Sunday, September 30, 2012

On Beyond Holcombe: Nelson, Baker & Company

On Beyond Holcombe, by Malcolm A. Goldstein, appears on Sundays at 1898 Revenues:





Nelson, Baker & Co was among a cluster of prominent pharmaceutical companies located in Detroit, MI, although a latecomer on the scene. It was organized only in 1890, but by the Spanish-American War had become a large enough operation to utilize a whole array of cancels, including a profusion of type faces and layouts, on various values of the battleship revenues. Its principals were Edwin H. Nelson and William S. Baker, but its superstar was Dr. Albert Brown Lyon, whose scientific reputation transcended the company.



Edwin Horatio Nelson was born in Brighton, Ontario on June 27, 1856, during a time when his parents briefly resided in Canada. His father was born in Ireland and his mother was a member of the ancient and honored Thayer family of Massachusetts. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Arkansas where his father owned and operated a plantation before the Civil War. A turn of the (20th) century biographical sketch of Nelson tactfully mentions that the plantation was used by the Union army as a hospital during the Civil War, after which his parents retired to Canada. Nelson was educated in Canada and graduated from the Ontario College of Pharmacy in 1876. His life’s path was set when he moved to Detroit to work for the oldest of the pharmaceutical houses in Detroit, Frederick Stearns & Company (a definite subject for a much longer piece in this series). He worked for Stearns until he became the young and brash President and Chairman of the Board of the new company. By 1907, along with his ownership of N B & Co, he was also a director of the newly formed National Bank of Commerce in Detroit as well as a director of the National Can Co. In a biographical sketch, he characterized himself as a Republican, Episcopal, and a member of prominent business and social organizations in Detroit, including serving as secretary of the Detroit Club in 1907. His son Frank Thayer, born in 1887, won the silver medal in pole vaulting as a member of the US team at the 1912 Olympics. Unlike his father, Frank, as an Olympian, merits his own stub Wikipedia entry and a picture of his medal winning pole vault is displayed there.

The Baker of N B & Co was William S. Baker, born in New York State in 1861. Apparently never significant enough to be profiled in the contemporary biographical puff books of Detroit’s prominent businessmen, his role is mentioned only once in connection with N B & Co, in a description of its operations published in an 1894 trade journal. He is portrayed there as being a canny pharmaceutical salesmen, who had woeked as such for fourteen years ( perhaps also for Stearns) before he became part of N B & Co. He served as N B & Co’s treasurer for ten years or more, although by 1910, he had relocated to Chicago where he spent the next decade. In 1930, he and his wife were living with their daughter’s family in Seattle. As with many, even most, other second names in company titles, he seems to be overshadowed in collective memory as well as in life by the lead name.

Dr. Albert Brown Lyon served as supervising chemist and corporate secretary for N B & Co, from 1897 to his death in 1926, but his reputation today primarily rests on his treatise and compendium on plants published in 1900, apparently still a popular reference guide. Born in 1841 to one of the pioneer missionary families in Hawaii, he moved back and forth between the islands and the mainland before finally settling in Detroit. His Lyon ancestors landed in the New World in 1635, and his mother’s family descended from religious dissenters who accompanied Roger Williams to Rhode Island after he was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. When Dr. Lyon’s father was buried in Waimea Hawaii in 1886, the King of Hawaii himself sent a Hawaiian flag to use as his winding sheet, because he had heard the old man say: “Fifty years have I lived under your flag ... I wish that when I die I may be wrapped in the flag I loved.” Published in 1905, the three volume Lyon family anthology, for which Dr. Lyon acted as chief editor, as well as relating that story, included his father’s favorite hymn translated into Hawaiian.

Dr. Lyon, himself, was educated at Hawaii’s most famous private school, Punahou, and attended college at Oahu College for two years before graduating in 1865 first in his class from Williams College in Massachusetts. He studied medicine at University of Michigan and earned his M.D. in 1868. Immediately following graduation, he became a chemistry professor at Detroit College, where he spent the next twelve years before becoming a consulting chemist to Parke, Davis & Company (another Detroit powerhouse which will be visited again in these columns) in 1881, and then editor of the trade journal Pharmaceutical Era in 1887 (a significant information source for these columns). In 1887, Lyon also published a handbook for analyzing drugs and galenicals (standard preparations of medicines which contain organic substances) which brought him renown as a chemist. In 1888, he returned to Hawaii as the government’s chemist and a professor of various sciences, including physics, as well as logic at Oahu College. When Hawaii became a republic, he served for two weeks as a militiaman in its Citizen’s Guard in 1895, as his biographers ever after proudly noted. In 1900, he was chosen as one of twenty-five chemists named to conduct the decennial revision of the United States Pharmacopoeia. His wife, whom he married in 1878, was born in Wisconsin, but Dr. Lyon could trace her ancestry back through his minister father-in-law (who performed their wedding ceremony) to the Puritans John Alden and Miles Standish. He had two children both of whom matriculated at his medical school alma mater, the University of Michigan. His daughter, after graduating Phi Beta Kappa, ran a missionary school in China and his son became a language teacher at University of Michigan. He belonged to various scientific and professional societies, was a deacon of his church, as he had been in Hawaii, and was a staunch Republican.






N B & Co erected its own laboratory in Detroit in 1893. In 1909, at a time when the original building had been greatly expanded, the company employed more than 400 people, including 70 traveling salesmen. According to a contemporary book trumpeting the important businesses of Detroit, it manufactured a “full and complete line of pharmaceutical preparations and the products of the establishment are recognized by the trade and by the medical profession in general as being of a superior order.” While its profusion of cancels attests that N B & Co was manufacturing lots of different products, there is no single product with which it is most strongly identified. A trade card offered the product Bromo-Laxine for coughs, colds, headaches and neuralgia, but the products themselves suggest everything from Seidlitz Powder (a generic cathartic) to urine testing kits for professionals. The company successfully remained in business, with Frank Nelson, who became an attorney after the 1912 Olympics, becoming Vice-President upon his father’s death in 1932. Although Frank lived on until 1970, in 1950, N B & Co was combined with Penslar Corporation, another small Detroit pharmaceutical company founded in 1910, and both were purchased by the Purepac Corporation, still today a manufacturer of generic drugs.




*****

The Nelson, Baker canceled battleship stamps below are from the former collection of Henry Tolman.  From Mr. Tolman's organization of the types it is clear that he was still working on coming to final terms with the cancel varieties:





Friday, September 28, 2012

Detroit, Bay City & Alpena Railroad


DETROIT,
BAY CITY & ALPENA RR
MAY
11
1899
ALPENA

Langlois scan


The Detroit, Bay City & Alpena RR was a short line that operated from Bay City, Michigan to the Lake Huron port of Alpena.  The railroad was reorganized into the Detroit & Mackinac in 1894, yet clearly the D&M ran the railroad with its original name as it was using cancels with the DBC&A name in 1899. 



The logo of the Detroit & Mackinac, the successor the Detroit, Bay City & Alpena


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chicago Board of Trade Members: C. DePeyster Berry


C. D. Berry memorandum of sale for 5 units of something I can't decipher for September delivery

David Thompson scans


C. DePeyster Berry was member #5562 of the Chicago Board of Trade.  He was a commission trader.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chicago Board of Trade Members: C. H. Canby & Company


C. H. CANBY & CO.
AUG   17  1899
CHICAGO

Langlois scan

Caleb Harlan Canby was member #5362 of the Chicago Board of Trade




C. H. Canby, 1915

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On Beyond Holcombe: Malena Company

On Beyond Holcombe, by Malcolm A. Goldstein, appears on Sundays at 1898 Revenues:




MALENA CO.
JUN
12
1899


The Malena Company was the brainchild of Chauncey F. York. During the Spanish-American War, it was located in Warriors Mark, PA, a town in central western Pennsylvania. In 1910, York opened a spacious new factory in Detroit, MI and moved his whole operation there. The local Huntingdon County Pennsylvania paper, fondly recalling the history of Warriors Mark a hundred years later, noted that York “became a millionaire” only after he moved the operation to Detroit.





York was born in New York City in March, 1850. In 1876, he graduated from Penn State located in State College, PA, and by 1880 had settled with his wife and infant son, Henry, born in 1879, in Warriors Mark, not far from Penn State. The Malena Company manufactured the basic compound Malena, meant to be used either as an ointment or salve, and later added Malena Liver Pills, Pills, Worm and Blood Tablets, as well as Gu-Ma Gum - “the best chew for a cent.” The pitch for the Liver Pills, a laxative, was stark and straight forward: “Constipation leads to death. Use Malena Liver Pills and don’t die.”



Trade card: front, above; reverse, below





Trade card front and back



From its factory in Warriors Mark, as well as the “medicines” themselves, the company poured forth scads and scads of colorful trade cards in a great variety of designs ranging across the gamut of traditional Victorian subjects, such as cheerful, chubby, dewy-cheeked children, cuddly kittens and puppies, landscapes, flowers, birds and assorted combinations of the foregoing. On the back of each trade card, the products were relentlessly touted. Malena, itself was advertised to remedy catarrh, neuralgia, rheumatism, stiff joints, rough or chapped skin, cuts, burns, scalds, blister, bruises, bites, stings, sore lips, mouth and throat, corns, dandruff, and warts. The idea seemed to be to persuade people to apply as much of the compound as possible at every moment. The graver the illness, the more product ought to be applied. The company also issued short story booklets, precursors of the comic books of a later age, with product plugs and testimonials woven in among the pages of the story.

Son Henry followed in his father’s footsteps and graduated from Penn State in 1900. He received his M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City in 1904, and opened a medical practice in Warriors Mark, where he married in 1906 and began his family. Father Chauncey soon moved on from central Pennsylvania. By 1908, he had relocated to Detroit and had a new, younger wife. In the 1910 Census, he reported an infant son with his new wife. He soon acquired an estate, which he named Malena Park, in central Michigan near Clark Lake in Columbia, MI. Henry moved to Detroit in 1910 and became the manager of the relocated company. In the 1914 edition of the local Who’s Who, Henry, now called Harry, listed himself as a Democrat and a Methodist. He was a member of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce and a Mason. His hobbies were hunting and fishing.



In 1915, Chauncey launched a new career. He became an author, publishing a book of stories called the Overlook Farm Books, which he stated “give a vivid description of the early, backwoods pioneer life and are replete with thrilling pioneer stories intensely interesting and instructive to everyone, especially the boys and girls.” A random excerpt from the book reads as follows:

“The landlord replied, ‘Over there sits your man,’ pointing toward me. ‘He is not a regular guide, but knows the north woods and has as much horse sense as anyone else around here, I reckon.’ “He engaged me at once. We were over three weeks on our way up from Augusta to the place known to the old settlers as PEG CABIN ‘Peg Town.’ As soon as Mr. Lee (that was the name of the young man) saw the amazing beauty of the surrounding country lie said, ‘Here is the place I will pitch my tent for the balance of the summer.’
If you mailed in a stamp, you could receive not only a sample copy of the book, but also free samples of the Malena line of products. In 1925, Chauncey sold his Michigan estate to the local township to use as a park, and retired to Florida. He died in Tarpon Springs, Fl in 1928. Malena continued to be advertised until the end of the 1920s, and disappeared during the Depression. Harry York seems not to have returned to medicine. A last random record closes present internet knowledge of his whereabouts. In 1942, a registration card which he filed in connection with the 4th Michigan Draft for World War II, covering men “born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before February 16, 1897," listed him as living in Detroit and employed by Rose Jewelers in Grand River, MI. Today, Malena’s principal legacy seems to lie in all of the foderol generated to sell it.






Friday, September 21, 2012

Chicago Board of Trade Members: Philip Benz & Company


P. B. & Co.
AUG  10  1898

Langlois scan


This stamp was in a packet in which all the stamps with readily identifiable cancels were made by members and firms of the Chicago Board of Trade.  Making the assumption that this stamp too was soaked from a CBOT contract or sale memorandum, the one firm in the membership list of 1900 that fits this initial pattern is that of Philip Benz & Company. 

The commission firm of Philip Benz & Company had two members of the CBOT with the last name Benz:

CBOT #114 Philip Benz
CBOT #5774 Emil P. Benz

Philip Benz had a very low member number and must have been one of the CBOT's earliest members.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

New York Stock Brokers: Hollister & Babcock


HOLLISTER & BABCOCK.
xxx  9   1902

Langlois scan






Hollister & Babcock were pushing bonds for the Rochester Gas & Electric Company in the mid 1890s:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chicago Board of Trade Members: Robert Lindblom & Company


R. LINDBLOM & CO.
JUN  19  1899
CHICAGO

Langlois scan

Mr. Lindblom was CBOT member #2396


Mr Lindblom was an accomplished citizen of the city of Chicago who was born in Sweden.  From Men and Women of America:  A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries, L. R. Hamersly & Company, New York City 1910:

Robert Lindblom: Commission merchant; born in Nerike, Sweden, Nov. 17, 1844; son of Nils and Lovisa (Tolf) Lindblom. He was educated by private tutors, took a course in an agricultural and business college, and also a course in civil engineering. He came to this country in 1864 and settled at Milwaukee, Wis., where he engaged in business. He met with considerable success, and since 1873 has been engaged as a Board of Trade commission merchant, under the style of Robert Lindblom & Company, in Chicago. He was on the staff of Governor Altgeld, 1893-1897 and was president of the Civil Service Commission of Chicago from Feb. 18, 1898, to July 1, 1902, and member of the Board of Education. He was most instrumental in bringing the World s Fair to Chicago. He was one of the World s Columbian Exposition directors, the Swedish Royal Commissioners to that exposition, and he was knighted by the King of Sweden for his distinguished services in that connection. He is secretary of the Farmers National Exchange Company. He is a member of the Union League and Swedish Clubs of Chicago, and of the Milwaukee Club of Milwaukee. He married in Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 17, 1874, Hattie Lewis, now deceased, and they had three children, one now deceased. Residence: 678 La Salle Avenue. Office: Postal Telegraph Building, Chicago.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicago Board of Trade Members: Hulburd, Warren & Company


Hulburd, Warren contract for what appears to be 1000 bushels wheat for May delivery sold to Weare Commission Company

David Thompson scan



H. W. & CO.
MAR
31
1900
CHICAGO.



William Seymour Warren, a partner and president of the firm Hulburd, Warren & Company,  was also the President of Chicago Board of Trade in 1900.

Charles Hulburd of the firm Hulburd, Warren, would become the President of the Elgin National Watch company in late 1898.  From A History of the City of Chicago, Its Men and Institutions:

Charles H. Hulburd, president of the Elgin Watch Company, was born at Stockholm, St. Lawrence County, New York, May 28, 1850.  After a thorough education in the common schools he entered Oberlin College in Ohio, from which he graduated with the class of '71.  The following fall he enrolled as a student in the law department of the University of New York, where he remained for two years and was graduated in 1873.

Mr. Hulburd then came to Chicago and entered upon the practice of his profession, but as his inclinations were rather toward a commercial than a professional life, he gave up his practice after two years or more and entered into the grain commission business with his uncles, under the name of Culver & Co. This firm did a successful business on the Chicago Board of Trade until the fall of 1888, when, on account of the impaired health of all the members of the firm, they retired from business and made up a party for an extended sojourn abroad.  For the next few years Mr. Hulburd traveled extensively in Europe, although he frequently returned to this country during. this period on matters of business.

His health being finally restored, he organized the firm of Hulburd, Warren & Co. in 1893, of which he is treasurer. He is also vice-president of the Equitable Trust Company of Chicago and a director of the Corn Exchange Bank.  Mr. Hulburd has been a stockholder in the Elgin Watch Company for over twenty years, and when, in December, 1898, the directors of this company met to receive the resignation of Mr. T. M. Avery, who had been its head for upward of thirty years, they elected Mr. Hulburd by a unanimous vote to fill the vacancy.



Elgin National Watch Company printed cancel from the month before Mr. Hulburd became the company's president.



Monday, September 17, 2012

New York Stock Brokers: Francis F. Robins




Francis F. Robins memorandum of sale for 100 shares of Atcheson, Topeka & Santa Fe RR common @$74.





F. F. R.
AUG 14  1901


Langlois scans

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On Beyonde Holcombe: Ladd & Coffin

On Beyond Holcombe, by Malcolm A. Goldstein, appears on Sundays at 1898 Revenues:


LADD & COFFIN,
JAN
26
1899
NEW YORK.

Ladd & Coffin cancel on a non-proprietary, R164 2 cent documentary stamp. 


Ladd & Coffin Co’s battleship cancels are not only frequently seen (at least on proprietary stamps, unlike the documentary example), but come in at least four formats: small with a year date; small with a month, day and year; large with a year date; and large with a month, day and year date. The company had started much earlier in the era of the first revenues and had even issued its own private die proprietary stamps (RT26-33). Since Holcombe’s book dealt only with the medicine companies, and it was a manufacturer of perfume, it escaped Holcombe’s scrutiny. The RT stamps were ordered and used by L & C’s predecessor, Young, Ladd and Coffin. They came in four values, from 1c to 4c, and are known perforated and imperforate, as well in the b, c and d paper varieties, accounting for 24 varieties in all, most moderately uncommon, and RT32b genuinely rare. By 1898, these private die proprietary perfume stamps themselves were already being catalogued and offered to the public by stamp dealers.



Civil War era private die of Young, Ladd & Coffin





The company’s product was a line of Lundborg’s Perfumes, and its history predates the Civil War. Its founder was a Swede who emigrated to the United States, John Marlie Lundborg How he acquired his knowledge of perfume seems now lost in time. He is listed as a “perfumer” in the 1860 Trow’s Business Directory for New York City, but apparently lived in Hudson, NJ. By 1872, he had sold an interest in his business to Richard D. Young, and by 1873, the firm was reorganized as Young, Ladd & Coffin. Although an advertising brochure was issued in his name as late as 1876, he retired when the firm reorganized, and died of “softening of the brain” in Hudson in 1880 at age 57.




Richard D. Young took the premier spot in the new partnership because he was already an established businessman. Born in Pennsylvania in 1840, by 1876 he was influential enough to be a member of the New York City Board of Trade. He remained associated with Y, L & C from 1872 to 1887 when that company dissolved by “mutual consent.” He then established his own perfume manufacturing business, the R. D. Young Perfumery Co. It did not fare well, for reasons which will become readily apparent.

The bland explanation for the undoing of Y, L & C may have concealed more profound difficulties Young was experiencing. He had married Emma Bushnell, who came from an old New York City family, but after their five children had begun to mature, the marriage had gone stale. Emma had filed for a separation in 1885. Apparently, since the two were already pursuing their separate lives, she did not force him to litigate to divorce, perhaps because blatant evidence of adultery was the only acceptable proof to obtain a divorce. In 1888, Young later declared, his business difficulties caused him to go temporarily insane. He suffered from “melancholia” and was hospitalized in three different sanitariums. During this period, in the Spring of 1888, while she was exercising “undue influence” over him (according to his later account), he deeded to Emma their house together with several perfume formulas. However, by 1889, he had recovered his health. Now robust and reinvigorated, he not only sued Emma to recover the deed to the house, but also persuaded her to withdraw her separation action.

Peace did not ensue. In 1890, Emma decamped to her mother’s house in Montclair, NJ. A strange event then transpired. One of Young’s clerks, Melano Reichardt, who, coincidently, was boarding with Emma’s mother, accompanied Emma to the Hamilton Hotel in Patterson, NJ. She said Reichardt was “attentive to” her and they stopped during a normal Sunday drive merely to have dinner. Out of the same circumstances, Young shaped a different narrative. He charged that he and another of his clerks had discovered Emma at the hotel in a “compromising position” with Reichardt. She renewed her suit for separation and he cross-sued for divorce. By November, 1889, Emma was being shadowed by Young’s “private Hawkshaws,” as she called them (“Hawkshaw” was then a popular detective cartoon strip). She averred they had tried to break into her quarters and so harassed her that, in the supercharged words of the New York Times reporter, “she began to feel that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were but a hollow mockery.” After one detective so menaced her as she made her way to the Astor House hotel (where, she stated she was merely picking up a left umbrella), she had him arrested. The same New York Times reporter cynically concluded his article on the incident with the aside that the detective posted $300 bail “and left apparently delighted at the leniency of the court.”

When the marital cross-suits of the Youngs came to trial, Emma testified that the deed to the house was Young’s birthday present to her that year, and, further, she had abandoned the family home only after Young tried to shoot her. Young testified his “melancholia”prevented his even remembering his conveyance of the house to Emma. But the tale of Young’s degradation grew even juicier. During the divorce trial, a Grand Jury in New Jersey indicted Young and his two clerks for the crime of “conspiracy” in connection with the Hamilton Hotel incident. The indictment charged they had tried to trump up against Emma false evidence of the “in flagrante delicto” act necessary to demonstrate adultery. By then, Young’s company was a shambles. In December, 1890, Young made an assignment of his business, and in early 1891, a trade journal stated that the “stock, plant and fixtures ... of Richard D. Young, the well known manufacturer of perfumes ... had lately been sold at auction by an assignee.” Young was bankrupt. That journal sympathized that “his recent troubles are a matter of profound regret to his many friends in this part of the world.”

As Young’s criminal conspiracy trial approached, the other clerk died and Young fell out with Reichardt. In May, 1891, both went on trial in New Jersey. The prosecutor introduced a love poem which Young had written to some “Loved One.” Young claimed it predated his marriage, although the document bore the date of March 4, 1890, and refused to identify the “Loved One.” The Times reported that Young and Reichardt each tried to proclaim that he had been duped by the other and that only the other should be blamed for the conspiracy. The Times, summarized the cross-purposed defenses: “This novel spectacle has excited great interest.” Naturally, both were found guilty. Young was sentenced to pay a fine of $100, plus half the court costs, which amounted to an additional $37.50. Reichardt drew a $50 fine and the other half of the costs. After that humiliation, an initial ruling setting aside Young’s conveyance of the house to Emma was reversed on appeal, with the appellate court noting that it could only conclude from the trial evidence that Young knew perfectly well what he was doing when he deeded the house to Emma. A final court decision granted Young a “partial” divorce, while recounting the circumstances of his conviction. With Young finally divorced, convicted of criminal behavior and bankrupt, the newspapers tired of both the Youngs and they disappeared from the news. A trade journal offered one last grace note: in 1894 it related that Young had brought his 36 years of experience in the perfume business to the Crown Perfumery Co as its “American agent.” In the 1900 Census, Young’s wife listed herself as a widow and the head of her household. Apparently, neither the Times nor the industry trade journals reported Young’s death or eulogized him.

By contrast with Young, the intertwined lives of John B. Ladd and Sturgis Coffin were much more “prosaic,” although the wealth that they both amassed through their perfume partnership meant that their comings and goings were chronicled in the social columns of the New York Times. Ladd was born in New York City in August 1839. When he joined with Young and Coffin, he had been a salesman for Colgate & Co (yet another company to be explored in this series). Ladd’s wealth enabled him to amass his own collection of old masters, nineteen of which he lent to an exhibition in 1897 celebrating the opening of the Brooklyn Art Institute’s new building, now the Brooklyn Museum. In 1908, he exhibited at the Union League his collection of Dutch Masters and other more modern works by such artists as the 19th Century French artists as Corot and Boudin.

The closest tie between Ladd and Coffin was that they were in-laws. Ladd married Coffin’s sister Emily, and before his own marriage, Coffin lived with the Ladds in Brooklyn. His sister, Mrs. John B. Ladd, was the one whose name appeared most frequently in the social columns through her involvement with her many charities benefitting institutions serving the then separate city of Brooklyn and their various balls, galas and “tableaus,”(live portrayals of famous old masters). One of her other significant activities was her association with a group of prominent Brooklyn women who issued a manifesto to the New York State legislature denouncing the women’s suffrage movement, They wrote: “from a studious contemplation of the governmental principles involved, came a firm conviction that woman suffrage would be against the best interests of the State, its women and the home.” Since the broadside dates from 1894, the ladies must have had their way. Despite his wife’s now seemingly retrograde views suffrage, Ladd as well as Coffin both considered themselves reformers enough in 1902 to sign a petition in support a Citizen’s Union plan for a reform mayor and refreshed government of the now united New York City.

Coffin and his wife were also linked with many charities. Coffin was born in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1845. His father, Henry, was a well-known and prominent wholesale druggist, first in Poughkeepsie, and after 1867 in Brooklyn, who served as a trustee of the Long Island Trust Company, a director of a plate glass company and an major investor in the Atlantic Avenue Railway Company. By the time Sturgis became part of Y, L & C, his mother was already a part of the Brooklyn social scene, and the younger Coffins associated with the same charities as had his parents and his sister. In 1892, he also served on the perfumers’ committee of the drug trade industry’s effort to raise money for the construction of Grant’s Tomb, and, in 1894, he and his brother-in-law Ladd were both members of the Board of the Brooklyn Homeopathic Hospital that was called upon to fire and replace the hospital’s entire professional staff to settle a festering internal quarrel. In 1894, he was listed as among the attendees at a New York City Board of Trade meeting where the principal address concerned tariff reform, and, a month later, as both and attendee and sponsor of a $25 prize awarded at the Brooklyn Horse Show. The Times described that affair as being Brooklyn’s social equivalent of the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden.

Over the next several years, Coffin’s name continued to be mentioned in connection with the Brooklyn Horse Show and many other society affairs. In 1903, the Times noted his daughter Natalie’s engagement to Johnston de Forest, the only son of an old Washington Square family, whose grandfather had been the first president of the New York Stock Exchange. Natalie married de Forest in October, 1904, but her health apparently was poor from the outset. After attempting to recuperate in Colorado Springs, CO, then her family’s summer home in New Canaan, and finally in Asheville, NC, she died in April, 1906. Shortly thereafter, Sturgis Coffin’s life ended tragically. In August, 1907, he died suddenly of a ‘cerebral hemorrhage” at age 62 in New Canaan. Several days later, when the coroner’s report was released, the papers revealed that the hemorrhage had been induced by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The speculation was that he had been distraught, never having recovered from Natalie’s death. Mrs. Coffin’s name continued to grace the social columns until her own death in 1924.

Ladd & Coffin disappeared on January 1, 1910. With Coffin dead, Ladd, who was in ill-health, retired on December 31, 1909. The company was restyled as Coffin & Price. The Coffin was T. J., a nephew of Sturgis Coffin and Mrs. Ladd. Price was a W. C. Price. Both had been long-term employees of the company, and a trade journal reporting on the re-alignment speculated: “it is safe to say they will continue the business along progressive lines.” Ladd died in November, 1910, much honored by the industry and trade associations. By 1914, the company had changed its name to the Lundborg Co. By 1917, it had become strictly a manufacturer and wholesaler and had abandoned its downtown New York City address for Fifth Avenue. Circa 1930, it was still introducing new fragrances and in 1954 the company remained on Fifth Avenue. Currently, its products do not appear to be in production, although vintage bottles and advertising abound.



While in operation, the company drew singular praise from one visitor to its establishment. During the Nineteenth Century, European travelers from de Tocqueville to Dickens delighted in exploring the brave new, raw United States, and publishing their observations to enlighten their more sophisticated brethren about their strange country cousins. In 1884, an English woman, Emily Faithfull, who was investigating the position of women in American society observed:

“Another scene of female industry interested me greatly in New York. Mr. Rimmel [Eugene, 1820-1887, born French, but operated a world famous and still extant business in London after 1834] claims to have been the first have employed women in England on a large scale in the manufacture of perfumes, and Messrs. Young, Ladd & Coffin, the makers of Lundborg’s exquisite perfumes and Rhenish Colognes, are entitled to the same honour [sic] in America. ‘The rich man’s luxury is the poor man’s bread;” if scent must rank as a luxury, it certainly is one which affords work for thousands. But it is more than that, it is a sanitary agent as well, and an adjunct to the refinements of life with which high civilisation [sic] cannot dispense.”
Let us close with one further glimpse of L & C’s business as it hummed along in 1888: