story in the March 21, 1960 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” at that time the company had five major product lines – asphalt roofing, asbestos and glass textiles, asbestos-cement pipe, asbestos-cement building materials and industrial products. They employed about 900 people in Ambler and 8oo at other plants that were located in Santa Clara, California, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Meredith, New Hampshire and St. Louis Missouri.

Ultimately the company was sold again in the early 1960’s, at which point the Keasbey & Mattison name came to an end. The March 28, 1985 edition of the “Philadelphia Inquirer” provided the details.

The business was sold again in 1963, bringing  an end to the 90 year-old Keasbey & Mattison company. Two businesses succeeded the company: One, Nicolet Inc., made millboard and other products; CertainTeed Corp. made asbestos cement plates. CertainTeed went out of business in 1981. Today (1985) only Nicolet remains. It has stopped manufacturing asbestos products and instead makes Formica.

A story in the September 5, 1999 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer picks up the story from there.

In 1987 Nicolet Industries went bankrupt, citing the burden of more than 61,000 asbestos-related lawsuits against it. Left behind was a 22-acre asbestos dump that was treated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program. EPA built large mounds of earth over it and planted trees and shrubs there. The dump was removed from the Superfund list in 1993. Yet the asbestos remains.

The asbestos was still there in late 2017 when a November 29th “Philadelphia Inquirer” story referred to the site as “Ambler’s White Hills.” As far as I can tell, today the dump site continues to remain vacant and undeveloped.

I’ve found three Bromo Caffeine bottles over the years, all mouth blown, three inches tall and a little more than one inch in diameter at the base. Each is a different shade of blue ranging from a deep cobalt to a cornflower. The 1904 Stein-Gray Drug Co. price list pictured previously listed three sizes being offered around the turn of the century: $1.25, $0.75 and $0.10. Recognizing the rather small size of the bottles, they’re almost certainly of the $0.10 variety.