ABOUT

On Beyond Holcombe

THE PROPRIETARY REVENUE STAMPS OF 1898

ScottRB19Z-0a1RV(RB20-31)

ScottRB19Z-0a2RV(RB20-31)

An examination of the companies producing the countless variety of cancels appearing on the battleship series of proprietary revenue stamps offers a fresh opportunity to explore the contradictions of a complex American society, where the fortunes of men, eventually exposed as among the most ruthless of the “robber barons,” were molded into the benevolence of philanthropic organization that today bear their names. In sanctioning battleship revenues to evidence payment of tax imposed to finance the Spanish-American War, Congress elected to tax patent medicines because they were profitable. The men who led the industry became unimaginably wealthy. As their histories unfold, strange and juicy tales emerge.

*****

     KembleEdwardWindsor-PatentMedTrust3RV

THE PATENT MEDICINE TRUST – DEATH’S LABORATORY

COLLIER’S WEEKLY MAGAZINE COVER JUNE 3, 1905

DRAWN BY EDWARD WINSOR KEMBLE

*****

The patent medicine industry story has been approached in two different ways. In the compilation Patent Medicine Tax Stamps, Henry Holcombe (1897-1973) created the definitive history of private die proprietary stamps and Prof. James Harvey Young (1915-2006), in his Toadstool Millionaires, recounted the social implications of the patent medicine era in American history. Yet, to a collector of battleship revenue cancels, while each book tells a unique and memorable story, even taken together, the two stories reveal only part of a vast and fascinating legacy of good and evil that patent medicines and the fortunes they created have bestowed upon society as their legacy.

HolcombeHenry2

HENRY HOLCOMBE

YoungJamesHarvey-1

PROFESSOR JAMES H. YOUNG

Holcombe’s book dealt with companies that ordered private dies. He was not recounting the history of patent medicines per se and ignored virtually all of those companies that did not place orders for their own stamps. The taxes on proprietary medicine and cosmetics had originated during the Civil War and lasted for more than twenty years until they finally expired in 1883. The great bulk of private die proprietary stamps date from that period. Between 1880 and 1898, the drug industry expanded enormously. During the Spanish-American War period, since printing procedures had changed and the tax was repealed entirely within four years (three years for patent medicines), very few companies had time to order their own stamps, so Holcombe’s book does not cover the younger group of companies. Young was not a philatelist, and did not mention revenue stamp cancels in his cautionary tale concerning the over-reaching, death-inducing claims the patent medicine proprietors often indulged and the sinister pressures they exerted to keep their industry flourishing. Proprietary battleship cancels provide a window through which to examine the companies that Holcombe did not feature (and perhaps to amplify upon some the companies he did), while Young’s social history of the era provides the context for re-examining the contributions as well as the excesses of the patent medicine industry.

*****

PuckCartoon-AgeOfDrugs3

PUCK MAGAZINE CENTERFOLD CARTOON

“THE AGE OF DRUGS”

DRAWN BY JOSEPH DALRYMPLE

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 10, 1900

(THE BARTENDER AT THE LEFT CANNOT COMPETE WITH THE DRUGGIST)

*****

1898 is an excellent year to examine the entire drug industry in the United States for it was then at the height of its influence and power. Taking the measure of the drug trade, in preparation for a meeting of the wholesale drug dealers association in New York City in October, 1894, a reporter for the New York Times wrote: “With the possible exception of the National Bankers’ Association, there is not another organization in the country that represents as much wealth in the aggregate as the druggists.” Yet, the industry’s decline was already foreshadowed, for by the end of the century, scientific inquisitiveness had developed tests allowing for clear and certain identification of the secret compounds contained in patent medicines. Within a few years after the end of the Spanish-American War, a series of exposes printed in Collier’s Weekly Magazine (gathered into the volume The Great American Fraud by Samuel Hopkins Adams (1871-1958)), instigated the first serious examination of the patent medicine industry’s excesses. These articles, in turn, led to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. This Act made the first incursions on the industry’s outsized and unsubstantiated claims to positive cures. Nevertheless, the medical profession was still forced to relentlessly hammer for the next 30 years, with notice after notice to physicians (Nostrums & Quackery vols. 1-3: 1912, 1921 and 1936), before it successfully winnowed from the marketplace the blatant poisons, and strange decoctions (often featuring alcohol, but sometimes nothing more than plain water, as the undisclosed principal ingredient) which masqueraded as absolute cures for implacable diseases like cancer.

*****

PuckCartoon-7AgesOfDopeRV

PUCK MAGAZINE CENTERFOLD CARTOON

THE 7 AGES OF DOPE

DRAWN BY SAMUEL D. ERHARDT

PUBLISHED MARCH 28, 1906

*****

This column introduces a series of articles dedicated to re-examining the companies comprising the drug industry following the natural contours of the industry itself. That drug industry divides into three branches: 1) Manufacturers: 2) Wholesalers; 3) Retailers. These branches fought as often as they cooperated and the trail of lawsuits strewn in their wake is one previously unexplored source of insights into the nature of patent medicine company operations.

Philatelically, while it is not readily apparent, these divisions are subtly reflected in the cancels applied to the battleship proprietaries, and have influenced the present state of the cataloging of proprietary battleship cancels. The re-categorizing proposed here will supplement the excellent existing cancel compilations. The Chappell-Joyce compilation – itself now in the process of revision through the columns of the 1898battleshiprevenues.com blog – painstakingly focuses on the variety of printed cancels applied to these stamps. However, by constraining itself to printed cancels, it selects against important segments of the drug trade. On the other hand, the very exuberance of the listings in the Battleship Desk Reference book compiled by Robert Mustacich and Anthony Giacomelli, does not leave room for studied consideration of the nuances and variety of the histories while underlie the companies set forth in its exhaustive table. This study proposes to add anecdotal muscle to articulate the skeleton created by these two cancel compilations.

The center of the drug trade was the manufacturers. These companies produced their own goods and usually had their own networks of traveling salesmen, or “drummers,” to arrange for sales and distribution as well. Manufacturers had a natural wish to expedite the flow of their products and fairly quickly incorporated the entire collection of the tax into the process of packaging their products. The most creative manufacturers, who realized (as had their Civil War predecessors) the advertising value that government mandated stamps might add to their product, immediately placed their orders for the group of stamps that became the Spanish-American War addendum to the Scott RS list. Other large manufacturers, such as J.C. Ayer, Lydia Pinkham and C.I. Hood, created printed cancels to regularize the tax collection process. Ayer was an old enough company to have created RS stamps, and, had the new tax continued longer, might have done so again. The Pinkham and Hood companies, which made extensive use of printed cancels, became a manufacturing giants too late to have needed their own Civil War private dies, and thus were not included by Holcombe. Lydia Pinkham has accounted for several books in her own right, but her story is not widely told in philatelic circles. While the Pinkham and Hood cancels are common and well-known to battleship revenue collectors (and are found in the Chappell-Joyce listings), the stories of these companies also legitimately fall within the ambit of the new study proposed here.

PRINTED CANCELS UTILIZED BY DRUG MANUFACTURERS

AyerDrJC&Co-2-RB28-1898-07-13

J. C. AYER & CO.

    Pinkham-2-RB28-2-1898-11(p)

LYDIA E. PINKHAM MEDICINE CO.

     HoodCI&Co-2-RB28-2-1898-10

C. I. Hood & Co.

However, there are a great many more large or influential manufacturers within the drug trade itself who relied solely on hand stamped cancels. The proprietors of these companies, some later as notorious as William Radam and Frank Cheney, and others as diverse as W.W. Gavitt, Frederick Stearns and Leslie Keeley, never bothered to try to cash in upon the advertising value of creating a product label out of a tax burden.  This study proposes to recount their stories which are as varied and interesting as any set forth in Holcombe.

HAND STAMPED CANCELS USED BY MANUFACTURERS

RadamsWMMicrobeKillerCo-2-RB28-1a

WILLIAM RADAM’S MICROBE KILLER CO.

CheneyFJ-2-RB28-t1-1898

CHENEY MEDICINE CO.

 GavittWW-2-RB23

W. W. GAVITT

StearnsFrederick&Co-2-RB28-1b

   FREDERICK STEARNS & CO.

KeeleyInst-2-RB28a(TheLeslieEKeeleyCo)

THE LESLIE E. KEELEY CO.

Wholesale druggists tended to supply their local regional druggists, although some of them competed on a national level. The largest, like Charles Marchand, actually did produce RS stamps during the Spanish-American War period. Others, like E. Ferrett of New York, who distributed the Wright product line, opted for printed cancels. Many prominent companies, like Meyer Brothers of St. Louis and George C. Goodwin of Boston, however, stuck with hand stamped cancels, and have not been scrutinized as carefully as the others. For example, Meyer Brothers catalogues provide much information about the state of the drug business at the turn of the Twentieth Century.

CANCELS USED BY WHOLESALERS

MarchandChas-2-RB28-1898-1101

HAND STAMPED CANCEL USED BY CHARLES MARCHAND

      MarchandChas-1-RS298

PROPRIETARY STAMP PRINTED BY CHARLES MARCHAND

Wright-2-1-RB23-1(EFerrett)

PRINTED CANCEL USED BY E. FERRETT

MeyerBrosDrugCo-2-RB28bRV

HAND STAMPED CANCEL USED BY MEYER BROS. DRUG. CO.

GoodwinGeo&Co-2-RB28-6(ex-Orton)

HANDSTAMPED CANCEL USED BY

GEORGE C. GOODWIN & CO.

Retailers tended to have a single location or a group of locations around a single city, although there were a few regional affiliations and even the first, faint stirring of a national chain. They mainly had to account for tax to be paid on products already in stock on the effective date of collection, July 1, 1898, or had to stamp small batches of their own generic or home-brewed products or other miscellaneous goods. For this reason, most retail cancels appear on low denominations and are virtually all hand stamped. They remain largely obscure and are most often identified only if the entire name is given or the location is identified. Armed with that information, it is generally easy to match the cancel to known drug industry outlets. While most were small town druggists, the stories of retailers as varied as R.H. Macy (a large enough operation to have invested in printed cancels), J.N. Adam & Co., and L.O. Gale, form the tributary streams of information which ultimately lead to the vast, still largely unexplored, ocean of patent medicine knowledge.

CANCELS UTILIZED BY RETAILERS

MacyRH-2-RB23

PRINTED CANCEL USED BY R. H. MACY & CO.

AdamJN&Co-2-RB22-1899-09-27RV(BuffaloNY)

HAND STAMPED CANCEL USED BY J. N. ADAM & CO.

GaleLO-2-RB20(MitchellSD)(ERA1905,FussellCornP316)

HAND STAMPED CANCEL USED BY. L. O. GALE

This ocean of knowledge exists on the same Internet which makes this blog available, for just as it has made the archives of the New York Times readily searchable and readable, it has made reachable, through scanning, obscure local histories, numerous dusty trade publications and other source material such as patent medicine company catalogues. In addition to these reproductions of older written materials, websites promoting study of family genealogies, and local points of interest, as well as hobby websites in neighboring fields like bottle and postcard collecting, have also contributed to widen the field of inquiry into patent medicines. This article argues that we should all take another plunge into the vastly improved ocean of knowledge.

 

© Malcolm A. Goldstein 2011, 2014

Advertisements
Standard
C, S

Sterling Remedy Co. (III.3) – California Fig Syrup Co.

Sterling Remedy Co., Manufacturer

Chapter 3.3 – California Fig Syrup Co., Manufacturer

CalifFigSyrCo-2-RB25

BATTLESHIP PROPRIETARY ISSUE

As with the origin of Sterling’s original product Neuralgine, there are at least two different accounts concerning the origins of the patent medicine laxative “Syrup of Figs” initially manufactured by the California Fig Syrup Co. The first origin story was recounted as testimony taken in a lawsuit begun in 1897 which contested the company’s right to the exclusive use of the name “Syrup of Figs.”

CalifFigSyrCo-5-5a     CalifFigSyrCo-5-5b

CalifFigSyrCo-5-4a     CalifFigSyrCo-5-4b

   TRADE CARDS EXAMPLES

One Richard E. Queen, who claimed to be the inventor of the product, testified that in 1878, having observed that people did not like taking laxatives in the form of pills or oils, he determined to create an effective liquid laxative. He spent a year experimenting with various combinations of ingredients and found that the most effective laxative was produced from the pods or leaves of the plant senna alexandrina, a member of the senna genus of herbs, plants and trees that contains some 250 to 350, mostly tropical, species. As that name implies, senna alexandrina’s laxative properties had been known even to the ancient Egyptians. Queen believed that the senna products then on the market were either too weak or produced results by such a violent, painful, diarrhetic action that they were all useless.

CalifFigSyrCo-5-3a     CalifFigSyrCo-5-3b     CalifFigSyrCo-6-3

EXAMPLES OF TRADE CARD & BOOK MARK

Queen wanted to differentiate his brand of senna from all the others. When he added other medicines to boost the effectiveness of the senna, he had to contend with the bad taste these substances produced. To offset their bitterness and to give the liquid some body, he decided to add syrup of figs for its sugar and viscosity, but it did not blend well into his concoction. As his experiments progressed, he found that neither the bad tasting medical boosters nor the fig syrup was absolutely essential to the stable liquid senna compound he was creating. While his final recipe did require some sweetening agent, for the tiny bit he needed, he found he could just as easily have used honey. Yet, when he selected a name for his new elixir, remembering the sweet taste of the fig syrup, he christened it “Syrup of Figs.” He soon sold his formula to his own California Fig Syrup Co. which thereafter assumed its production.

CalifFigSyrCo-21-4a

CalifFigSyrCo-21-4b

CalifFigSyrCo-21-4c

BOOKLET FOR EXHIBIT AT CHICAGO WORLD’S FAIR IN 1893

The second origin story appeared as a column in a pharmaceutical trade publication at the end of 1899.  One Richard E. Queen, known locally as “Dick Queen,” a native of Bardstown, KY, born on December 21, 1853, was working as a clerk in George Newman’s drug store in Louisville, KY in 1885.  He decided to “go west” to make his fortune, took his savings of roughly $2000, moved to Reno, NV and opened a drug store himself.  To boost sales, he began hawking a preparation ginned up by a local resident, one Dr. Baldwin, which Queen advertised as “Syrup of Figs.”  Queen promptly ran out of money and bounced back to Louisville. After a year’s persuasion, his former employer, Newman, let Queen mix a batch of the Syrup in his store’s basement and lent him $5000 on the promise of repayment of the loan together with a royalty of 20 cents per dozen bottles sold. Queen spent the money buying $1200 worth of advertisements in the St. Louis trolleys and the rest on newspaper advertising. When Queen sought a further loan, Newman refused, and Queen waited.

CalifFigSyrCo-21-3a

CalifFigSyrCo-21-3c     CalifFigSyrCo-21-3d

CalifFigSyrCo-21-3b

SAMPLE CHILDREN’S BOOKLET PAGES

Within a few months, lo and behold, the orders began to gush in. Once orders materialized, Newman re-opened the financial spigot and by the end of the year, Newman had invested $52,000 in the Syrup venture. Newman and Queen then organized the California Fig Syrup Co. Queen moved to San Francisco and handled advertising while Newman acted as the Eastern region sales agent. In 1893, Queen spent $429,000 on advertising which produced sales of $1,500,000, or 6,000,000 bottles. Newman received his 20 cent royalty on each of 50,000 dozen bottles sold, plus his share of the business profits. Queen earned $117,000 that year. By 1899, the stock of the company had advanced from 10 cents a share to $3.50 a share. Queen owned 600,000 of the million shares issued with Newman owning another 200,000. Newman easily earned a half million dollars, and his former clerk, Queen, had become a millionaire in ten years time. Because Queen was doing so much advertising, he finally organized his own advertising agency, the Golden Gate Advertising Bureau which added advertising commissions to his sources of wealth.  The company also quickly opened offices overseas in London, England.

CalifFigSyrCo-3-1903-1(Eng) 1903 COVER FROM ENGLISH OFFICE

x—–x

CalifFigSyrCo-1-EngMedStamp-M123

CalifFigSyrCo-1-EngMedStampM135-1R

CalifFigSyrCo-1-EngMedStampM136-3R2

ENGLISH PROPRIETARY MEDICINE TAX STAMPS – 1ST HALF 20th CENTURY

Usually, the origin story of a company given in court testimony would be taken as the truest and most accurate account because it is a sworn statement given under penalty of perjury. In this instance, the popular re-telling of the origins of the company, with its emphasis on the vast sums of money earned, rings a great deal truer as to the actual circumstances giving rise to the company. However, Queen’s court testimony – palpably designed to offer a rational explanation for Queen’s choice of the name “Syrup of Figs” for his laxative – was ultimately accepted as true by the Supreme Court of the United States, but applied in a manner most inimical to Queen’s interest. The question ultimately presented to the Supreme Court that led to it to review Queen’s testimony was whether Queen could affirmatively use the power of the federal courts to enjoin another patent medicine company, Clinton E. Worden & Co. (yet another user of proprietary battleship revenues), from advertising its product as “Syrup of Figs” or “Fig Syrup,” on the grounds that California Fig Syrup Co. had established its exclusive commercial rights to those names. Having heard all of the testimony, including Queen’s, the trial court had ruled that Worden was deliberately attempting to deceive the public by copying Queen’s packaging and marketing so closely as to cause confusion between the products, and granted Queen an injunction against Worden. The appellate court affirmed, and Worden appealed to the Supreme Court.

CalifFigSyrCo-3-1908-1

1908 COMPANY COVER

In 1903, the Supreme Court heard a different voice in Queen’s testimony. To the extent that Queen asserted that “Syrup of Figs” was a trademark, the Court said that the name was merely descriptive and, therefore, insufficient to serve as a trademark. Morever, pointing to the fact that Queen had deemed the actual inclusion of syrup of figs only incidental to the final formulation of the “Syrup of Figs” he marketed to the public, the Supreme Court ruled that Queen could claim no monopoly on the name because the name he chose was itself misleading right from the beginning. Even though, the California Fig Syrup Co. had later advertised that senna, rather than figs, were the principal laxative agent in its “Syrup of Figs,” the Court found that the name so misleading to the public in general as to be deceptive. Falling back on an old “equitable” principle, the Court ruled that where the plaintiff had himself acted in a deceptive way – came into court with “unclean hands” – it could not seek the Court’s help to block deception. Since Queen had misled the public by calling his medicine “Syrup of Figs” when it included only the minutest amounts of fig syrup and depended on another ingredient, senna, to make the product effective, the court would not stop another patent medicine company from also advertising its laxative as “Syrup of Figs.” The loss in the Supreme Court was the last and final one in a string of similar cases that Queen lost attempting to isolate “Syrup of Figs” as his exclusive brand.

CalifFigSyrCo-6a-1890-1b(MeyerBrosCat)

AD FROM 1890 MEYER BROS. CATALOGUE

CalifFigSyrCo-6a-1895c-2     CalifFigSyrCo-6a-1899-1a

CalifFigSyrCo-6a-1899-3     CalifFigSyrCo-6a-1891-1

CalifFigSyrCo-6a-1895c-1

1890s ADS

Note that this ruling, rendered three years before the Pure Food And Drug Act, did not turn on whether any of the ingredients had any actual medicinal value, but only on the question of whether the product truthfully contained syrup of figs. The ruling raised a question of “equity” law – whether the Supreme Court should refrain from using its injunctive power to protect what it considered to be a dishonest claim – rather than any standard of medical purity or efficacy. The Supreme Court answered the question that it would not extend any commercial advantage to a liar by using its enormous injunctive power to block his competition.

CalifFigSyrCo-10-8a

CalifFigSyrCo-10-8c

1905c ORIGINAL COMPANY’S BOTTLE

Despite Queen’s doleful litigation record, just like Knowlton Danderine, Syrup of Figs attracted the attention of Weiss and Diebold because of its rapid growth and burst of sales success. Whether or not Queen exclusively controlled its name, Syrup of Figs generated enormous revenue. In 1912, Queen sold the California Fig Syrup Co. to the Sterling Remedy Co for a sum reported at the time to be “in excess of $2,000,000.” The same article indicated that California Fig Syrup Co. had spent more than $6,000,000 on advertising and had netted over $40,000,000 worth of sales across its then twenty-six year existence.

CalifFigSyrCo-6a-1919-2

1919 AD AFTER STERLING TAKEOVER

Queen remained a “man about town” in San Francisco. In 1895, he had built a Classic Revival mansion which he occupied with his wife, mother and sister. He never had children and died at age 76 while touring in Egypt in 1924. Because it is the only remaining residence in San Francisco designed by architect A. Page Brown, the Richard E. Queen House is now listed on that city’s register of historic landmarks.

CalifFigSyrCo-10a-3b     CalifFigSyrCo-10a-3h

CalifFigSyrCo-10a-2a(SterlingDrug)

CalifFigSyrCo-10a-3g

BOX(TOP) & BOTTLE FROM 1920S AFTER STERLING TAKEOVER

California Fig Syrup Co. remained a separate entity within one of the divisions of Sterling Products Co. until approximately 1943 when it was absorbed into the larger company. Generic fig syrup is now readily available for use in recipes as a sweetener and is sometimes even recommended as containing either an enzyme or just plain fiber that acts as a “digestive aid.” Old myths die hard and sometimes echo through time.

CalifFigSyrCo-10b-4d

BOX & BOTTLE FROM 1935C AFTER FURTHER STERLING REORGANIZATION

©  Malcolm A. Goldstein 2018

Standard
K, S

Sterling Remedy Co. (III.2) – Knowlton Danderine Co.

Sterling Remedy Co., Manufacturer

Chapter 3.2 – Knowlton Danderine Co., Manufacturer

     KnowltonDanderineCo-2-RB21(ChicagoIL)     KnowltonDanderineCo-2-RB23-1R(ChicagoIL)

KnowltonDanderineCo-2-RB25(ChicagoIL)

POSSIBLE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR ISSUE CANCELS

knowltondanderineco-2-rb48-2chicagoil.jpg     knowltondanderineco-2-rb48-1chicagoil.jpg

knowltondanderineco-2-rb50.jpg     knowltondanderineco-2-rb54.jpg

1914 PROPRIETARY ISSUE CANCELS

KnowltonDanderineCo-2-RB65

POSSIBLE 1919 PROPRIETARY ISSUE CANCEL

According to a full-page report in a 1906 issue of New England Magazine, Dr. Elias W. Knowlton invented his miracle hair grower and restorer, Danderine, in Guthrie, Oklahoma in 1901. Danderine sold so well so quickly that Dr. Knowlton was compelled to move his company to Chicago almost immediately to centralize its manufacture and distribution. The article further states his company quickly became the “largest patent medicine institution in America.” A Boston wholesaler placed a single order for $55,000 worth of goods, and a special train had to be dispatched to carry another $30,000 order to the New York City drug wholesaler McKesson & Robbins. A charming engraving of Dr. Knowlton’s daughter, Frances Marie, accompanies the article.

KnowltonDanderineCo-6a-1906-2R(NewEnglandMag(1906-v34)

1906 NEW ENGLAND MAGAZINE ARTICLE/AD

Whether a genuine news story or, more probably, merely an ad masquerading as a news article (as many ads did at that time), the article recounts the kind of meteoric rise in sales that would have quickly attracted the attention of William Weiss and Albert Diebold, who were then looking to expand the product line of the Sterling Remedy Co. The facts appear to have been similar but slightly different. Knowlton was in Oklahoma in the mid-1890s, but a Cook County, IL record attests that he fathered his daughter Frances Marie in Chicago in 1899. He had been born in 1864 in rural Nodaway County, Missouri (a county located in the northwest corner of that state, north of St Joseph, MO and southeast of Omaha, NE, seemingly so remote that I-29 the present highway connecting these two cities appears to deliberately bend west to avoid it perhaps because its own Wikipedia article dwells at length on the lurid murders that have occurred within its borders), and his wife, the former Laura Bell Williams, who had been born somewhere in Iowa in 1871.

KnowltonDanderineCo-6a-1898-1

1898 AD IN MEYER BROS. CATALOGUE

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History more accurately places the earliest sale of Danderine in 1895 rather than 1901, but states the trademark (possibly the image of Frances Marie) was not registered until 1908 after Sterling Remedy had purchased the company. However, a drug trade magazine’s monthly column listing new trademark registrations from 1896 shows that Knowlton, then in Guthrie OK, himself registered some kind of Danderine trademark much earlier. Knowlton and his winsome daughter promptly disappear from Danderine’s history after its sale to Sterling, but she remained the principal poster girl for the product and her image remained on the box, although the company thereafter also recruited celebrities such as opera singers and members of the House of Representatives to endorse the product.

KnowltonDanderineCo-6a-1906-1(SantaRosaCARepublican)

1906 AD

In the 1940s, the company tried to reinvigorate the brand by advertising Double Danderine on radio. The Smithsonian claims Double Danderine was marketed until 1963. The trademark was last owned by Medtech Laboratories of Cody, WY, but has expired as of November 8, 2008.

SterlingRemedyCo-6a-1950c-1R(KnowltonDanderine)

1950c AD – DOUBLE DANDERINE

Knowlton Danderine Co. figured prominently in an extremely early Federal Trade Commission case which demonstrated the weakness of the original Pure Food And Drug Act of 1906. In 1909, the company had a contract with Parke, Davis & Co. for Parke, Davis to prepare Knowlton’s hair tonic mixture according to Knowlton’s own proprietary formula.

KnowltonDanderineCo-6a-1902-2

1902 AD

Parke, Davis, a Detroit MI company – itself a user of the battleship revenue stamps – was even then one of the pharmaceutical industry’s most respected manufacturing chemists, which means that as well as selling its own products, it prepared products for other companies to sell. Its name is familiar to most people because it continued to exist independently and advertise on its own for approximately three-fourths of the Twentieth Century. Its story is yet another future tale to unfold in this column.

KnowltonDanderineCo-6a-1902-1

1902 AD

After Parke, Davis prepared the hair tonic mixture to Knowlton’s specifications, it shipped it by boat to Sandusky, OH and then by train to Knowlton’s plant, which had been moved by Weiss and Diebold from Chicago to Wheeling, WV. The hair tonic traveled in 50 gallon wooden casks owned by Parke, Davis and stamped with its initials. When the mixture reached the West Virginia plant, Knowlton decanted the casks and placed it in individual Knowlton’s bottles for distribution as Knowlton’s hair tonic. Knowlton then returned the empty casks to Parke, Davis. One day, after 59 casks of a 65-cask shipment had been unloaded in West Virginia, the Federal Trade Commission swooped down on Knowlton’s plant and seized the balance of the shipment under a civil procedure called a “libel in rem” – a legal proceedings against the goods themselves – alleging the hair tonic was mis-branded because the Pure Food And Drug Act required that drugs shipped in interstate commerce for sale list their ingredients as well as state the amount of alcohol they contained.

KnowltonDanderineCo-4-1905c-1

1904 COMPANY POSTCARD

Knowlton appeared in the seizure proceeding to defend its hair tonic claiming that the mixture in the casks could not be considered a drug traveling in interstate commerce subject to the provisions of the Pure Food And Drug Act. The case was tried in the federal district court of West Virginia by a judge sitting without a jury and making his decision based upon facts which the government and Knowlton had jointly negotiated and agreed upon. Among these jointly submitted facts were stipulations: 1) that Knowlton’s hair tonic mixture did contain about ten percent alcohol; and 2) that Knowlton’s own bottles were labeled “Danderine Scalp Tonic. Alcohol 10 percent.”

EARLY BOX & BOTTLE OF KNOWLTON DANDERINE

Knowlton raised five separate lines of defense, and the court responded to each of them in turn. First, Knowlton argued that since a statute may not create a criminal violation merely by implication and the specific language of Pure Food And Drug Act only required that labeled drugs specify the amount of alcohol they contained, it followed that since the casks containing the mixture bore no labels, they fell outside the coverage of the Act. Second, Knowlton stated the Commission had not given Knowlton proper notice that it was going to examine the goods or opportunity to heard in advance of the seizure. Third, Knowlton contended that because the “package” the drug came in was the freight car delivered to the Wheeling plant and fifty-nine of the sixty-five casks had been opened and emptied, the drug had left interstate commerce and had passed outside the coverage of the Act. Fourth, Knowlton argued that the Commission’s seizing only the remaining six un-emptied casks constituted improper execution of the federal warrant drawn for sixty-five casks. Finally, Knowlton argued that the transmission of the mixture in interstate commerce between Detroit and Wheeling – albeit made by Parke, Davis in Detroit for Knowlton and sent to Knowlton in Wheeling – was not for the purpose of sale, and that since the mixture was only offered for “sale” after it was properly bottled and labeled in the Wheeling plant, the drug complied fully with the terms of the Act.

KnowltonDanderineCo-10-3

LATER BOX FOR KNOWLTON DANDERINE

The Court spurned Knowlton’s first argument as too simplistic, finding that a statute preventing the carriage in interstate commerce for sale of a mis-branded or adulterated drug could not be avoided by a bald claim that the drug was unlabeled. The Court found that the intent of the statute was to prevent manufacture or carriage for sale of any drug that was misbranded or adulterated in any particular and that Knowlton’s insistence that the drug had to bear an actual paper label before a violation could be found was an overly “technical” and narrow interpretation of the statute.

FOLDER ACCOMPANYING LATER BOX & BOTTLE

Next, the Court speedily demolished Knowlton’s second, third and fourth arguments. The Court held that by lawfully proceeding civilly “in rem” against the drug itself, the government had correctly freed itself of the notice and hearing provisions which would have been required if the action had been commenced against Knowlton personally as a criminal matter. It also set aside Knowlton’s argument that the rail car itself was the mixture’s “package” since it was not a tank car and the facts stipulated that the mixture was actually transported in 50 gallon casks. The Court then reasoned that its ruling on this third issue precluded consideration of the fourth argument. If the cask was the drug’s package, seizure of one, part or all of the casks was sufficient to effect the seizure under the warrant.

KnowltonDanderineCo-10-1b

LATER BOTTLE OF KNOWLTON DANDERINE

The Court was then left with the fifth argument. While the government contended that the goods moving from Detroit to Wheeling constituted a “sale” by the manufacturer of the hair tonic mixture, Parke, Davis, to the bottler of the mixture, Knowlton, sufficient to make its carriage in interstate commerce a transportation of a mis-branded or adulterated drug because the casks used for shipment lacked the proper indication of the amount of alcohol it contained, the Court looked at other stipulated facts as being more important. First it noted that Knowlton owned the formula for the hair tonic mixture. Second, it found that Parke, Davis was merely acting as Knowlton’s agent when it prepared the hair tonic mixture in accordance with Knowlton’s specifications. From these findings, it further determined that Parke, Davis’s transmission of the mixture from Detroit to Wheeling – although a transfer of goods between two separate, distinct and unrelated commercial entities – was simply the act of an agent transacting business with its principal for the purpose of “finishing” the goods before sale. Since Knowlton re-bottled the mixture into bottles that contained a label declaring the mixture ten percent alcohol before they were sold to the public, the transfer of the mixture from Parke, Davis’s plant in Detroit to Knowlton’s plant in Wheeling was not a “sale” within the meaning of the Pure Food And Drug Act. It further concluded that since Knowlton’s own bottles were properly labeled when presented to the public, Knowlton had complied fully with the provisions of the Act. The Court upheld Knowlton’s fifth argument, voided the seizure of the casks and ordered the mixture returned to Knowlton. The government appealed the dismissal of the seizure to the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

DETAILS OF LATER BOTTLE LABELS

The Court of Appeals swiftly affirmed the District Court’s decision in a two paragraph opinion, accepting all of the lower court’s findings, both those against Knowlton on the other defenses, but, most particularly, that the transfer from Parke, Davis in Detroit to Knowlton in Wheeling, WV, although made by means of interstate commerce, was merely for the purpose of “finishing” the goods and not a “sale” within the meaning of the Act. Reformers felt that an enormous hole had been blown in the protection the Pure Food And Drug Act afforded consumers. Rather than treating Parke, Davis and Knowlton as separate and distinct commercial entities, and thus the transfer of goods between them as an arm’s-length sale between separate and distinct parties, the Court categorized the transfer as one made between agent and principal, thus subordinating the broader social intent of the Act to keep bad medicine away from the public to a much narrower commercial doctrine of agent and principal. While the Act was amended as early as 1912 to try to close some of the gaps created by various courts in its protections, it wasn’t until 1938 that it was re-written to fully withstand such technical body blows.

Cosmetic; hair tonic.  1979.0798.235.

EVEN LATER BOX AND BOTTLE OF KNOWLTON DANDERINE

©  Malcolm A. Goldstein 2018

Standard
D, J, N, P, S

Sterling Remedy Co. (III.1) – Neuralgyline Co.; J. W. James Co.; J. G. Dodson Medicine Co.; Drake Co.; Pape, Thompson & Pape Co.

Sterling Remedy Co., Manufacturer

 Chapter 3.1 – Purchase By Neuralgyline Co.
(William E. Weiss and Albert H. Diebold)

1932c PORTRAITS OF WILLIAM E. WEISS and ALBERT H. DIEBOLD

In 1909, H. L. Kramer sold his Sterling Remedy Co. to the Neuralgyline Co. of Wheeling, WV. The principals of the new owner were William E. Weiss and Albert H. Diebold.  Because of the dizzying course of corporate growth and acquisition that they pursued, many serious students of the late Twentieth Century giant Sterling Drug, Inc. actually date its inception to the founding of the Neuralgyline Co. rather than Kramer’s Sterling Remedy Co.

SterlingRemedyCo-Neuralgine-4-1910c-1

1910c STERLING NEURALGINE AD

World-girdling institutions, such as Sterling Drug, Inc., like great nations and empires, engender founding myths.  Rome had Romulus and Remus.  Sterling Drug, Inc.’s Romulus and Remus were Weiss and Diebold. Instead of being suckled by a wolf, Weiss and Diebold grew up in Canton, OH ostensibly as childhood friends and classmates. After they graduated high school together, Weiss had matriculated at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, and, following his graduation in 1896, had gone to work in a drugstore in Sistersville, WV, a small town lying approximately 50 miles southwest of Wheeling on the Ohio River.  Diebold meanwhile joined his father’s safe and lock business. One of them happened upon an effective pain relieving medicine called Neuralgine and in 1901, they decided to form the Neuralgyline Co. to market Neuralgine in the more metropolitan Wheeling, WV.  Their oft-repeated tales continues that in two cramped and dark rooms on the second floor of a ramshackle building in Wheeling, which then constituted the offices of their fledgling company, they labored three days a week compounding their analgesic, Neuralgine, while spending another three days bouncing over rutted roads in rented buckboards hawking it to neighboring druggists. They even had to call special board meetings to authorize the expense of hiring of a stenographer, or installing a safe or telephone.  From such long days of hard work and humble beginnings did Sterling Drug ultimately soar forth.

RW-NeuralgylineCo-3a(Ad-NARDJourn(1910-v10)

1910c STERLING NEURALGINE TRADE AD

The truth is difficult to tease out from the myth, and true stories are often embellished to make them more thrilling.  Weiss and Diebold were indeed genuine businessmen with a particular genius for purchasing and exploiting popular patent medicines.  Both were born in Canton, OH: Weiss in 1879 and Diebold in 1873. Weiss did train as a pharmacist, but different sources attribute the original ownership of Neuralgine differently, and all sources agree that there is no record presently extant that attests to Neuralgine’s original composition.  One source says that Weiss first compounded  and marketed it in the Hill drugstore where he was employed in tiny Sistersville.  Others suggest that Diebold brought the product to the partnership.  While Weiss appears to have been a truly self-made man, Diebold may have had the funding and the connections necessary to create a new business. His family was already wealthy and well-known in Canton in the safe and lock business, and today, Diebold Nixdorf Corporation, originally founded by Albert Diebold’s grandfather, Carl Diebold and still headquartered in North Canton, OH, remains prominent not only in its original areas of expertise in bank vaults and fiscal security, but also in the related fields of equipment and software for all manner of self-service sales transactions and related financial services.

1886c NEURALGINE MFG. CO. ADS

What slightly muddies the tale of Weiss and Diebold toiling long hours in dark offices are ads for a patent medicine called Neuralgine dating from around 1886, some fourteen years before Weiss and Diebold appeared on the scene.  These ads were placed by a New York City based company, the Neuralgine Manufacturing Co. They followed the great patent medicine tradition of attributing the miraculous discovery of the remedy to a folk figure, such as an Indian medicine man or a wise and savvy Westerner taught firsthand by such a medicine man, who was both cognizant of the secrets of nature yet far away removed in a romanticized locale, such as the Old West, for they stated that the formula had been discovered a mere six months prior by the “celebrated physician Dr. Walter Hendricks of Montana.” Diligent Google searches reveal no such “celebrated physician” in the Old West.

 SterlingRemedyCo-Neuralgine-6-ReproAd-1

1886c NEURALGINE MFG. CO. AD (REPRODUCTION)

However, patient searches of the Neuralgine Mfg. Co. show that in Trow’s New York City Directory for 1904, its address was 24 Vandewater Street in Manhattan and its registered owner was one Henrietta Munro.  Its 1880s ads ran in the back pages of novels printed by a Norman L. Munro, whose address happened to be 24 and 26 Vandewater Street.  Norman Munro had been a publisher who became rich enough printing dime novels to afford a custom-built 48 foot luxury steam yacht (called the Henrietta) in 1886, and to replace it subsequently with an 84 foot steam yacht in 1887 and a 132 steam foot yacht in 1888. He had died at age 51 in 1894 after an emergency appendectomy undertaken within the same week after his eleven year old son had successfully survived the same operation performed by the same physician.  Henrietta Munro had continued Norman’s businesses, one of which apparently was a side line in patent medicine.

RW-NeuralgylineCo-6(1887Ad-HolyRose[The])

1887 COVER OF A NORMAN L. MUNRO BOOK CONTAINING NEURALGINE AD

One significant distinction between Munro’s Neuralgine and Weiss and Diebold’s Neuralgine must be flagged.  The former was an external remedy, perhaps a liniment, while the Neuralgine marketed by Weiss and Diebold was a pill for internal ingestion. Also, oddly, the Neuralgine Mfg. Co. of New York City was still advertising in 1905 to the trade, four years after the Neuralgyline Co. of Wheeling, WV was founded.SterlingRemedyCo-Neuralgine-10-1

STERLING REMEDY CO.’S NEURALGINE

The reconciling conclusion that emerges from these somewhat puzzling contradictory facts seems to be that Weiss’s and Diebold’s Neuralgine was a new formulation applied to a remedy acquired by, rather than invented by, Weiss and Diebold.  Two small clues in the remaining readily available extant records seem to support such a conclusion.  First, when Neuralgine was trademarked in 1907 as an internal remedy by the Neuralgyline Co. of Wheeling WV, the date of 1879 was listed as the date of its first use in trade. Had either Weiss or Diebold actually invented Neuralgine the date of first use would have been much closer to 1901.  Second, in 1902 there appeared in the columns of the drug trade publications a provocative teaser news item/ad heralding a change about to take place in Neuralgine.  The statement affirmed that despite not being advertised for several years Neuralgine was a trusted “oldtime” remedy that had maintained a steady demand because of continual medical recommendations, but alerted retailers that they must now stock up their supplies because the Company was ready to “boom” it that Fall with a new and well-funded advertising campaign.  This “item” suggests that by 1902 the widow Munro was ready to jettison some of her late husband’s minor interests and the real “manufacturers” were now Weiss and Diebold.

1902 NEURALGINE AD

RW-NeuralgylineCo-1a(Ad-20Yrs-PharmEra(1902)

 Whatever the truth of the origins of Neuralgine – whether they sweated in a dark room to formulate Neuralgine completely from scratch, or whether they applied their new formulation to a previously known patent medicine which they acquired -Weiss and Diebold quickly came to appreciate the value of unrelenting advertising, and scrupulously plowed their profits back into further advertising.  However, they soon realized that a wider line of products would produce even greater profits.

1910 STERLING REMEDY NEURALGINE TRADE ADS

Certainly the modified origin story of Neuralgine proffered in this column neatly corresponds to Weiss’s and Diebold’s later pattern of building their business. To expand their product line, Weiss and Diebold early came to the conclusion that it would be easier to purchase established products rather than try to develop their own. Their first acquisition took place in 1906 when they purchased the Knowlton Danderine Co. of Chicago, a hair tonic manufacturer.  As outlined in the prior column, Sterling Remedy Co. was acquired in 1909 principally for two of its patent medicines, a laxative, Cascarets, and its product advertised to break smoking addiction, No-To-bac. To give their company additional heft, Weiss and Diebold also bought three smaller local West Virginia patent medicine companies, the J. W. James Co. which produced an entire line of patent medicines, the J. G. Dodson Medicine Co. which marketed a product called Liver Tone, and the Drake Co., which manufactured Drake’s Palmetto Compound, and at the same time, absorbed a Cincinnati-based company called Pape, Thompson & Pape Co. whose featured commodity was Diapepsin, a remedy allegedly to treat kidneys and urinary problems.   In 1912, Weiss and Diebold purchased the California Fig Syrup Co. which brought in another laxative, Syrup of Figs, to provide additional relief for the constipation that No-To-bac seemingly produced.

SterlingRemedyCo-4-1910c-1a

SterlingRemedyCo-4-1910c-1b

1910c STERLING REMEDY CO. POSTCARD RE AD SIGNAGE

Relentless advertising kept all of these products before the public and producing profits.  By 1912, the company was worth $4 million. Fearing that the Neuralgyline name was too difficult for people to grasp, Weiss and Diebold decided to simplify it by adopting the Sterling name they had acquired from Kramer, and re-dubbed their company Sterling Products, Inc.  Eventually, the transactions that Weiss and Diebold masterminded catapulted them on the world stage and carried consequences with national implications, which is why they are generally regarded as the true founders of Sterling Drug, Inc.

The Four Smaller Companies Acquired By Weiss & Diebold In 1909

1) J. W. James Co. Cancels

1898 Revenue Stamps

JamesJWCo-2-RB21-1-1898-2R(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)     JamesJWCo-2-RB21-1-1899-1R(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)

JamesJWCo-2-RB21-1-1900-2R(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)

JamesJWCo-2-RB23-1-1900-1R(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)     JamesJWCo-2-RB23-1-1901-1R(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)

TYPE 1 CANCELS

JamesJWCo-2-RB21-2-1899-12-31-2R     JamesJWCo-2-RB23-2-1899-04-14-1R(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)

TYPE 2 CANCEL

1898 Cover and Trade Advertising Material

JamesJWCo-3-1898-1a

JamesJWCo-3-1898-1b

JamesJWCo-3-1898-1c

1904 Invoice

JamesJWCo-6-1904-1

Products

JamesJWCo-10-0a(HairTonic)

HAIR TONIC

JamesJWCo-10-2(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)

“MINATURE’ HEADACHE POWDERS

JamesJWCo-10-5(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)

LATER PACKAGING

—–

2) J. G. Dodson Medicine Co.

1915c Cover

DodsonJGMedCo-3-1915c-1(laterSterlingProductsInc)

1920 Ad

SterlingRemedyCo-DodsonJGMedCo-6a-1920-1(HoustonInformer)

Product

SterlingRemedyCo-DodsonJGMedCo-10-1

SterlingRemedyCo-DodsonJGMedCo-10-3

SterlingRemedyCo-DodsonJGMedCo-10-2

1914 Doctor’ Complaint Re Druggist’s Sale Of Dodson’s Liver To Retail Customers

SterlingRemedyCo-DodsonJGMedCo-6a-1914-1a(ComplaintReDodLtr-NARDJourn-v17)

SterlingRemedyCo-DodsonJGMedCo-6a-1914-2a(ComplaintReDodLtr-NARDJourn-v17)

—–

3) Drake Co.

1910 Ad

SterlingRemedyCo-DrakesPalmetto-6a-1910-1(BiloxiHerald)

Product

DrakeCo-10-1

—–

4) Pape, Thompson & Pape Co.

1910 Trade Ad/News Story Promising Ad Blitz (just like 1902 Neuralgine Ad)

SterlingRemedyCo-PTPCo-6a-1910-3a(ArtReDiapepsinTradeAd1-PharmEra-v43)

1910 Additional Trade Ads

SterlingRemedyCo-PTPCo-6a-1910-1a(DiapepsinTradeAd-PharmEra-v43)

—–

SterlingRemedyCo-PTPCo-6a-1910-2a(DiapepsinTradeAd-PharmEra(v43No2)

Product

Knowlton Danderine Co. and the California Fig Syrup Co. each possess histories prior to their acquisition by Weiss and Diebold that echo this story of the Neuralgyline Co. Perhaps that is why Weiss and Diebold were attracted to them.  They will subsequently each receive their own separate treatment in this column.

©  Malcolm A. Goldstein 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
S

Sterling Remedy Co. (II) – Cascarets, Mudlavia; No-Tabac

Sterling Remedy Co., Manufacturer

Chapter 2 – Formation & H. L. Kramer

STERLING REMEDY CO. CANCELS

TYPE 1

TYPE 1 BLACK CANCEL

SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB21-1g

TYPE 1 GREEN CANCEL AND GREEN CANCEL INVERTED

 SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB21-t1-1898-2(gc)     SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB21-2a(gc)

TYPE 1 GREEN CANCEL INVERTED

SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB23-t1-1898

TYPE 1 GREEN CANCEL AND BLACK CANCEL INVERTED

SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB25-t1-1898-1a     SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB25-t1-1898-2(i)

TYPE 2

BLACK CANCEL AND GREEN CANCEL

SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB21-t2-1901-03-07-1     SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB21-t2-1901-04-07-1(gc)

TYPE 2 BLACK CANCELS INVERTED

SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB23-t2-1900-12-10     SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB25-t2-1901-06-03

SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB28

H. L. KRAMER

SterlingRemedyCo-50-1(HLKPortrait)

          The Sterling Remedy Co. blossomed around 1896 under the guidance of H. L. Kramer. Kramer was yet another of those self-made men businessmen that abounded in 19th Century America. His mature photo shows him to be a man of ample girth as these titans of industry all seem to have been. On the scale of potential harm to the public, he falls somewhere between the alpha of the distantly-profiled Frank Cheney of Hall’s Catarrh Cure fame, who:  1) proclaimed all diseases, including heart disease and cancer, to be forms of “catarrhs” curable by his liquored infusion;  2) actively blocked efforts to regulate patent medicines; but  3) grew rich enough to be a patron of the arts to his locality – even while drawing continuous fire from the medical establishment; and the omega of the recently profiled George Presbury Rowell, who:  1) molded his fortune by devising the modern form of advertising, then 2) calculatedly and deliberately coupled this new art with the reliably popular selling gimmick of a miracle “patent medicine” elixir; but 3) at least calibrated his “medicine” to do no harm.

1898c STERLING REMEDY CO COVER

SterlingRemedyCo-3-1900c-1     SterlingRemedyCo-3a-1900c-1b

H. L. Kramer was born in Keokuk, IA on August 25, 1861. At age 24, in 1885, he moved to Lafayette, IN where he apparently formed a publishing and advertising company, but also held interests in, or positions with, the Humane Remedy Co., which was manufacturing a cure for opium addiction and operating a sanitarium, as well as the Universal Remedy Co., which was manufacturing No-To-bac, a cure for tobacco addiction. That he began his career by hawking addiction cures marks him as a man willing to live by the caveat emptor ethic of his time.

1892 STERLING REMEDY CO. AD

SterlingRemedyCo-6a-1892-1

           Kramer became involved with the Sterling Remedy Co. through one of his advertising clients, one John W. Heath, a local banker who owned the company and employed Kramer to investigate whether he should invest in the development of a local healing spring. Kramer made a favorable assessment and Heath invested. Kramer took charge of the development of the project, but Heath soon brought litigation to have him replaced, claiming that Kramer was wasting or misappropriating the development company’s funds. Heath’s motion to replace Kramer was denied, but when other creditors also complained they were not getting paid, the court tossed out Kramer. When it looked like Kramer’s career in nostrums had been cut short and he would leave Indiana for greener pastures, Heath’s own financial management of the health resort project brought on “nervous prostration” that – fortuitously for Kramer – caused Heath to drop dead at age 50.

1895 MUDLAVIA COVER

SterlingRemedyCo-MagnoMud&LithiaCure-3-1895c-1aSterlingRemedyCo-MagnoMud&LithiaCure-3-1895c-1b

          Kramer found a new financial backer in the person of Ambrose L. Thomas, a senior partner in the advertising agency Lord & Thomas of Chicago (some of whose history was recounted in the article concerning the B. J. Johnson Soap Co.) and bought out Heath’s widow’s interests in both the medicinal springs and the Sterling Remedy Co. The health spa operation was soon renamed the Indiana Springs Co. By mid-1891, Kramer had finished the planned hotel and successfully launched it as a fashionable Midwestern health resort. Over the generation that it remained prominent and popular it became known as “Mudlavia,” because the springs specialized in mud bath cures. Kramer married in 1892 and soon installed his wife and their two sons on the fourth floor of the hotel. They continued to live there until a fire destroyed the building in 1920, at which time it was estimated that the Kramers suffered a personal loss of $25,000 in jewelry and furniture.

1895 CASCARETS COVER

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-3-1895c-1a     SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-3-1895c-1b

          As well as overseeing the Mudlavia resort, Kramer also became the general manager of the Sterling Remedy Co. He combined No-To-bac from the Universal Remedy Co. with the two products that Sterling apparently had already been producing. One was Cascarets, a natural laxative made from bark of the buckthorn shrub, a plant long recognized to possess such cathartic properties. The other was Dr. Hobb’s Spargus Kidney Pills. Among these products, Cascarets soon emerged as the big seller. A story that circulated was that No-To-bac tended to make people constipated, so Kramer introduced Cascarets to relieve the problem. However, the impetus behind this sudden surge of popularity of Cascarets was an enormous infusion of advertising money, and when the Sterling Remedy Co. incorporated in 1896, not surprisingly its President and Vice-President were the self-same Daniel M. Lord and Ambrose L. Thomas of the Chicago advertising agency Lord & Thomas. By 1900, Kramer boasted he was spending $400,000 per year to advertise Cascarets and predicted that he would soon be spending $1,000,000. While (like George Presbury Rowell), Lord and Thomas, already advertising millionaires, owned a large share of the Sterling Remedy Co., by 1898, at age 37, Kramer had joined them as a fellow millionaire.

AD POSTCARD FOR DR. HOBB’S SPARGUS KIDNEY PILLS 1900c

Some sources claim that the true genius behind the advertising for Sterling Remedy Co. was George Ade (1866-1944), later recognized as a journalist, writer and playwright, whom it is said Kramer lured into Sterling’s advertising department by doubling the salary he was earning at a local newspaper. If that story is true, it is not reflected in a 1896 article that reviewed Kramer’s management team at Sterling in Attica, IN, which was headed by one Major A. B. Schanz, the company’s secretary, a civil war veteran. (Perhaps because his aide was a civil war major, Kramer, although he was far too young to have participated in the Civil War, was also often referred to by his contemporaries as “Major” Kramer.) By then, the company was operating “branch offices” in Chicago, New York City, Montreal and London. Among the dazzling numbers thrown about in this article praising the company were the fifteen million Cascarets tablets given away by the company as samples every year, the $30,000 spent on postage every year by company corresponding with 40,000 retail druggists and the 4,000 checks written every month, not including employees’ salaries (which were paid in cash). There was a full printing department with two printing presses turning out 30,000 “impressions” per day of circulars, booklets and other advertising material serving a mailing department of seventy-five “young ladies” who addressed the envelopes.

1905 MUDLAVIA COVER AND LETTER

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-3-1905-1a

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-3-1905-1b

          Once established as a millionaire, Kramer invested extensively in mining, publishing and other ventures. Eventually, he became a member of the Board of Directors of Lord & Thomas. He ran Sterling Remedy Co. flamboyantly until 1909 when he sold the company to a group from Wheeling, WV. In 1916, he turned active management of Mudlavia over to one of his son to concentrate on his other holdings. The resort never recovered from the fire in 1920, and his fortune began to wane. In the late 1920s, Kramer ran into legal difficulties, including allegations of mail fraud, in connection with oil lease speculation on land holdings both in California and outside St. Louis, MO. The stock market crash in 1929 diminished his fortune further, and he retired to Lafayette, IN where he lived modestly until he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1935 at age 74 in its auto license registration bureau.

Sterling Remedy Co. Products

Cascarets

Showing 1919 Proprietary Revenue Stamp

Showing Canadian Proprietary Medicine Stamp

Cascarets Transferred To The R. L. Watkins Division Of The Company

Chocolate Flavor Added

Another Version

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-10b-7(Cocorets)

Modernized In The 1950s

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-10c-1a(CascaretsIncHewlettNY)

Comic Postcards 1900 to 1910

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-4-1905c-1a     SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-4-1905c-2a

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-4-1909-1a     Cascarets, Sterling Remedy Company Chicago, IL

Trade Cards and Signs

Ads

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-6a-1900-1a

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-6a-1920-1     SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-6a-1906-1

Novelties

Mirrors

Pillboxes

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-25-6a(PillBox)

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-25-6b(PillBox)

Coins – Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

 

Radio Show Puzzle

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-25-5a(Puzzle)

SterlingRemedyCo-Cascarets-25-5b(Puzzle)

Mudlavia

Contemporary Views Of Hotel

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-3-1913-1a

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-4-1910c-1

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-6-2     SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-6-3

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-4-1910c-4

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-6-6

Brochure And Complementary Pass

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-6-1

Treatment Regimen

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-4-1905c-2a

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-6-5

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-4-1910c-1a

1945 Hotel Rebuild With Ruins Of Original In Background

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-4-1945-1a

Current View Of Original Hotel

SterlingRemedyCo-Mudlavia-6-7(Bldg-2017-05-05 at 9.08.55 AM)

No-To-Bac

Trade Card And Advertising  Material

SterlingRemedyCo-NoTobac-5-1a     SterlingRemedyCo-NoTobac-5-2a

Dr. Hobb’s Spargus Kidney Pills

Ad

SterlingRemedyCo-DrHobbsSparagusKidneyPills-6a-1899-1b

©  Malcolm A. Goldstein 2018

 

Standard
S

Sterling Remedy Co. (I)

Sterling Remedy Co. , Manufacturer

Chapter 1 – Introduction

SterlingRemedyCo-2-RB21-1g

STERLING REMEDY CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

The history of the American pharmaceutical industry is one of ceaseless expansion achieved by a handful of companies relentlessly gobbling up their competitors.  Fully recounting the story of the Sterling Remedy Co. demonstrates this pattern of growth, for, by the time its successor, Sterling Drug Inc., was itself dismembered in 1994, it had through its acquisitions come to enfold within its ambit some 130 other companies – patent medicine, drug, cosmetics and otherwise.  Often these engulfed companies had themselves formed through mergers of even smaller patent medicine businesses that had also cancelled battleship revenue stamps.  Thus, while there were thousands of entities that cancelled proprietary revenue stamps to comply with the 1898 tax regulations, there were only about ten major drug companies in the United States in the year 2000.

An Overview Of The Companies Absorbed

Below is a display of those patent medicine companies that both cancelled proprietary revenue stamps and were ultimately assimilated by Sterling Drug, Inc.  It is arranged in chronological order to show the manner in which Sterling evolved.  Where necessary, to explain particular twists in its evolution, the chart includes other patent medicine companies that formed either before or after the Spanish-American War period. Depending on when they had begun to sell patent medicines, some of these companies themselves had cancelled earlier or later proprietary revenue stamps which will also be displayed.  To add an additional complicating factor to this study, Sterling did not always buy an entire patent medicine company, but rather only its single most popular product.  On one occasion, it first purchased one brand and then later bought the remainder of the company.  Some of the companies that sold only a product line to Sterling continued on their own as pharmaceutical companies, and on one major occasion, Sterling also divested itself of some of the very companies it had assimilated. All of these diverging pathways also will be noted.  Most of the companies and patent medicines  purchased by Sterling continued to exist and be marketed under their own names, but products sometimes shifted from division to division within the company.  Where evident, these changes will be noted as well.  In fact, because of the way Sterling grew, it became a model for the conglomerate corporation, a type of company popular in the late Twentieth Century which consisted of many successful businesses in varying and often unrelated fields strung together like beads on a single senior corporate management necklace.  This study does not attempt to exhaustively list every company that became part of Sterling, nor does it include any of the various different companies in more remote fields, such as floor wax, that Sterling came to encompass in its far-flung conglomerate divisions.

Subsequent chapters of this Sterling Remedy Co. column will discuss the peculiar wrinkles of the various patent medicine companies, and their products, that were consumed by Sterling, as well as displaying the colorful propaganda and product packaging used to persuade the public to buy these products.

CHRONOLOGICAL FORMATION OF STERLING DRUG, INC.

1890c – Sterling Remedy Co. – launched by H. L. Kramer

1901 – Neuralgyline Co. formed – principals William E. Weiss, Albert H. Diebold

1906 – Knowlton Danderine Co. purchased by Neuralgyline Co.

KnowltonDanderineCo-2-RB23-1R(ChicagoIL)

POSSIBLE KNOWLTON DANDERINE CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1909 – Sterling Remedy Co. purchased by Neuralgyline Co. and combined with J. W. James Co., J. G. Dodson Medicine Co., Drake Co., Pape, Thompson & Pape Co.

JamesJWCo-2-RB21e-1R(SterlingProductsIncSucessor)

J. W. JAMES CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1912 – California Fig Syrup Co. purchased by Neuralgyline Co.

CalifFigSyrCo-2-RB25-1R

CALIFORNIA FIG SYRUP CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1917 – Neuralgyline Co. name changed to Sterling Product, Inc.

Sterling Products I – Companies Purchased

1918 – Farbenfabriken Bayer (American Assets)

Bayer-2-RB25(FarbenfabrikenOfElberfeldCo)

FARBENFABRIKEN BAYER CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1920c – Wells Richardson & Co.

WellsRichardson-2-RB23-1R

WELLS RICHARDSON & CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1923 – The Charles H. Phillips Co.

PhillipsChasH[The]-2-RB24

THE CHARLES H. PHILLIPS CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1925c – Bovinine Co.

1925c – The Centaur Co.

CentaurCo-2-3-RB21-1R

THE CENTAUR CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1926 – American Home Products Co. formed encompassing parts of Wyeth Chemical Co. (John Wyeth & Brother), W. H. Hill Co.’s Cascara, O. H. Jadwin Co., Kolynis Co., Pepsin Syrup Co., St. Jacob’s Oil Co., Whitehall Pharmacal Co. (including Manhattan Medicine Co. and its Atwood Bitters)

Wyeth-2-RB20-t0-1898-06-29R(p-rc)

JOHN WYETH & BROTHER CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

     HillWH-2-RB23-1R

W. H. HILL CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

         KolynosCo-2-RB48-1R(laterWhitehallLabs)

KOLYNIS CO. CANCEL ON 1914 PROPRIETARY REVENUE ISSUE

          PepsinSyrup-2-RB21-1R(WBCaldwell)

PEPSIN SYRUP CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1928 – Antidolor Manufacturing Co.

1928 – Scott & Bowne

Scott&Bowne-2-RB21-1R

SCOTT & BOWNE CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

The Major Merger And The Formation of Drug, Inc.

1928 – United Drug Co. encompassing the Louis K. Liggett Co., Owl Drug Co., Rexall Drug Co. and the English Boots Drug Store chain

UnitedDrugCo-2-RB46

UNITED DRUG CO. CANCEL ON 1914 PROPRIETARY REVENUE ISSUE

LiggettLK-2-RB66-1R

LOUIS K. LIGGETT CO. CANCEL ON 1919 PROPRIETARY REVENUE ISSUE

         OwlDrugCo-2-RB20-1R

THE OWL DRUG CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

          RexallDrugCo-2-RB65-1R(TheRexallStore)(SeeAlsoUnitedDrugCo)

A REXALL DRUG STORE CANCEL ON 1919 PROPRIETARY REVENUE ISSUE

1928 – Drug, Inc. merger which brought together Sterling Products, Inc., United Drug Co., the outside pharmaceutical companies Bristol-Myers Co. and Vicks Chemical Co. and the outside candy maker Life Savers Co.

1933 – Drug, Inc. “unmerged” back into its constituent parts

Sterling Products II – Acquisitions

1934 – R. L. Watkins Co. including I. W. Lyon & Sons

Lyon IW-2-RB23-101-1R

I. W. LYON & SONS CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1937 – American Ferment Co.

Am FermentCo-2-RB28-1cR

AMERICAN FERMENT CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1942 – Sterling Products, Inc. name changed to Sterling Drug, Inc.

Sterling Drug, Inc. – The Later Acquisitions

1944 – Frederick Stearns Co. including Nyal Co.

StearnsFrederick&Co-2-RB20

FREDERICK STEARNS CO. CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

NyalCo-2-RB45-1R

NYAL CO. CANCEL ON 1914 PROPRIETARY REVENUE ISSUE

1946 – Fairchild Bros & Foster (which has already been profiled in this column)

FairchildBros&Foster-2-RB23-1898-07-07

FAIRCHILD BROS. & FOSTER CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1966 – Lehn & Fink including A. S. Hinds

Lehn&Fink-2-RB21-1R[laterSterlingDrugCo]

LEHN & FINK CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP PROPRIETARY REVENUE

HindsAS-2-RB20a

A. S. HINDS CANCEL ON BATTLESHIP REVENUE

1988 – Sterling Drug, Inc. Purchased By Eastman Kodak, Inc.

1994 – Assets Of Sterling Drug, Inc. Sold To Various Other Drug Companies

©  Malcolm A. Goldstein 2018

Standard
R

Ripans Chemical Co.

Ripans Chemical Co., Manufacturer

4 RECOGNIZED TYPES OF RIPANS CANCELS

Type 1

RipansChemCo-2-RB20-t1-1898(rc)-1 RipansChemCo-2-RB23-t1-1898(rc)

RipansChemCo-2-RB25-t1-1898c(rc) RipansChemCo-2-RB28-t1-1898a(rc)

Type 2

RipansChemCo-2-RB20-t2-1899-01-21(rc) RipansChemCo-2-RB23-t2-1899-04-17(rc) RipansChemCo-2-RB25-t2-1899-02-21(rc) RipansChemCo-2-RB26-t2-1899-06-08(rc)

Type 3

RipansChemCo-2-RB20-t3-1900-10-15(rc) RipansChemCo-2-RB23-t3-1900-02-17(rc)

RipansChemCo-2-RB25-t3-1899-02-21(rc) RipansChemCo-2-RB26-t3-1900-03-08(rc)

Type 4

RipansChemCo-2-RB20-t6-1899-10-24 RipansChemCo-2-RB28-t6-1901-05-09 RipansChemCo-2-RB31-t6-1900-10-17(hs&hw)

COLLECTION OF RIPANS CHEMICAL CO. CANCELS

RipansChemCo-2z-Coll4b

The ubiquitous red Ripans Chemical Co., “R. C. Co.,” cancel, usually seen on the 1/8 cent value, Scott RB 20, appears in revenue stamp lots about as frequently as the Thomas Dunn cancel discussed in an earlier article. At least one copy turns up in every revenue stamp collection, but often there are multiple copies. Since they are as unavoidable as mosquitos, this article explains the cancel’s origin.

RowellPortrait-1905-2(Book)

Ripans Chemical Co. was the creation of one man, George Presbury Rowell. Like most of the Nineteenth Century personalities profiled in this series of columns, Rowell was a self-made man who ascended from humble origins to shape his own fortune. Unlike the dedicated scientists, who genuinely intended their benevolent remedies to relieve the word’s pain, or the monomaniacal zealots who wrongheadedly believed their exotic elixirs might actually relieve the world’s suffering, Rowell’s chosen profession had nothing to do with the science of medicine. More akin to – but hardly the same as – the calculating cheaters who slopped their phony alcohol laced concoctions together in their hotel bathtubs in the afternoons before siphoning them into bottles to hawk at their medicine tent show revival meetings at night, Rowell was, in fact, the advertising man who cashed in on the patent medicine boom. He stands as the diametric opposite of the previously profiled Charles Austin Bates, whom studious readers will recall went bust with his nostrum, Laxacola.

RipansChemCo-3-1896-1(RowellAdAgncy)

1896 ROWELL AD AGENCY COVER

As a pioneer ad man, Rowell knew how to craft words, and the juiciest of his experiences are best recounted in his own voice. He did publish his memoir – Forty Years An Advertising Agent – in 1905, but it was not a conventional biography in any sense. Rather, it was a collection of fifty-two extremely loosely organized vignettes about the newspaper and advertising businesses as he observed them develop during his life and the personalities of his contemporaries (living and mostly dead – men like the now largely forgotten newspaperman and political satirist David Ross Locke, who wrote under the pseudonym Petroleum V. (for Vesuvius) Nasby and entertained the likes of Senator Charles Sumner and Abraham Lincoln). Part reminiscence, part how-to book, part advice, he printed these articles originally in his own magazine, Printer’s Ink, the first advertising trade journal, which also he originated.

PrintersInkCover-REV

10/19/92 PRINTER’S INK COVER

While concentrating on sly, acidic, penetrating observations of his acquaintances, he treated his own family as nonexistent, only teasingly and fleetingly interspersing biographical hints about his own life. For example, as a keen observer of newspapers and their markets, he identified his birthplace only by stating that his father was a Whig and he was born somewhere within the area reached both by the Caledonian, a Whig newspaper printed in St. Johnsbury, VT, which his father read, and the North Star, a Democrat newspaper printed in the nearby, smaller Dansville, VT, which his nearest neighbor followed. In another place he described the entire area as “a primitive forest region.” Once, on a passport application, Rowell called his birthplace “Vermont,” and an obituary fixed his birthplace as Concord, VT. Other documents, like a census document filed by another for the building he was living in, identified it as “New Hampshire,” as do many current web sites. In his reminisces, the only other clue he gave about his impoverished birth circumstances was that his and the neighbor’s families shared a “single log cabin.” Similarly, although prominently identifying his father’s political predilection, he actually mentioned his father’s name only in an explanatory footnote over two hundred pages later in the course of relating an anecdote about his distant relationship to a man from Hawaii who was described to him as his twin and who identified himself as bearing the same last name when the two met at the Philadelphia World’s Fair of 1876. He never discussed his schooling, or gave any detail of his family life, mentioning only in passing that his wife (apparently the first of two women, both unnamed and un-described in his book, and identified only from other sources) accompanied him when he moved from Boston to New York City.

RowellPortrait-1856

1856 ROWELL PORTRAIT

While Rowell devoted several chapters of his book to his hunting and sporting hobbies, and used these discussions as a springboard to describe the vivid personalities he met and social connections he made in the course of pursuing these hobbies, he never talked about his family. Perhaps the fact that he had no son, a circumstance that he mentioned in his last article while discussing the steps he took to conclude his business career before he retired, deterred him from addressing this subject more fully. The closest he came to delving into his personal life was a chapter devoted to Willow Brook, his estate in Tarrytown, NY, on property adjoining Washington Irving’s Sunnyside that had been owned by Irving’s brother, but even that discussion was more a listing of the kinds of trees found on the estate than the personalities that inhabited the manor house.

RowellAgencyAd-1869-PutnamsMag

1869 ROWELL ADVERTISING AGENCY AD

A time line of Rowell’s life can be constructed from the stories he related. Born on July 4, 1838 (elicited from various scattered asides by Rowell and independently confirmed from genealogical data), his description of his childhood is framed largely in terms of recollections of patent medicine ads:

Insert-1A-RowellsEarlyMems

In 1858, he moved permanently to Boston, after an earlier attempt in 1856 was thwarted by the economic depression of 1857. There he found a job in the advertising department of the Post newspaper, where he began as a bill collector, but soon realized that his talent lay in soliciting ads and persuaded his superiors to use him in that capacity as well. During his tenure at the Post, he undertook his first independent advertising project when he arranged to prepare for the Boston theaters a playbill similar to the one that he saw being distributed in the New York theaters. Even though he turned a profit on the single transaction, he decided this venture would not support him. However, the experience showed him that he had to open his own business.

RowellPortrait-1865

1865 ROWELL PORTRAIT

After seven years with the Post, he purchased a small magazine which printed updates of railroad timetable once a week, and, with another young colleague, opened his own office in Boston in 1864. His initial idea was to make his money by expanding the number of subscribers to his magazine, but he soon evolved a larger plan. He began to gather the names of newspapers and pair them with advertisers who wanted to buy advertising space in them. As the medium of exchange between advertisers and newspapers, he unwittingly launched himself into the advertising agency business. He was not the very first to open such an agency, nor was he the only one to do so, but he was among the most innovative and successful.

1870c EXTERIOR IMAGES AND PICTURE OF ROWELL’S AD AGENCY

The manner in which Rowell collected his fee was to charge the advertiser a pre-arranged price per line, have the newspaper print the ad as submitted and bill him at the quoted rate. When Rowell paid the newspaper, he took a negotiated “rebate” from the billed amount. For example, if the ad charge was 20¢ a line and the ad was five lines long, Rowell would charge the advertiser $1. The newspaper would run the ad and bill Rowell $1, which he, in turn, billed to the advertiser. The advertiser would pay Rowell’s invoice. If Rowell’s negotiated rebate with the newspaper was 10%, he then remitted 90¢ to the newspaper and pocketed the other 10¢ as his commission. Rowell claimed that as an organized agency handling only newspaper advertising space, he could apply economics of scale to benefit both large and small advertisers to negotiate better rates than the advertisers themselves could obtain directly from either large or small newspapers. Rowell even advertised that he acted as proprietor for a group of select small papers across the country in which he could guarantee even lower rates by supplanting their individual need for their own advertising departments.

RipansChemCo-4-1891-1a(RowellAdAgncy)

1894 ROWELL AGENCY POSTCARD DEMANDING COPY OF PAPER DEMONSTRATING AD PLACEMENT

Recognizing that New York was an even busier commercial city than Boston, Rowell soon opened a branch office there, and within a another year or two, after buying his partner out, he moved there himself. In New York City, he grandiosely set up his office in the New York Times Building, then on Park Row across from City Hall. By 1868, he claimed he was earning over $54,000 a year, which he noted wryly earned him a separate dining table for “his family” in their boarding house. “His family” was never further described nor mentioned again.

RowellOfficeInterior-NewYork(1869)

1870c INTERIOR IMAGE OF ROWELL’S OFFICE

Shortly thereafter, he made his first big innovation in advertising. He undertook to organize and issue the first printed listing of every newspaper in the country, Rowell’s American Newspaper Directory. While drawn upon an English model, Rowell went beyond just setting forth the names of papers. He also compiled and printed other information useful to advertisers: publication frequency; political inclination; number of pages; size of pages; subscription cost; names of editor and publisher; and, from Rowell’s standpoint most innovatively, circulation information.

RipansChemCo-3-1886c-1(RowellAdAgncy)

1890c RETURN ENVELOPE FOR ROWELL’S AMERICAN NEWSPAPER DIRECTORY

Rowell admitted that his directory supplied his advertising competitor’s with useful information, but he determined the risk was worth it. He also acknowledged he could not sustain compilation and publication of the volume merely on its $5 annual subscription fee. His way of offsetting that cost was listing on his books an advertising charge against each of the papers listed in the directory. With larger papers, Rowell stated such charges were “as good as money in the cash drawer” for him, but with smaller papers the charge was often bartered in return for free advertising space granted to Rowell by those papers. As will be discussed further below, Rowell denied that the availability of such free advertising space ever benefitted him in any material way, and also denied that his listings of the circulation figures of the various newspapers were in any way influenced by the amount of advertising space they bought in his directory. He even lamented, at some length, the amount of enmity engendered by allegations that he used his estimates of papers’ circulation as a means of blackmailing them, and emphatically denied all such charges.

RipansChemCo-6a-1899-1a

1899 AD

Around 1870, Rowell authored one of the early guides to conducting an advertising business, which is apparently still read in schools that teach advertising. As an advertising agent, Rowell operated by his own strict set of practices, which he expounded in an 1875 brochure that he reproduced over twelve pages of small print in his recollections. He caused that reproduction to be set in special smaller type so that knowledgeable readers could skip it, if they so chose, but felt obliged to include it in his memoirs because advertising was a relatively new industry. He showed that early newspapers relied upon subscriptions for their revenue and regarded advertising revenue purely as an incidental source of income. Because of the great number of newspapers springing up all around the country, within Rowell’s lifetime, advertising agents began to represent newspaper publishers, negotiating the price of advertising for the publishers, and, as he pioneered, accepting their negotiated commission as their fees. Through Rowell’s influence, advertising rates gradually came to be measured in terms of cost per line and agents’ commission percentage came to be fixed by custom. To potential advertisers, Rowell stressed, the ad agents could offer a list of newspapers and their per line advertising rates, but could then negotiate on behalf of the advertisers additional discounts from these rates to boost the effectiveness of the advertising by reducing its per line cost while broadening its spread. Competition kept ad agency commissions in line.

RipansChemCo-6a-1899-3a

1899 AD

In Rowell’s time, the art of the advertising agency came to be the fit it could negotiate between its advertisers’ budgets and the effective scope of advertising these budgets would buy in order to produce a return to the advertisers sufficient to induce them to advertise again. Rowell elaborated upon the differences between general advertising agents who arranged advertising for a great number of papers, and special advertising agents who arranged advertising for only a few newspapers, mainly in large cities. Curiously, at this time, the content of the ads did not seem to be the primary focus of advertising agents. Only later, largely after Rowell’s time, did the agencies assume the role of developing and executing the ad campaigns themselves, which seems to indicate that modern advertising agencies appear to have evolved from the general advertising agents, as Rowell was, rather than the specific agents, as the quality of the advertisements which filled the advertising space became increasingly important.

RipansChemCo-6a-1900c-1a

1900c AD

Rowell also described the origins of the Associated Press as a pooling of news reporting services among American newspapers for the gathering of foreign news for distribution in America, but regarded it, in his time, as a closed fraternity controlled by big city newspaper publishers, either in New York or Chicago, and opined that if the great Nineteenth Century financial manipulators, like Jay Gould, had gained control of the newspapers, as he thought they had unsuccessfully attempted to do, American society might have developed much differently. He contrasted the Associated Press with its competitor, the English newspaper association Reuters, and attributed American sympathy for Japan in the then very recent Russo-Japanese War, to the influence of Reuters because it supplied American newspapers with much of their coverage of that War. Perhaps because of his unremitting focus upon the monetary aspects of the newspaper business, Rowell seems to have held a remarkably jaded view of the mechanics of newspaper reporting itself.

RowellsNewpaperPavillion(1876WorldsFair)

1876 DRAWING OF ROWELL’S PAVILION AT CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION

In 1876, Rowell accepted an invitation from the chairman of the Centennial Exposition (who also happened to own a particularly influential newspaper in Hartford, CT) to organize a newspaper exhibit at the fair in Philadelphia. Rowell was then listing no less than 8,129 newspapers in his Directory and he undertook to have a copy of each paper available for inspection the exhibit’s large tent. The newspapers were arranged on the tent’s shelves in the order listed in the Directory and visitors to the Exposition were invited to come in to the tent to read their local news while away from home. Rowell claimed the exhibit cost him $20,000 and that he never directly received any advertising contracts in return for his effort, but drew his satisfaction as he traveled around the country from overhearing people recount to their friends how they had caught up on the local news at the Centennial Exposition at his exhibit. Rowell also claimed that he gave his complete set of newspapers collected for the exhibit to the Library of Congress after selling two other sets to the Vatican and to a collector in Tasmania.

RipansAd-1898Ad

1898 AD

In 1880, Rowell decided to indulge his desire to become a gentleman farmer. For approximately the next seven years, he claimed that he relinquished daily oversight of his advertising agency to his colleagues while he purchased and managed a farm back in his native Vermont. Although he employed the latest agricultural techniques and the finest livestock, he found the endeavor a constant financial drain. He also dabbled and lost as a local Republican politician, and tried his hand, he averred most comically and unsuccessfully, at being the publisher of a local weekly newspaper. He returned to New York in time for the great blizzard of 1888, which – by virtue of securing a promise from the cabbie who drove him to work to return to pick him up and deliver him back to his lodging – he claimed not to notice the magnitude of until reading the next day that the noted Republican politician Roscoe Conkling died after contracting pneumonia while trying to walk to work the same day.

RipansChemCo-6a-1900c-3a

1900c AD

In 1888, Rowell began to publish his own advertising industry trade journal, which he called Printer’s Ink. Although this publication was the first to be devoted specifically to the trade of advertising, and Rowell allowed that he had envisioned such a publication for several years and even thought of naming it for himself, he treated its actual innovation as a largely casual event, averring that he authorized its founding at the precise moment he did because he happened to own an interest in a printing firm and needed to create a job for a promising young acquaintance. He off-handedly provided the young man with a dusty bunch of his privately scrawled thoughts about advertising that he had amassed over several years and turned him loose. He then bragged off-handily that the paper “was more quoted for a time than any other paper published, and to this day I find myself able to identify wise paragraphs about advertising floating through the columns of the press, that, if they could speak, would proclaim themselves children of my – shall I say brain?” He further modestly claimed that once launched, Printer’s Ink thereafter had more than two hundred imitators.

RipansChemCo-6a-1897-1

1897 AD

Turning to Rowell’s connection with Ripans Tabules, Rowell claimed that he was neither the first nor the most successful advertising agent to own a proprietary medicine. He identified several notable and popular medicines that were owed by his contemporaries:

Insert-2-AdvertisersWhoOwnedPatentMeds

Still, Rowell’s story of the creation of Ripans Tabules remains the most complete and dispassionate account of how a completely non-medical person calculated the pros and cons of entering the patent medicine business and shaped his actions to maximize his monetary benefit.

Insert-3A-RowellsCalculationRePropArt

Rowell then recounted his early attempts to find a suitable product. He promote a competitor of Redding’s Russia Salve, a product from the Civil War era (its proprietary stamp is RS 198), but since that balm had already passed its peak of popularity, the advertising campaign did not generate much interest. He tried advertising a skin cream originally owned by Samuel C. Upham. (As an aside, Upham was a Philadelphia dealer in patent medicine, perfume and notions whose principal present claim to fame is the fifteen million dollars worth of fraudulent Confederate money and stamps, including twenty-eight different note designs and fifteen stamp designs, he generated and circulated during the Civil War – claimed by a Confederate senator to have done more damage to the Confederate cause than Gen. McClellan and his army – which are now collected as “Upham facsimiles.”) However, Upham’s cream too had already played out its popularity. He experimented with promoting a product duplicating the popular remedy Fellows’ Hypophosphites, but dropped it when a lawyer warned him that the name he had picked for his elixir was owned by someone else. He tried to purchase a half interest in Dr. I. W. Lyon’s extremely popular Tooth Powder (still available on the Internet today) only to have Dr. Lyon call off the sale at the very last moment. He even went so far as to advertise in the New York Herald and his own Printer’s Ink seeking an appropriate proprietary article.

RipansChemCo-6a-1901-1

1901 AD

Many innovators submitted samples of their concoction for Rowell’s approval, and he finally found the characteristics he deemed just right:

Insert-4C-CorrectFormula

Rowell used his acquaintances who were doctors as medical advisors to assist him in creating the product he desired. The only doctor to whom he ever gave credit by name for his input was Dr. John McGaw Woodbury, even then more acclaimed as the reforming Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation than as a physician, although he relied much more upon Woodbury’s assistant, referred to (and pictured in Rowell’s book) only as “Fred” for aid in the actual development of his medication. Rowell thought he had found what he was looking for when Fred suggested he use as his medicine a fairly humdrum, generic kind of mild laxative formula, composed principally of rhubarb and soda, that had been prescribed by doctors for a hundred years. Rowell immediately had a batch of the formula mixed up, but it looked awful and stained anything it touched.

Insert-5C-HorribleConcoction

Rowell rejected the product, but kept the bottles around to show his physician friends. Finally, the pieces all fit together one day when Fred suggested that the required ingredients could be now be compressed into a tablet. Rowell immediately ordered a hundred tablets delivered to his then New York residence (which Rowell slyly mentioned was the former mansion of Frank Tilford (of Park & Tilford, previously chronicled in these columns)). The pills entirely suited his purpose, and having determined the identity of his product, he plunged immediately into naming it. The solution he arrived at rivaled the ingenuity of George Eastman’s Kodak:

Insert-6-RipansName

Rowell was also careful to select his own individual name for the pill itself that he was selling, which differentiated it from every other tablet on the market. He explained the distinction in an exchange which he recorded with Dr. R. V. Pierce of the World’s Dispensary Medical Association of Buffalo, New York (a subject for future study, described by the New York Times in 1894 as looking more like a “poet and dreamer” than like “one of America’s shrewdest businessmen and among its most remarkable advertisers” that he really was):

Insert-7A-PierceExchangeReTabules

Having worked so hard to find the right product to offer and to create a unique identity for it, Rowell could truly bring his expertise to bear in the area of marketing Ripans Tabules to the public. Although he claimed never to profit directly from the space he reserved in the various newspapers in return for listing them in his Directory, when he was ready to market his Ripans Tabules, he had readily available to him, and was able to devote to such advertising, some $125,000 of such free space in various newspapers and journals all over the country. In other words, his opening advertising campaign on behalf of Ripans Tabules, which cost him nothing out-of-pocket, in today’s dollars would be worth over $3.2 million. Such an advertising launch hardly seems to match Rowell’s claim of never using his position to further his own interest, but he was characteristically modest about the achievements such advertising ultimately achieved:

Insert-8a-RowellsUseOfAdSpace

Even though Rowell claimed his Ripans Tabules were the first patent medicine to be marketed in tablet form, the correct pricing of the product seemed always to cause Rowell some difficulty (as it did many others as well). Rowell applied his own twist to the problem by mining the very bottom of the market. Over the criticism of no less a figure in the wholesale drug trade than Charles Crittenton (previously profiled in these columns) who was extremely reluctant to handle that small a size, Rowell decided to market his Tabules at five cents a package. The tax on such a package is reflected in the 1/8 cent value of the RB20.

Insert-9CA-RowellOnSuccess

While Rowell could never get doctors of the caliber of John McGaw Woodbury to endorse his product, he did receive an endorsement from John H. Woodbury, whom readers of this column have already met in connection with his tussle with Andrew Jergens over the purchase of Woodbury Facial Soap, a product itself still selling well into the 1950s.

RipansChemCo-1899Ad

1899 AD

Ultimately Rowell felt he had established Ripans Tabules well enough to cease advertising entirely by 1905. He pronounced the residual return entirely satisfactory:

Insert-9CB-RowellOnOverallEvaluationOfRipans

Albeit his humility about his patent medicine achievements, Rowell closed his book by quoting all of the glowing encomiums, testimonials and tributes rendered to him at an industry dinner given to him upon his final retirement from the advertising business in 1905.

Insert-10C-TributeToRowell

Rowell boasted that he represented “American newspapers – not only the newspapers in the city of New York and of all other American cities, Religious, Agricultural and other class newspapers – but also the small country journals.” But he confined himself to newspapers only and accepted no advertisements for “books, signboards, posters or job printing.” He represented newspapers only in the United States and Canada with the sole exception of acting as agent “for the Levant Herald, published at Constantinople.” Unfortunately, Rowell omitted the origins of that representation which might have made a colorful and unusual anecdote. Actually, because he limited his advertising business to representation of newspapers exclusively, Rowell probably picked the right time to retire. Even by the turn of the Twentieth Century, national magazines had supplanted local newspapers as the trend setters for public taste in America. One example of that newly found influence was that it was the series of articles about patent medicine in the national magazine Collier’s that finally spurred the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

RipansAd-1896SFCASwedishPaper

1896 AD IN SAN FRANCISCO, CA SWEDISH NEWSPAPER

The testimonial dinner in 1905 was Rowell’s last hurrah. He died on August 22, 1908 at Poland Springs, ME, itself a health resort and the source of Poland Springs Water (which may – if this column lasts long enough to finish the over one thousand identifiable battleship proprietary stamp cancelling entities – some day get its own profile in another series of columns devoted to the wider scope of the quasi-health industry encompassing sanitariums, health spas and mineral springs). His legacy had a mixed afterlife. Rowell detailed the arrangements he made for the disposition of his advertising businesses in his book and had no direct involvement in the advertising industry after 1905. His American Newspaper Directory was absorbed in 1909 by the American Newspaper Annual & Directory published by the advertising agency N. W. Ayer & Sons, a former competitor of Rowell’s, but his trade journal, Printer’s Ink, in other hands, continued to be published until 1967.

RIPANS TABULES

Ripans Tabules seem to have hung around as long as Printer’s Ink. Because he knew the business so well, Rowell revealed the entire story of the advertising aspects of Ripans Chemical Co. However, although he was the inspiration for Ripans Tabules, and went so far as to admit in his book that by the late 1890s he was more interested in the Ripans Chemical Co. than his advertising agency, he wrote nothing of the actual inner operations of that company itself or its ownership. He did not indicate that he had divested his interest in the company when he retired from the advertising business, and after his death, the company returned to advertising its product and continued to manufacture Ripans Tabules. Because of their inoffensive, perhaps even mildly helpful, nature, Ripans Tabules flew beneath the radar of the patent medicine reformers’ wrath and never became the subject matter of the flaming diatribes so frequently hurled at patent medicine makers by the popular national weekly magazines or the American Medical Association.

1930C CHOCOLATE RIPANS TABULES

By the 1920s, the Tabules were being formulated in a chocolate version and, in fact, they were still being advertised in a publication called The Colored Americans Magazine as recently as 1969. One web commentator suggests that Ripans ultimately became the property of the Wyeth drug company interests, which, as the conglomerate American Home Products Co., was one of the major survivors among the shrinking group of larger and larger consolidated drug companies formed during the Twentieth Century, until it was purchased by Pfizer in 2009. Ripans Tabules are not presently available.

© Malcolm A. Goldstein 2017

Standard
Q

J. J. Quarry

 

J. J. Quarry, Retailer

QuarryJJ-2-RB21(James)(AnnArborMI)

POSSIBLE QUARRY CANCEL ON PROPRIETARY REVENUE

Measured by the sheer number of users, retailers probably cancelled proprietary battleship revenue stamps more often than either manufacturers or wholesalers. Yet identification of most of the proprietary cancels employed by retailers is extremely difficult and illusive.  This paradox occurs because of the vagueness of the governing Spanish-American war tax regulations and the circumstances under which the retailers encountered the regulations.  As they applied to proprietary products, the regulations stipulated that covered products sold after the effective date of July 1, 1898 display a cancelled stamp on the product as proof of tax payment, and further specified that this cancel identify the user, but then deemed the mere use of initials sufficient to make that identification.

QuarryJJ-2-Rz164R(Druggist,AnnArborMI)

QUARRY CANCEL ON DOCUMENTARY REVENUE

Moreover, despite their numbers, most retailers had only minimal contact with the proprietary tax regulations and the required stamps.  To comply with these regulations, many retailers engaged in a one time act of stamping their stock on hand on June 30, 1898.  Since each retailer’s stock consisted of a variety of different products in various sizes, there was no uniformity concerning the values of stamps used by these retailers or the manner in which the retailers cancelled the stamps.  Most retailers used whatever hand-stamping devices they happened to have at hand to cancel the stamps, so most of the cancels produced are merely an undifferentiated jumble of letters and a date.  Only in cases where the retailer printed its entire name or its location as well as its initials, or where the retailer itself sponsored a product and thus had incentive to produce a consistent group of cancels over some period of time, is a positive identification possible. The proprietary Quarry cancel shown above is at best a probable match, but then only because of the unusual combination of letters of Quarry’s initials.

Quarry1-1765-1d

BRITISH STAMP ACT ONE PENNY REVENUE STAMP

On the other hand, manufacturers and wholesalers had different concerns with respect to complying with the proprietary tax regulations.  First, because their products came in specified sizes, they had only to cancel the one, two or three of the twelve possible proprietary values that represented the retail prices of the size of the bottle or package of their goods.  Second, because they wished to continue the uninterrupted sale and distribution of their products, in most cases, they assumed the obligation of applying the proprietary stamps to the goods during the manufacturing and distribution process before they reached the retailers.  They could order cancels printed on the values they needed and apply these stamps to the goods while they were still together in bulk before separation and display on retail shelves.  Printing also served to standardize the arrangements of initials that manufacturers and wholesalers used as cancels. For all these reasons, the proprietary cancels of manufacturers and wholesalers are usually easier to identify than those of retailers.

Quarry2-1765-1-2d&VShilling

BRITISH STAMP ACT HALF PENNY AND FIVE SHILLING STAMPS

The second cancel shown above is also a Quarry cancel, but it is completely different from that on the other stamp because it was cancelled with a different stamping device that contained both the company’s full name and location, which makes identification certain.  While, at first glance, this stamp appears virtually identical to the other one, it actually comes from a different series of stamps, and its use arises from a different set of regulations that applied equally to pharmaceutical retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers, as well as to virtually every other business in the United States.  These regulations taxed not a particular product or industry, but rather the documents which memorialized specified classes of business transactions, and collectively, therefore, are referred to as a “documentary” revenue tax.  The idea of collecting revenue by taxing documents first arose in the 17th Century in the Netherlands and spread from there to France, England and the rest of the world.  In the earliest settlements of North America, the English colonists themselves had often used such tax on documents to raise revenue. It was also the same kind of tax which those same colonists labeled the hated “Stamp Tax” when the British imposed it on the colonies in an attempt to recoup their expenses after the French and Indian War ended.  The difference between that earlier tax and this one was that those required “stamps” were impressed either onto the paper with an inked device or crimped into the paper with a seal.  Stamps – in the form of postage stamps – were not invented until 1840 and were first devoted to revenue collection in the United States in 1862 during the Civil War.  In Quarry’s case the documentary tax stamp was probably originally affixed to a check, since payment of money by check was one of the classes of business transactions that were taxed under the 1898 Act.

QuarryJJ-6a-1901-1a(Ad-AnnArborCityDir)

1901 QUARRY AD

The stories of retailers, in general, are less complicated to tell than those of the manufacturers or distributors, since these latter groups sought to build financial empires either by wild, flashy promotions of their products or by the earnest practice of sharp-elbowed capitalism.  In this era (with notable exceptions whose stories will appear in this column in due course), the typical retailer owned a single drug store. In larger towns and cities, the proprietor of this store was often a trained pharmacist. In more rural hamlets, the local general medical practitioner rolled the drug store into his medical office, or the local general store merchant stocked drugs “cheek by jowl” with dry goods, staples, farm implements and various and sundry other merchandise.  Because of their single locations, retailers tended to build their lives and reputations in one city, and their histories are entwined with that of their locale.  In fact, in this particular case, the details of the personal histories of the retailers are overwhelmed, and largely obscured, by this images they left behind.

Quarry3R-DowntownAnnArbor(2X)

1905c DOWNTOWN ANN ARBOR POSTCARD

Quarry’s store was in the center of Ann Arbor, MI.  A Flickr user compiling the history of a later establishment whose existence stemmed from Quarry’s store spotted it in the background of a postcard entitled Downtown Ann Arbor.  She excised it and enlarged the image.

Quarry4R-QuarryDrugStoreAt2.5X

DETAIL OF POSTCARD

****

QuarryP8(QuarryStoreInStateStPicture)

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE QUARRY STORE

Precise records about James J. Quarry are lacking. He was born somewhere in Ontario, Canada on a date listed variously, but imprecisely, between April, 1861 and 1866.  An 1883 graduate of the Ontario College of Pharmacy, he emigrated to the United States in either 1884 or 1885.  By 1893, he was working in Ann Arbor as an employee of Goodyear & Co, a drug store operated by Dr. J. J. Goodyear, himself an 1877 graduate of the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery. When Goodyear bought the business in 1880, he was continuing a drug business that had operated in Ann Arbor on Main Street at the same location since 1836. It remained there, even after Quarry went off on his own, for another forty years.

QuarryJJ-50-2a(StorePhoto-BullPharm-1902(VolXVI))

1902 TRADE PUBLICATION PHOTO

After acting as the head prescription clerk in Goodyear’s drug store, as well as serving as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Goodyear Drug Co., which was incorporated in 1897, Quarry opened his own drug store in 1898 a few blocks away in a newer shopping district closer to the campus of the University of Michigan.  To remain competitive in a town filled with drug stores, Quarry apparently specialized in retailing surgical tools to physicians as well as carrying supplies for the University’s hospital and graduate schools. He also advertised that he was a so serious a specialist in compounding drugs that he removed his soda fountain in order to have a larger area to devote to filling prescriptions.

QuarryP1

1908 QUARRY AD

From the time he opened his business, Quarry employed one G. Claude Drake as his head clerk.  He was born in Dryden, MI, a small town roughly 50 miles northeast of Ann Arbor, in 1872 and spent his entire adult life in Ann Arbor.  Drake appears to have had a flair for advertising because he arranged four times within two successive years to have Quarry’s store and his window displays featured in drug trade journals.  He even got one of his Christmas displays reproduced in a 1910 book instructing pharmacists how to do window displays.

QuarryJJ-50-4a(EasterDisplay-BullPharm-1902(VolXVI))

1902 DRAKE WINDOW DISPLAY ARTICLE

****

QuarryJJ-50-3a(StoreDisplay-BullPharm-1903(VolXVII))

1903 DRAKE WINDOW DISPLAY ARTICLE

One of the journals, published by Parke, Davis & Co. of Detroit, showed Drake’s display of its tooth care products.

QuarryJJ-50-1a(StoreDisplay-[ParkeDavis]ModernPharmacy-03-1906)

1904 PARKE, DAVIS & CO TRADE PUBLICATION PHOTO

****

DRAKE DISPLAY IN 1910 WINDOW DISPLAY BOOK

DrakeChristmasWindow1

DrakeChristmasWindow2

When Quarry died in Ann Arbor in 1921, Drake continued the drug business under Quarry’s name and tirelessly promoted the store as “The Quarry.”

QuarryStore-1a(BullPharm-1922)

1922 TRADE PUBLICATION PHOTO

****

QuarryP4

1928 QUARRY AD

****

QuarryP6a(1936NewspaperAd)

1936 Quarry Ad

In 1927, Drake also opened a sandwich shop which, after 1935, operated under his manager and successor until 1993, and is fondly remembered in the Flickr posting.

QuarryP5

1928 DRAKE SANDWICH SHOP AD

Drake died in Ann Arbor in 1950.  In 1978, his daughter donated his papers to the Bentley Historical Library of the University of Michigan.  Contained in these files is the photo shown below of the interior of Quarry’s drug store picturing Quarry and Drake among others.

QuarryP7(QStoreShowingQ&D)

© Malcolm A. Goldstein 2017

 

 

Standard