Sunday, September 9, 2012

On Beyond Holcombe: Keasbey & Mattison Company

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

K. & M. Co.
June 15, 1901

RB20 block of 4 with printed cancels in selvage, ex-Tolman

Collectors of battleship cancels find those of the Keasbey & Mattison Company of Ambler, PA to be among the most frequently seen and most readily available. Moreover, for connoisseurs who hold printed cancels to be the gold standard of battleship revenue collecting (with whom this author most forcefully and grumpily disagrees), the listing of the variations and errors in its printed cancels is a treasure chest that covers seven single spaced pages in the original Chappell-Joyce compilation (a listing which this author believes emphasizes the trees at the expense of the forest). Few philatelists have explored K & M’s history to understand the energy behind this cornucopia of stamps or the greater ramifications of K & M’s existence. K & M, and the personalities behind it, may provide the most quintessential and elementary case study thus far in this series of all the elements, good and bad, which make the study of the patent medicine, as well as the broader pharmaceutical, industry in the era of the Robber Barons both piquant in itself as well as relevant to today’s world of unrestricted corporate power.


Aside from its philatelic prolificacy, the most significant fact of K & M’s long existence is it managed (if inadvertently) to successfully market products, as well as create unimaginable wealth, in two completely different and unrelated areas - patent medicine and asbestos insulation - both of which ultimately became rigorously scrutinized as generating major health hazzards. In a time when medical advertising hyperbole was unchecked, the company widely promoted its patent medicines as cures for all types of nervous exhaustion. Even if its principal product, Bromo-Caffeine, was merely a forerunner of today’s headaches remedies, it was also touted as a remedy for a “weak heart” or “sudden cardiac dropsy” (and, in fact, it may have been as good a remedy as was available at the time for heart attack relief). However, long after the patent medicine industry’s exaggerated claims were throttled and the over-the-counter narcotics barred, the company’s successors again became notorious for K & M’s second, even larger product line, asbestos insulation. Asbestos, welcomed in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries as a miraculous industrial breakthrough because of its resistance to extreme heat, electrical and chemical damage, became a nightmare for K & M’s successors as it was gradually proven to be a malign and potent carcinogen, at last fodder only for late night ads by attorneys promising rich recoveries who, even now, still endlessly trawl the air waves for victims of its poisoning.

As Athena from Zeus, the company sprang into being as a pharmaceutical laboratory in Philadelphia in 1873, as soon as its founders, Henry Griffith Keasbey and Richard V (Van Zeelust/Vanselous) Mattison, graduated together from Philadelphia’s prestigious College of Pharmacy. It achieved almost immediate success with a headache remedy marketed initially under its chemical identity as citrate of caffeine, but sold after 1881 under the trademarked name “Bromo-Caffeine,” derived from a class of compounds known as effervescent salts. These chemical combinations of acids and bases result in the release carbon dioxide, often experienced as pleasant fizzy, bubbly sensation. While K & M also marketed Salaperient for constipation, Alkalithia for rheumatism and Cafetonique for dyspepsia, Bromo-Caffeine quickly became the first source of the wealth K & M created.

K & M also manufactured carbonate of magnesia, the common laxative milk of magnesia. Mattison soon noticed that one Hiram Hanmore was purchasing copious amounts of magnesia from the company and wondered how Hanmore was using it. Upon inquiry, Mattison learned that Hanmore was combining magnesia with hemp fiber and binding the mixture to metal as insulation. However, hemp was not durable and soon burned away when the metal was exposed to the frequent high heat generated in the newer, larger steam boilers and piping systems built in the advancing Industrial Revolution. Mattison quickly discovered that when asbestos was substituted in place of hemp in the mixture, the resulting compound was an extremely stable, malleable and durable insulating material. Asbestos, a group of silicate minerals, is characterized by long crystals able to be spun into fibers. It already had a 4,000 year history as a fire resistant novelty, but had only just begun to be available in large enough quantities to be used commercially. Mattison moved decisively. First, he convinced Hanmore of the superiority of his asbestos insulation and became his exclusive supplier. Then he began to manufacture and market asbestos to the world at large. Mattison soon became known as the “Asbestos King,” and the fortune generated by asbestos was even greater than the one from the proprietary medicines.

Asbestos was not specially taxed in the Revenue Act of 1898. Rather, it was the popularity of Bromo-Caffeine that generated the demand for the battleship revenue stamps. K & M soon operated sales offices in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Cincinnati. It fought hard to defend its trademarked name and in more than one case successfully convinced a court that Bromo-Caffeine was a legitimate trade name or a legal trademark. In 1892, it even had a man sent to jail for criminal counterfeit and trademark infringement when he peddled his own unauthorized version of Bromo-Caffeine. The principal ruling establishing the legality of the trademark was somewhat ironic because the proof offered by K & M to establish the uniqueness of the name Bromo-Caffeine was that Mattison had created that name entirely from his imagination and the product itself, which contained, inter alia, lots of sugar, less than 2% caffeine, a great deal of bi-carbonate of soda, as well as a dash of potassium bromide, bore no resemblance to any other known chemical formula. To no avail, the challengers offered proof that there were legitimate chemical combinations of bromine and caffeine, which involved the use of the terms bromo and caffeine in some combination, and, even closer to the point, a German scientist named Schultzen denominated a certain combination of bromine, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen as Bromo-Caffeine in 1867 and had marketed it modestly as a chemical (but most definitely not as a headache remedy) both in Europe and the United States. That success in defending the Bromo-Caffeine trademark led K & M to push even harder to restrict its competition.

When Emerson Drug Co. (see RS 280-3, together with its own vast array of printed cancels, (a company subject to this column another day)) began have success with its headache remedy Bromo-Seltzer around 1894, K & M issued a barrage of circulars to the industry stating it was prepared to challenge Emerson’s use of the term “Bromo” as an infringement of its Bromo-Caffeine trademark. Drug associations around the country discussed the viability of K & M’s threats at their meetings. Since Bromo-Seltzer was such a good seller, the trade generated little enthusiasm for K & M’s militant position, and these meetings often turned into sessions on how to find strategies to ignore K & M’s threats. Early in 1895, a group called the United States Trademark Association published a list of some fifteen other trademarks containing the term “Bromo,” including Bromo-Seltzer, which itself had been trademarked in 1889, and asked for additions from anyone who could provide them. K & M did file its suit against Emerson, but eventually consented to settle out of court. By that time, medical reformers were already vigorously attacking Bromo-Seltzer as containing the dangerous and even deadly stimulant acetanilid in place of caffeine. K & M could always boast that Bromo-Caffeine never contained that poison.

Buoyed by the two burgeoning product lines of patent medicines and asbestos insulation, K & M soon needed to expand from its limited quarters in Philadelphia. Mattison discovered that there was a source of magnesia in the dolomite rock formations near Ambler, PA, now a suburb of Philadelphia, but then a sleepy farming village with declining prospects because its agricultural fields were played out. Ambler had one other virtue to recommend it: a connection with the local railroad. Recognizing that the combination of easy access to both raw materials and transportation suited them perfectly, Keasbey and Mattison moved the entire business to Ambler in 1882. Ambler flourished under the benign rule of K & M for the very long lifetimes of the company’s two founders.

Henry G. Keasbey

As patent medicine barons, the founders of Keasbey and Mattison could have been ordered directly from Central Casting in Hollywood. Mattison’s oversized body and personality tend to soak up most of the extant accounts about K & M. The seemingly patrician Keasbey, who has left only indirect traces of his presence, disappeared quickly from public scrutiny. Born in 1850 into the wealthy gentry, Keasbey’s family origins are now opaque because the prominent Keasbeys of the era were statesmen, attorneys and jurists from neighboring New Jersey. Since there are later claims his grandfather was a friend of Thomas Jefferson, he must have descended from a “lesser branch” of that New Jersey clan. Keasbey himself gained prominence when, at age 22, he could simply produce the $5000 to finance K & M’s founding. Between 1873 and the company’s incorporation in 1892, Keasbey stayed in the background, but must have overseen the ever expanding day to day operations of the company, since the much busier and more publicity conscious Mattison made an immediate transition from student to teacher at the College of Pharmacy, and then graduated as a doctor of medicine in 1879 from the University of Pennsylvania (although he never practiced medicine), all while, on behalf of K & M, personally selling Bromo-Caffeine one doctor at a time from coast to coast to establish it as the leader in its field, fighting the court battles to protect its name, and also developing the entire asbestos product line.

As soon as K & M incorporated (with stated capital of $2,000,000), Keasbey converted his partnership interest into stock of the new K & M, Inc. and retired from its active management, never again to take a direct role in the running of the company. He did keep tinkering for his own amusement, however, for after 1892, he patented several devices, such as improved feed-water heater, in his own name. Married in 1877 to Anna Foster, a cultivated young Philadelphian educated primarily in Paris, he became a father of four. Although he never lived in Ambler, during the years he summered there, he is remembered as the sponsor of the local baseball team and a benefactor, along with his wife, of both the Baptist Church and a mission to cater to the special needs of the Italian immigrants who worked in his factory. Rather, because of his wife’s delicate health, he and his family traveled extensively to Europe, particularly in the south of France, to find the appropriate climate to suit her precarious constitution, and she died at a villa there in 1897. After he was widowed, he continued to travel a great deal and resided in England and on the Riviera throughout his remaining years. At one time, he did establish a world renowned collection of medieval armor but sold it at auction in 1903. Thereafter, he pursued his art interests quietly, and, even now his bequests to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City are listed as the source of funds used to purchase art objects. At the end of the life, when he died just days short of his 82nd birthday in 1932, beyond noting his love of medieval armor, his New York Times obituary listed only that his principal membership was the Antiquarian Society of London.

Keasbey’s children followed in his retiring, low key manner. His son Henry Turner Keasbey (1882-1953), was a painter of pastoral scenes (or merely aspired to be a painter of such scenes, according to other less charitable sources). Henry T, a bachelor, so loved agriculture and cows that he endowed a special scholarship fund for students studying dairy farming. Today this fund is administered under the auspices of the Philadelphia Foundation, an amalgam of charitable foundations dedicated to the benefit the City of Philadelphia. Henry G’s daughter, Marguerite Anna Keasbey (1878-1960), a spinster who spent the first half of her life as her father’s traveling companion, developed such ties with England that she endowed a special scholarship to permit poor English children to be educated at English universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge. It was later modified in 1981 to allow Americans also to apply to pursue post-graduate studies in England. Like her brother, she left the remaining bulk of her fortune in the care of the Philadelphia Foundation, although it took a court order issued seventeen years after her death (with all its attendant costs paid to some of Philadelphia’s most prominent law firms) finally to sort and meld her various charitable bequests.

Richard V. Mattison

Born in 1851, Mattison, the public face of K & M, was a bear of a man, standing six feet, four inches and weighing 220 pounds, and sporting a full, long flowing beard. Among the stories told about Mattison, it is said that he was obligated to grow the beard to cover the disfigurement of his lower jaw, because, in Philadelphia in 1882, he had fractured it in three places when, because of his huge bulk, he fell through a sidewalk elevator trap door while spying outside a rival’s pharmaceutical laboratory to see why the factory was operating so late at night. The jaw never set properly and hd could never again eat thick meat like steak. People, overwhelmed by his room-filling presence and commanding - one might even say domineering - manner, either loved or hated him.

When he had established his fortune, he let it be known that while his own origins were modest, his family’s history on his father’s side flowed back to the lairds of the Scottish Highlands, and on his maternal grandmother’s side to its migration from England to Pennsylvania along with William Penn on the second ship to land in the colony. He further averred that when he partnered with Keasbey, he declined his extended family’s offer of monetary help and borrowed his capital contribution. While trained as both a pharmacist and a doctor, he himself readily admitted that his true calling was business. In 1892, during the major Bromo-Caffeine trademark litigation, he was asked:

Q: In which branch of knowledge are your attainments more eminent; in the medical branch or the chemical branch?

A: My business is chiefly financial; I think it is about an even thing, medical and chemical.

Having established Ambler as the site of K & M, Mattison behaved in most energetic and dynamic fashion like the laird of the manor he had wrought. He constructed, and rented to his workers, tracts of specially designed houses, some 400 overall, graduated in their space, complexity and stone decoration, and made available depending on the worker’s position with the company. He erected Ambler’s Opera House and bandstand, saw to Ambler’s incorporation as a borough in 1887, installed gas, electricity including street lights, and a water system through organizing and heading the Ambler Electric Light Company and the Ambler Spring Water Company. As a cycling enthusiast, he dedicated a special well on his property for use by the cyclists. He was remembered anecdotally not only for feuding with the local postmaster about putting the local post office in one of his buildings and phoning the electric company to leave the streetlights on so he could take a late stroll, but also for providing coal and food to needy workers during hard times. Beyond being president of the two utility companies, as well as the land-related Upper Dublin Water Co., and the Real Estate and Improvement Co, he was also, after 1892, president of K & M, Inc. together with being chief executive of a string of other asbestos related companies: the mellifluous Asbestos Shingle, Slate and Sheathing Co; the Magnesia Covering Co; the Asbestos Co; the Asbestos Manufacturing Co; the Telenduron Co; as well as the Bell Asbestos Mines, which were located in Thetford, Quebec, and were the world’s largest. Beyond the world of asbestos, he also served as president of the First National Bank of Ambler and the Philadelphia Drug Exchange, while merely serving only as vice-president of his alma mater, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, as well as maintaining memberships in a variety of other professional organizations.

Mattison moved in society’s highest circles, warranting coverage of his comings and goings in the social pages of the New York Times. In Ambler, he established “Lindenwold” a 400 plus acre estate, containing two lakes, one covering six acres itself, and in 1912, he even remodeled its manor house to resemble Windsor Castle. At its peak, his payroll for the operation of Lindenwold alone amounted to over $10,000 per week. He also purchased, decorated and staffed “Bushy Park,” named in tribute to a Royal Park in London, as his summer “cottage” in Newport, RI. In 1873, he had married one Esther Dafter of Cranbrook, NJ. Two sons, Richard V. Jr. and Royal lived to stunted maturity. In honor of a daughter, Esther, who died at age 4, he erected in Ambler, at a cost of $150,000, the Trinity Memorial Protestant Episcopal Church. Because of its beautiful stained glass windows, it became known locally as the Church of the Beautiful Windows. Mattison was known to keep his eye on his pocket watch during sermons and snap it shut when he felt the rector had spoken long enough. His firm and tight grasp of the affairs of both Ambler and Trinity Church, marked him as a benevolent autocrat he was.

Mattison was also a stern father. After Richard Jr. secretly married while traveling abroad in 1904 to the orphaned daughter of “respected and refined parents” who was then living in London with her two sisters while “fulfilling an engagement on the English stage,” he was so afraid to face his father that left his bride of three days in London when he returned home. Agnes, the young Mrs. Mattison, later testified he told her he would return to bring her to his parents after he had arranged matters with his father. After six months, when he had not made good his promise to come back, she showed her pluck by following him to the United States. Junior lovingly greeted her at the boat, insisted that she use her maiden name and admit only to being his fiancee. He registered her at a Newport boarding house under her maiden name, swearing that he still needed time to convince his father to accept the marriage. While Junior initially reported back to her that his father took the news of his union extremely badly, she alleged that ultimately she met Mattison, that Mattison behaved cordially (albeit remarking about other young men’s unsuitable marriages to women below their station), permitted her to move as his son’s fiancee into Bushy Park (where she and her husband lived in adjoining rooms as man and wife, although the servants did not know), and even made the necessary announcement and arrangements for a wedding during the second week of August, 1905 to cover Junior’s prior hasty alliance.

Fate intervened. On July 30, 1905, Junior and Agnes attended a champagne breakfast aboard the U.S.S. West Virginia anchored in Narragansett Bay. Conflicting accounts ensued concerning what transpired during their visit to the ship. Agnes asserted that she fell ill during the breakfast, was tended by Junior in a young officer’s cabin, and returned with him to Bushy Park in a weakened condition. However, within the week, Junior wrote a letter to Agnes’s sisters in Scotland and included an anonymous account of the incident stating that because of her “sporting proclivities,” Agnes had drunk herself into a stupor, and was thereafter “discovered beastly intoxicated and in an otherwise disgraceful condition in the stateroom of a young ensign ... where she had been for some considerable time without [young] Mr. Mattison’s knowledge.” In Agnes’s view, Junior sent that letter, including the anonymous report, to pressure her sisters to get her to consent to his divorce from her by threatening to make public the incident.

Leaving aside the reality of events aboard the USS West Virginia, a few days after having seen her unsteadiness when she returned to Bushy Park - continued Agnes’s version of the story - Mattison peremptorily and curtly ordered Junior to permanently remove his intoxicated floozie from Mattison’s presence. She and Junior departed from Bushy Park that day. Junior related to her that his father had told him he must divorce her or be disinherited, but promised that after he settled her in a hotel in New York, he would bring his father around. Once at the “prominent” hotel, he methodically collected all her cash and then went downstairs to write some letters. The next morning she received a note saying he had already left the hotel to start making arrangements for the reconciliation, and that she should hold his bag for him when it arrived. Not only did his bag not arrive, he never returned. Her narrative proclaimed that she would have starved but for a fortuitous ten dollars she discovered at the bottom of her traveling trunk. He never resumed the marriage, and afterward dealt with her only through lawyers, who eventually arranged an extremely modest living allowance for her, but apparently also had her movements shadowed by detectives. Agnes further claimed that when the rest of her luggage was finally returned to her from Newport, the extravagant trousseau Junior had purchased for her was gone, together with all his letters to her and even their English marriage certificate.

Both parties sued for divorce in 1907, essentially trying two different cases before the court. Agnes’s argument was predicated on Junior’s harsh, cruel and abrupt abandonment of her in 1905 at his father’s behest, and the family’s machinations against her, their “consent, procurement and connivance” in obtaining evidence of adultery to support a divorce. Junior’s argument rested upon elaborate observations by a variety of detectives, bell hops and room clerks alleging a subsequent adulterous fling with a physician who treated Agnes for illness beginning six months after Junior left her. What Mattison actually knew about the formality of Junior’s liaison with Agnes, actually said to Junior about her, or ever plotted against her, was never proven, since his son’s divorce was the one litigation in which Mattison never testified. Junior, himself, never denied the 1904 English marriage nor Agnes’s account of their parting in the hotel room nor the letter to her sisters. The case of either the innocent brought low by the perfidious, heartbreaking liar goaded by his implacable father or the adulterous, gold digging hussy - depending on one’s sympathies - headlined the gossip of Newport during the 1908 season.

Although the trial judge accepted Agnes’s version of the events in 1905, he failed to find either that Junior had acted cruelly against her or that he or his father had connived to set her up for the divorce. He did find that Agnes had carried on with the doctor and granted Junior his divorce on the grounds of adultery. In 1911, the Court of Appeals (the highest appellate court in New York) reversed that ruling and remanded the case for re-trial because the trial judge had allowed into the court record, and based his ruling upon, certain evidence the Court of Appeals deemed inappropriate. A hundred years later that decision is still cited for its discussion of the rules concerning the proper use of indirect, circumstantial evidence to establish adultery. Mattison’s and Junior’s argument that adultery trumps marital cruelty was not ultimately sustained because of the higher court’s reversal of the trial judge, but since there is no report of the retrial, Junior and his father must have finally arrived at some out-of-court accommodation with Agnes. In 1914, Junior married a Philadelphia socialite named Georgette, who over her fourteen year marriage to Junior grew to share Agnes’s opinion of Mattison, since Junior, who held the title of Vice-President of K & M, was never anything more than a glorified office boy for Mattison. Junior died in 1927 at age 46, apparently of alcoholism.

Mattison persevered in his imperious ways, and business continued to boom. He outlived his own first wife and remarried in 1920. That year, K & M featured a picture of its factory taken from an airplane on the cover of the annual catalogue, and Mattison was later acknowledged as an innovator for the earliest use of aerial photography in advertising. However, at the moment when Mattison’s empire had reached its greatest extent in 1928, Junior’s second wife Georgette, still resentful of Mattison and now a stockholder herself in K & M as Junior’s widow, apparently egged Keasbey into suing Mattison for mismanagement of K & M, alleging that he was deliberately squelching K & M’s payment of its rightful dividend, was diverting K & M’s legitimate business to his own private companies and was improperly manipulating K & M’s Board of Directors to block it from calling in over a million and a half dollars of loans Mattison had taken from K & M. Perhaps Keasbey’s suit was justified, but Keasbey, as ever had no wish to engage in a prolonged fight with Mattison and the parties soon settled for $4 million which Mattison paid to Keasbey in a lump cash sum to buy him out entirely as autumn 1929 approached. The stock market crash in October, 1929 left Mattison without any ready money at hand and the ensuing Depression completed the collapse of Mattison’s outsized fortune. By 1931, the bankers keeping K & M afloat forced him to cede day to day control of K & M, and in 1934, they sold K & M to the British company, Turner & Newall Ltd for $4 million. As the financial noose closed around him, Mattison pared and pared his expenses, even vacating his beloved Lindenwold in 1931. The manor house was promptly put on the market, but stood empty for several years. Late in 1936 at age 85, he died in Ambler in a more modest home that he wisely had deeded to his now deceased second wife in more flush times located just across the street from Lindenwold’s gates. After his death that shadow of Lindenwold was itself subdivided into an eight suite apartment house. How the mighty had fallen. Mattison merited no formal New York Times obituary and there were no bequests, charities and scholarships as Keasbey’s fortune had endowed.

Perhaps the last word on the partners Keasbey and Mattison properly belongs to the author Gay Talese. In his book, Unto The Sons, he paints a keen portrait of them because some of his Italian immigrant relatives, including his father, worked for Mattison in Ambler. Talese uses Keasbey and Mattison as foils, intermingling their stories with the stories of his relatives. Describing Keasbey and Mattison near the beginning of their careers, when they were scouting Ambler as a possible site for their factory, he describes the “multimillionaire” Keasbey as a “mild mannered individual who considered Dr. Mattison a genius and rarely took issue with him,” and pictures the two of them “[w]earing dark suits and bowler hats, and carrying walking sticks as they stepped in and out of the cow dung in the weedy pastures. ... At six feet four, with broad shoulders, narrow hips and such disproportionately long thin legs that he seemed to be walking on stilts, the sternly spectacled Dr. Mattison towered over the five-foot-seven inch Mr. Keasbey, who had a round, ruddy face and muttonchops whiskers and nodded affirmatively at nearly everything he heard the talkative doctor say.” Talese continues that while people might have thought that it was Mattison who came from money rather than Keasbey, “[i]n deference to Keasbey’s wealth, and with the understanding that he would continue to underwrite his aspirations, Dr. Mattison placed Keasbey’s name in the primary position on their joint enterprise.”

The Aftermath: Long before Mattison’s death, K & M’s patent medicine manufacture had taken a secondary position to asbestos. Although Bromo-Caffeine’s formula never contained the poison acetanilid that Bromo-Seltzer’s did, Bromo-Seltzer, minus its poison, continued to grow in popularity while Bromo-Caffeine’s renown gradually waned. K & M still manufactured Bromo-Caffeine as late as 1927, and it appears to have lasted as long as Mattison remained at the head of the company. The asbestos business lasted much longer, but had much graver consequences. Turner and Newall operated the K & M facilities at Ambler under the K & M name until 1962, when its business was sold to Certain Teed Corporation and Nicolet Industries. Nicolet, which bought the asbestos production portion of K & M, ran the Ambler facility until the growing weight of 50,000 claims against it of personal injury caused by exposure to asbestos forced it into bankruptcy in 1987, and it was folded into Armstrong World Industries. Through a series of court decisions beginning in the 1980s, Nicolet and Armstrong and all their related and subsidiary companies which owned or operated K & M’s facilities were deemed to be responsible as K & M’s “successors-in-interest” for the injuries caused by K & M’s asbestos products. Whatever remains of K & M (as well as the rest of the entire asbestos industry) exists now, essentially, as a pool of money held in trust and administered by the federal courts to pay off these personal injury claims. One victim of asbestos poisoning was Talese’s own grandfather. At a time before the scientific study of asbestos hazzards and the litigation had unfolded, Talese suggests that his grandfather’s early death caused by respiratory problems directly resulted from his exposure to asbestos in Ambler.

K & M also left a lasting mark on the town of Ambler. On one hand, because of the asbestos, there is a legacy of contamination. Asbestos waste was piled as much as 30 feet high off the ground and 15 feet deep into the ground in some spots. A playground and park built over one former K & M waste dump were closed in the 1980s because of the danger posed by the contaminated ground. Several former K & M properties have been designated as EPA Superfund clean-up areas, and serious rehabilitation of the land began only in 2009. The positive legacy of K & M to Ambler was its governmental organization, as well as its utilities and solid, well-designed, well-crafted buildings. Some of the homes which Mattison conjured into being remain, as well as other public structures. While the Church of the Beautiful Windows burned in a fire in 1986, it has been rebuilt, and Lindenwold still exists as a 43 acre preserve. It has been utilized since just before Mattison’s death in 1936 as St Mary’s Villa for Children and Families, a Catholic charity’s orphanage. The house itself appears to be opened for public tours on some occasions. In the final analysis, as with the rest of the Nineteenth Century, the Patent Medicine Age itself together with the barons who created and lent their names to that era and gorged themselves upon it, it is probably best to remember and praise as much of the beautiful residuum as has survived while trying to learn and follow the monitory lessons instilled by the danger, ugliness, unpleasantness which accompanied and resulted from it. The lessons of corporate overreaching at the expense of the public and without check by the government have yet to be taken to heart.


The Keasbey & Mattison printed cancel collection below is ex-Henry Tolman.  This collection of the K&M cancel varieties is incomplete, but is still quite large.


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  2. I worked in the Lindenwood Castle for two years, as a secretary, for St. Mary's Villa. I explored the castle and it's contents almost daily, and studied all of its contents and designs and architecture. It was totally delightful!