A, Companies, S, W

Sterling Products Inc. (VI.1.b.(1)) – AHP – John Wyeth & Brother

Sterling Products, Inc., Manufacturer
Chapter 6.1.b.(1): American Home Products –
John Wyeth & Brother – Manufacturer

A SAMPLING OF JOHN WYETH & BROTHER BATTLESHIP REVENUE CANCELS

PRINTED CANCELS

YEAR ALONE DATE

       

   

    

MONTH & YEAR DATE

       

       

       

          Of all the companies digested by American Home Products (“AHP”) over the years, John Wyeth & Brother, Inc. (“JW&B”) – formally absorbed by AHP in 1931 – had the most lasting impact. However, before proceeding further with any discussion of JW&B, a disclaimer is required. Research demonstrates that JW&B and the Wyeth Chemical Co. discussed in the last chapter as one of the original AHP companies, although both founded by individuals named John Wyeth, were completely different entities created by seemingly unrelated John Wyeths. Most of the articles written about AHP do not make this distinction clear or leave unexplained any blurry references to Wyeth before AHP’s acquisition of JW&B, and even the noted philatelist and writer on pharmaceutical packaging and labels, George Griffenhagen, conflates JW&B and Wyeth Chemical Co. in his History of Drug Containers and Their Labels. While it seems more than purely accidental that both of these particular John Wyeths were involved in drug businesses, the difficulty – as with the confusion about the identity of Charles H. Phillips – may lie entirely in the commonality of the name. To stir the pot more, a third John Wyeth living at the same time as the other two, John Allan Wyeth, was significant historical personality as well. This John Wyeth was a first cousin of the founder of JW&B, and not only a Confederate veteran and biographer of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest (presently back in the news for his role after the Civil War as the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan), but also a noted surgeon and founder of an important hospital in New York City.

MONTH, DAY AND YEAR DATE

    

   

MONTH, DAY & YEAR INCORPORATED

   

   

              The reason it is fair to say that JW&B made such an impression on AHP is that AHP preserved JW&B’s name and prolonged its reputation for excellence as a manufacturer of ethical drugs for doctors throughout its corporate history. In 2002, more than seventy years after JW&B’s acquisition, when AHP slimmed its corporate profile by disposing of its many and varied non-medicinal businesses, shed its anonymity and sought to re-create itself as a progressive pharmaceutical company, it transformed itself into Wyeth, LLP. However, its period as a forward-looking drug company was short-lived, for Wyeth was swallowed in 2009 by yet another gargantuan survivor from the patent medicine era, Pfizer, Inc., formerly Charles Pfizer & Co. (another company that will get its own column in the future). Of course, to finish the list of takeovers – and close the circle in a way – in 2018 Pfizer merged into the colossus GlaxoSmithKline, another gigantic company built up from JW&B’s Philadelphia neighbor and competitor, Smith, Kline & French Co. (which will also get its own column).

PORTRAIT OF JOHN WYETH

1859 BLAIR & WYETH COVER

     

1861 BUSINESS NOTICES ANNOUNCING JOHN WYETH & BROTHER

          JW&B began life as a retail drug store in Philadelphia, PA. The JW part of JW&B was John Wyeth (1834-1907) and the B part was his brother, Francis H. “Frank” Wyeth (1836-1913). They were born in Harrisburg, PA and their father and grandfather were newspapermen and book sellers. The younger Wyeths were both graduates of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (“PCP”), and John was considered a particularly bright student. After graduating in 1854, he apprenticed in the drug trade by clerking for Henry C. Blair, a older pharmacist and a third PCP graduate who had established his store in Philadelphia in 1838. Blair and John Wyeth became partners in the firm of Blair & Wyeth in 1858, with Frank acting as chief clerk for them. Although all the histories of both JW&B and AHP report that JW&B started operation in 1860, the formal announcement of its being in business at its own location appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper on July 1, 1861, the same day the former partnership between Henry Blair and John Wyeth was dissolved by another notice in the same newspaper.

SAMPLE WYETH CANCELS ON EARLIER GOVERNMENT REVENUES

     

     

          The standard histories of JW&B all stress that the retail business of the Wyeths did well and very soon grew a manufacturing component as doctors came to trust the preparations they compounded in their facility, particularly American elixirs, which were combinations of drugs mixed with sugar, alcohol and flavoring to cover the bad taste of the medicine (European elixirs of the time did not normally include sugar). It cannot be questioned that the quality of JW&B’s merchandise was unusually good, but there was at least one other factor that played a part in JW&B’s success: John Wyeth’s relationship with Thomas A. Scott (1823-1881), a pre-eminent railroad investor of the Nineteenth Century and one of Pennsylvania’s “robber barons.”

          

YOUTHFUL & MATURE THOMAS A. SCOTT PLUS SIMON CAMERON

          Already the youthful First Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1860 – at that time possibly the largest corporations in the world – Thomas Scott soon became Assistant Secretary of War under his personal friend, fellow Pennsylvanian Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s first Secretary of War. When Lincoln was forced to remove Cameron and send him into exile as Minister to Russia because of charges of corruption lodged against him, Scott was tarred by the same brush. An article in the New York Times in 1862 stated that the evidence produced by a Congressional Committee against both Cameron and Scott was “not complimentary” and further that “if after examining the testimony, the reader has any hesitation in believing the two conspired to make the public service subsidiary to their private advantage, his incredulity will be incredible.” Yet Scott managed to hang on at the War Department and proved to be extremely able in organizing both its telegraph system and its use of railroads. Despite congressional scrutiny, it would appear that from his War Department position, Scott was able to steer supply contracts to his colleagues, and, by 1864, JW&B was selling medicine and beef extract to the Union Army. In fact, instead of tending to his own flourishing drug business, John Wyeth, as Scott’s agent, appears to have spent much of 1864 in California and Arizona leading a party of some twenty Pennsylvanians investigating mining and possible oil drilling sites for Scott to invest in while Scott remained at the War Department in Washington shifting troops over the railways to aid the Union war effort. Moreover, all these years later there is still a hint of scandal lingering about Wyeth’s expedition.

BENJAMIN SILLIMAN, JR.

          The upshot of Wyeth’s journey was that Scott and others shifted funds from potentially profitable mining ventures in northwestern Arizona to a very early disastrous investment in the oil fields of Southern California. The shift was made on the explicit recommendation of Scott’s geology expert, Yale University Professor of Chemistry Benjamin Silliman, Jr., (1816-1885), the man whose ideas about fractional distillation of petroleum made oil drilling into a profitable industry, whom Scott had specifically hired and sent with Wyeth to assess the lands themselves. It subsequently transpired, however, that Silliman’s report was based on soil samples fraudulently enriched with oil transmitted from California through Wyeth to Silliman. When others later attacked Silliman’s findings as overly optimistic after oil drilling operations proved unsuccessful, Silliman was blamed for the mistake and his reputation greatly diminished.¹ In recounting the story of the 1864 expedition, one author² at least briefly considered whether Wyeth himself might have doctored the samples to boost sales of shares in the companies organized to exploit Silliman’s oil finds. After noting that Wyeth was on record as desiring separate scientific reports for each tract of land the investors were acquiring – an attitude hardly compatible with the kind of fraud that ensnared Silliman – the author concluded that shadier characters in California who had more to gain than Wyeth probably doctored the samples they sent East.  Perhaps this venture, and the uproar it caused, cured Wyeth of the speculation bug, for, while there is a record of at least one later West Virginia oil and coal company that both Scott and Wyeth held shares in, Wyeth was never mentioned again as acting as Scott’s agent.³ Scott was a very private man and left so few records of his dealings that the complete nature and extent of the connection between Scott and Wyeth is difficult to now illuminate. Yet, in the New York Times obituary of John Wyeth written more than forty years after these events there was a cryptic one sentence reference to the relationship: “In early manhood, Mr. Wyeth was associated with Thomas Scott in transportation activities.”

   

1883 “ELEGANT” INVOICE & 1893c COVER

          Shortly after the end of the Civil War, the Wyeths took in Edward T. Dobbins, another PCP graduate, as a third partner, and sold to one Frank Morgan their retail business, which remained in the same location, as they continued to expand their laboratory capacities. Dobbins proved an excellent salesman as well, and he did much to establish JW&B’s reputation in the trade as among the finest and most reliable pharmaceutical manufacturers. In 1872, a JW&B employee named Henry Bower, yet another graduate of PCP, invented a mechanical rotary tablet press that produced pills in bulk that were uniform in shape, size and dosage. This invention, when combined with Wyeth’s palatable and presentable elixirs, ushered in the age of “elegant pharmacy,” a term always associated with JW&B, which placed particular emphasis on the appearance, style and packaging of the medicine itself, and in 1874, JW&B trademarked the term “compressed tablet” to signify the neat new format in which they could present what had previously been known as old-fashioned medicinal “powders.” As JW&B grew, John Wyeth followed his family’s interest in newspapers and bought control of the Philadelphia Record. Unlike most of the other patent medicine mandarins, he was a Democrat, probably because of his association with Thomas A. Scott.

JW&B EXHIBIT AT 1876 PHILADELPHIA CENTENNIAL EXHIBITION

* * * * *

   

TABLET MAKING MACHINE & NEW JW&B FACTORY BUILDING

               In 1889 JW&B survived a devastating fire that began in Morgan’s retail store and not only wiped out that store but also the remainder of the entire block which had become JW&B’s manufacturing complex. John Wyeth estimated the loss at over a half a million dollars excluding the value of his advanced tablet making machinery. Within months, however, JW&B re-opened with a greatly expanded laboratory in a new location. In 1894, the business was well enough grounded financially to resist the icy blast it took in the industry trade journals from Philadelphia retail druggists, including Henry Blair, Jr. son of John Wyeth’s former partner, for selling their goods directly to the public in John Wanamaker’s retail department store (another canceller of battleship revenue stamps along with Blair, both of whom will some day get their due in this column) in direct competition with those Philadelphia druggists. In 1899, the partnership incorporated, a change reflected in the cancel they placed on their battleship revenue stamps. At the turn of the new century, the first generation of JW&B’s leadership began to die off, first Dobbins in 1906 and then John Wyeth in 1907.

SAMPLE WYETH ADS & PRODUCTS

1879 AD IN ANOTHER WHOLESALER’S CATALOGUE

   

1879 ENGLISH TRADE AD & BOTTLE

   

1891 BEEF JUICE TRADE AD & BOTTLE

   

1897 CANADIAN TRADE AD FOR MALT EXTRACT & BOTTLE

   

1902 PREPARED FOOD TRADE AD & BOTTLE

   

1902 PEPSIN TRADE AD & PRODUCT SAMPLE

          The rest of JW&B’s history as an independent entity is typical of a two-generational family business. John Wyeth was succeeded as president of the company by his son Stuart (1862-1929), a lawyer, who had joined the company in 1893 after graduating from Harvard in 1884 and University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1887. Frank Wyeth’s son, Maxwell (1866-1936), a pharmacist, followed his father into the family business after graduating from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1888, and became vice-president in 1908 when his father retired. However, unlike the brothers John and Frank, the cousins, Stuart and Maxwell – coming from such different backgrounds and life experience – did not get along well, and Maxwell left JW&B when his father died in 1913, although he remained on the board of the company. Stuart, a life-long bachelor, led a conventional rich scion’s life, complete with trips to Paris and a large yacht, but lacked his father’s gifts for novelty and innovation that had made JW&B stand out during the first generation’s era. When he died on New Year’s Eve 1929, he left his 55% stock ownership, representing the controlling interest of JW&B, not to his cousin Maxwell, but rather to his alma mater, Harvard University. While another Wyeth cousin actually attempted to set aside Stuart’s will and gain custody of some of the estate left to Harvard, its Trustees lost no time in selling JW&B to AHP in 1931 for $2.9 million. Stuart Wyeth is remembered primarily as a generous benefactor of Harvard, while the Wyeth name has always been identified with quality pharmaceutical goods.

A MORE DETAILED LOOK AT JW&B CANCELS

JW&B CANCELS ON EARLIER GOVERNMENT REVENUES

FIRST ISSUE REVENUE (1862-1871)

   

   

FIRST PROPRIETARY REVENUE ISSUE – CANCEL ON 2 PAPER VARIETIES(1871-1874)

         

   

   

       

        

     

SECOND PROPRIETARY ISSUE – 2 CANCEL VARIETIES, 2 PERFORATION VARIETIES & 2 PAPERS VARIETIES (1875-1881)

          Because of the enormous volume of its cancels that still circulate in the marketplace today, it is fair to say that JW&B has had an impact in philatelic circles separate and apart from its importance as a pharmaceutical company. While JW&B never cashed in on the publicity value of printing its own private die proprietary stamp, it cancelled the Civil War tax period government revenue issues distinctively and vigorously on all the values and types of paper and perforation that those issues provided.

MISCELLANEOUS JW&B HANDSTAMPED CANCELS

   

          JW&B’s Spanish-American War printed cancels – although minutely dissected by Chappell and Joyce into eight separate and distinct types determined by tiny differences in type face and spacing patterns – are more easily rounded into the categories divided by the text of the cancel itself, which combined the company’s initial with: year alone; month and year; month day and year; month, day and year with the added acknowledgment of the company’s incorporation (which took place in the fall of 1899). Each change in the cancellation pattern reflects the government’s tightening of the regulation to pinpoint more accurately the date on which the tax became payable.  Handstamped cancels, while doted upon by specialists, are dismissed by the philatelic cancel compendium assemblers and dealers as being too random and too chancy numerically to settle into an order that they might regularize or perhaps even monetize.

SPECIAL PRINTED 6/29/1898 CANCEL – (2 DAYS BEFORE EFFECTIVE DATE OF TAX)

        

          The anomaly among JW&B’s printed cancels is its full early cancel of June 29, 1898, which by some strange quirk pre-dates the imposition of the tax itself by two days. Among Spanish-American War revenue stamps, it is the earliest recorded cancel and, because it is printed, must have been done in hindsight, since the stamps themselves were not readily available on July 1, 1898, the date the tax took effect. JW&B was a large and significant enough player in the industry to have a representative present in Washington on July 1, 1898 to serve on the committee of wholesale druggists organized by the industry to assist N. B. Scott, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, in his administration of the Revenue Act of 1898 by helping him to determine which substances packaged in what form should be taxed. Perhaps the full cancel was done by JW&B as an expression of patriotic fervor at or near the beginning of the war to demonstrate how the government ought to have mandated the cancels be done correctly from the beginning. In any event, the government did ultimately amend its regulation to require that the full date appear as part of the cancel.

LARGE VOLUME CANCEL TRENDS

   

   

   

   

   

ADDITIONAL SAME DATE PAIRS IN BLACK AND RED INK

       

   

JULY 1899 A BUSY MONTH FOR WYETH’S PRINTER

     

   

REGULAR & INVERTED CANCELS

          The abundance of JW&B cancels features the same kind of varieties that the Wells Richardson & Co. cancels show. Unlike that group of cancels, the JW&B cancels apparently come in only two ink colors, black and red, but, similar to that group, these inks were sometimes applied to the same style of cancel on the same date. Once full date cancels were required, judging from the date intervals, the company required fresh supplies of stamps at least two or three times every month to keep pace with its production. JW&B’s printer was generally consistent in its printing, but occasionally an inverted cancel error does show up.  Neither of the two inverted cancels illustrated above is listed in the authoratative Chappell/Joyce cancel compendium, which either proves that modern resources bring more examples to light, or marks them both as modern creations designed to mislead the folks who create such compendiums.

   

POSSIBLE JW&B CANCELS ON 1914 PROPRIETARY ISSUE

       

       

       

POSSIBLE JW&B CANCELS ON 1919 PROPRIETARY ISSUE

* * * * *

   

POSSIBLE JW&B HANDSTAMPED CANCELS ON 1919 ISSUE

          JW&B continued to have a flourishing business during the World War I period when the tax on patent medicines was again imposed. However, there is room for great controversy over how JW&B stamped its products at this time because no philatelist has ever identified a standardized cancel for JW&B on either the 1914 or 1919 issues of government proprietary revenue issue stamps. There is no definitive guide to cancels on the 1919 issue of government proprietary revenue issues and the current guide to proprietary cancels on the 1914 government issue suggests that the cancel here offered as belonging to JW&B belonged to a “James Wyeth” doing business at the Wyeth Chemical Co.’s address in New Jersey. This listing is simply incorrect, but even accepting that the cancel actually was made by JW&B, it is only a handstamped cancel. A company as prominent as JW&B ought to have had a printed cancel during the period of the 1914 cancel as well. At least the proposed cancel fits well with the 1919 issue, although it does not harmonize with a later category of stamps bearing the familiar JW&B cancel.

       

JW&B CANCELS ON PROVISIONAL 1919 PROVISIONAL NARCOTICS REVENUES

   

JW&B CANCELS ON SAMPLE NARCOTIC STAMPS (NOT ALL SIZED TO SCALE)

JW&B BOX SHOWING NARCOTIC STAMPS WRAPPED OVER THE TOPS OF DOSAGE TUBES

JW&B CANCEL ON LAST NARCOTIC STAMP DESIGN

          The other category of stamps that JW&B cancelled – now back to using its familiar pattern of the company’s initials – was narcotic stamps. The passage of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act in 1914 segregated narcotics – opiates and products of the coca plant species – for separate regulation from other kinds of drugs and medicines, both proprietary and ethical. The Revenue Act of 1918 sharpened the language of that 1914 Act and, effective February 25, 1919, brought about a separate category of revenue stamps to indicate payment of the narcotics tax. For the first few months, regular revenue stamps otherwise used to tax documents were overprinted for use as narcotics stamps, and there are numerous examples of the JW&B cancel applied to such stamps. By the end of the year, separate designs were issued for narcotic stamps and JW&B abundantly cancelled those stamps as well. The government continued to require the separate payment of the narcotics tax by the cancellation of distinctive narcotics stamps until 1971. In 1963, JW&B, by then known as Wyeth Laboratories, apparently was influential enough to persuade the government to issue the last narcotic revenue stamp, which was designed specifically to accommodate a new size of dosage tubing it was then using to market its narcotics.

   

1895 “ELEGANT” & 1896 TRADE ADS

          As with the article on Wells Richardson & Co., this history of JW&B cannot close without some recognition of the sheer volume of material that it generated over the years to advertise its products.

   

EARLY TRADE CARD

     

1935c INK BLOTTERS FOR JW&B INDIA AND U.S.

       

1950c PRODUCT POSTCARDS TO DOCTORS

   

    

1955c LIVLIER “DEAR DOCTOR” AD POSTCARDS

   

BRIGHT PACKAGING AIMED AT THE PUBLIC

   

   

1940s PUBLIC ADS

PRINTS OFFERED FOR FRAMING

          As it began to advertise to the public as well as to the trade, JW&B (as other companies likewise did ) engaged in more exuberant forms of advertising. Perhaps the most striking set of ads it produced was a series called “Pioneers of American Medicine” in the early 1940s. The company commissioned American artist Dean Cornwell (1892-1960), an illustrator and muralist, to paint scenes of medical advances made by American doctors. These paintings were then used in all sorts of advertising for JW&B products as well as offered as a set of prints suitable for framing and mounting by doctors.

   

   

   

   

THREE CORNWELL PICTURES AND THEIR USE AS ADS

x——–x

1          Decades later, when oil drilling and refining techniques had improved, Silliman’s favorable opinions were finally vindicated and the Southern California oil fields boomed.

2          White, Gerald T. “‘The Case of the Salted Sample: A California Oil Industry Skeleton.’” Pacific Historical Review, University of California Press, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3636679

3          Scott, however, remained a significant player in American finance and politics for another fifteen years. He was involved in high-stakes railroad investing all over the country and in the early 1870s even served a year as President of the Union Pacific Railroad, then the first and only transcontinental railroad. Later in the 1870s, he ascended to the Presidency of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Through his design to create a Southern transcontinental railroad, he may well have played a behind-the-scenes role as a Democratic negotiator in the Compromise of 1877, which made the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes President of the United States rather than the Democrat Samuel Tilden who had won the popular vote. That same year, speaking as President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, he earned his reputation as a “robber baron” by suggesting that railroad workers striking to protest unilateral reductions in wages and working conditions imposed by all major rail employers acting in concert, in what became known as the Great Strike of 1877, be given a “diet of rifles” rather than bread and by persuading President Hayes to use federal troops to break the strike.

©     Malcolm A. Goldstein 2020

 

 

 

Standard
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

AMERICAN HOME PRODUCTS CORP. SPECIMAN STOCK CERTIFICATE

          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.”

   

POSSIBLE WYETH CHEMICAL CO. BATTLESHIP REVENUE CANCELS

          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.”

1912 WYETH CHEMICAL CO. INVOICE

POSSIBLE WYETH CANCEL ON 1919 PROPRIETARY REVENUE

          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.

   

WHITEHALL PHARMACAL CO.’S ROWLES RED PEPPER RUB

          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.

       

1905 & 1920 POSTCARD VIEWS OF WHITEHALL BUILDING

          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.

   

WYETH’S SAGE & SULPHUR COMPOUND

          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!

   

WYETH CHEMICAL CO.’S ROWLES RED PEPPER RUB

          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.

1917 O. H. JADWIN SONS’, INC. COVER

          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.

   

JAD SALTS, AS LATER MARKETED BY WHITEHALL PHARMACAL CO.

      

LIMESTONE PHOSPHATE COMPOUND, AS LATER MARKETED BY WYETH CHEMICAL CO.

          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.

1885c ELY BROS COVER FROM OWEGO, NY

     

1885 AD FROM OWEGO NY & 1891 AD FROM NEW YORK CITY

     

COLORFUL ADVERTISING FOR ELY’S CREAM BALM

   

   

1898c ELY BROS. BATTLESHIP REVENUE CANCELS

PACKAGE SEAL USED BY ELY BROS.

ELY’S CREAM BALM, AS LATER MARKETED BY WYETH CHEMICAL CO.

          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.

 

1920c DESHELL LABS (ENGLISH OFFICE) RETURN POSTCARD

 

1937 PETROLAGER LABS INVITATION TO A DOCTOR

PETROLAGER

            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.

       

     

PETROLAGER ADS WITH WALL PRINTS FOR DOCTOR’S OFFICE

          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.

   

1919 EDWARD WESLEY CO. TRADE ADS

   

WESLEY CO.’S FREEZONE

          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.

1883c W. H. HILL & CO. COVER FROM FAIRPORT, NY

   

1887 W. H. HILL & CO. POSTCARD FROM DETROIT MI

     

1898c W. H. HILL & CO. BATTLESHIP REVENUE CANCELS

   

1902 & 1904 W. H. HILL CO. CALENDARS

   

HILL’S CASCARA BROMIDE QUININE BOX SHOWING TORN REVENUE STAMP

          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.

   

HILL’S TABLETS, AS MARKETED BY WHITEHALL PHARMACAL CO.

          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.

WALTER LUTHER DODGE HOUSE, LOS ANGELES CA

          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.

   

TIZ FOR TENDER FEET, AS MARKETED BY THE LARNED CORP.

   

1907 & 1909 HILO GUM CO. ADS – THE POSSIBLE “MISSING LINK”

          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.

     

1913 TIZ TRADE ADS

          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.”

     

1913 TRADE & 1914 PUBLIC TIZ ADS

          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.

1922 TRADE AD COORDINATED AMONG COMPANIES WHICH WOULD BECOME AHP (ALL AT MURRAY’S ADDRESS)

* * * * *

ST JACOBS OIL CO.

   

1880c AUGUST VOGELER & CO. CIVIL WAR PERIOD PRIVATE DIE PROPRIETARY REVENUE STAMPS ON SILK & UNWATERMARKED PAPERS

       

SEALS USED TO REPLACE REVENUE STAMPS AFTER CIVIL WAR TAX REPEALED

1880c A. VOGELER & CO. COVER

PORTRAIT OF CHARLES A. VOGELER

   

1885c ST. JAMES OIL TRADE CARDS

           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.

       

 

TRADECARDS AND COVER SHOWING OTHER VOGELER PRODUCTS

          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.

   

1881 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE SAMPLE ILLUSTRATIONS

          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.

VOGELER “FAIRY STEAMBOAT” ON 1885c TRADECARD

1895c CANADIAN CHARLES A. VOGELER CO. COVER

          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.

   

   

   

MORE ST. JAMES OIL TRADECARDS & A PAPERWEIGHT

          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.

VOGELER, MEYER & CO.

   

1880c PRIVATE DIE PROPRIETARY REVENUE STAMPS ON PINK AND UNWATERMARKED PAPERS

SEALS USED TO REPLACE REVENUE STAMP AFTER TAX REPEALED

* * * * *

         A. C. MEYER & CO. BATTLESHIP REVENUE CANCELS – ALL IDENTIFIED COLORS & DATES

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

   

 * * * * *

A. C. MEYER CO. CANCEL ON 1914 PROPRIETARY REVENUE ISSUE

* * * * *

1897 POSTCARD STATING NO ST. JACOBS OIL ADS DURING SUMMER

          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.

1910c ENGLISH PROPRIETARY MEDICINE TAX STAMP FOR ST. JACOBS OIL LTD.

          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.

1902 ST. JACOBS OIL LTD. COVER

1910 ST. JACOBS OIL LTD. TRADE AD

          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.

     

1922 TRADE ADS SHOWING LATER AHP COMPANIES AS PART OF ONE AD

          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.

x——————-x

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

Standard
S, W

Sterling Products, Inc. (V.1) – Wells, Richardson & Co.

Sterling Products, Inc., Manufacturer

Chapter 5.1 – Wells, Richardson & Co., Manufacturer

MAJOR VARIETIES OF WELLS, RICHARDSON CANCELS

LARGE FONT CANCEL

aWellsRichardson-2-RB28-1898-09-30

SMALL FONT CANCEL

          Wells, Richardson & Co. was an ideal candidate for purchase by Sterling Products, Inc.  It had a distinguished history and an established line-up of patent medicines, which included: Paine’s Celery Compound for “nervous” disorders that lay at the root of virtually all known diseases, such as “headaches, neuralgia, dyspepsia, billiousness [sic], blood humors, kidney disease, constipation, female troubles, fever and ague, sleeplessness, partial paralysis and nervous prostration”(to enumerate the list printed on the back of one trade card circulated to the public); Kidney Wort for complaints involving the liver, kidneys, piles, constipation, as well as rheumatism and malaria; and Wills English Formula Pills, recommended for constipation (one pill at night), as a digestive aid (one pill after the meal), for biliousness and liver complaints (two to four pills night and morning), and for headaches (two pills immediately and one the following morning).  Its Lactated Food for infants, another big seller, gave Sterling a serious competitor in the baby nourishment enhancement field where it previous had none, and opened as possible customers a completely different, and ever regenerating, market of new mothers who sought then, as mothers do now, to find the best products to make their children grow strong and healthy.  Its positive balance sheet made Sterling’s books even sounder than they already were.  Finally, its Diamond Dyes branch put Sterling back in the dye business, this time with an American made brand to sell in post-WWI America.  The Butter Color which Wells Richardson had created was already considered by the American market to be the best available, and its Diamond Dyes were well-known, sold worldwide, and easily competed with the German aniline dyes that Sterling had sold off when it acquired Bayer.

zHenryJohn-2(Bio-Eagle&Brooklyn(1893))-1

          Wells Richardson was chartered in 1872, but its origin is intertwined with that of another company which also went on to fame and fortune.  One John M. Henry became a local agent for certain proprietary medicines in the 1840s and ultimately opened both a wholesale drug company and a retail drug store in Waterbury, VT in 1857 as a family business with his sons, John F. and William.  In 1859, John F. opened a branch of that business in Montreal and quickly became the largest advertiser of drugs and patent medicines in Canada (according to George Rowell).  In 1861, William Henry also left his father’s business to fight in the Civil War.  John M. Henry died in 1862, leaving the business to his sons.  By the end of the Civil War, the significant members of the Henry Co. were John M.’s sons, John F. Henry, William W. Henry, together with William W. Wells, Jr., Eli B. Johnson, and Albert E. Richardson.  However, in 1866, with the fortune he had amassed in Canada, John F. Henry bought a share of the wholesale drug business of Demas Barnes in New York City.  Alert readers will recognize that Demas Barnes, whose colossal exploits were touched upon in the article concerning John D. Park & Sons of Cincinnati, was one of the major patent medicine wholesalers in the entire United States in the 1850s and 1860s.  In 1868, John F. Henry bought out Demas Barnes completely and changed the name of that firm to John F. Henry & Co.  Since he was operating already in the big leagues in New York City, he never really returned to Vermont to run the original family business.  Rather, his brother William, along with Johnson and Richardson, ran the business along with several brothers of the Wells family, who joined the firm over the next two years, and followed it when it moved approximately 25 miles west to Burlington VT in 1868.  In 1872, a reorganization separated the wholesale drug business of Wells, Richardson & Co., owned by Edward Wells (brother of William), together with Albert E. Richardson and William J. Van Patton), from the retail proprietary medicine business of John F. Henry & Co, which continued as Henry & Johnson, with John F. Henry, his brother William and Eli B. Johnson as owners.  With the addition of a third partner in 1879, the Henry company became Henry, Johnson & Lord (yet another company whose complete story will be told in this column eventually).

zWellsRichardson-6a(WilliamWells(Genl)-Wiki)     zWellsRichardson-6e(WWellsStatue-(Gettysburg-Wik)

WILLIAM W. WELLS, JR. & HIS STATUE AT GETTYSBURG

          When the Wells brothers joined the Henry company, they were covered in glory from their service in the Civil War. Of particular note was William W. Wells, Jr., the third of ten children, who was one of the most decorated officers in the Union Army.  He and three of his brothers joined a volunteer Vermont cavalry regiment as privates in September, 1861.  The next month their unit was taken into federal service and fought in several important early cavalry battles, particularly at Orange Court House in August, 1862.  By the end of 1862, Wells had been promoted to the rank of major.  Briefly captured by Mosby’s Raiders in the spring of 1863, he spent seven weeks in Libby Prison in Richmond, VA before he was paroled back to the Union.  His most significant service was rendered at the Battle of Gettysburg, when he took command and salvaged the remnants of an unsuccessful and somewhat foolhardy cavalry charge launched at the far south end of the Union line aimed at turning Lee’s right flank very late on the third day after the commanding officer (who initially had protested the order) was killed.  For his heroism, Wells was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  A statue of him was placed on the Gettysburg battlefield at the foot of Big Round Top in 1913 by his grateful comrades, and it was so beloved that an exact copy was placed in a park in Burlington, VT a year later.  Twice wounded in battles after Gettysburg, he recovered and participated in the encounter at White Tavern, VA in 1864 where Confederate Cavalry Commander Jeb Stuart was killed.  He commanded the lead cavalry brigade in the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac held in Washington in May 1865, and by the end of the war, Wells had been breveted a major-general and commissioned a brigadier general in the regular army.  Although William came back to work for the Henry company, he was soon caught up in other ventures.  He was a state legislator in 1866 and adjutant-general of the State of Vermont from 1867 to 1872.  Thereafter, he was the federal Collector of Customs for Vermont for the next thirteen years and a Vermont state senator in 1886.  He also served as President of the Burlington Trust Co., the Burlington Gas-Light Co., and the Burlington Board of Trade and a director of the Burlington Cold Storage Co., the Rutland Railroad Co. and the Champlain Transportation Co.  In between time filing these other positions, he served as a Vice-President of Wells Richardson.

zWellsRichardson-4R(EWellsObit-PharmEra(1907-1to6-v37))

EDWARD WELLS

zWellsRichardson-15d(HenryWells(Youthful)-UVTWebsite)    zWellsRichardson-15e(FredHWells-UVTWebsite)

HENRY AND FRED WELLS

WellsRichardson-50-1

WELLS RICHARDSON BUILDING 1885c

          Along with William Wells, his brothers Edward and Henry also worked for the Henry company after 1866.  Because of William’s other commitments, it was William’s brother Edward who was principally involved in the pharmaceutical business, and it was he who became as President of Wells, Richardson & Co. when it launched in 1872.  As William did, Edward also served in the Vermont legislature from time to time.  He developed extensive banking ties as well, and, at the time of his death, was President of the Burlington Trust Co. and a vice-president of Burlington Safe Deposit Co.  Henry Wells, too young to have served in the Civil War, became a partner of Wells Richardson in 1873 and succeeded his brother Edward, upon Edward’s death in 1907 at age 72, as President of Wells, Richardson, an office he filled until his own death in 1911 at age 62.  Another younger brother, Fred H. Wells, became a member of Wells, Richardson in 1881.

zWellsRichardson-12bR(AERPicture-UVTWebsite)-2     zWellsRichardson-10(WilliamJamesVanPatten(1848-1920)- FindAGrave-Website)-1

ALBERT E. RICHARDSON & WILLIAM J. VAN PATTON

          Albert E. Richardson, another one of the original owners of Wells Richardson, was described by a New York Times reporter in 1894 as “substantially built man who said he was fifty but looked to be about forty.”  That reporter wrote further about Richardson as “hav[ing] charge of the proprietary end of his firm’s business and draw[ing] checks in the sum of $600,000 worth of advertising.  He looks more like a prosperous banker or merchant than a ‘hustling’ adventurer, but he has managed to push his firm to the very front.”  The third original owner of Wells, Richardson, William J. Van Patton, was described at his death in 1920 at the age of 71 as one of Burlington’s “most prominent citizens and generous benefactors.”  He had served as Secretary and Treasurer of Wells Richardson, president of several other local businesses, plus in a variety of public and municipal offices, including Mayor of Burlington.  All of the founders of Wells, Richardson appear to have been major benefactors of the University of Vermont, and much of the information available now about them is associated with its webpage about Burlington, VT.  By the time Sterling acquired the company, they had all passed from the  scene.

WellsRichardson-5-PCC-1a     WellsRichardson-5-PCC-1b     WellsRichardson-5-PCC-1c(AltBack)

WellsRichardson-10-PCC-1d     WellsRichardson-10-PCC-7b(PainesCeleryCompound)     WellsRichardson-10-PCC-1a

WellsRichardson-10-PCC-7c(PainesCeleryCompound)

WellsRichardson-6-1884-1

PAINE’S CELERY COMPOUND TRADE CARD (WITH ALTERNATIVE BACKS), BOTTLE & 1884c ADVERTISEMENT

          Although Wells Richardson was initially organized as a wholesale drug business, it soon found its way into the manufacturing business as well.  Like Sterling later, it did not develop the patent medicines itself, but rather purchased promising ones that others had begun to market by themselves.  Paine’s Celery Compound was originally formulated in 1874 by one Edward E. Phelps, a professor of theory and practice at Dartmouth Medical College, who thought that celery seeds might serve as the basis for manufacturing a particularly healthful tonic.  He marketed the concoction through M. K. Paine, a druggist in Windsor VT, who was already selling a Green Mountain Balm of Gilead & Cedar Plaster, compounded from local tree resins, and whose good faith Phelps had attested to as early as 1869.  At first, Paine used Wells, Richardson as his agents to distribute these goods, although, according to a 1906 New England regional puff book, Paine was so overwhelmed by the enormous demand for the Celery Compound that came to bear his name that in 1887, he sold the product to Wells, Richardson. Years later, Wells Richardson still mentioned the academic roots of this product on every bottle label to demonstrate its medicinal worth.

WellsRichardson-10-KW-7a(KidneyWort)     WellsRichardson-10-KW-7c(KidneyWort)

WellsRichardson-10-KW-7d(KidneyWort)     WellsRichardson-10-KW-7b(KidneyWort)     WellsRichardson-10-KW-7e(KidneyWort)

Pettingills Kidney-Wort Tablets     WellsRichardson-6-1884-2

KIDNEY WORT CAN (SIDES AND TOP), 1902 BOX & 1884c ADVERTISEMENT

Kidney Wort also was originally brought to market by a man named Pettingill around 1870 and manufactured by his company, the Kidney Wort Co.  Unlike in its marketing of Paine’s Celery Compound, Wells Richardson usually omitted Pettingill’s name from Kidney Wort ads after it took control of the product in the early 1880s.  The American Medical Association’s major compilation and discussion of quack medicines, Nostrums & Quackery, listed this product in its second volume, issued in 1912, and curtly dismissed it in the following terms: “This preparation was analyzed by the North Dakota chemists who reported ‘the sample contained a small amount of couch grass (Triticum), a few broken senna leaves and the bulk of this mixture consisted of crushed roasted beans.’”

WellsRichardson-10-WP-2aR(WillsEnglishFormulaPills)    WellsRichardson-10-WP-1c(WillsEnglishFormulaPills)

     WellsRichardson-10-WP-1d(WillsEnglishFormulaPills)     WellsRichardson-10-WP-1e(WillsEnglishFormulaPills)

WILL’S ENGLISH FORMULA PILLS, TIN & INSTRUCTIONS

Will’s English Formula pills were added to company’s product list in 1890, and their formula “was secured from a famous English physician” according to the 1906 puff book.

WellsRichardson-5-LF-6b     WellsRichardson-5-LF-6a

WellsRichardson-10-LF-1a     WellsRichardson-10-LF-1b     WellsRichardson-10-LF-1c     WellsRichardson-6a-1895-1a

LACTATED FOOD TRADE CARD, BOTTLE & 1895 ADVERTISEMENT

Lactated Food, according to the same account, was the product of two years work by a team of physicians and chemists from the University of Vermont, working with the laboratories of Wells, Richardson, to fulfill the nutritional goals set by the famous German chemist Baron von Liebig in the mid-Nineteenth Century.  The 1906 puff book proudly boasted that it was the “first artificial food to give milk-sugar its correct prominence in the composition of the diatetic [sic] compound.”

WellsRichardson-5-LF-3a2      WellsRichardson-5-LF-3bb

WellsRichardson-5-LF-3b2     WellsRichardson-5-LF-3b4c

   WellsRichardson-5-LF-3c

LACTATED FOOD BOOKLET AD 1900c

          The Connecticut Agricultural Station – that state’s agency charged with evaluating the safety of human food – surveying the claims of the infant foods on the market ten years after the publication of that book – stated generally about all such foods that “it is not fair to a manufacturer to condemn his food because ordinary methods of analysis show large percentages of unaltered starch, when if his directions for preparation are carried out, most, if not all, may be converted into soluble form.”  However, indirectly challenging the book’s boast, its specific analysis of Wells Richardson’s product showed that between 1908 and 1915, while the amount of starch in Lactated Food’s formula increased by 6% to 48% of the total, following preparation in accordance with the furnished directions, only 16% of the starch was converted to milk sugar.  Apparently, the puff book’s claim was harder than it looked to sustain in the manufacturing process.

WellsRichardson-5-DD-2a(DiamondDye)     WellsRichardson-5-DD-2c

WellsRichardson-5-DD-2g(DiamondDye)     WellsRichardson-5-DD-2e

     WellsRichardson-5-DD-2f

WellsRichardson-10-DD-16a(Dyes-Navy)     WellsRichardson-10-DD-16bR(Dyes-Navy)

WellsRichardson-10-DD-16g(Dyes-Orchid)     WellsRichardson-10-DD-16h(Dyes-Orchid)

WellsRichardson-6a-1911-1(DD)     WellsRichardson-6a-1928-1

DIAMOND DYE TRADE CARD STORY SERIES WITH COMMON BACK, EARLY & LATE PRODUCT PACKAGING,  PLUS 1911 & 1928 ADS

          With respect to developing Diamond Dyes, the 1906 puff books states that before Wells Richardson entered the field, most “country druggists” stocked only logwood and indigo, natural products from which crude black and blue dyes could be produced. When Wells Richardson began marketing a range of aniline colors in small packages in 1880, sales were slow at first, but the uniformity of the color produced and the simplicity of the directions for their successful use made them a hit with housewives.  In the open-ended praise of the 1906 book: “there is probably no article that has proved a greater aid to household economy, or a more important, or more helpful, and more money-saving household article than Diamond Dyes.”  Colorful retail store display chests of Diamond Dyes are now collectible as antiques.

WellsRichardson-10-DD-10R(ButterColor)   WellsRichardson-10-DD-15R(ButterColor)

EARLY AND LATE PACKAGING OF IMPROVED BUTTER COLOR

Commenting on the Improved Butter Color, the specific dye for butter manufactured by Wells Richardson after 1886, the puff book hyperbolized that it “is today the only standard butter color of the entire world.  At least three-fourths of the United States’ entire supply of butter is today colored by Improved Butter Color.”

WellsRichardson-6-1876-1     WellsRichardson-6-1881-1

WellsRichardson-6-1877-1

1876 & 1881 COMPANY CHECKS PLUS 1877 INVOICE

           Because this column deals with the stamps the proprietary medicine companies used during the Spanish-American War as well as the companies themselves, where enough of the vast volume of stamps Wells Richardson cancelled have survived, some study of the way the company handled these stamps can be made.  Certain questions arise when such an examination is made.  For example, what was the company’s actual name?  One of the stranger aspect of Wells, Richardson’s corporate existence is that its name seems to have existed in two forms simultaneously.  Prosperity came early enough for the company to use the extended period (until 1883) that the tax originally imposed during the Civil War was collected for its own benefit by commissioning its own private die revenue stamp in 1880.  The name it placed on the stamp was Wells, Richardson & Co.

CIVIL WAR ERA TAX PRIVATE DIE PROPRIETARY STAMP OF WELLS, RICHARDSON TOGETHER WITH PROOF ON INDIA PAPER AND BLOCK OF 4 PROOFS ON CARD STOCK

Trade cards dating from the 1880s appear in the form Wells, Richardson & Co.

WellsRichardson-5-LF-1a     WellsRichardson-5-LF-4aa     WellsRichardson-5-LF-16a1

1880s TRADE CARDS

However, by the time it cancelled stamps during the period of the re-imposed tax for the Spanish-American War in 1898, its cancel on the government issued stamps was “W & R Co.” or Wells & Richardson Co.  While the company incorporated in 1883, the shift of the ampersand seems to have occurred around 1890, as the company’s envelopes show. However, but both forms of the name were used thereafter, seemingly interchangeably.

WellsRichardson-3-1880-1a

1880C WELLS, RICHARDSON & CO. COVER

WellsRichardson-3-1890-1R

1890 WELLS & RICHARDSON CO. COVER

          Another question is how often did the company cancel stamps? The Joyce/Chappell compilation of Spanish-American War Proprietary Cancels, which addresses such issues, attempts to list all of the known dates on which the company overprint has been found on various denominations of the government issues.  Even though it lists between three and six dates per month on which the company cancelled stamps, because of pictures posted on the internet, a larger sampling of the cancels now available demonstrates that the list is incomplete.  For example, shown below are stamps cancelled on three consecutive days in May, 1899, and, in all, eight separate dates for that month, while Joyce/Chappell compilation lists five dates.  It seems possible that, considering the enormous size and scope of the Wells, Richardson operation, and its huge printing plant, which was ever turning out labels, trade cards, almanacs, and booklets as well as overprinting stamps with the company’s cancel, the company may actually have cancelled stamps every day during the three year period they were required to show payment of the Spanish-American War tax.  Continued observation of the stamps may well reveal even more dates to support this hypothesis.

mWellsRichardson-2-RB28-1899-05-04A     mWellsRichardson-2-RB28-1899-05-05

mWellsRichardson-2-RB28-1899-05-06a

PRINTED CANCELS FOR THREE CONSECUTIVE DAYS IN MAY, 1899

mWellsRichardson-2-RB28-1899-05-24

FIVE ADDITIONAL DATE CANCELS JUST IN MAY, 1899

          There are other more mundane observations about the scope of collecting Spanish-American proprietary revenue cancels that can be made predicated on the volume of Wells Richardson stamps.  As a large volume manufacturer, Wells, Richardson understood from the very beginning that it was going to use enough stamps to necessitate printing its cancels directly on the government issues rather than hand-stamping them as many other smaller manufacturers, and most wholesalers and retailers did.  Therefore, all known Wells, Richardson cancels are printed and, likewise, there appear to be no hand-stamped Wells, Richardson cancels. Moreover, while the government’s regulations about the precision of the date of the tax payment cancel changed over the period that the tax was collected, meaning that most companies produced multiple forms of their cancel to reflect these changes, Wells Richardson immediately adopted a policy of cancelling its stamps with the precise month, day and year of use – the place where the government’s regulations finally arrived – so there is only one form of the printed Wells Richardson cancel.  While during the first month of the use of the stamps, Wells Richardson cancelled its stamps with red ink, most of the time the overprints were made in black ink:

EARLY WIDE SPACED RED CANCELS ON RB 21 & RB23

WIDE AND NARROW EARLY RED SPACED CANCELS ON RB25

EARLY WIDE SPACED RED CANCEL ON RB27 AND LATER NARROW RED CANCEL ON RB28

Toward the end of the three-year period of use, however, other inks, such as blue and violet, crept in, so cancels can be found in several different color inks.  Sometimes one of these different color inks was used on the same date as black ink:

VIOLET AND BLACK CANCELS ON MAR. 8, 1901 RB28s

BLUE AND BLACK CANCELS ON APRIL 8, 1901 RB28s

Because so many stamps were cancelled, there are some errors caused by broken or missed type, and there is even a stamp bearing an inverted overprint, uncommon among the cancels by this particularly exacting company:

ERRORS IN TYPE REGISTRATION

h-error-WellsRichardson-2-RB28-1901-03-08-1g(err-inv)

UNCOMMON INVERTED CANCEL

One of the most intriguing cancels is the hand-stamped one applied by a local Chicago druggist, right over the Wells, Richardson printed cancel which had been attached to the product before its delivery to him. Apparently, the local retailer wanted to make sure the tax was paid, and didn’t trust the manufacturer.  Note that the color of the underlying Wells Richardson cancel is green.

g-dblcncl-WellsRichardson-2-RB28-1900-03-29(+LocalDrugstoreCncl)

UNUSUAL HANDSTAMPED LOCAL CANCEL OVER UNUSUAL GREEN W & R PRINTED CANCEL

          The government used two different kinds of perforation to separate the stamps, one called rouletting and one called hyphen-hole. Examples of both can be found among the Wells, Richardson cancels.

ROULETTED PERFORATION

HYPEN-HOLE PERFORATION

The differences are caused by differences in the blades which the government used to cut the separations in the paper the stamps were printed on.

WellsRichardson-20-1883-1a     WellsRichardson-20-1884-1a

MONOCHROME 1883 COMPANY ALMANAC COVER FOR NEW YORK STATE & MULTICOLOR 1884 COVER

          With the volume of printed material that Wells, Richardson generated in the service of advertising their products, this article cannot close without spending a moment reflecting on the eye-popping color that this material, now classified as ephemera, must have added to the quieter age from which it dates.  In an age when all must consult their mobile phones virtually every minute to remain updated both on constantly changing political, sports, fashion and social events and the minutiae of the lives of their closest associates, it is hard to imagine that this brightly colored material once was the latest, hottest means to attract people’s attention and momentarily transport them away from their realities.  Mass multicolor printing took hold in America in the 1880s, and came to Wells, Richardson & Co. in approximately 1883 as is shown by the difference in the covers of the company’s 1883 and 1884 yearly almanacs.   The illustrations produced by Wells, Richardson still shine brightly over a hundred years after they were printed.

WellsRichardson-20-1886-1a     WellsRichardson-20-1886-2aa     WellsRichardson-20-1886-2a     WellsRichardson-20-1886-1b

1886 NATIONAL & INDIVIDUAL STATE ALMANAC FRONT COVERS & COMMON BACK COVER

WellsRichardson-5-LF-12a2     WellsRichardson-5-LF-13a

WellsRichardson-5-DD-4

ADDITIONAL TRADE CARDS FOR LACTATED FOOD & DIAMOND DYE

WellsRichardson-6-1915-1a     WellsRichardson-6-1937-1a

DIAMOND DYE BOOKLETS FROM 1915 & 1937

WellsRichardson-21-NurseryRhymes(DiaDye)-2     WellsRichardson-21-NurseryRhymes(DiaDye)-2b

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1900c COVERS & SAMPLE PAGES FROM DIAMOND DYE NURSERY RHYME BOOKLET

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VARIOUS DIAMOND DYE ALMANAC COVERS

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1890c DIAMOND DYE STORY BOOKLET & COVERS

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COLLECTIBLE DIAMOND DYE STORE DISPLAY CABINETS

©  Malcolm A. Goldstein 2018

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C. Wakefield & Company

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C. W. & CO.

JUL  23  1900

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C. W. & CO.

May  25,  ‘0.

Cyrenius Wakefield, the superstar of C Wakefield & Co, never intended to be either a physician or a patent medicine manufacturer.  His ambition was to homestead a farm and raise stock, and he initially molded his life to pursue this goal.  However, circumstances, both fortunate and unfortunate, led him to ownership and control of a large and prosperous mid-western patent medicine company.  Because of the westward progression of his ancestors and his own westward journey, he may be the most truly representative Nineteenth Century pioneering figure that this study so far has chanced to discuss.

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Cyrenius Wakefield

Directly descended from an ancestor who had emigrated to the colonies about 1680 from the village of Wakefield, England, (the same memorialized by the 18th Century writer Oliver Goldsmith in his novel “The Vicar of Wakefield,” as Wakefield’s advertising later trumpeted),  Cyrenius (sometimes Sirenus) Wakefield was born in Watertown, NY in 1815, the fourth of the six children of Joseph Wakefield.  Joseph himself had moved west from Rutland, VT to develop his farm with his wife Susan, born in New Hampshire.  Young Cyrenius grew up in Watertown, farming in season and teaching school in winter.  In 1837, he journeyed by steamboat, stage and on foot (for the last two days, since there was no public conveyance) to Bloomington, IL, then on the western frontier, where he apparently believed he would find his opportunity to homestead. Exactly why he harbored this supposition about this particular location on the frontier is not recounted in the extant records.  Supporting himself for fifteen months as a school teacher, particularly to benefit in winter from the large stove (rare in the West) with which the schoolhouse was equipped, he eventually purchased land in DeWitt County south of Bloomington. Over the next several years, he cleared land in summer and taught school in winter, until he had created enough of a farmstead to begin his own family.  In 1843, he journeyed back to Watertown, to marry “an old schoolmate” to be his “housekeeper” (in the quaint words of the Nineteenth Century Illinois regional history book puff biographies of Wakefield).

One of Dr Wakefield’s neighbors summarized the pristine state of the region around Bloomington, IL in the pioneer era in the following poetic doggerel:

Great western waste of bottom land,

Flat as a pancake, rich as grease;

Where mosquitoes are as big as toads

And toads as big as geese.

Beautiful prairie, rich with grass,

Where buffaloes and snakes prevail;

The first with dreadful looking face,

The last with dreadful sounding tail.

I’d rather live on camel’s rump

And be a Yankee Doodle beggar,

Then where they never see a stump

And shake to death with fever ager.

 

In 1845, Cyrenius was visited by his older brother, Zera, a circumstance that ultimately altered the trajectory of both their lives.  After graduating from medical school in Cincinnati, OH, Zera had settled in southwestern Arkansas and had been practicing medicine there for ten years.  He was so favorably impressed by the farm that Cyrenius had develop in Illinois, that he decided to re-settle there himself, and moved to Bloomington.  In 1846, Zera lent Cyrenius money to start a country store, which Cyrenius managed successfully while Zera established his medical practice.  When the seasonal “miasmatic” fevers began in the region the next year, Zera applied the techniques he had developed “down South” in Arkansas, and was recognized immediately as an expert able to “break up the most severe cases here in a few hours.  His wonderful success created a great sensation, and his fame soon extended fifty miles around.  With the aid of a driver and a change of horses, he was quite unable to fill all of the demands upon him.”  To meet the needs of those patients he was unable to attend himself as demand grew, Zera prepared careful formulas for his medicines and taught Cyrenius how to compound them. This development, in turn, led Cyrenius to order uniform bottles and himself prepare directions so that growing number of patients could self administer the medicine that Cyrenius was preparing.  The Wakefield country store gradually transformed into a medical laboratory.  Advertising for Wakefield’s remedies always thereafter dated the founding of the company as 1846.  Then Zera died suddenly in 1848 of a “violent congestion of the lungs which carried him off in thirty-six hours.” Although devastated by his brother’s death, Cyrenius felt obliged to sell his farm, invest the proceeds into consolidating control of the business by buying out his brother’s bride of two months, and move to Bloomington to “obtain better postal and express facilities.” In this way, Cyrenius Wakefield created C Wakefield & Co out of the opportunity of his brother’s fortuitous re-settlement and the bitter adversity of that same brother’s death.

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Once settled in Bloomington, Cyrenius operated a retail drug business in a storefront with a partner, while using the rear of the store as his manufacturing plant.  He “applied himself diligently to the study of medicine and pharmacy … and here gained the title of Doctor.” In other words, Dr C Wakefield’s title was self conveyed.  By 1857, he gave up the retail drug trade and devoted himself entirely to the manufacture of the line of Wakefield remedies.  While there were setbacks along the way – a fire that burned his newly built house in February, 1853 (or 1854) (for which he was uninsured) and another great fire in October, 1855, that, in the course of destroying downtown Bloomington, destroyed most of his business location (for which he was under-insured) –  the business ultimately grew and prospered as he “extended his local agencies over all of the Western States.”  Although Wakefield never bothered to order and print his own private die proprietary stamps during the period of the Civil War revenue tax between 1863 and 1883, cancels on several RBs are identified with his company.

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In 1868, Wakefield’s older son, Oscar, became “superintendent” of the company’s laboratory, and in 1871, Wakefield elevated his brother-in-law and Oscar to the status of partners and turned day to day control of the business over to them.  As a puff biography stated, by 1874, the Wakefield Co employed:

forty persons in [its] medicine business (one-half of whom are female) and [its] annual sales amount to $100,000. [It] converts twenty-five tons of paper into almanacs every year for free distribution, for the purpose of advertising [its] remedies. [Its] largest sales are made where fevers are most dangerous and most common, particularly in new[ly settled] counties where [the doctor] is glad to know that his remedies are the means of doing great good. It seems now well recognized among advertisers that advertising is only of temporary benefit unless the product advertised presented to the public has intrinsic merit.  The  Doctor has made himself quite independent by the judicious advertising of good and reliable remedies.

By 1879, the company’s printing production numbers had doubled and its net worth was estimated at $150,000.  It was producing approximately “ten different remedies …  mostly fever and ague specifics, balsams, cough-sirups [sic], [and] pills.”  These medicines were sold in “Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa … [as well as] the Western and Southwestern states.”  To oversee his business, Dr Wakefield maintained a separate team and  wagon in six of those states and operated the business through “six thousand local agents, mostly druggists and dealers, who sell his medicine on commission.” The business employed “twenty-five to fifty hands, according to season” and kept four printing presses running to generate the necessary almanacs and other publicity. “In 1860 he got up 100,000 almanacs for his agents to circulate,” and in 1879 he sent out “1,500,000,” using “fifty tons of printing paper,” and printing them in “English, German, Norwegian and Swedish.”

In retirement, Dr Wakefield visited Atlantic City and Philadelphia in the Centennial year of 1876 and traveled with his family to Europe in the summer of 1878.  One of the regional histories summarized his character as “a man of very firm and decided principle.” Among his most notable achievements, he was a founder of the Republican Party in Bloomington, advocating for the new political party after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and participating in the first local meeting held on September 9, 1854.  In fact, a very recent book on Lincoln’s development as a politician in Illinois prior to his run for the presidency identifies Dr. Wakefield not only as a backer of Lincoln, but also a close friend.  He was also a “liberal supporter of the Free Congregational Church” in Bloomington, and, while declining to stand for formal public office, he did serve stints as a member of the Bloomington City School Board, and as the head of the local volunteer Public Committee on Distribution.  “As a citizen, he stands among the foremost of the best known of the many public-spirited men of our city, having a fame that extends outside the city, county or State, being, in fact, a man of national reputation.”  Wakefield died in 1885 in Bloomington.

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In the 1890s, C Wakefield & Co was marketing a line of remedies which included   Blackberry Balsam, Cough Syrup, Golden Ointment, Wine Bitters, Liver Pills, Pain Cure, Eye Salve, Worm Destroyer, Nerve & Bone Liniment, Egyptian Liniment, Fever Specific and Egyptian Salve. Blackberry Balsam was advertised in a company guide to its remedies as a “sure cure” for diarrhea, dysentery, cholera morbus, cholera infantum, winter and mountain cholera, summer complaint, flux and relaxed conditions of the bowels.” It was described not only as “an astringent, checking the relaxation of the bowels, but act[ing] as a regulator, leaving the stomach and bowels in such a condition that nature again asserts control.”  The prescribed average dosage was one large tablespoonful, however, “when the liver is torpid and the stomach bilious, the action of the bowels may not be fully regulated for several days.”  Cough Syrup was prescribed as a cure for “colds, coughs, la grippe, typhoid and lung fever, croup, measles, whooping cough and all throat and lung affections.”  The syrup was administered at a rate of one teaspoonful every one or two hours, with relief reported sometimes as quickly as after “four doses during an afternoon and evening.”  Golden Ointment was described as the cure for all external applications where “soothing, softening or healing” was needed, such as burns, scalds, cuts and ‘frosted parts,’ as well as “corns, running sores, boils, felons, sore nipples, caked breast, scald head, chapped hands” and finally “no equal for sore throat.”  The Ointment was formed into a plaster and applied over diseased parts.  Wine Bitters gave “tone, energy and vigor to the digestive organs, renews the blood, increases the appetite, removes old long-standing headaches, acts as a gentle laxative, breaks up a costive heart, cures dyspepsia, boils and sores by thoroughly cleaning the blood, and will soon give renewed vigor to the whole physical system.”  Recommended dosage was one tablespoonful three times a day shortly before meals.  An advertising booklet lavished similar warm praise on all of the other remedies.  Liver Pills were classed as vegetable purgatives and averred to be “superior for liver and kidney troubles, costiveness [constipation], jaundice, sick-headache, gout and all bilious affections.”  The directions were to take one every night before bed, and depending upon one’s constitution possibly one in the morning as well.  The goal was to achieve “one action of the bowel daily, and slightly increase the quantity and fluency of that action.”

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After the passing of its luminous central personality, C Wakefield & Co settled into the role of a stalwart supporting player among the many patent medicine manufacturers.  In 1897, it was listed as a member of the Proprietary Association of America (PAA), the patent medicine manufacturing trade association, and its principals were listed as the Estate of C Wakefield, Oscar Wakefield, Executor; General Manager Oscar Wakefield; directors Cyrenius’s younger son, Dr Homer Wakefield, and his younger daughter, Hattie Brady.  In 1902, the company, as a member of the PAA, specifically and voluntarily endorsed the Tripartite Agreement, the master retail price maintenance control plan entered into by the PAA, the National Association of Wholesale Druggists and the National Association of Retail Druggists later deemed illegal under the Sherman Act.

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C Wakefield & Co persevered through the muckraking era without its products ever drawing direct flak from the reformers (for containing either undisclosed poisons or water parading as a miracle drug).  However, its advertising of “sure” cures was included by the Federal Drug Administration in its large compilations of objectionable advertising appended as exhibits to its congressional testimony in 1912 pressing for the legislation ultimately passed as the Sherley Amendment. That law extended the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 beyond merely requiring disclosure of poisons and barring adulteration, and finally made such promises of “sure cures” also unlawful.  Yet, deprived of a dynamo at its core or even promises of “sure” cures for humans, the company continued to exist.  Since Wakefield’s remedies had been promoted equally for animals as for people, veterinary usage allowed the company to reshape its marketing policy, and by the late 1920s, Wakefield’s advertising seems to have been centered upon poultry journals, and pitched to convince farmers to use its Blackberry Balsam to cure poultry diarrhea.  Appealing to that particular audience seems to have allowed the company to carry on through the economic hard times and the era of more stringent regulation that followed.  On the Internet, one can locate an image of a box of Wakefield’s “Balsam for Diarrhea” manufactured by a C Wakefield & Co, “established in 1846,” now from a location in Levittown, NY 11756 (5 digit zip codes date from 1963, although one source concludes, perhaps on the basis of that image, that the products were being manufactured as late as the 1980s).  The final tepid word on C Wakefield & Co seems to be that it survived because its remedies did no great substantive harm to their users.

 

© Malcolm A. Goldstein 2013

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