Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chicago Board of Trade Members: Barrett, Farnum & Company


Langlois scans

By December 1900, the list of CBOT members included many Barretts and a Farnum, but also a Barrett, Farnum firm.  It appears the the firm's failure in September 1899 was permanent.  See the NYT article below.

B. F. & Co.
JUL  27  1898

These cancels are from a CBOT lot.  I would like to confirm that they belong to Barrett, Farnum & Company or to Bartlett, Frazier & Company, both CBOT firms in 1898.  If you have an on-document example that can provide the confirmation, please write


The risks in trading in futures is partly reflected in the article below:

From The New York Times, September 22, 1899:


Influential Firm of Barrett, Farnum & Co. Forced to Suspend.


Wall Street Business Lighter and Quieter--The Wheat Flurry--Live Stock Markets Weak.

Chicago, Sept. 21.--The firm of Barrett, Farnum & Co., a wealthy and influential board of trade concern here, failed today. 

The firm had sold heavily short during the past three days, plunging in the expectation that the New York stock panic would result in a break in wheat.  The shortage of the firm is variously estimated at from four to five million bushels of the December option.

It was noticed yesterday that Barrett, Farnum & Company were heavy buyers--the heaviest in the local pit, taking in about a million in an effort to cover.  The price held firm with a strength that puzzled the theorists in vew of the bearish tone of the news.  Again this morning the brokers representing the firm were busy in the pit, but all efforts proved of no avail.

The crash came at 11 o'clock, when the deals went into the clearing house.  Barrett, Farnum & Company in a hastily scrawled notice announced the inability of the firm to fulfill its contracts.  Then the scene took on the tone of a panic...

Meanwhile, Mssrs. Barrett, Farnum & Company had closed their doors.  James Walker, manager of the concern, when seen, declared that he was as much surprised as any one at the suspension, and gave as his opinion that the firm would be able to resume business inasmuch as the subsiding of the panic had left wheat fluctuating narrowly.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On Beyond Holcombe: Andreas Saxlehner's Hunyadi Janos Natural Mineral Water

On Beyond Holcombe, by Malcolm A. Goldstein, appears on Sundays at 1898 Revenues.  This edition, on Hunyadi Janos Mineral Water, wades into a pool, as it were, of speculative attribution, for which Malcolm provides a prologue below.  Due to technical problems beyond this editor's control, images are limited for this post.  More may be added later.

The Philatelic Quandary of the “A.S.” Cancel

Andreas Saxlehner and his Hunyadi Janos Bitterquelle/Hunyadi Janos Natural Mineral Water, have never drawn much philatelic attention since the one “A.S.” cancel listed by Mustacich and Giacomelli is not printed, but handstamped, and, at best, tentatively linked to Andreas Saxlehner because of an old attribution by Morton Dean Joyce. His identifications have certainly been questioned and even in some cases apparently disproved. Moreover, “A.S.” cancels have been observed only on a minimal number of 1c and 2c proprietary stamps, values more traditionally used for taxing alcohol products. While Schedule B of the Revenue Act of 1898 included “waters” claiming medicinal properties among taxable proprietary medicines, that specific inclusion was followed by: “ except for natural spring waters and carbonated natural spring waters.” Since the paper label attached to the bottles of the Saxlehner company denominated its product “natural mineral water,” why would it have bothered to stamp its bottles, collect and pay the tax, and, if it did, where are all the stamps?

While this query poses a most vexing question, there are some possible explanations. The first, and most facile, is that the company conducted some a side-line business in a more traditionally taxable alcohol based product, and cancelled stamps for that purpose. That explanation protects both the clear import of the Act and accounts for the relatively few, pesky observed cancels on non-traditional values, but does require a McGuffin in the form of another undisclosed (and so far undiscovered) Saxlehner product. While Saxlehner also did manufacture pills at some point, the time frame was probably not in 1898, and pills do not fit the 1c, 2c mold either. Another, admittedly more circuitous, possible explanation arises from discussion of Hunyadi Janos containers in bottle collection circles, where they are fairly common and their attributes have often been discussed. There, as well informed bottle websites have noted, Saxlehner’s water is often mistakenly classified as a “bitters” because the name “Hunyadi Janos Bitterquelle” is pressed into the glass forming the bottom of the bottle. A “bitters” is a solution of ingredients dissolved in alcohol. Bitters were explicitly taxable under the Revenue Act of 1898. Might it not have been possible that Hunyadi Janos Bitterquelle was regarded either in some places, or at some time, as a bitters, even if only temporarily? (At the risk of prematurely revealing the punch line of a very different story,) certainly, the Coca Cola company stamped, collected and paid tax under the Revenue Act of 1898 only to sue and recover it back from the government later. (This series will eventually tackle that well documented company, as well, although that story has already been told in several places.) Of course, the better-safe-than-sorry explanation would require either a battleship stamped Bitterquelle bottle or a record of some tax recovery proceeding brought by the Saxlehner Company against the U.S. government, neither of which appears to exist. Of course, the simplest, most straight forward and least interesting solution would be to concede that the A.S. cancels belong to an unidentified alcohol distributor.

Having thus stated the paradox, I choose to commit philatelic heresy and accept the attribution of the “A.S.” cancels to Andreas Saxlehner for the sake of profiling an interesting nostrum company.

“Hunyadi Janos.” During his
lifetime his name was synonymous
with deeds of valor on the field
of battle and destruction of human
life; today it is synonymous with
preservation of health and life.

Pacific Medical Journal, March, 1898

Andreas Saxlehner, whose Hunyadi Janos Natural Mineral Water occupied a significant niche in the market of United States nostrums at the time of the Spanish-American War, probably never even visited this country and, because he seems to have lived and died in Hungary, may not have ever considered America significantly in his thinking. While the company participated as a member of the powerful Proprietary Association of America and the market for Hunyadi Janos Water was booming in the United States in 1898 - the very year the company issued a 129 page manifesto, from which the introduction above is quoted - Saxlehner was not even alive by that time. He was born in Pest in 1815 and died in the unified city of Budapest in 1889. Yet the business, after 1889 owned by his wife, Emilie, and managed by his son, Kalman, was always conducted in his name. Extant immigration records indicate that Kalman visited the United States at least in 1897 and 1905.

The name Hunyadi Janos and the stern countenance of the product’s logo derived from the great Hungarian warrior John Hunyadi (1407-56) renowned for driving the Turks out of the Balkans in his time, and lifting a Turkish siege of Belgrade shortly before his untimely death from plague. The water itself came from the Buda district of Budapest, about five miles from the town itself. As the company’s tract explained, although Buda had been known as a site for medicinal springs and baths even in Roman times, it was Saxlehner himself who bought the spring and the surrounding land in 1863 from the peasant who discovered the water’s healing properties.

In 1898, the company could justly crow “Hunyadi Janos water has been a household word wherever the sun of civilization shines, for more than a quarter of a century.” Saxlehner shrewdly gathered the 120 acres of the Orsod valley surrounding the spring as a compound to preserve its purity and boasted that: “The greatest care is taken in collecting and bottling the water, the whole process being carried out entirely by machinery, and every possible source of contamination is most scrupulously guarded against. “ The collection plant, gathering water from the 112 wells comprising the spring, was manned by approximately 250 employees, who, along with storehouses for the water, had cottages and a fire station right on the estate premises. Before turning to a very long recitation of the encomiums the water had received from eminent scientists and other leaders of society, the book carefully analyzed the geological formations which accounted for the springs and, in minute detail, the mineral components of the water and each of their healing properties, as well as providing a discussion of the benefits the water brought to the treatment of disorders such as constipation (first and foremost), “torpidity of the liver,” dyspepsia, hemorrhoids, obesity, specific diseases of women and children, various diseases of the heart and circulation, the respiratory organs, the brain and spinal chord, eyes, urinary tract, fevers, gout, rheumatism, as well as mental diseases, which the book defined essentially as constipation of the character best regulated with a purgative: “Faecal [sic] accumulation not infrequently causes delusions, which are dispelled by a purgative that clears out the intestinal canal. In all forms of disease of the mind regulation of the bowels is an important part of the treatment.” So much for Freud and his ilk!

The Hunyadi Janos name was so much a part of the marketing of Saxlehner’s water that the company fought titanic struggles in the courts of both England and the United States to protect its exclusive rights particularly to the Hunyadi portion of the name. Saxlehner had first sold his Hunyadi Janos water in England in 1870, but in 1876 had entered into a ten year contract with the Apollinaris Co. Ltd., an English importer and dealer in mineral waters of various kinds, granting that company the right to represent itself as the sole distributor of his water almost anywhere in the world except Europe and Smryna, Turkey. The arrangement was successful enough to be continued and renewed. However, in 1888, Apollinaris began to add an additional red diamond label to the Hunyadi Janos label for purposes of denominating the water an Apollinaris mineral water product, apparently without informing Saxlehner. At the same time, Apollinaris also purchased land in Buda which, coincidently, also contained mineral water springs. In 1896, after Apollinaris cancelled its distributorship contract with Saxlehner, it immediately began marketing in England its own “Arpenta” water, bottled at the “Uj [New] Hunyadi” springs in Budapest , which bore a label similar to the Hunyadi Janos label and mentioned Hunyadi prominently several times. It also transferred over to the Arpenta label the additional Apollinaris red label.

Emilie Saxlehner then sued in the English courts to bar Apollinaris from selling any water not from her springs as “Hunyadi” water, claiming that her water had become commonly or popularly identified with the name “Hunyadi” water, and further asserting the steps Apollinaris had taken since 1888 indicated its deliberate effort to trade on Saxlehner’s “Hunyadi Janos” name. Apollinaris’s defense turned on two points. First, as Saxlehner’s distributor for so long, the red diamond it had established as its identity and then transferred to the Arpenta label belonged to it not Saxlehner. If people paid more attention to the red diamond than the Saxlehner label that was Saxlehner’s problem, but not a problem the court could fix. Second, Saxlehner had no exclusive right to the “Hunyadi” term, since Hunyadi was regarded as a Hungarian regional designation and its use of the term on its own Arpenta water was proper because its water came from the same geographic area. Quickly cutting to the heart of the matter, the Court ruled in favor of Saxlehner. In its one long paragraph decision, it found that regardless of the circumstances which created the situation, the simple governing legal principle was that: “Nobody has the right to represent his goods as the goods of someone else.” To the English court, that legal certainty sufficiently covered all the legal ground necessary to uphold Saxlehner’s rights. However, it carefully circumscribed the relief it granted: it gave Saxlehner the exclusive right to use the “Hunyadi” name (which it felt`sufficiently protected Saxlehner’s rights), and granted an accounting for lost sales damages, but it did not enjoin Apollinaris’s switch of its subsidiary red diamond label to its own new water, relying upon level headed English consumers to recognize the difference between Apollinaris’s own mark on the revised Arpenta label and the absent Saxlehner “Hunyadi” mark.

In the United States, Emilie Saxlehner took her fight to protect the Hunyadi Janos name all the way to the Supreme Court. Saxlehner’s opponent in the United States was an importer named Eisner & Mendelson (another company which also cancelled battleship revenues and will be visited by this series in due course). When the case arrived at the Supreme Court, that Court noted the same basic facts as in the British case, although recognizing, much more pointedly than the English court, that the contract between Saxlehner and Apollinaris had included the United States as part of the distributorship territory granted to Apollinaris. E & M argued its right to sell a Hunyadi Matyas water, which both came in a bottle and bore a label suspiciously similar to that of the Hunyadi Janos water, derived from a separate grant made in Hungary to another producer of mineral water. In addition - in what must have been a claim particularly galling to Saxlehner - E & M argued that Apollinaris, as Saxlehner’s agent in the United States, had known about and approved E & M’s use of the Hunyadi Matyas name. The Court set out both these arguments at length, reviewing in detail the histories both of convoluted Hungarian grants of licenses to bottle mineral water, together with that of mineral water designations in the United States. Essentially accepting E & M’s explanations, it found both that Hunyadi was a regional designation from which more than one mineral water could emerge, and that Saxlehner had not been vigilant enough in challenging the use of the name “Hunyadi” by others in the United States.

Yet, the Court still ruled in Saxlehner’s favor, ultimately holding that E & M had deliberately manipulated both the bottle shape and the label of its water - apart from its invocation of the Hunyadi name - in a deliberate attempt to mislead and deceive. It too awarded damages for lost sales, and, again, exempted from the ban, as did the English Court, only a special additional label that E & M, like Apollinaris, had affixed to the bottle to identify the product as its own import, reasoning as did the English, that consumers could distinguish between the importer and the bottler once the label confusion itself was resolved. In this manner, two different courts approached the same question by two different routes, one circuitous and one direct, and reached the same conclusion. While neither court relied on a specific written law for its ruling, the sense of both opinions is that the courts should stop unfair competition, and, as Justice Potter Stewart said a hundred years later about pornography, the courts “know it when they see it.” The kind of legal reasoning that both courts implicitly applied is one that permits the courts to address the totality of the circumstances of an entire situation - using so-called “supplemental jurisdiction” - to decide a clutch of different possible legal claims that arise out of a single set of facts. In the United States, Saxlehner immediately issued an industry-wide warning to all retailers to stop selling E & M’s water. The Philadelphia branch of the retail drug industry had to make a special plea to the Saxlehner company to refrain from threatening suit against local drug stores, but once the label changes were made, the courts had no further trouble allowing the Arpenta water to be sold in competition to the Hunyadi Janos, and further legal efforts by Saxlehner to disrupt its sales were denied.

In the 1900s, the Andreas Saxlehner office in the United States continued to prosper, apparently managed by one Charles Edward Ensko. In 1913, the company even addressed a letter to the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives, expressing its view that mineral water should be exempted from import duties. However, during World War I, the company was seized by the U S government and confiscated under the Trading With The Enemy Act as an importing business operating at 130 Fulton Street in New York City and still owned by Emilie, a Hungarian citizen, and, as such, a enemy national. This wartime legislation authorized the U S government to confiscate all money, stock and property in the United States owned by enemy nationals. The government transferred seized assets to an Alien Property Custodian (at that time, U S Attorney General Mitchell A. Palmer), who had the war time power to administer it in the manner best suited to advance the war effort, including conserving it, licensing it or even selling it at public auction to American interests. To raise money for the government, Saxlehner’s company was sold at auction in 1921 and ultimately transferred to a new Hunyadi Janos Corporation, which then resumed advertising and sales of Hunyadi Janos water.

All seemed well until April, 1922 when a man named Alexander F Stoeger, whose principal business appears to have been guns and firearms, advertised to the pharmacy trade that he had just completed a contract with the Saxlehner family in Hungary to import and distribute the real Hunyadi Janos water from the original spring in Hungary. (On the same trip to Europe, Stoeger apparently had also negotiated a license to sell Luger pistols in the United States.) Now there were to be Hunyadi Janos products distributed by the American company, and the imported Hungarian Hunyadi Janos water distributed by Stoeger. Who actually owned the rights to call its water Hunyadi Janos water?

Curiously, a question very similar in legal consequences to this one had been litigated years before in 1886 in a case also involving Saxlehner arising from somewhat different factual circumstances. In the earlier case, Apollinaris, as Saxlehner’s American distributor, had clearly marked its bottles of Hunyadi Janos water as being legitimately for sale only within Apollinaris’s sales territory. Another importer, Scherer, purchased legitimate Hunyadi Janos water from Saxlehner’s European distributor, imported it to the United States without Apollinaris’s restricted marking, and then undersold Apollinaris in the United States. Apollinaris sued for trademark infringement. The court denied the injunction on the grounds that the trademark on the other importer’s Hunyadi Janos water was perfectly legitimate, so their could be no infringement of trademark, thus holding that the trademark protected the genuineness of the underlying product, not the distributor’s exclusive contractual right to sell in the territory assigned to it by the producer. It cautioned that if the other water had been some other kind falsely labeled instead of genuine Hunyadi Janos water, the injunction would have been granted. Even by 1922, scholars and some other courts had challenged the legal reasoning of that decision as not going far enough to protect the legitimate distributor’s right to its territory.

In 1922, The new American Hunyadi Janos company, now possessor of the underlying trademarks, immediately sued Stoeger, claiming precedence for its water by way of its purchase of the Saxlehner Hunyadi Janos trademark from the Alien Property Custodian, and stating that the 1921 purchase had established a territorial boundary against encroachment by a later trademark user, no matter how legitimate the second usage might claim to be. Stoeger, using one of Saxlehner’s attorneys from the E & M dispute twenty years earlier, defended on two grounds: first, that the trademark actually was part of the Saxlehner’s Hungarian water well property, not the New York business, and thus had never properly been seized by the Alien Property Custodian; second, on the grounds raised in the 1886 case, that since the water he was selling was the real Saxlehner product, there certainly could not be a violation of the registered trademark rights. Stoeger won the preliminary court skirmishes in 1922 largely on the strength of the 1886 ruling. The court permitted him to sell the Hungarian water as genuine Hunyadi Janos water. Given clear sailing by the federal court, he pressed his advantage, advertising widely that the federal court had blessed his distributorship.

In 1923, the Supreme Court took up the issue of whether trademarks only guaranteed genuineness of the product or protected the distributor’s territorial rights to exclusive use as well, and changed the law by extending the ambit of trademark protection to protect the distributor’s exclusive right to use within its territory. In 1925, when the lawsuit between the American Hunyadi Janos Corporation and Stoeger finally was tried, the trial court had no difficulty following the 1923 Supreme Court ruling. Yet, when the federal appellate court reviewed that trial record and sorted the legal issues through completely, it reversed the trial court and again supported Stoeger’s claim. This court approached the matter quite differently than the Supreme Court had either the E & M case or the 1923 case. First, the appellate court took an extremely narrow approach to its power to determine the dispute. It ruled that since both parties lived in the same state, only the state court had the proper authority to hear all claims of unfair competition or rights to images acquired by use. Instead of invoking, either implicitly or explicitly, its “supplemental jurisdiction” to examine all of the commonalities of the appearance of the two products and the entire set of circumstances surrounding the two differing claims, it held that the federal court only could rule on that claim which pertained to the trademarks directly registered with the federal government. By avoiding the very issue of unfair similarities in shape and look that the Supreme Court had earlier determined to be critical in the E & M case, the federal court narrowly circumscribed its legal examination to the issue of whether the Alien Property Custodian had, in fact, properly seized the registered Saxlehner trademarks.

To accomplish this inquiry, the court then recounted the history of the trademark registrations. It found that Andreas Saxlehner had originally filed two trademarks in 1887 patterned on the same logo design, the difference being that one specifically protected the term “Hunyadi” and the logo, and the other protected the term “Janos” and the logo. The court then ruled that the decision in the E & M case had effectively cancelled any protection under the “Hunyadi” trademark, and, further, that since the current record did not identify the owner of the 1887 “Janos” trademark as an alien, it could not determine ownership of that trademark. However, the court noted, more significantly, the Saxlehner family had made two later registrations of Hunyadi Janos trademarks in 1909. These trademarks, it concluded, were “appurtenant to” the Hungarian wells themselves and thus owned by the Saxlehners personally, not the business office in New York located at 130 Fulton Street. Reasoning from that conclusion, the court held that the Alien Property Custodian had never properly attached or seized them. Because the Alien Property Custodian had not seized them, the Custodian could not sell them as part of the 1921 auction of the Andreas Saxlehner Hunyadi Janos business located at 130 Fulton Street. The American company was entitled to no protection under trademarks it had never owned. In other words, although the court did not use this coarse expression, it ruled: “no tickee, no washee.”

A large moral can be adduced from thoughtful consideration of this last court opinion. While the decision appears wrong intuitively, most federal courts in most ages have actively inclined to narrow the scope of their judicial intrusion into normal commerce and the lives of American citizens, a position that is often articulated today as “strict construction,” and such a view always must be considered and analyzed most carefully, in light of the peculiar practical consequences which follow from it, as in this case. Too often the forest can be missed while one is busy staring at the trees. This is the modern moral the reader should carry away from this absurdly extended treatise on mineral water long ago evaporated by time.

However, a more twisted, conspiratorial theory for this decision - even if more banal and pedestrian in its motivation - can also be elicited, and so, in the interests of full disclosure, must be reported. Records, available today even on line, show that the Alien Property Custodian, in its report for the year 1919, clearly lists the 1909 Hunyadi Janos trademarks as part of the property of the Andreas Saxlehner firm the Alien Property Custodian had seized and now considered within its control. The 1921 sale most definitely included those 1909 trademarks, so the American company’s claim should have had precedence over Stoeger’s.

In the plane of legal reasoning, the second theoretical question, left unexamined by the appellate court, of whether the new company with proper ownership of the trademarks could have barred the original company through its new distributor from selling the same product should have been resolved by the Supreme Court’s 1923 decision. That court should have barred the new distributor from selling the original company’s water. While that ruling might have led to the further difficulty of where the new American Hunyadi Janos Company would have obtained its future supply of genuine Hunyadi Janos water (since Saxlehner, after 1922, was dealing with Stoeger), the court could have left the market to resolve that difficulty: reasoning that if Stoeger were barred from selling the Hunyadi Janos water, Saxlehner would either have to return to supplying its product to the American Hunyadi Janos Company that owned its U S trademarks, or risk not having any representative in the United States market selling Hunyadi Janos water. The trial court was prepared to permit this result.

By completely ignoring, discounting or nullifying the seizure of the 1909 trademarks, the appellate court rendered that issue merely hypothetical, and what stands out about the 1925 decision is the error the court permitted to stand concerning the seizure of the 1909 trademarks. The appellate court attached no credence, and certainly no legal significance, to the 1919 report of the Alien Property Custodian that specifically listed the 1909 trademarks among the seized property. How could the court overlook that fact? What purpose did the Alien Property Custodian serve, if not to seize the “business” of foreign nationals? How could the trademark remain in Hungary with the wells, and not represent the “good will” associated with the trademark image that the American company had clearly purchased? If not the exclusive right to use the image, what did the 1909 trademark stand for?

Normally the litigants themselves must be blamed when courts draw improper impressions of the facts. The conspiratorial twist enters the plot here. Judge Martin T. Manton, one of the three judges responsible for the appellate court opinion (although not the judge who signed it) was subsequently stripped of his office, convicted of selling his court vote for money and sentenced to prison, some fourteen years after this decision, in 1939. While the Depression, which began in 1929, is blamed for Manton’s terrible plight and downfall, it is possible to speculate that maybe there was hanky panky going on even at this early date! While this explanation is extremely fanciful and far fetched, just as Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa draw asterisks in the home run record books, an asterisk might well be applied to this 1925 court decision. All decisions in which Judge Manton played some role still draw extra scrutiny, even almost ninety years later. Conspiracies can exist where ever one chooses to look for, and find, them.

Sadly, for all the hoopla surrounding the various court decisions, little more is recorded about the ultimate fate of the dueling companies in New York City, their products and their distributorship businesses in the United States. While the Hungarian Saxlehner company was still advertising its water in Australia in 1928 and registering Hunyadi Janos trademarks in the United States in 1931, the record is silent about the ultimate fate of the Hunyadi Janos brand. Perhaps the contending distributors succumbed to the effects of the Depression. There are no buildings, as some other companies left, to memorialize their passing, and mentions of the water, the pills and all of the contending companies in advertising and public documents just ceases in the 1930s. Stoeger’s arms business continued well into the 1950s. The Saxlehners continued to live in Budapest until 1938, just after Emilie’s death, when growing European unrest compelled them to flee from Hungary to the United States. There is left only one last philatelic quirk: Andreas Saxlehner’s mansion in Budapest now serves as the Hungarian Postal Museum.

On Beyond Holcombe...

...will appear here shortly.  Due to internet difficulties, publishing is delayed.  Stand by.  Malcolm Goldstein has done his work; your editor needs to finish his.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wickstrum & Swenson of Clay Center, Kansas


Langlois scan

Eric H. Swenson

The State of Kansas owes much to the sturdy sons of Sweden, who, since the early days of her statehood, have come in large numbers to build homes within her borders. In her agricultural development her Swedish citizens have been leaders and teachers, and her commercial, political, social, and religious life has felt their influence in a marked degree. As one of the most influential men of his race in Kansas, one of the first citizens in Clay county, her largest land owner, and identified with a number of her financial institutions, Mr. Swenson merits distinctive recognition in this publication.

Eric H. Swenson was born in the village of Karfsasen, and the Parish of Rathwick, and province of Dalarna, Sweden, June 29, 1854, son of Hans E. and Peres Anna (Andersson) Swenson. Hans E. Swenson was married in 1835, and both he and his wife were natives of Sweden. Mrs. Swenson died in 1865, having borne her husband four children: Eric H. is the oldest; Christiana, born in 1857, is the wife of Victor Anderson, a well known real estate broker of Clay Center, Kan.; Anna, born in 1860, married Charles Westling, of Clay Center, Kan., and is deceased, and Brita, born in 1863, is the widow of Hans Kalin, a leading photographer of Clay Center, who died in 1901, while visiting his boyhood home in Sweden.

Hans E. Swenson came with his son, Eric, to Kansas, in 1869, and located near Clay Center, which place was then in its primitive stage. Eric H. Swenson attended the schools of his native town until fifteen years of age, when the family came to Kansas, and he secured his first employment in this new country as a cattle herder. In 1871 he became a clerk in one of the general stores of Clay Center, receiving his board and clothing in lieu of salary, and was permitted to attend the public school, in which he completed his education.

On reaching his majority, in 1875, he became an equal partner with P. M. Wickstrum in a general merchandise business, conducted under the firm name of Wickstrum & Swenson, and at the same time was deputy county treasurer for two years. This property, which had been an exceedingly profitable venture, was sold in 1881, and the firm entered the real estate field, eventually building up one of the most extensive and profitable enterprises in central Kansas. Farm lands and city properties were handled and a large fire insurance business was conducted. Mr. Wickstrum retired from the firm and active business in 1901, and Mr. Swenson succeeded the firm of which he had been junior member.

He has made two trips to his boyhood home in Sweden, and his return each time was notable in that he brought with him a number of new citizens for his adopted country. First, in 1880, he returned with a company of sixty-eight from near his birthplace. In 1901, accompanied by his wife, he made an extended trip through England, Germany, Holland, Denmark, and his native land, and on his return a company of twenty-five were brought back for settlement.

For a number of years Mr. Swenson has been engaged in the mortgage-loan business and he has placed some $10,000,000 for clients. He is the most extensive dealer in this field in his section of the state. His knowledge of land values is sound, his financial sense especially keen, and his first loss through this department of his activities is yet to he recorded. Since the early years of his commercial career he has been a consistent buyer of choice farm lands and his accumulations number some forty farms, with a total of over 6,500 acres. He is a lover of pedigreed horses and cattle and is interested in a small way in their breeding. He is a large owner of bank stocks and a director in six financial institutions in Clay county—three in Clay Center and one each in Wakefield, Industry, and Broughton.

He is known to the banking fraternity of the state as an able and discriminating financier, and those institutions with which he is connected have been successful. He is president of the Clay Center Lumber and Coal Company and is the largest owner of improved business property in the city. Mr. Swenson never aspired for any public office, but has been president of the Clay Center Commercial Club for several years.

Mr. Swenson is also an influential member of the Baptist church, and it is largely due to his energetic efforts and generosity that the present church edifice, one of the best examples of church architecture in that section, was built. He was chairman of the building committee during its construction and was also its largest donor, both of time and money. The substantial success attained by Mr. Swenson is the result of his own well directed efforts, the possession of more than ordinary pluck and perseverance, coupled with untiring energy and the ability to discern the propitious moment of opportunity and avail himself of it. He is known for his high business ideals and is held in high esteem by the citizens of his section.

Taken from:  Pages 408-410 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chicago Board of Trade Members: Benjamin S. Sanborn


Langlois scan

Benjamin S. Sanborn was CBOT member #5082

Sunday, October 21, 2012

On Beyond Holcombe: William Radam and his Microbe Killer

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

William Radam

William Radam, one of James Harvey Young’s celebrated “Toadstool Millionaires,” is a character whom everyone writing about patent medicines loves to hate, and finds easy to belittle and deprecate. The salient facts are simple. Radam manufactured one product, his Microbe Killer, which he patented in 1886 and marketed in vessels, often one gallon jugs, but later in smaller less expensive bottles as well, all decorated with an extremely eye-catching and flashy trademark. He claimed that microbes lay at the root of all disease, and that his Microbe Killer exterminated them all, and thus could defeat any and all disease. Its immediate, remarkable popularity propelled Radam from his nursery in Austin, TX to a mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City in about two years’ time. His intellectual undoing was as just as quick and spectacular. Analytic chemistry, then in its infancy, was almost immediately interposed against Radam’s theory and his claims. Repeated chemical analyses easily demonstrated that his miracle elixir was virtually 99% water garnished with traces of potentially poisonous acids and flavored with a touch of wine! How, we now wonder, could anyone have acclaimed the Microbe Killer’s wondrous curative power even for a second?

handstamp running across three stamps

Born in Prussia in 1844 and a veteran of its army, Radam emigrated to America in 1871. In 1890, wishing to explain and build upon his sudden fortune and prominence, Radam self-published a book in which he recounted his history and the manner in which he had come to develop his singular theory about disease and its cure. The tale ran thus: by 1884, he had become a gardener who owned small nurseries in and around Austin, TX. He had lost his two children to childhood illness and was himself a long term sufferer of intermittent malarial fever complicated by rheumatism and sciatica. He had tried every cure known to medicine, every patent medicine and folk remedy and had found no relief. His doctors told him his condition was irreversible, incurable and would shortly resolve itself into deadly consumption.

The news of his imminent death impelled Radam immediately to begin to research the causes of disease, and of consumption in particular. His study led him to review the theory of evolution, recently proposed by Charles Darwin, and the most recent kind of classification of plants and animals by common ancestor-developmental relationships which it had engendered, all of which he accepted as true. He further learned that the latest discoveries by the distinguished French scientist Louis Pasteur and the eminent German scientist Robert Koch had identified microscopic germs, recently denominated “microbes,” as the culprits causing disease. From his close perusal of the most recent publications, he ascertained that while science could accurately describe and classify these microbes, neither the scientists nor the doctors could proffer a satisfactory method for destroying them. In a wondrous leap of illogic, he then concluded that since microbes were the source of disease, the compound that would kill them would conquer disease.

Pondering these scientific insights together with his dismal fate, Radam turned to the plants for which he, as a gardener, cared, wondering if they possessed weapons to ward off the deadly onslaught of microbes about to overtake him. He theorized if he could discover the secret the plants used to protect themselves from microbes while themselves remaining viable, that substance might sustain him. After much laborious experimentation, sketched only in the most abstract detail, he found the right substance to expunge microbes, tried it upon himself and found himself growing stronger. He kept dosing himself with his own medicine and within a year he felt himself completely cured. Describing himself as a “cautious and prudent” man, he then determined to see whether his substance would have the same effect on others, and began to seek out around him other chronically ill people whose cases lay beyond the help of established medicine. He provided his treatment free, collecting only testimonials in return, and finally became so involved in producing his Microbe Killer that he neglected his nursery, had to leave his cherished livelihood, and trust his own financial well-being, as well as his health, entirely to his formula.

By 1886, he had patented his compound, and by the end of 1887 had registered with the government his vivid, compelling trademark image: a vigorous, healthy young man dressed in a suit about to club a skeleton representing death, whose scythe has already been dashed from his bony hands and lies broken at his bony feet. He began advertising his Microbe Killer for sale by making a public declaration of his cure in the Austin Statesman newspaper issue of August 30, 1887.

Radam’s ad struck a nerve and galvanized the public. The Microbe Killer was an immediate hit. Within a year he built his first factory, which is today the Koppel Building in Austin, TX, and not long thereafter, he needed seventeen factories just within the United States to supply the demand. That hunger for Radam’s Microbe Killer extended beyond the shores of the United States. Soon Radam had sales agencies and factories stretching from London to Melbourne, Australia. The 1890 book laid bare in complex detail the reasoning underlying his microbe theory of disease, and was laced with plenty of the latest microscopic pictures of disease causing microbes. It was augmented by the story of his own personal struggles and further enriched with photos of the very plush surroundings he now occupied. The mansion formerly had been owned by J. C. Fisher, founder of the Fisher Piano Company. As a publicist for his product, Radam was no fool. He put forward his thesis, proclaimed that he would be excoriated by the established medical community, and, reckoning that a large segment of the public distrusted doctors, challenged that community to disprove his reasoning.

Almost instantaneously, Dr. R G Eccles, a pharmacist and doctor at Long Island College Hospital entered the lists as a challenger to Radam. He stated that his own private chemical analysis (the first of many similar ones done by various professional and scientific groups) showed that Radam’s compound was water, mixed with the slightest trace of highly corrosive acids and wine. Eccles claimed that Radam was a “misguided crank” who was “out quacking the worst quacks of this or any other age” as well as realizing a 6000% profit on every jug he sold of his worthless concoction. Radam sued for libel on the grounds that there were no acids in his mixture and Eccles countersued in the amount of $20,000, also for libel, because Radam denounced him as a charlatan. Although defended by one of the great iconoclastic thinkers of the time, the agnostic Robert Ingersoll, Radam lost the first round to Eccles, whose libel action against him filed in Brooklyn came to trial first. Radam made a poor witness on his own behalf, being unable to make elementary plant classifications when challenged as a gardener, and his own expert witness admitted that there were, in fact, acids in the Microbe Killer. The jury awarded Eccles $6000 against Radam, who promptly fired Ingersoll, and later managed to have the verdict overturned on appeal. Meanwhile, Radam, who did not testify again, obtained a favorable ruling on his lawsuit against Eccles filed in Manhattan, when the judge directed that the jury enter a verdict in favor of Radam on the technical grounds that the legal defense presented by Eccles was too general and not specific enough to answer Radam’s charges. So instructed, the jury brought back an award for Radam in the amount of $500.

Having won a small verdict on a technicality, Radam declared himself entirely vindicated, and redoubled his advertising, emphasizing the favorable ruling. While Eccles and Radam continued to spar and berate each other, and other professional organizations quickly joined Eccles in inveighing against him, Radam’s legal “victory” pointed the way toward his future strategy for dealing with scientific carping at his reasoning and methodology; he simply ignored it, figuring that the people to whom his “medicine” appealed thought as little of doctors as he did. Sales did not flag and Radam’s shrewd calculation was sustained. While the trade journals and professional magazines continued to flail away at Radam, the exorbitant profits rolled in for the rest of his life, which ended in 1902, perhaps too soon and too abruptly for one as fortified against disease as Radam. He was buried in his beloved Austin, TX.

The Microbe Killer remained on sale, even if advertised a little less conspicuously and flamboyantly after Radam’s death. Ownership of the business and trademarks passed to Ida Haenel Radam, his widow and beneficiary, whose name appears on the trademark applications after 1902. She seems to have retreated to Austin and left the management of the company to others. A 1904 trade publication advertisement noted that the Microbe Killer was now being made available through all jobbers instead of through Radam’s own restrictive and exclusive prior marketing arrangements. In 1905, one Walter W Bostwick (a sometime inventor who in 1897 was involved in an attempt to form a nationwide trust to control the patent leather industry) sued in the courts of New York for foreclosure against the company over the objection of the board of directors. Bostwick alleged he owned all of the bonds of the company; the directors claimed that the mortgage backed by the bonds had been rescinded. The court merely appointed a neutral trustee of the mortgage and left the parties to sort out the dispute. A 1912 New York Times article, reporting on the suicide of real estate broker Arthur S Levy, who, apparently despondent over ill health at age 58, administered one shot to himself from an “eight shot British bulldog revolver” in his Broadway brokerage office, identified Levy as the “President, Treasurer and Director of the William Radam Microbe Killer Co.” In 1915, Gordon S. P. Kleeberg of the New York City law firm of Myers & Goldsmith is listed as the President and Director of the company. Kleeberg (1883-1946) wrote a history of the Republican Party in 1911 and argued some significant tax cases before the Supreme Court, but seems to have had little direct connection to the patent medicine business beyond holding the company titles.

The change in the public’s attitude toward the Microbe Killer came quite slowly. On November 28, 1905, Radam’s Microbe Killer was denounced as a completely fraudulent “medicine” in the lead paragraph of the third in the series of articles entitled “The Great American Fraud” written by a muckraking reporter named Samuel Hopkins Adams for the weekly general circulation publication, Collier’s Weekly Magazine. Because Radam was already dead, even Adams treated the revelation of the fraud underlying Radam’s Microbe Killer as old news, and devoted the bulk of his article to denouncing another very similar “medicine” which was then stealing some of the Microbe Killer’s thunder as the latest miracle cure. However, the hoopla created by the “Great American Fraud” finally raised public awareness high enough for people to demand protection against outright fraud.

The result was the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, the first attempt to regulate the pharmaceutical and drug industry, which concentrated on removing adulterated and misbranded food and medicine from interstate commerce, and created the federal Food and Drug Administration. It was a first baby step, for the Act, as originally passed, required essentially only that the substance of the “medicine” match the substance identified on the label. However, only the most dangerous or poisonous substances, like alcohol or cocaine, actually had to be listed on the label. Since the Microbe Killer genuinely contained neither alcohol nor drugs, it easily slid past the narrowly defined constraints of the original Act, and proudly bore on its post-Act label, as did so many other equally implausible concoctions that remained on the market, “Guaranteed By The Wm Radam Microbe Killer Co under the Food And Drug Act of June 30, 1906." The medical and scientific communities were doubly outraged not only that the Act did nothing to remove the Microbe Killer from the marketplace, but also that the company and others could imply the government’s endorsement by stating that the Microbe Killer was “guaranteed” to be in compliance with the Act. The American Medical Association denounced the Microbe Killer in 1910.

The obvious solution was for the newly authorized Food and Drug Administration to take some further regulatory action, and so it did.. In 1912, the government persuaded Congressman Swagar Sherley of Kentucky to sponsor an amendment to the 1906 act that broadened the definition of a misbranded, and therefore illegal, substance, to include one where the label made claims concerning the “curative or therapeutic effect” of the medicine that were false or fraudulent. Congress passed the Sherley Amendment with much less fuss than the controversy that had surrounded the original Act, and William Howard Taft, now the president, signed it into law. With its power to regulate re-defined to include not just false claims about the ingredients of the medicine, but its efficacy as well, the FDA made the attack on the Microbe Killer one of its top priorities. A shipment of 539 boxes of bottles and 322 cartons of jugs was seized in transit between New York and Minneapolis, and the FDA brought its case against the Microbe Killer to Minneapolis in 1913. The FDA’s Chief Chemist himself testified that the Microbe Killer was actually 99.381% water and the only physiological effect of the trace of sulfuric acid contained in the balance would be to irritate the stomach lining. The Chief Chemist further opined that the contents of the shipment cost $25.82 to manufacture as against a retail value of $5,166. With Radam long dead, the Microbe Killer Co. lacked an effective spokesman to attest to the credulity of the many testimonials, stockpiled since Radam began collecting them in 1886, it introduced to offset the FDA’s Chief Chemist. The jury in Minnesota accepted the FDA’s testimony, and the entire shipment of Microbe Killer was condemned as illegally misbranded and destroyed in a public display of breaking and burning.

While the destruction of that shipment of Microbe Killer in 1913 ought to have spelled the immediate end of the company, amazingly, it was still clinging to life as a business in 1922, when a New York Times article noted that its capital was being reduced from $260,000 to $25,000, a sure sign of corporate anemia. While the company disappears from the public records after that time, Ida Radam herself made one last brief news splash in 1929. At age 77, she journeyed from her home in Austin, TX back to New York City to re-arrange her investments. Ignoring the advice of her bankers, who said they would make the transfer from New York to Austin on her behalf, she insisted on personally carrying $63,000 worth of New York City bonds with her out of the bank. She then left them in a package on the back seat of the taxicab she took from the bank to Penn Station to return to Austin. The story does have a happy ending. The bonds were non-negotiable, and were returned to her again some eight months later, when an unidentified man turned the package in at Penn Station. Since the Crash of 1929 had occurred between these two events, it is difficult to calculate just how much relief Ida must have felt upon their return.

Between 1887 and 1902, William Radam bucked scientific and medical opinion, as well as defying common sense, by invoking modern science with the true fervor of a zealot. Manipulating from a base of solid scientific research established by men such as Pasteur and Koch, he drew only the conclusions he desired, and let the earnestness of the pseudo-science he embroidered on top of the genuine knowledge answer his detractors. In an age of mistrust about matters both medicinal and scientific, his passion sustained the profitability of his Microbe Killer for not less than 30 years, as well as bestowing upon us that lingering and unforgettable trademark image of a healthy, well dressed young man clubbing the skeleton of death.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Grand Trunk Railway & Grand Funk Railroad

G. T.  R'Y.

Langlois scan.  Grand Trunk Railway cancel

Grand Trunk Railway inspired the name of a critically trashed but popular 1970s rock band, Grand Funk Railroad.  Grand Funk Railroad was a play on words of the Grand Trunk Railroad, a railroad line that ran through the band's home town of Flint, Michigan.  Below is the railroad inspired band playing a railroad inspired cover of the Little Eva hit The Locomotion.  Pardon the shirtless singer. 

G. F. RR.

Union Pacific Railroad: Steam Locomotive Video

U. P. R. R.,

Langlois scan

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Carson & Colorado Railway: Bill of Lading for Cyanide

Carson & Colorado route map
Note route within Nevada from Hawthorne, just south of Walker Lake, north to Moundhouse, just east of Carson City.

The Carson and Colorado Railway was a narrow gauge railroad that ran through eastern Nevada down to Keeler California.   It was incorporated on May 10, 1880 as the Carson and Colorado Railroad, and construction began that month. 3 ft  gauge track was used to keep costs down.  The railroad was sold to the Southern Pacific Company in 1900, which was bad timing for the C&C's original investors, who by 1900 had given up the road's profitability.  Silver and gold was discovered at Tonopah, Nevada and Goldfield, Nevada, and provided major revenues shortly after the Southern Pacific purchase.   


Carson & Colorado bill of lading for a box of cyanide samples from Hawthorne, Nevada to Moundhouse, Nevada.  An agent at Hawthorne with the initials C.P.M. receieved the consignment and canceled the stamp on April Fools Day, 1899.

Mining and Cyanide

Why a shipment of cyanide on the Carson & Colorado?  Cyanide is produced in large quantities for the mining of gold and silver.  Cyanide is used to dissolve silver and gold ore.  Finely ground high-grade ore is mixed with cyanide.  Low grade ores are piled into mounds and sprayed with a cyanide solution.   The precious metals then form soluble derivatives.

The solution containing these ions is separated from the solids, which are discarded to a tailing pond or spent heap, the recoverable gold having been removed.  The metal is recovered from the solution by reduction or adsorption.

Since the C&C's main business came from mining silver and gold, cyanide was likely a common item of freight on the line.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Denver & Rio Grande Railroad

The Denver & Rio Grande traversed the Rocky Mountains and offered some of the most dramatic scenery of any railroad ever built.  Salt Lake City is at the upper left, with Denver towards the upper right.  Santa Fe is at the bottom.

The D&RG would be come a part of the Gould system

D & R. G. R. R.
NOV   10   1899

Langlois scan

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wabash Railroad

See the 1940s era Wabash Railroad video below.

R. R. CO.

Langlois scan

Wabash RR 1887 system map

Monday, October 15, 2012

Nickel Plate Road

There is trove of old railroad videos available on YouTube, and while obviously none were produced before or during the 1898 tax period, many long-lived railroads from the 1898 period produced promotional videos during the mid-20th century.  Below is a video produced by the Nickel Plate Road Railroad, known in its original incarnation as the New York, Chicago & St. Louis.

N. Y. C & St. L.
JUN 15   1899
R.  R.  Co.

Langlois scan

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Auctions: Scott Listed 1898 Documentary Provisionals: Rarity + Poor Condition = Low Sale Prices

The early October Siegel sale of the Dr. Alexander Schauss collection of United States Revenues included examples of the R150s documentary provisionals:  R156, R157, R158 and R158A.  All the stamps were flawed in some way, with a major visible crease on R156 among other flaws like damaged perfs and thins on the other stamps.  As such, one would expect discounts for these stamps in the final sale price relative to the Scott values and the spate over the last few years of sales of this material.  But given the rarity of these stamps, I figured the final prices would be much more robust than the ultimate results. 

R156 with heavy crease run horizontally across the stamp
Scott Value:  $5,750
Sold for: $850

R156 sold for nearly 1/7 of its Scott value, an incredible discount for even a very flawed copy of this rare stamp.

As for the other provisionals, values and sale prices went as follows:

R157:  Scott $4,500; sale $1,100
R158:  Scott $6,750; sale $3,750
R158A:  Scott $12,500; sale $5,250

I won't speculate as to whether there is a trend here.  Visit the StampAuctionNetwork page with these stamps by clicking here. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

On Beyond Holcombe: Park & Tilford

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

JAN  17  1899

With the examination of Park & Tilford, this study focuses on a different type of user of battleship revenues, and brings another area of merchandising within its ambit, for P & T was a high end grocer in New York City, the Fairway or Dean & DeLuca of its day. In an era where retailing was less specialized than it is today, the inventories of grocery stores and drug stores often overlapped, and grocers offered their customers liquor, tobacco, candy, patent medicines and perfumes as well as meat and vegetables. The Company’s “P & T” cancel therefore appears on many values of the Battleship Revenue series and in many different typefaces. In addition, the P & T enjoyed a long and hardy life well beyond the Spanish-American War. Because of its longevity, P & T cancelled stamps when the taxes were revived to help finance World War I, and its name and corporate structure ultimately outlived its retail outlets

P & T was founded by Joseph Park and John Mason Tilford in 1840. Park, born in 1823 in Rye, NY, just north of New York City, was the son of a farmer. Tilford came from further upstate. He was born in 1815 in Argyle, NY, northeast of Albany, NY, and was a minister’s son. They both chanced to become clerks in the same grocery business in New York City, and soon decided to strike out on their own, opening their first retail grocery store on Carmine Street in Greenwich Village. One of the great secrets of their success was that they anticipated New York City’s rapid expansion, and kept building new locations to serve their customers as they progressed ever northward. The other key to establishing their sterling reputation was that they supplemented their outstanding stock of domestic goods and produce with the best foreign goods they could import, such as Crosse & Blackwell products from England, cigars from Havana, as well as choice candies, liqueurs, cognacs, brandies and perfumes from France.

By 1886, they were operating four retail locations in New York City as well as a branch store in Paris, which served as their merchandising depot for exporting goods to the United States. A contemporary publication of the time noted that P & T was an establishment “the very sound of whose name makes epicures’ mouths’ water.” They served as grocers to the prominent and famous. Thomas A. Edison’s assistant later noted specially in his memoirs that Mrs. Edison herself in Menlo Park, NJ ordered both groceries and delicacies from P & T. The flagship store, facing the Plaza Hotel and Central Park on Fifth Avenue near Fifty Ninth Street, was constructed so beautifully in 1883 with the latest of electric and gas fixtures that the Times extolled it as the “very beau ideal of what a first class grocery store should be.” As well as retailing to the general public, P & T developed a wholesale business as the provisioner for hotels and restaurants in New York City. P & T’s company headquarters were maintained at the end of the Nineteenth Century at 21st Street and Broadway, and the firm then employed between 350 and 400 workers as well as 100 wagons and horse teams to make prompt deliveries citywide. In 1890, P & T was a big and complex enough operation to warrant incorporation under the laws of New Jersey. Park became President of the Corporation and Tilford its Vice-President.

As it seems with many businesses that begin as partnerships, the first name, Park, appears to have been the outgoing personality and Tilford the more retiring. Among his business involvements, Park served on the board of directors of the Bank of the Metropolis in the company of such business luminaries as Charles Tiffany of Tiffany & Co, jewelers; Hicks Constable of Arnold & Constable, clothiers; William Steinway of Steinway & Sons, piano makers; W D Sloane of W & J Sloane, furniture dealers, and other notables including the President of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad. He also served on the boards of the Plaza Bank and the New York County Bank and was a director of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. He was a member of the New York City Chamber of Commerce and, together with his son, the New York City Produce Exchange. Near the end of his life, his testimony before a Joint Committee of the New York State Legislature, as well as his son’s, concerning veiled threats made by the American Tobacco Co to cut P & T off as a supplier of its tobacco products was memorialized in that Committee’s 1897 Report recommending stiff state laws to control trusts, like the tobacco trust, after noting that the efforts of federal authorities to enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 had been thwarted by the 1895 ruling of the United States Supreme Court case of US v. E. C. Knight Co that sugar refineries were a local or intrastate business which could not be governed by federal law that applied only to businesses conducted in interstate commerce.

In his private life, Joseph Park showed as much acumen and determination as in his business dealings, highlighted by his repurchase of his father’s farm in Rye, NY which he then grew into a large Westchester County estate nestled among other such privileged tracts. He was a member of several fashionable social and yacht clubs as well as the Museum of Natural History. While he lived on until 1903, ill health ultimately forced him to relinquish control of his interest in the partnership to his son, Hobart, during the early 1890s. The second name in the partnership, John Tilford, although also regarded as an able and adroit businessman who served on the board of directors of two different banks than Park, was described in his obituary as a man of “domestic habits” who “did not belong to any societies or clubs.” Tilford died in 1891, passing his share of P & T to his son, Frank (1852-1924).

The next event in P & T’s evolution is actually a non-event, which is chronicled in the history of one of today’s eminent Wall Street law firms, although handled by one of its predecessors. The law firm conducted elaborate but fruitless legal negotiations in 1896 concerning the sale of P & T - possibly initiated at the behest of Frank Tilford - to a London based concern through an offering on the London stock exchange. These unsuccessful talks are mentioned by the law firm to illustrate the extremely poor business atmosphere which prevailed in the United States after the Panic of 1893 and before the election of McKinley in 1896 (although it also tacitly demonstrates how law firms themselves stay in business and generate revenue in poor economic times for even fruitless talks engender billable hours). Writing about a conversation with an American corporate official from a like company involved in a similar putative sale unfolding at the same time as the P & T negotiations, the lawyer reported to his potential English buyer as the 1896 election drew near:

He then said that business all over the country was extremely bad ... that grocers all over the country were only ordering one-half of what they had been accustomed to buy, evidently preferring to wait until the results of the election to commit themselves ... He found the wholesale grocers were afraid to give credit; because, if the election went against McKinley, there would be many failures.
Once McKinley was elected, the specter of imminent social upheaval threatened by William Jennings Bryan and the Democratic Party quickly blew over, and the need for grocers to make a hasty exit from their industry passed. Bolstered by the Alaska Gold Rush, the Gilded Age resumed its stately waltz, not to be disturbed again until the Panic of 1907. The younger Park and the younger Tilford managed to “stay the course” and were “firmly in the saddle” when the battleship revenues were used.

However, the next stage of P & T’s own corporate history began with Hobart Park’s sale of his interest in the company to Frank Tilford in 1906. (Hobart Park (1855-1948) spent the rest of his very long life parleying his father’s real estate holdings in Westchester into its own separate sizable fortune.) Frank Tilford carried P & T forward in the new century. Perhaps the height of the Gilded Age was simply the acme of the era of civic biographies, or perhaps inherited wealth draws forth more distinguished roots even in the egalitarian United States, but Frank Tilford, as an officer of P & T, seems to have received the lavish praise and handsome portraits in books like Men of the Century: An Historical Work Giving Portraits and Sketches of Eminent Citizens of the United States (1896) and The Successful American (1899), that neither the senior Park nor the senior Tilford, as humble and resourceful grocers, ever merited. In an 1896 biographical sketch, Frank, not his father, disclosed that the Scottish family name dated back to 916 A.D. when the appellation Tilford - derived from the phrase meaning “sword’s edge” in Norman French - was earned by a particularly warlike and brave primal ancestor who slew a barbarian king in battle. To emphasize the family’s exalted roots, Frank added that his mother’s family’s first ancestor in the United States was among those who had crossed the Atlantic on the storied Mayflower, landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Frank made up in directorships of banks and other enterprises, as well as social clubs, what his father lacked. However, he firmly disavowed any interest in entering into politics and “declined all offers to enter public life.”

As well as building and opening more retail P & T branches, Frank made a number of other significant changes in company operations. Perhaps the earliest and most striking modification he made was that he began to run ads for P & T, an event, an advertising trade journal commented in its June 26, 1907 issue, that: “stir[red] the blood ... in publishing and mercantile circles [by] breaking of a non-advertising policy that has characterized this house for sixty-five years.” While happy that P & T was now spending a sizable advertising budget, the article explained that P & T characterized its outstanding trait as “reliably.” Yet “Park & Tilford had never until last year, gone even to the length of stating that they are reliable. The public has been left to find this out and has found it out in the course of three generations, for this house has today a prestige in the grocery field not a whit less impressive than Tiffany in jewels.” Like Hobart Park, Frank also became interested in real estate. He channeled his enthusiasm and acumen to becoming a member of the New York City Real Estate Exchange, although he concentrated on the more northerly reaches of Manhattan rather than Westchester. In keeping with that interest in northern Manhattan real estate, Frank also moved the company’s headquarters uptown to Harlem at 310 Lenox Avenue (corner 126th St), a building now preserved as an historic landmark and today occupied by the National Basketball Players Association. Frank also supervised in 1921 the construction of a seven story candy factory in the middle of a complex of warehouses combined with a garage and a stable occupying the western ends of 42nd, 43rd and 44th streets in New York City.

In 1923, perhaps sensing his end was near, Frank Tilford sold P & T to David Schulte, an entrepreneur who had already made the first of his several fortunes in the tobacco industry and owned his own chain of retail tobacco stores. At one point, Schulte had the idea of making P & T a national chain grocery store. In 1928, he set up a P & T subsidiary company capitalized at $20,000,000 to accomplish that purpose, but the Depression squelched those thoughts and ultimately entirely choked off the fixed retail store location end of P & T’s business. However, Schulte had other ideas to carrying P & T in new directions. Throughout Prohibition, P & T marketed candy and introduced new perfumes, and Schulte, perhaps thinking ahead, even briefly experimented between 1925 and 1927 with ownership of the Old Overholt & Large liquor distilleries (which were serving as bonded internal revenue service liquor warehouses during Prohibition) together with their huge stocks of aged rye whiskey. When Prohibition ended, P & T marked the date of December 5, 1933 with chartered ships full of Europe’s best whiskies, wines and cordials on the ocean readily to land their copious cargoes in New York and San Francisco to “re-wet America’s whistle” as well as aid the rich and well-to-do with the necessary business of re-stocking their liquor cabinets. The New Yorker Magazine of the time gushed that those chartered ships were to be re-painted to P & T’s specifications, but the first had to leave Europe so quickly to make the long voyage to San Francisco on schedule that there was insufficient time to do the re-painting. Apparently finding that aspect of the liquor trade experience particularly satisfactory and profitable, Schulte decided to concentrate on the liquor manufacturing business after Prohibition ended. He gathered a number of small, old distinguished American distilleries under the P & T brand name, making it a significant label in the liquor business from the 1930s to the 1950s. Much of the extant P & T advertising material, particularly its large and colorful weekly ads in Life magazine, date from this period.

Schulte died in 1949, leaving his own two merchant prince sons in charge of P & T. In 1954, they sold P & T to Schenley Industries, Inc., which ultimately merged P & T into itself in 1958. The P & T name seems to have disappeared in the United States after this merger, but the Canadian division seems to have continued to exist as Park & Tilford, Distilleries Ltd. After this time, however, the P & T name seems to have been swallowed into the vortex of corporate consolidation on an every swifter and grander scale. Schenley Industries was purchased in 1968 by Meshulam Rickles, an Israeli industrialist probably more memorably identified in the public mind with his efforts to make Pia Zadora a star than with his high wire financial maneuvers. Rickles sold Schenley to Guinness & Co, the Irish brewery in 1986. Guinness, in turn, rolled Schenley together with another acquired distillery group, Distillers Company Ltd, which included such brands as Johnny Walker, Dewar’s and Haig & Haig (and had earlier marketed Thalidomide through its pharmaceutical branch), into United Distillers Ltd in 1987. United Distillers itself merged with another giant food and liquor holding company, Grand Metropolitan PLC, to create the mega-corporation Diageo PLC in 1997. When created, Diageo encompassed food holdings as well as liquor interests, but antitrust, as well as brand consolidation considerations, caused it to sell its food holdings entirely. Those food brands included such well-known and everyday names as Pillsbury Foods and the Burger King Corporation. Diageo today is a worldwide, multi-national alcohol conglomerate. Many of these complex mergers, especially the 1958 transaction in which P & T was absorbed into Schenley Industries, and the 1986 transaction between Guinness and Distillers Co which created United Distillers, were fraught with complex litigation over the respective rights of the various shareholders and, particularly the 1986 transaction, (which led to criminal charges as well), the legitimacy and legality of the inducements offered to them to make the transactions happen.

While individuals such as Schulte and Rickles could themselves be subjects of more searching examination for the vast array of offbeat details that reveal their characters, they lie beyond the scope of this study. P & T’s name is most concretely memorialized in the buildings in New York City associated with it, not only the one in Harlem, but also its former store at the corner of 72nd Street and Broadway, which is today a mixed residential and commercial building. Other sturdy structures remain as the Messrs Park and Tilfords erected them, but they have been namelessly re-purposed. P & T has passed into the collective stream of conscience as the place where the author Henry Roth’s protagonist Ira worked in Roth’s autobiographically tinged Mercies of A Rude Stream, as well as lending its name to the saxophonist Ben Webster’s “Park & Tilford Blues.” Perhaps most significantly, through a 1969 endowment by Schenley Industries of a garden on or near the former Park & Tilford Distillery grounds in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Park & Tilford has become a name associated with a popular multi-faceted garden, a shopping center and a geographical Canadian neighborhood district.