Companies, D, E, H, J, L, P, S, W

Sterling Products Inc. (VI.1.a) – American Home Products

Sterling Products, Inc., Manufacturer
Chapter 6.1.a: American Home Products


          In 1926, Sterling created yet another subsidiary, this time a holding company, to aid it to swallow and digest more patent medicine, drug and pharmaceutical companies.  It was named American Home Products (AHP), and, as its name implied, its reach ultimately extended far beyond the over-the-counter medicine business.  With the creation of this division, the pace of acquisition and complexity of the interactions among the various companies appears to have increased exponentially, but the seeds for this amalgamation actually were laid years before.  Yet throughout virtually all of its history – essentially until its last ten years of existence – AHP, like Sterling itself, maintained the companies it absorbed largely intact, advertised its constituent brands separately product-by-product and publicized its own name so sparingly that it was referred to in the industry as “Anonymous Home Products.”



          While AHP sprang seemingly full-grown into existence, different accounts of its formation list its constituent parts differently.  A 1947 Federal Trade Commission report (discussing potentially monopolistic consolidation occurring within the drug industry and using the credit rating compilation Moody’s Manual of Industrials as it source) showed the initial companies as Wyeth Chemical Co., Petrolagar Laboratories, Edward Wesley & Co. and the Larned Co.  A 1949 chemical industry handbook named the initial companies only as Wyeth Chemical Co., Deshell Laboratories, and Edward Wesley & Co.  Although these differences are small, subtle and perhaps ultimately insignificant at this late date – and neither is anywhere near close to a complete disclosure of the constituent parts of AHP even at the beginning – they serve to illustrate the difficulty of unearthing and reconstructing the interrelationships that ultimately joined so many family owned or sole-proprietor patent medicine companies into the global conglomerate AHP.  A minute and detailed examination of those records which remain readily available to be searched, however, demonstrates that these various companies were already so intricately intertwined even before the formation of AHP that one contemporary drug trade magazine characterized the new grouping by saying: “[t]hese companies … have been owned and managed by Sterling Products interests.”



          There is no ambiguity about the new corporation that emerged.  AHP was incorporated in Delaware on February 4, 1926.  The same three Wall Street firms that had financed Household Products, Inc. in 1923 acted as its underwriters and brokers for sale of its shares.  The principals of the new company were William E. Weiss, Albert H. Diebold, and Stanley Jadwin, all of whom already sat on Sterling’s board, as well as William Kirn (1871-1942) and Walter D. Rowles (1867-1928), both of whom held significant positions in the Detroit drug wholesale drug firm of Parke, Davis & Co., and John F. Murray (1871-1936), who headed his own advertising agency.  According to a booklet published for AHP’s 75th anniversary, the initial AHP management board of six (“the Principals”) was assembled carefully with Weiss and Diebold first teaming with Murray and then bringing Jadwin aboard to provide expertise about the interworkings of the drug trade. Kirn and Rowles were added to make the manufacturing facilities of Parke, Davis available to AHP.  This account, while not contradictory, does not jibe entirely with the history of Sterling already unfolded in these columns, because Jadwin was a part of Sterling and the two Parke, Davis members already had strong pre-existing ties with Sterling’s management, since, as chronicled in an earlier article, Parke, Davis was Sterling’s contractor to manufacture Sterling’s Knowlton Danderine. The difference in the storytelling approaches might be a reflection of the circumstance that AHP’s anniversary booklet was written in 2001, decades after Sterling and AHP had separated from one another as business entities, and AHP, at that point attempting to refocus its public image from being Anonymous Home Products to being a progressive, forward-looking pharmaceutical giant, no longer wished to recall that it had begun as a division of Sterling.



          Each of the Principals had additional tendrils in the drug business that helped to shape AHP as well, and AHP’s history states that when they began to consider launching a consolidated management in the early 1920s, they held interests in sixteen different patent medicine companies.  Present records readily available do not allow that claim to be verified, but there is no reason to doubt its accuracy.  Among the non-Sterling men, Kirn, as well as being head of Parke, Davis’s Private Formula Department, was also was serving as President of the Larned Co., possibly accounting for the difference between Moody’s explicit listing, and the industry handbook’s omission, of this company in the table of AHP’s constituent corporations.  Rowles, while head of the Special Preparations Department at Parke, Davis & Co., apparently already had two remedies bearing the Rowles name marketed through a company called Whitehall Pharmacal Co., another patent medicine company that emerged sometime around 1920 and which AHP immediately recognized as one of its divisions.  In the consolidation that followed the establishment of AHP, Rowles’ Red Pepper Rub – a medicine intended for conditions that required the application of heat and to replace old-fashioned plasters – was later manufactured under the Wyeth Chemical Co. name.  While Kirn and Rowles – who was based in Parke, Davis’s New York City office and lived in a house in Montclair, NJ that was both elegant and grand enough to be featured in American Homes and Gardens in 1910 – were in the pharmaceutical field, it was Murray – the last of AHP’s founding managers – who not only brought his ad agency into the new firm as its in-house advertising department – a status it held for the entirety of AHP’s nearly eighty year existence -, but was pivotal in bringing many of the smaller patent medicine companies into the conglomerate that AHP became.



          Murray emerges as the wildcard in the organization of AHP.  Born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1871, he was one of those Nineteenth century characters who ran away from home to “join the circus.”  It is a pity that there appears to be no extant picture of him because the AHP anniversary booklet describes him as follows: “a dandy, an immaculate dresser who ‘always looked the answer to a maiden’s prayer,’ said one colleague.”  After working as a traveling show musician and barker, he had settled briefly in Chicago where he was employed by William Wrigley, Jr.¹ to compose jingles for Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum and developed an interest in the advertising business.  As George Rowell before him had learned, to advertise, one has to have a product to sell, and if one does not have a client to sell for, it behooves the ad man to become the manufacturer.  Thus, the behind-the-scenes principal of Whitehall Pharmacal Co. that was marketing Rowles’ Red Pepper Rub turns out to have been none other than John F. Murray, whose ad agency had its offices at 17 Battery Place in lower Manhattan, a building otherwise known as the Whitehall Building.  As well as providing the name for Murray’s own patent medicine company, the Whitehall building became the first headquarters of AHP.  Not only did Murray participate behind the scenes in the ownership and management of many of these companies, as will become apparent, but, even if there had not been as much interlinked ownership as the record reveals before 1926, the proximity of the ads of many of these constituent smaller patent medicine companies well before their merger into AHP suggests that a single advertising company – Murray’s – was controlling the placement of their ads.



          According to AHP’s anniversary booklet, it was Jadwin who suggested to the others that the proper product to build the new entity around would be Wyeth’s Sage and Sulphur Compound which was manufactured by the Wyeth Chemical Co.  Originally, it had been touted as a medicine to clean the scalp and promote hair growth, but was later advertised as an elegant hair dye. However, this version of the story puts the cart before the horse by suggesting that Jadwin sought the product out especially for AHP.  A more detailed look at the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the Wyeth Chemical Co. shows that the product arrived well before the notion of AHP existed, for the owners of Wyeth Chemical Co. were the very same men who became the principals of AHP.  When the product name was trademarked in 1909, the name was said to have been in use since 1888, although it apparently had appeared as early as 1885 in the catalogue of the pharmaceutical company McKesson-Robbins (yet another company to be profiled anon in this column).  The original proprietor of the Compound was a man named John L. Wyeth, a chemist from Rochester, N.Y.  Its origins are shrouded in mystery at this time, but when Wyeth was forced to file for bankruptcy in Rochester in 1905, a dispute arose as to whether he, or his mother, who claimed that his father had developed the formula, actually owned the product.  Ultimately, he must have prevailed, because he earned his discharge from bankruptcy in 1906, and by 1909 had sold the product to none other than the very same group of individuals who changed chairs in 1926 to become the governing board of AHP!



          Thus, what is most striking about the 1909 ownership change of Wyeth Chemical Co. is that at the very moment when Sterling’s antecedents were coalescing in the form of its predecessor, the Neuralgyline Co., Weiss, Diebold and Jadwin had also begun operating the Wyeth company as well, completely separate and independent from their Sterling project, thus foreshadowing the formation of AHP by seventeen years.  In fact, from 1909 on, Stanley Jadwin (1877-1936), was president of Wyeth Chemical Co. and, by 1919, the ad man John F. Murray was its other officer and director.  Exactly why Sterling kept the other group of companies which became AHP publically separate for so long is difficult to gauge at this remote time.  Certainly, fear of being labeled a monopoly never seems to have been a serious concern of the pharmaceutical industry.  As will be shown in subsequent articles, when AHP was announced, Sterling was at the beginning of its most ascendant monopolistic phase, and only the economics of the Depression seems to have thwarted its plans to dominate the “household products” industry.  Certainly periodic Congressional investigations have never cowed any pharmaceutical company from expanding and the prices which “big pharma” charges for drugs remains a current and on-going topic of public discussion.  Viewing the situation from a distance of approximately one hundred year, the most striking element of difference between Sterling and AHP was the involvement of Murray in AHP.  Possibly the two entities were kept separate because Sterling’s ad campaigns were being run by the Thompson-Koch ad agency which it had purchased as part of its deal with Pape, Thompson & Pape.  As will be shown below, even that hypothesis is purely speculative because other Pape holdings which became part of AHP wound up being represented by Murray’s ad agency.


          When AHP was formed, Sterling’s principals were at the top of their game, and, because of their purchase of Bayer’s American properties, were considered among the sharpest and most well-financed in the business.  Because Weiss and Diebold were the foremost managers of Sterling’s affairs, the salient events of the lives have been outlined already in earlier chapters of this series of articles, but Stanley Jadwin’s background and family require a moment’s attention as well.  He came from a family not only steeped in the pharmaceutical business, but one that had also attracted grisly, momentary national infamy in 1913.  Since 1683, four generations of Jadwins had been Virginia planters before his grandfather moved to northeastern Pennsylvania in the 1830s to be a shoemaker and to raise his family of eight children. His father, Orlando (1833-1911), the oldest child, began a pharmacy and wholesale drug business with some of his younger brothers in Carbondale, PA, near Scranton, in 1856 and later moved to New York City in 1866 to found his own immensely successful wholesaler drug business, O. H. Jadwin & Sons.²  Orlando continued his father’s tradition of having a large family by fathering at least nine children of his own, among them four sons.  His boys became the “sons” part of the burgeoning and prospering family business, and, in due course, the two oldest, Palmer (1868-1922) and Paul (1874-1942), took over its management upon his death, while Stanley, the third, as well as being the third officer of O. H. Jadwin & Sons, had already branched out into his own larger pharmaceutical ventures.³  As noted in connection with the formation of Neuralgyline Co. earlier, Stanley Jadwin’s connection to the Jadwin firm had given the fledgling Sterling group entry into a national distribution network, and that advantage was also now available to AHP.  He had been deeply involved in Sterling’s acquisition of Bayer, and, by 1920, had expanded his business universe beyond the pharmaceutical industry and was also a director of two New York City banks and a New York City street railway company.





          Jadwin and Murray, were also the officers and directors of the Jadwin Co.’s subsidiary, the Jad Salts Co., manufacturer of Jad Salts, the major proprietary medicine O. H. Jadwin & Sons had itself developed and promoted, which now also was folded into AHP, as well as another minor subsidiary company, the Limestone Phosphate Co, which brought its compound for stomach settling and acid neutralizing into AHP.  Already in 1916, however, the state of Connecticut testing laboratory that evaluated quack products warned about Limestone Phosphate: “The use of the word ‘Limestone’ in connection with this product is totally unwarranted, and is most misleading in spite of the word ‘brand’ which appears on the package in small letters.”  Essentially, the laboratory found it to contain no lime at all and characterized the product as equivalent to bicarbonate of soda, otherwise known as baking powder.  The report indicated that the product might have a slightly purgative effect, in other words, yet another laxative.











          The Wyeth Chemical Co. also had a subsidiary.  It brought with it to AHP an older proprietary medicine, Ely’s Cream Balm, used for treating “catarrh,” a Nineteenth Century term for any kind of vague general disability or inflammation, particularly those involving excessive mucus discharge, much like the modern usage of the terms “cold” or “flu.”  The Balm had previously been manufactured by the Ely brothers, Alfred (1844-1917), Charles (1846-1927) and Frederick (1853-1914c), of Owego, NY, in the Southern Tier of Western New York State along the Susquehanna River.  The brothers opened a retail drug store in Owego in 1868, but later, around 1885, also created a Manhattan office. Eventually they all decamped to New York City and ran their entire operation from their New York office.  As with virtually all Nineteenth Century entrepreneurs, the Ely brothers invested in other ventures beyond manufacturing a patent medicine.  Their older brother, Edward, became involved in a tool making business called the Trimont Manufacturing Co. located in Roxbury, MA, and, in 1889, Alfred, Charles and Frederick were all named as assignees of a patent on the design of a mowing machine used to harvest grain fields, possibly for manufacture by Trimont.  Charles seems to have left the patent medicine business in the 1890s, and in 1902 became president of Trimont after Edward’s death.  A sometime poet, Charles was prominent enough to earn a profile in the 1925 Supplement to the Cyclopedia of American Biography.  While he continued to make large and generous donations to the library he left behind in Owego, he never moved back to his home town and died in Boston at age 81 in 1927.  Ely’s Cream Balm continued to sell, and Alfred and Frederick were still both named in the New York City business directory in 1910.  By 1915, Alfred alone appeared in the directory, and by 1918 even he had disappeared and Stanley Jadwin was listed as president of Ely’s Cream Balm Co.






            Deshell Laboratories, the second of the named AHP-melded companies, and Sterling’s only outside acquisition, was located in Los Angeles, CA. AHP’s anniversary booklet suggests that Sterling sought out the company precisely because it was different from all of the other companies that the Principals already had interests in.  Its product was a laxative named Petrolagar, and the Deshell name soon was replaced by Petrolagar Laboratories, again perhaps accounting for the confusion as to which company was part of the initial consolidation of AHP.  Unlike any of the other medicines that the Principals held shares of, Deshell advertised the compound as an ethical preparation (that is, strictly to doctors). While it seems a bit hard to imagine now because of the impact of Sterling’s acquisition of Bayer’s interests and the advertising juggernaut AHP later became, the AHP anniversary booklet states that when the Principals sought financial backing for AHP, the Wall Street firms initially were unwilling to back the venture because of concerns that as growing scientific inquiry exposed the typical exaggerated claims of their over-the-counter-type medicines as outright quackery and potentially dangerous to the public, the public would eschew them.  The bankers felt that Sterling and AHP ought to have available a laxative that doctors could actually prescribe, beyond relying upon time-tested folk brands like Phillips Milk of Magnesia and Fletcher’s Castoria.  The AHP history also states that the Principals liked DeShell as an acquisition because it had already established overseas offices which they could capitalize on.  In light of Sterling’s prior history, including its purchase of Bayer’s assets, this view only serves to demonstrate that by the time the history was written in 2001, Sterling and AHP had been operating as separate companies long enough for AHP to have forgotten that it began as a division of Sterling.




          Nevertheless, according to the AHP history, Petrolager was the perfect product to suit the Principals’ needs.  Because he felt the world was ready for a palatable laxative, ex-President Theodore Roosevelt’s own physician had commissioned its development from a Russian immigrant pharmacist named Channon A. Deshell (1875-1947) who had settled in New York City. DeShell came up with a formula of mineral oil, agar and extract of maraschino cherries.  Roosevelt himself took the first dose prescribed and pronounced it to look and taste like ice cream, and, with TR’s endorsement, Petrolager was off and running.  Agar is a jelly-like substance derived from algae.  Because it is composed principally of polysaccharides, it is still commonly used as culture medium for microbiological work, and in the kitchen as a thickening agent for various foods.  Petrolager itself came in five varieties, depending on the severity of the constipation and the accompanying symptoms.  When Sterling’s managers met DeShell, he had moved to Los Angeles where he had tried to own and operate a drug store before deciding to concentrate on his own research and manufacturing.  He was content to sell the company to the Principals and continue to work there researching and patenting agar compounds for the rest of his life.





          The men behind Edward Wesley Co. (sometimes called Edward Wesley & Co.), the third named AHP constituent company, were familiar to the Principals.  They were William Weiss, another member of the Diebold family, Arthur H. Diebold, and the Pape Brothers, Edward H. (1877-1926) and Harry W. (1876-1928), Cincinnati patent medicine manufacturers whose company, Pape Thompson & Pape, had already sold itself and its product line, including Pape’s Dia-pape-sin, to Sterling in 1909, together with its ad agency, Thompson-Koch.  The Papes had been involved in a number of different patent medicine ventures in and around Cincinnati in the early 1900s until they found their niche with Pape, Thompson & Pape.  After the sale, they stayed with the company and kept looking for other promising patent medicines.  They organized the Wesley company in 1915 in Cincinnati, OH, and garnered success advertising a number of products, most notably Freezone, a corn removing compound, and Fluff, a beauty shampoo.







1902 & 1904 W. H. HILL CO. CALENDARS



          The last named piece of AHP was Larned Co. (named apparently for the street in Detroit on which it was located).  It was a corporation formed in 1924 to purchase, at a cost of over a million dollars, Hill’s Cascara Bromide Quinine, previously manufactured by W. H. Hill Co., a Detroit patent medicine manufacturer.  Hill was another of the Nineteenth Century’s class of self-made millionaires.  Born in 1852 in Cohocton, a small town in the Finger Lakes Region of Western New York, he moved to Michigan with his family in 1870 and became its main breadwinner after his father, a successful doctor, died in 1872.  In the late 1870s, he became a clerk and traveling salesman for a Pittsburgh drug wholesaler.  By 1880, he had learned the drug trade well enough to open his own proprietary medicine factory in Fairport, a town just outside Rochester, NY.  After his factory burned down in 1885, he relocated to Detroit MI, where he manufactured an entire range of goods such as Peerless Cough Syrup, Peerless Worm Specific and Kidney Kascara Tablets.  From 1880 to 1892, he traveled extensively around the country to establish his product line, and by the time tax stamps were required during the Spanish-American War, his business was big enough to warrant his devising his own distinctive cancel, some of which are shown above.  His signature product, Hill’s Cascara Bromide Quinine, was advertised as curing “coughs, colds and la grippe” as well as, again, being a most effective laxative.


1906 & 1924 W. H. HILL CO. COVERS

           As a successful businessman, Hill enjoyed all the perks that went with the income.  As well as running the W. H. Hill Co., he took on the presidencies of the Ideal Register and Metallic Furniture Co. of Detroit and the Detroit Silk Glove Co.  He proudly identified as a Congregationalist and a Republican, and served on the boards of directors of several prominent social clubs in Detroit.  He was a golfer and an early automobile enthusiast, with club memberships in the appropriate sporting groups.  He also owned the yacht “Titania” and was a member of the Detroit Power Boat Club.

          One anecdote, however, might serve best to illuminate the fundamental toughness of Hill’s character.  Several years after Hill sold his company to the Larned Co., he was sued by a former minority shareholder in the original W. H. Hill Co., who claimed that he had been short-changed of his share of the spoils that Hill had amassed from the sale.  In the laissez-faire age before the Depression, the trial court dismissed the case following the then-current norms of business law which held that corporate directors, like Hill, owed no fiduciary duty to their shareholders, like plaintiff, to disclose their knowledge of corporate affairs, even of events such as the impending sale of the company.



          On appeal, the reviewing court reached the opposite conclusion.  It recounted that the plaintiff in the case was a Detroit attorney who had been given stock at the time of the original incorporation of the Hill Co. in 1907 in return for his having represented Hill in earlier litigation against his competitors.  Thereafter, this attorney had served on the Hill Co. board of directors until he grew so self-conscious about his growing deafness that he requested his removal from the board.  In 1923, he read that the federal government had brought a Pure Food and Drug lawsuit against the Hill Co. and decided to protect his own reputation by selling his Hill Co. stock.  While plaintiff attempted to conduct the sale in secrecy, the Court found that Hill soon became aware that plaintiff was trying to sell his stock, both from a broker ostensibly acting on plaintiff’s behalf who in direct violation of plaintiff’s instructions contacted Hill, and also, oddly enough, from one of Hill’s own rivals, a man named Grove (another fellow who will get his own article some day) who tipped Hill off that he, Grove, had been solicited by plaintiff’s representatives to make an offer to purchase plaintiff’s stock.  The reviewing court found that Hill not only had blocked plaintiff’s representatives from getting a true picture of the company’s finances and directed that they instead be shown financial statements from a prior year reflecting losses, but also that Hill had contacted plaintiff’s broker offering him a standard commission and a bonus if the broker could conclude the deal at Hill’s price.  The court even found that Hill had conspired to prepare a misleading stock valuation sheet for that broker to show to plaintiff.  Since Hill had succeeded in purchasing plaintiff’s stock at the lower price he was offering plaintiff, the Court found that Hill’s interference with plaintiff’s sale went so far beyond the conduct of ordinary corporate business as to constitute fraud.  It directed the trial court to conduct a proper accounting as plaintiff had requested, but, by the time it issued this order in 1932, Hill was dead.  He had died in 1931.


          Aside from the big three (or four) companies formally melded into AHP upon its incorporation, it also very rapidly assumed possession of a clutch of other patent medicine companies.  Among them was the Walter Luther Dodge Co., which manufactured Tiz, a bath salt, for “tender feet.”  Dodge was born in Chicago in 1867 and apparently became a millionaire businessman in that city.  However, today he is remembered only in passing as being rich enough to have afforded to relocate his family to West Hollywood, CA and build his family home there between 1914 and 1916.  Ranked by the American Architectural Institute as one of the fifteen most significant houses ever built in America and considered universally to be a gem of the Early Modern architectural style, the Walter L. Dodge House was designed by architect Irving Gill (1870-1936), who worked principally on the West Coast.  It was constructed of eight inch thick reinforced concrete.  Although its innovative marvels included a garbage disposal in the kitchen and an automatic car wash in the garage, its radical departure was its stark reinterpretation of the traditional Spanish Mission style as a sleekly simple geometric form.  After Dodge’s death in 1931, the House passed through eminent domain into the hands of the City of Los Angeles whose original intent was to build a school on the site.  Although that plan was set aside, the Board of Education operated the grounds for number of years as classrooms for a junior-college-level trade school until 1963 when it deemed the property surplus and available for sale to a private contractor.  The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors then proceeded to re-zone the entire area as suitable for apartment construction.  In a tale of modern urban neglect, the contractor who purchased the Dodge House property from the City suddenly demolished it in 1970, over the anguished outcries of many notable architects, replacing it with a nondescript apartment building.





          Although there are easily over thirty websites mourning and paying tribute to the lost beauty of the Walter L. Dodge House, there is no biography of Walter L. Dodge himself exploring the actions and mind of the man who commissioned this masterpiece from Gill, just the dutiful notation in each article that he derived his fortune from Tiz.  Only an inconspicuous listing in a stray volume of a weekly magazine named – in self-explanatory fashion – the National Corporation Reporter suggests a possible key to his involvement in the organization of AHP.  A 1905 listing for the newly incorporated Hilo Gum Co. demonstrates that he and John L. Murray, mentioned above as one of the Principals, were two of its organizers.  Its major product was actually not gum, but rather vending machines for gum and peanuts, and, while it may not have survived to become part of AHP, its existence serves to explain how Walter Dodge drifted into the AHP orbit.  Another possible point of contact between Dodge and AHP might have come through Harry W. Pape, who in 1902 had also invented and patented a ribbon system of delivering goods suitable for cigar and gum vending machines, which were then becoming fashionable, and might have been investigated by the Hilo Gum Co.



          According to the one extant article devoted to Tiz, written in 1912 and trumpeting Dodge’s latest marketing tactic of advertising it on outdoor billboards to distinguish it from the vast number of imitators nipping at its heels, Dodge had developed the product over “several years of hard labor” and pushed it to prominence with an expenditure of “over a million” dollars in advertising. He recounted that he had experimented over a substantial period of time to develop a suitable balm for foot pain, but the greatest difficulty he faced was deriving a distinctive name for his new invention. He initially considering using the first two letters of his name, until he asked himself what the product was for, and replied to himself: “why, tis for tender feet.” In that moment of singular brilliance, he was struck with both the name of the product: “Tiz,”spelled with a “z” to make it a distinct word suitable for trademarking, and its catch-phrase: “for tender feet.”



          At first Dodge ran his business strictly by mail order, engendering enough sales from a single one inch ad in a mail order publication to warrant further investment in the product.  Gradually increasing mail order sales, in turn, attracted a few voluntary orders from wholesalers who wanted to be able to offer Tiz to their retail drug store customers.  This development prompted Dodge to conduct a trial to see whether it was popular enough to market nationally through the regular and customary distribution chain running from manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer.  Tiz was test-marketed in Indianapolis, IN accompanied by a flurry of newspaper advertising to attract attention.  Sales were so great that the experiment was soon expanded to encompass Columbus, OH, then Cincinnati, OH and finally Pittsburgh, PA.  Dodge was convinced that national distribution of Tiz would work, and continuous advertising “in every good daily and weekly newspaper in the United States” over the next two years secured his fortune.  By 1919, Dodge’s ads bore Murray’s ad agency address as its office address.


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           Dodge, as well as Jadwin and Murray, also became involved with another old-time remedy, St. Jacobs Oil, advertised over the years as a pain killer particularly against rheumatism, which also immediately became part of AHP in 1926.  The remedy itself had an intriguing history. Its formula was created by Wilmer L. Keller (1846-1906) a Baltimore druggist sometime during the 1870s.  He marketed it as Keller’s Roman Liniment, with a picture of Julius Caesar on the label, and achieved little success.  However, he did manage to catch the attention of August Vogeler (1819-1908), a solid, reputable and conservative Baltimore druggist in business since 1845, whose son Charles A. Vogeler (1851-1882) was a short-lived, but meteoric marketing dynamo.  By the end of the 1870s, the younger Vogeler had purchased Keller’s formula, added some red dye to the mixture and re-christened it as a old German remedy, St. Jacobs Oil.  Like virtually all of the nostrums of the time, at first it was touted to be equally good for what ailed men or beasts.  Vogeler’s advertising pictured a bearded, red-cloaked monk who vaguely resembled a thin and serious version of our current image of Santa Claus.  It was an instant success and immediately became a national best seller.




          The Vogelers conducted a much larger operation than Keller had, and it ultimately featured several different lines of patent medicines at various times, including such concoctions as Dr. August Koenig’s Hamburg Breast Tea, Dr. Bull’s Baby Syrup, Diamond Vera-Cura and Red Star Cough Cure.  They were savvy enough to recognize the advertising advantage of availing themselves of the federal government’s offer to allow patent medicine proprietors to negotiate their own printing contracts for revenue stamps during the Civil War tax period, which lasted from 1862 to 1883, since the federal government was using the same private contractors to print both its postage and revenue stamps.  When, in the 1930s, Holcombe wrote his articles on United States private die proprietary medicine stamps, the heirs of August Vogeler were still running a remnant of the original company.  He consulted them and, as a result, his article on the various stamps and labels they ordered for different splinterings and transformations of the company, including August’s many partnerships with his son Charles and with his son’s friend, Adolph C. Meyer (1852-1914) after Charles’s sudden and very early death, is one of his most thorough and comprehensive, but, sadly, is by no means exhaustive.  Nor does it properly reflect the history of St. Jacobs Oil.



          An admiring reporter for Scientific American magazine toured the Vogeler plant in 1881 – at the height of the St. Jacobs Oil craze – and wrote about it that: “[w]hile the production of that class of articles known as proprietary specialties may involve no machinery or process not in common use by all manufacturers of drugs, chemicals and the like, the business of advertising and selling them in a large and successful way does involve industrial operations of such magnitude and completeness of organization as to bring the business fairly within the scope of great industries.”  The reporter went on to describe the two “business block” sized buildings rising four stories, and the departments that made up the Vogeler operation.  On the first floor were the executive offices, the “literary” department, which functioned like that of a “publishing house” in filtering and channeling correspondence received, the “mailing supply” department, which kept all the retailers supplied with advertising to promote the goods, and the shipping department, which dispatched the patent medicines to retailers.  The laboratory was located on the fourth floor of the main building and was designed “with ample facilities for the swift and easy handling of crude products and completed preparations, particularly the St. Jacobs Oil, which is the chief specialty” of the company.  However, the “distinguishing feature of the house” was its giant advertising department occupying the entire second floor of the building, together with a large plate-glass windowed open area containing receptacles with over ten thousand pigeon holes, one labeled to receive a every newspaper in the nation which published Vogeler’s ads.  Copies of each ad run in any such newspaper or periodical were “examined, marked, entered and filed.”  The reporter noted with admiration Vogeler’s method of paying for all this advertising: “The unvarying courtesy exhibited toward publishers and the exceptional method of paying advertising bills without waiting for the rendering of statements have established the most cordial relations between the press and the house.”  All of this advanced payment was made possible by the book-keeping department’s records that filled 22 ledgers, comprising 12,000 discrete accounts, that were stored in a special safe.  The bottling department, which also covered the corking and labeling tasks, seems to have been located on the third floor of the main building, and the enormous printing presses for all of the necessary Vogeler advertising material were located in the basement of the main building.  Advertising material was prepared and supplied in eleven (11) different languages.  The bindery, where pamphlets and almanacs, were bound and stitched after printing was located in the rear building, together with the separate chromolithography department where multicolored trade cards were designed, created, separated and boxed for shipment.



          With the advent of St. Jacobs Oil, the firm had to rapidly establish sales branches in “London, San Francisco, Toronto, Canada, Australia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Cape Town, Africa” to meet the demand, according to a contemporary Baltimore puff book.  The Vogelers even purchased a paddle wheel “fairy” steamboat to sail up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers painted with the name “St Jacobs Oil” solely for the purposes of advertising their product.  It was a “fairy” steamboat in the sense that, while it was 65 feet long and 14 feet wide and equipped with four staterooms and a lavishly appointed dining room, it didn’t carry freight or passengers as a “real” Mississippi steamboat would, just advertising for St. Jacobs Oil to be distributed at its ports of call.





          However, even before the death of Charles A. Vogeler, the complexity of the arrangements the Vogelers made concerning certain nostrums other than St. Jacobs Oil that they also marketed caused the Vogelers to ordered a second private die proprietary stamp in the name of Vogeler, Meyer & Co.  The disruption caused by Charles A. Vogeler’s sudden and early death seemed to pull the company in different directions and almost caused it to function as two separate divisions competing with one another.  Vogeler, Meyer & Co. ultimately evolved into A. C. Meyer & Co. which was a large enough concern itself to cancel battleship revenues to pay the tax imposed during the Spanish-American War.  Whether any of these cancelled stamps were actually placed on St. Jacobs Oil is unclear because it has suffered a reversal of fortune by then.  Holcombe’s lack of completeness about A. Vogeler & Co. is most apparent when it comes to tracing the ownership of St. Jacobs Oil as it traveled from the possession of Charles A. Vogeler in the 1880s to its inconspicuously slipping into AHP in 1926.  With respect to that particular product, he reported only that some years after Charles A. Vogeler’s death, it was sold to an “English syndicate” for $200,000.  The true story is longer and sadder.





* * * * *


May 1, 1899

          May 1, 1899 – Black Cancel           May 1, 1899 – Purple Cancel


May 1, 1899 – Unlisted Value

                    July 2, 1898                              October 1, 1898


   November 1, 1898


                    December 1, 1898                          January 2, 1899



May 1, 1899  – Black Cancel         May 1, 1899 – Purple Cancel


 * * * * *


* * * * *


          After Charles Vogeler’s death, the ownership of St. Jacob’s Oil passed to his widow, Mrs. Minnie Vogeler.  Shortly thereafter, she formed a partnership with a prominent businessman, Christian DeVries, who not only shared in his brother’s department store business in downtown Baltimore, but also served as president of an important Baltimore bank.  Soon she married him, relying upon him to take control of the marketing of St. Jacobs Oil, but once Charles A. Vogeler was dead, the glory days of St. Jacobs Oil quickly ended.  By 1886, the “fairy ship” had been sold, and the Meyer and DeVries branches of the company were battling each other in the local court over DeVries’ marketing a cough syrup competing with a Meyer’s branch product and Meyer’s retaliating by marketing a product known as Salvation Oil in competition with St. Jacob Oil.  These squabbles were papered over quickly enough, but, by 1896, the original inventor of the compound, Keller himself (of all people), while boasting in response to a trade magazine query seeking the formula for St. Jacobs Oil that it was still proprietary, was also decrying that the manufacture of St. Jacobs Oil had “passed into inexperienced hands, the principal owner being a muslin merchant [DeVries] who knew nothing of the business, the article did not sell so well and seems to have gone largely out of the market, compared with its former popularity and immense sales.” In fact, as a skein of subsequent lawsuits revealed, DeVries was a spectacularly bad businessman who destroyed both his own family’s businesses, as well as that of St. Jacob Oil.


          An English magazine reported in 1901 on the actual intricate proceedings that led Holcombe to record that St. Jacobs Oil had been purchased by an “English syndicate.”  In December, 1899, it explained, the two owners of St. Jacobs Oil (unnamed in the article, but meaning Christian DeVries and his wife, the ex-Minnie Vogeler) signed in Baltimore an assignment for the benefit of creditors (meaning that they confirmed Keller’s lament by contracting under Maryland law to transfer their business to a trustee to dispose of its assets for the purpose of paying its debts).  When the English creditors, who apparently held a major portion of the company’s debt, tried to enforce this assignment in English court to collect from the trustee, the court refused to accept the American assignment as an “act of bankruptcy within English law.”  After the English creditors appealed to the House of Lords, which would not disturb this ruling of the lower court, they then made an attempt in same court to seize directly the assets of the company as payment for their debts.  They were again frustrated because this time that court ruled that it did recognize the American assignment as a binding legal contract transferring title of all the company’s assets to the American trustee, leaving nothing for the English creditors to seize.  The Baltimore attorney whom the trustee had dispatched as his agent to England to stave off the English creditors then apparently turned around and sold the entire business to the manager of the Vogelers’ English office (producing Holcombe’s reported $200,000).  After summarizing all these facts, the English magazine article commented on the brazen solicitation of the public by the new owner to raise fresh capital:

 … it does appear, according to the statement of the promoter, who has been the manager for seventeen years, that the business is an exceeding lucrative one and there are comparatively few bad debts.  If the … statements are true how is it the business has collapsed, and what guarantee is there that under the same management it may not suffer a second reverse and have again to keep its creditors at bay?  We should recommend to leave the company severely alone.



          Subsequently, from 1901 to 1913, the new company, St. Jacobs Oil, Ltd., maintained an office and a manager in Baltimore, even though organized as an English company and apparently owned by the former English branch office manager.  From 1914 through 1922, the company listed Cincinnati, OH as its address in a trade publication directory of products, although by 1919 it also listed an office in the New York City business directory at John F. Murray’s ad agency, and showed the corporate officers to be Stanley P. Jadwin, president and John F. Murray, secretary, with Jadwin and Murray also listed as the directors.  At least part of that time, according to that trade publication directory, its president at the Cincinnati address was one A. J. Walber, who was, coincidently, also listed as president of both the Walter Luther Dodge Co. in Cincinnati and, in the Cincinnati city directory, of Pape, Thompson & Pape.  By 1923, the company’s office was safely ensconced in New York City ready to become part of AHP.  To cinch the association with the AHP crowd even more tightly, in the 1922 trade publication product directory, St. Jacobs Oil, Ltd. is co-listed with the Walter Luther Dodge Co. as a proprietor of Tiz.



          The consolidation of all these companies took place in 1926, perhaps on the very day that AHP first opened its doors for business, but AHP was just getting warmed up. Within the next several years at least as many companies again were added to AHP.  By 1928, Sterling and AHP were both swept into an even larger consolidation, with still more companies added both to AHP itself and to the larger entity.  Finally, in 1931, AHP swallowed one more major pharmaceutical company, John Wyeth & Brother, so central to its existence and lasting legacy that AHP ultimately changed its name to Wyeth.  All these events will be chronicled in subsequent chapters of this series.


¹          Yet another canceller of proprietary medicine stamps (of the 1914 series) who will get his own column someday.

²          Orlando’s younger brothers, who themselves mostly trained as pharmacists, sometimes worked for O. H. Jadwin & Son in New York City, but remained settled in northeastern Pennsylvania near Scranton.  Stanley’s uncle, Cornelius (1834-1913) was a leading businessman in the region, as well as being elected as a Republican to the United States House of Representatives.  His pharmaceutical business, C. C. Jadwin & Co., pedaled its own patent medicine – Jadwin’s Subduing Liniment – sometimes jointly with O. H. Jadwin & Sons even after that company became part of AHP – although neither Sterling nor AHP ever listed that remedy among its own products.

³          It was Donald, Orlando’s youngest son, who briefly brought notoriety to the Jadwins.  While attending private school in California, he had become acquainted with the beautiful young Minna Van Bergen, from a wealthy and socially prominent San Francisco family.  A few years later they became secretly engaged while traveling to Europe together on the same ship, and they married in 1912, when she was 19 and he 25.  However, the marriage quickly soured and Minna returned to live with her mother and sister’s family in San Francisco.  On the night of January 13, 1913, Donald swept drunkenly into that family residence during dinner, and, with Minna’s entire family present around the table – including her mother, sister, niece and nephew – embraced and kissed his wife while simultaneously discharging twice a pistol he was holding against her body.  He then put the gun to his own head and shot himself in the temple.  She died within minutes and he died later that evening.  Because both victims were young, wealthy and glamorous, and the act was so abrupt and shocking, the story made the front-page of every newspaper in the country.

©  Malcolm A. Goldstein 2020


Eisner & Mendelson Co.

Eisner & Mendelson Co., Importer


     Eisner&Mendelson-2-RB25a100     Eisner&Mendelson-2-RB25


Eisner&Mendelson-2-RB28-1a     Eisner&Mendelson-2-RB28-1f

Eisner&Mendelson-2-RB28-1b     Eisner&Mendelson-2-RB28-1c



Eisner & Mendelson Company (E & M) imported foreign manufactured mineral waters and malt extract tonics into the United States. It began in 1882 as a partnership between Moritz Eisner and Joseph Mendelson, and its cancels, featuring its entire name in a circle, appear on four or five different values of the battleship revenues according to Mustacich and Giacomelli. Because both the entire name and its location appear in the cancel, E & M’s battleship revenues are among the easiest of the hand stamped cancels to attribute definitively.


As recounted recently, E & M was part of M. J. Breitenbach’s original partnership to market Pepto-Mangan in the U. S., but its history is best traced by studying the lawsuits in which it appears as a party. The pattern which emerges is that E & M was a litigant again and again because it was acting as U. S. agent for the chief competitor of a popular foreign product or elixir whose sponsor fiercely defended its own right to its name and label. Notably, this column has already recounted its epic battle with Andreas Saxlehner over the U. S. rights to market Hunyadi spring water, a case ultimately adjudicated by the Supreme Court. Predicated on the opinion rendered against E & M, a lower court in 1896 awarded Saxlehner damages of $31,030.36 after conducting an accounting of E & M’s infringing sales.

Eisner-6a-1894-1a     Eisner-6a-1894-1bRV



Moritz Eisner was born in Vienna in 1853 and emigrated to the U. S. in 1872. He studied chemistry at the University of Philadelphia, worked for the wholesale druggist Aschenbach & Miller (another battleship revenue user), and then for the small importing chemists, Cramer & Small before buying them out in 1880 with financial help from Aschenbach & Miller. He married a native Pennsylvanian, Anna Zeitz, at the end of December, 1874. While building his importing business, he also acted a local correspondent for German pharmaceutical journals, and when traveling in Europe, as a correspondent for the Philadelphia German language newspaper, the Demokrat, as well as the New York Tribune. Locally, he seems to have forged a sound reputation, for, in 1882, a Pennsylvania medical society journal praised him for importing from Germany the finest solutions of mydriatic alkaloids then used in experiments to study eye muscle reactions.



Joseph Mendelson was born in Hohenems, Austria in 1852 and emigrated with his family to Philadelphia in 1859. He worked in his father’s dry goods store, then briefly ran his own retail store before becoming salesman for a manufacturer of cabinet ware. He married a woman named Hattie August and again became a retailer in Philadelphia, this time briefly operating a shoe store. In 1882, Mendelson went into partnership with Eisner, with Mendelson handling finances and sales deliveries and Eisner dealing with what is now known as “product development” and advertising. As E & M’s business prospered, the firm relocated its headquarters to New York City in 1887 and incorporated as a West Virginia corporation in 1891. Beyond its entanglements with Andreas Saxlehner, E & M had bruising engagements with several other companies.

Hoff’s Malt Extract

E & M’s most notable dispute concerned its importation of Hoff’s Malt Extract. Malt extract is a liquid collected from grain (often barely) soaked under controlled conditions to allow it to partially sprout. It is often an ingredient in beer, which is grain that is further exposed to the fermentation process to produce alcohol. The terms malt extract and beer have always been loosely interchanged because of common confusion between malting and brewing, but Nineteenth Century producers of malt extract always insisted that the partial sprouting of the grain allowed malt extract to be classified as a food rather than a beverage. In many cultures, malt extract is believed to have medicinal properties to sooth digestion, and in the Nineteenth Century malt extract was marketed as medicine.





In 1880, Johann Hoff Co., a German manufacturer of malt extract, engaged Eisner as its American sales agent. Thereafter, Eisner became a long-term participant in the quest to establish who had the right to produce and import the genuine Hoff’s Malt Extract. The question spurred lawsuits on two continents for nearly thirty years. A U.S. court in 1896 concluded that the initial formulation of the Extract lay in “obscurity and doubt,” but that neither the product itself or its manufacturing process was covered by any patent, and that “anyone who knows the secret is free to make it.” The court then coolly observed: “[t]hat many members of the Hoff family did know the process … is fully sustained by the proof.” This shared knowledge caused much litigation.

The Hoff Malt Extract story originates in 1847 when Johann Hoff began making his Malt Extract in Berlin. His business quickly prospered and, over the next generation, both Hoff and his Extract became so well-known that they impressed themselves on European culture. In Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, Ivan Karamazov imagines himself having a conversation with the devil who, while trying to ingratiate himself with Ivan, tells Ivan a tale in which he attributes his recovery from earthly ill-health to a dose Hoff’s Malt Extract. A few years later, when commenting on Sarah Bernhardt’s visit to Moscow, Chekhov noted that Bernhardt craved publicity in the same manner as Johann Hoff had, and that such a craving had brought fame and fortune to both.





As Hoff’s empire expanded, he required new sales offices and bottling plants across Europe. Hoff located his sales and production operation in Berlin and staffed the other locations with members of his family, among them his brother Marcus and his nephew Leopold, Marcus’s son. Marcus ran the bottling plant located in Hamburg, Germany. Leopold managed the sales branch in Paris, but in deference to one of Johann’s new sons-in-law, transferred to Vienna. Dissatisfied with prospects in Vienna, Leopold proposed to Johann that he move to New York City and develop sales in the powerful market then arising in the U.S. Johann approved, and Leopold opened a store in New York City in 1866. In 1868, Leopold returned to Europe after transferring his business to one Joseph Pedersen with the stipulation that Pedersen purchase his Hoff’s Malt Extract exclusively from Marcus in Hamburg. Pedersen then levered his arrangement with Leopold into an association with Tarrant & Co. (Tarrant), a wholesale drug firm in New York City. (For the vigilant, yes, the circle closes tighter; Tarrant was purchased years later by M. J. Breitenbach Co. after a disastrous fire in 1900, as noted a few columns back).

Eisner&Mendelson-5a-3aRV(HoffsMaltExt)     Eisner&Mendelson-5a-3bRV(HoffsMaltExt)


To be sure it was on firm ground marketing Hoff’s Malt Extract, Tarrant dispatched Pederson to Berlin to arrange an exclusive distribution contract with Johann himself. Johann apparently deputized Leopold to make the arrangements, and in July, 1869, Leopold signed a twenty year exclusive U. S. distributorship compact with Tarrant The contract provided that orders and correspondence would go through Leopold in Hamburg, but payments would be made to Johann in Berlin. This system worked satisfactorily until 1873 when Johann encountered financial trouble which caused him to transfer his own operations in Berlin to a corporation subsequently run by his wife and also to re-locate himself for a year and one-half to St. Petersburg in Russia, presumably to avoid his creditors. Responding to Johann’s financial crisis, Leopold instructed Tarrant to make payments directly to him in Hamburg and to keep buying from the bottling plant in Hamburg, now listed solely in Marcus’s name.

Eisner&Mendelson-5a-1a(JohannHoffsMaltExtract)(SeeAlsoTarrant)     Eisner&Mendelson-5a-1b(HoffsMaltExtract)


After Johann regained his financial bearings again in 1878, he tried to reassert full authority again over his Malt Extract holdings. Leopold resisted and relations between Johann and Leopold cooled. Johann demanded that Leopold stop using the Hoff Malt Extract label and trademark and claimed the American distributorship contract with Tarrant both had expired and was void. Leopold and Tarrant insisted that the contract was still valid and continued business as usual.





In 1881, reviewing a display of pharmaceutical preparations in London, a British medical journal noted that there were two displays of Hoff’s Malt Extract, one by Leopold and the other by Johann. In addition to liquid malt extract, Leopold also displayed a more jellied form together with malted chocolate and candy fashioned from malt extract. Johann showed his tried and true liquid malt extract. The magazine found both malt extract presentations novel, commended them both to public experimentation and noted: “It is to be regretted that any unfriendly rivalry should exist between those who aim at relieving the sufferings of the afflicted.”



Johann then stepped up the war in the U.S. not only by engaging Moritz Eisner to act as his agent, but also by suing Tarrant in the federal court in New York City in 1881 for unfair competition as well as trademark infringement. The court noted that the sole witnesses who testified were Johann for the plaintiff and Leopold for the defendant. In its opinion, finally rendered in 1886, the court concluded “[n]either of them is truthful.” It found that both Johann and Leopold had sufficient knowledge to make the Malt Extract, and that, whatever they said, they had not really acted at cross-purposes until 1878 when Johann tried to reassert his control of the Hoff’s Malt Extract family fortune. Because the court found that Johann knew and understood what Leopold was doing at all times between 1869 and 1878, it dismissed Johann’s complaint against Leopold. Legal round one went to Tarrant.



In the first extant litigation mentioning Eisner, in 1882, he brought a criminal slander action against Tarrant’s traveling salesman, one Hurlbert, in the Philadelphia courts alleging that Hurlbert visited Eisner’s customers and told them that Eisner’s Hoff’s Malt Extract was fake. The court dismissed the suit, remarking that Eisner had not pleaded slanderous statements made against himself, but rather only demonstrated disparagement of his product, and also had failed to allege specific damages flowing from those statements. Legal round two also went to Tarrant.

In the continuing German litigation, Leopold seems to have preserved his right to manufacture Hoff’s Malt Extract separately from Johann, but, after the Supreme Court of the German Empire remanded the matter for re-trial in 1887, E & M crowed in its U.S. advertising that it had vindicated its claim to be the source of the only “genuine” Hoff’s Malt Extract. The ad supposedly quoted language from a German Court decision forcing Leopold to make the label and trademark changes that Johann had asked for as part of the relief he sought in the U.S. lawsuit in 1881. However, sensing that E & M had quoted in its ads language not drawn from an actual German court decision but rather from its own brief outlining its argument submitted to the German court, Leopold, in turn, struck back in Germany.



In 1889, Tarrant triumphantly trumpeted that it could now denounce E & M’s ads as complete lies. Circulating its own flyer, widely reproduced in U.S. industry journals, Tarrant published “extracts” from an actual 1889 German court decision – forwarded and attested to by the American counsel in Hamburg – in which that court overruled Johann Hoff’s defense in that court that E & M’s merely had made a mistake when it quoted its own brief rather than a court decision in its 1887 ads. It ruled, instead, that defense to be a deliberate lie rather than a mistranslation. The German court further ruled that E & M’s claim that its extract was manufactured in Germany was also a deliberate lie, finding that E & M’s extract was being manufactured in Philadelphia. Having exposed E & M’s lies, echoing Hurlbert’s earlier sales pitch, Tarrant’s announcement then reminded its customers that any physician who troubled to taste the two Hoff’s Malt Extracts would instantly know the difference: “[E & M’s Extract is] light, sour and nauseous liquid, bearing evidence in odor, taste and appearance of a doctored beer having the effect of a stimulant, while the genuine Hoff’s Malt … Tarrant’s is a nutrient.” [all italics in original].





Yet even as E & M and Tarrant continued to exchange these very loud and very public trade broadsides, important machinations occurred behind the scene. In 1889, Leopold and Tarrant negotiated a new contract to replace the 1869 agreement which, by its terms, was expiring. That contract renewal removed Johann’s name completely from the label Tarrant used in the U.S. and substituted the word’s “Hoff’s Malt Extract – Tarrant’s” in its place. The place of manufacture was changed from either Berlin or Hamburg to Hamburg only, and the fine print of the label was modified in other small ways to show that this Hoff’s Malt Extract was Leopold’s and came from Hamburg. While Tarrant’s modifications were voluntary, and its 1889 circular denounced E & M’s advertising as lies, that circular slyly and subtly ended with the announcement of its future modifications of its U.S. label.



In 1891, Eisner clashed with another adversary over Hoff’s Malt Extract. Applying a new special provision of the Tariff Act of 1890, the Treasury Department classified Eisner’s latest import of Hoff’s Malt Extract as a “malt extract” taxable at a 40% rate rather than at the 25% rate for medicinal preparations not containing alcohol. Prior to 1875, the federal government simply treated malt extract as beer for purposes of import duty. In 1876, Johann Hoff convinced the Treasury Department to issue an administrative ruling classifying his Malt Extract as a medicinal preparation taxable at the 25% rate. Others, drawing on the distinction between malting and brewing, also got competing malt extracts classified as medicinal preparations, and one importer even received a classification of his extract as a food product because of the germination of the grain in the malting process. After the passage of the new tariff law, the Treasury Department read the Act literally and simply applied the new specific provision imposing the 40% tax on malt extract as opposed to the 25% tax on medicinal preparations that also had been renewed. After an administrative appeal within the department produced the same result, Johann Hoff Co. sued in New York federal district court to have the ruling of the Treasury Department set aside on the basis of the older Treasury rulings and the more general tax imposed on medicinal preparations. Amazingly, the District Court agreed and overruled the Treasury Department, but, in 1894, the Circuit Court, upon the government’s appeal, reversed and reinstated the 40% import duty. The Court reasoned that Hoff’s Malt Extract contained 12% malt extract by volume (some of which, the Court noted, was alcohol naturally created in the malting process, a minor differentiation itself carrying the product outside the medicinal preparation classification) and, more importantly, was advertised to stress the special properties of malt extract. Because Congress had specifically address malt extracts, the Court ruled the new specific provision governed, even if Hoff’s Malt Extract was normally considered a medicine.



Because E & M and Tarrant apparently still were accruing significant enough sales, they continued battling each other. After mirroring E & M by also incorporating a U.S. subsidiary as a West Virginia corporation, in 1891, Johann Hoff Co. openly began to produce its Hoff’s Malt Extract in the U.S. Now embracing its identity as a U.S. corporation, it again sued Tarrant in the U.S. District Court of New York both to assert its exclusive right to market its Hoff’s Malt Extract as the only genuine Hoff’s Malt Extract and claiming unfair competition. On the eve of trial of this new complaint, it was revealed that in 1882, Johann, Marcus and Leopold had signed a contract among themselves in Germany which divided the world between Johann’s original firm and Marcus’s Hamburg firm for purposes of production and sale of Hoff’s Malt Extract. Johann received the U.S. and the Americas, with the proviso that Leopold could continue his American business with Tarrant & Co, whether a part of Marcus’s operation or not, so long as he did not use Johann’s “malt essence.” Marcus died in 1885 and Johann died in 1887. Apparently, since the 1882 arrangement tolerated the status quo in the U.S., the Germans did not bother to disclose its terms to their U.S. distributors. Even in the face of that revelation, Johann’s heirs still claimed misconduct by Tarrant, apparently asserting that Leopold had not abided by the terms of the 1882 agreement and was still using Johann’s “malt essence.”

Eisner-6a-U(Harpers)-1bRV     Eisner-6a-U(McClures)-1bRV


In its 1896 decision, rather than trying to sort out what constituted the true “malt essence” and who possessed it, the District Court took the 1882 agreement as indisputable evidence that both firms had the legal right to market Hoff’s Malt Extract in the U.S. Its decision simply required Tarrant to add “Leopold” to its label in front of the words “Hoff’s Malt Extract” and, likewise, barred sale without this modification. When the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court, in a very short per curiam decision, it simply pointed out that Leopold’s earlier label changes had not been dramatic enough to avoid “deceitful confusion,” although it refused to require a “perfidious” motive to find such “deceitful confusion” and remarked that such confusion might even arise from carelessness! Each side immediately proclaimed victory. E & M insisted that having “Leopold” added to Tarrant’s label was victory enough, although it conceded that it had neither barred Tarrant from selling Hoff’s Malt Extract nor had it gained an accounting of damages for Tarrant’s past sales. For its part, Tarrant claimed the further label modification was a minor inconvenience, crowed again that it had shown that Johann’s Malt Extract was a pale American shadow of its German product, and vainly promised to appeal this decision again to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Eisner&Mendelson-5a-2a(HoffsMaltExtract)     Eisner&Mendelson-5a-2b(HoffsMaltExtract)


Meanwhile, in 1894, the U.S. had re-codified its trademark law, and the fight thereafter shifted to the trademark forum. In 1905, Johann Hoff Co. tried to register Hoff as a trademark for malt extract, claiming that it had obtained exclusive use of the term “Hoff’s Malt Extract” for the ten-year period before its registration filing, relying principally on its 1896 court victory. The Patent Office declined to make the registration, and Johann Hoff Co. appealed the Office’s decision to the federal court of appeals in Washington. In 1909, that court held that the Patent Office correctly concluded that Johann Hoff Co. had not demonstrated its exclusive use of Hoff’s Malt Extract, and reasoned that Hoff’s Malt Extract and Leopold Hoff’s Malt Extract were so close as to deny either exclusive use of “Hoff” as a trademark. So ended the “Thirty Years’ War” over the proprietary nature of Hoff’s Malt Extract. Eisner may have acted on behalf of Johann Hoff, who was the original Hoff of Hoff’s Malt Extract, but he was close enough to Johann to have known that Johann had granted Leopold a free hand to distribute the product in the United States.



Although as late as 1906, Eisner managed to place a medical study commending the use of Hoff’s Malt Extract as a treatment for anemia in a medical journal, in the same manner as Breitenbach had used such medical journals, by 1912, the market for Hoff’s Malt Extract must have been failing, for Johann Hoff Co. found it could not meet the payment deadlines for its bonds then falling due. It dissolved itself as a West Virginia corporation and re-chartered itself as a Maine corporation that purchased the assets of the old corporation through issuing bonds not payable until 1921. The only part of the operation that remained the same was that the new corporation assigned its entire production output to E & M, which, as a contemporary New York Times article noted, “will guarantee net profit to the new company sufficient to meet all the fixed charges.” By then Hoff’s Malt Extract had wormed its way into American culture as well. In 1904, the American author Willa Cather wrote in a letter that she did not find it a cure for her general ennui and malaise.



E & M’s Other Involvements

Carlsbad Sprudel Salts

By 1887, Eisner had landed other major contracts, becoming the U.S. representative for various mineral waters bottled by the famous hot spring cities of Vichy in France and Carlsbad, then in Austria., as well the Hungarian water that brought on the litigation with Andreas Saxlehner.



Eisner’s involvement with the City of Carlsbad, distributing and marketing its mineral water, “Carlsbad Sprudel Salts,” led to his participation in another slew of litigation over whether the City could hold exclusive rights to profit from its name and its springs. In these cases, the problem presented was that the mineral content of Carlsbad’s water had been analyzed and the formula for its production published in Germany. Any American manufacturer could produce a mineral water that had the same mineral content as Carlsbad Sprudel Salts, but could that manufacturer invoke Carlsbad’s name in connection with its sale?

Eisner&Mendelson-6-9RV(CarlsbadSprudelSalt)     Eisner&Mendelson-6-6RV(CarlsbadSprudelSalt)(1895)     Eisner&Mendelson-6-7RV(CarlsbadSprudelSalt)(c1900)


At first, Eisner seemed to prevail, winning an injunction against the sale of Saratoga “Carlsbad” Water by Philadelphia druggist G. W. Nock in 1888. In connection with another American lawsuit he brought in 1889, Eisner accompanied the lawyers to Carlsbad for the deposition of its Mayor, who attested that the City had controlled and exploited its mineral springs since 1370 and displayed the patents granted by the Habsburg emperors to prove its exclusive control. Upon his return from Carlsbad, Eisner confidently reported to the press that the Mayor’s evidence would conclusively determine the litigation.

Eisner&Mendelson-6-5RV(CarlsbadSprudelSalt)(1891)     Eisner&Mendelson-6-4RV(CarlsbadSprudelSalt)(1890)


However, when the case was adjudicated, the court found that one Schultz, the American distributor whom Eisner was trying to shut down, had actually used the term “Carlsbad Water” long before Eisner began importing the genuine article into the U.S. and had always identified his water as artificially created in accordance with the publicly known analysis of the mineral content of Carlsbad’s water. While the court was perfectly willing to enjoin Schultz from using any labeling that could be confused with Eisner’s, it proved an empty victory since the court held that Schultz had clearly denoted his water as artificial “Carlsbad Water,” found Schultz’s application of the term artificial sufficient to differentiate Schultz’s mineral water from the real mineral water, and therefore granted no accounting of damages for infringing sales. Applying the reasoning of this decision, the makers of Saratoga “Carlsbad” Water soon began marketing their water again, stressing in their advertising that its place of origin was Saratoga Springs, N.Y., not Carlsbad, Austria. Eisner’s and Carlsbad’s attempt to register “Sprudel” as a trademark similarly failed. In 1912, the trademark examiner held that another manufacturer had already registered his mineral water as “Gerolsteiner Sprudel” before Eisner filed his trademark application. The examiner further held not only that Carlsbad’s claim to priority of use of the term “Sprudel” in the United States was belied by the other party’s earlier registration, but also, that Eisner and Carlsbad could claim no exclusivity to the use of the term “Sprudel.” Even while conceding the term “Sprudel” might have first been coined to describe the springs at Carlsbad, the examiner found that by 1780 “Sprudel” had acquired in German the general descriptive meaning of “bubbling or boiling” or, when used as a verb “to break forth like a spring.” Since the term had become too general to pinpoint the origin of the water, the examiner denied Eisner and Carlsbad the right to register their trademark. As with Hoff’s Malt Extract, Eisner became the agent for the City of Carlsbad, the original source of Carlsbad Sprudel Salts, but took on the role too late to secure the exclusive U.S. rights to the product.



Mendelson died at Far Rockaway, Long Island, in 1904 at age 51. Announced in a single drug trade journal, the factual statement of his death constitutes one half of his obituary. The remaining line reads: “Mr. Mendelson has been a member of Eisner & Mendelson Co. for twenty years, and by his kindness and courtesy of manner, had won not only the highest respect, but the warmest affection of all his associates.” However, most contemporary assessments of both Eisner and Mendelson were less charitable, and Hattie Mendelson’s name continued to appear in connection with E & M, but only because as her husband’s executor she was Eisner’s co-defendant in the Saxlehner litigation and many others.

Soden Mineral Pastilles

In 1891, E & M found itself enjoined with respect to selling another of its products. It was acting as the American sales agent for the Soden Mineral Springs Co., a German company that evaporated water from the Soden Spring in Germany to produce mineral wafers, called Soden Mineral Pastilles, which it asserted cured colds and bronchial ailments. The ads E & M ran in the U.S. for the Pastilles claimed that they were endorsed and recommended by the eminent English throat specialist, Sir Morrell Mackenzie, and even went so far as state that no package was genuine without Mackenzie’s signature on it. When informed that he was touting Soden Mineral Pastilles in the New York Times, Mackenzie took umbrage and sued in New York, affirming that he had no knowledge of the product, further that the signature reproduced on the package was not his, and that he had never sent E & M any endorsement of the product. In court statements, dodging the question of their dubious advertising claims, Eisner and Mendelson both responded that the packaging was done by the German company in Germany and shipped to them ready for sale, and, moreover, that their contract did not permit them to make any changes to that packaging. The Court had no difficulty enjoining E & M from engaging in false advertising using Mackenzie’s likeness, signature or words.

Cosmopolitan Advertising Bureau

In reporting the circumstances of another judgment entered against E & M in 1899, a journal interviewed the plaintiff who had obtained the judgment. One J. Preston Carson recounted how he had bought for $6000 a minority share in an advertising agency that E & M had organized to handle the advertising for its products as well as agreeing to become its president. E & M then decided to use the agency to handle outside advertising beyond E & M’s own and urged Carson to hire one Haulenbeck, “J. Walter Thompson’s right hand man,” to help him grow the business. Carson negotiated with Haulenbeck, but while these talks dragged on for several months, a deal was never consummated. Carson then claimed that Eisner had told him that because he had not come to terms with Haulenbeck, Eisner was going to close the agency completely. Eisner and Mendelson then offered to ease his loss by buying him out of his stake in the agency for $3150. Thereafter, Carson learned that Eisner and Mendelson had not closed the agency, but had made their own deal with Haulenbeck, bringing Haulenbeck into their operation on the same terms that Carson had negotiated with Haulenbeck minus Carson’s involvement. He then sued Eisner and Mendelson each for deceit, asserting that they had planned all along with Haulenbeck to force Carson out of the advertising bureau. After weighing the testimony, the jury found for Carson and the court entered judgment against E & M in the amount of $3638.14 to make Carson whole for his lost investment.

Carson described Eisner to the trade journal as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was the soul of benevolence when he offered to buy Carson out, but laughed at Carson when Carson asked for the return of his stock after Eisner’s deal with Haulenbeck became known: “Eisner had run out of charity, Christian or otherwise.” When the lawsuit was tried, Carson claimed Eisner admitted he had not even read the affidavit his lawyer had him sign. Describing Mendelson, Carson said: “The man does not seem to be troubled by any more scruple of conscience than his esteemed partner, but he has none of his partner’s skill of fence. He was a mere plaything in the hands of the lawyers.”

Although Carson’s indictment of Eisner and Mendelson remains a part of the permanent story of E & M, Carson’s triumph was short-lived. When E & M appealed, the reviewing court reversed Carson’s judgment. Reading the same testimony as the jury, it found that Haulenbeck had legitimately declined to deal with Carson, and that E & M had negotiated with Haulenbeck at arm’s length through a different intermediary after Carson sold his stock back to Eisner. Therefore, it held the charge of deceit unfounded.

Dr. Friedrich Franz Friedmann




Eisner’s final appearance on the public stage was as the U.S. distributor of Dr. Friedrich Franz Friedmann’s turtle vaccine heralded in 1913 as the cure for tuberculosis. E & M organized the Standard Distributing Co. especially to deal with this new miracle drug. Once again, there was a flurry of heart-stopping litigation breathlessly reported by the New York Times as to whether Eisner or a doctor named Sturm had properly secured the U.S. distribution rights. Eisner prevailed when Friedmann claimed that his association with Sturm was limited to Sturm’s observing him, and denied that he had conveyed the rights to the serum itself to Sturm. Shortly thereafter, the Times reported that Friedmann had transferred the formula to Eisner’s company. The Times also reported Friedmann’s and Eisner’s lofty plan to have the Standard Distributing Co. establish clinics all over the country to make the vaccine available to the public and free to the poor. After being announced with such a flourish in 1913, the turtle vaccine retreated into its shell, and in 1916, Eisner quietly testified in bankruptcy court that the New York Friedmann Institute was defunct. There are several Standard Distributing Co. presently in operation, but none seem to have any connection with Eisner’s company.

Moritz Eisner lived until 1938 when he died at age 84 after an illness lasting six weeks. His obituary in the New York Times noted that he had finally retired in the early 1930s from his final position as President of the Carlsbad Salts Co. Having never really prevailed on behalf of the European suppliers he represented to corner the markets they coveted within the U.S., nevertheless, Eisner managed to ride the popularity of their extracts and waters to a prosperous and comfortable old age.


© Malcolm A. Goldstein 2014


Eimer & Amend


Eimer & Amend handstamp cancel on a 1/4 cent proprietary stamp
The partnership of Eimer and Amend grew out of the friendship between two Germans from Darmstadt, Germany who emigrated to the United States. Bernhard Amend was born in 1821 and studied chemistry. While serving as an assistant to the famous German professor, Baron Leibig, Amend met the American chemist Eben Norton Horsford who suggested that Amend work for him in the United States. Leibig and Horsford, leading personalities in 19th Century science, whose stories intersect this series from time to time, are likely to appear again in other columns, but for now, it is enough that Horsford propelled Amend to journey to the United States. Amend came in 1847, but the position with Horsford did not materialize, so he found employment as a chemist in the pharmacy of William Milner at the corner of 18th Street and 3rd Avenue in New York. When Milner retired in 1851, Amend purchased the business from him.

Carl Eimer was born in 1823, met Amend while he was at college and became a naturalized American citizen in 1860. Within a few years, he had renewed his acquaintanceship with Amend and joined his business. They quickly established themselves as the leading U. S. importer of European chemical and drugs. In 1873, Eimer’s nephew August joined the business and soon cemented his position in the firm by marrying Amend’s daughter, Mary. The enterprise kept expanding, and in 1874, Eimer and Amend also began to import laboratory equipment as well as adding their own glassblowing works. Carl Eimer retired in 1882 and died in 1888. Amend built a building for the burgeoning business in 1886 at the same location in New York City where the pharmacy had stood and in 1897 the partnership incorporated. Among Eimer & Amend’s notable customers were Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and E. R. Squibb. Amend, who retired in favor of his sons about 1900, lived on until 1911. He served as a Vice-President of the German Exchange Bank, was among the founders of the American Chemical Society, and was also a member of various social and charitable organizations including the American Museum of Natural History.

In the second generation, August Eimer emerged as a notable chemist and inventor. He remained with the company and eventually became its president from 1915 to 1926. August also was involved with the organization of the Willson Aluminum Works, which developed a ferro-chrome compound that was utilized in producing new, lighter and stronger armor plating for Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet. August Eimer also held the patent for a “Bandit Proof Bag.” When jarred, this bag released a chemical spray that blanketed the attacker and turned to smoke upon contact with air, making the bandit conspicuously easy to follow since he was, literally, smoking.

By 1917, Eimer & Amend had branch offices in Pittsburgh and Ottawa. It continued in business as a separate entity until it was purchased in 1940 by the Fisher Scientific Company. Fisher, whose products were used in the Manhattan Project, in turn, became a division of Allied Corporation between 1981 and 1991 before re-emerging as a separate company in 1998. Today Fisher Scientific operates independently, and mentions Eimer & Amend on its website as its “predecessor.”

© Malcolm A. Goldstein