Sunday, April 25, 2010

Veterinary Billheads

I spend a lot of time at the vet. My German Shepherd/Border Collie mix, Gus, was diagnosed with diabetes last March. It has been a learning curve. Dogs are type I diabetics, thus they need insulin shots. Cats can be both, type I and II.

Anyway, sorry to digress - back to billheads. The billheads I have for veterinarians have a few commonalities - livestock graphics, i.e. horses or cows. So, cats, dogs, birds and other animals did not factor in to the early veterinary practice. Vets services were mainly advertised for farmers and businesses. Second, the majority advertise themselves as "veterinary surgeons."

Now a little history, prior to scientifically trained veterinarians, the American farmer in the later 19th century faced problems with illness among their livestock. When scourges hit, it was not uncommon to have an entire communities livestock wiped out. Thus, the American farmer resorted to relying on superstitions and what were called the "hoss" doctors or cow leechers. Just like quack human doctors, these were quack veterinarians.

As late as 1890, most locations lacked a trained veterinarian. The "hoss" doctors tended to be recruited from several sources: 1. former stable-keepers; 2. fallen horsemen - skilled coachmen; 3. at one time they worked for a practitioner who was also a part-time blacksmith, teamster, groom or ploughman.

Another group of quack veterinarians were the Veterinary Surgeons who purchased their diplomas. This group were no better than the hoss doctors or cow leechers. Most surgeons came from a rural background and had a genuine enthusiasm for animals. A few veterinary colleges in the large eastern colleges mainly trafficked in the diplomas to supplement their income. In 1877, Philadelphia was selling quack diplomas for $100. Veterinary surgeons usually were of two types: 1. ones that developed a regular community practice and 2. ones there were traveling veterinarians. The most noted traveling quack was Dr. Joseph Haas of Indianapolis. Haas' marketed his Haas' remedy to prevent livestock diseases.

The growth of the modern scientifically trained veterinarian was slow. A few hypothesis have been put forth as a caused: 1. American's dependency on English leadership when England lagged other countries in its treatment of animals; 2. the distrust of the farmer for science; 3. the tradition on relying on rural magic - old way cures; and 4. the lack of the US Government to encourage the scientific training of veterinarians.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Billhead Comparison - Booth

I thought it would be interesting to show two billheads for A. Booth Packing Company packers of oysters, fish and canned goods. I have handled a lot of Booth billheads for Chicago. Booth billheads are always pre-printed with the goods it sells. All of the Chicago billheads focus on the company's oysters brands.
This Chicago billhead has mainly pre-printed oyster products: oval, A. Booth, extra select, celery and fish. Nice decorative billhead with medals and factory scenes. The Chicago billheads also never indicated who printed it.

Along comes another Booth billhead, this one for the Duluth fisheries.
What I liked about this billhead was that it was pre-printed with the firm's fish offerings: whitefish, small trout, large trout, pike, pickerel and herring. This billhead also indicated in the upper left corner who printed it - Shober & Carqueville Litho Co. of Chicago.

For the history buffs, a little bit about Alfred Booth.

Alfred Booth was born in Glastonbury England, he emigrated to the US in 1848 at the age of 20. He lived in Kenosha WI but moved to Chicago in 1850. He opened a small fish and vegetable store. Margaret Beattie Bogue, in her book Fishing the Great Lakes indicates that lore has it he bought fish directly from Lake Michigan fisherman and sold it through Chicago's streets via a cart. Booth was able to capitalize on the Civil War economy and by 1870s, Booth sons, Alfred B. and William had joined the firm, A. Booth & Sons. Before 1871, Booth had acquired a salmon-canning operation in California and the properties of DD Mallory oysters on the East Coast. Booth expanded its operations into Lake Superior and established a house in Duluth MN in 1886 where it shipped fish west by rail. Canadian expansion was next for the company in search of more whitefish. The firm would incorporate as A. Booth & Co. which took over the business of the A. Booth Packing Co. By 1908, the firm would fall into receivership with liabilities of $5.5 million. The firm would come out of bankruptcy in 1909 as the Booth Fisheries Co. and would eventually be purchased by the Sara Lee Corp. in the 1960s.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Billhead of the Month - Kilham & Mears

To carry on the plate mark theme I discussed in a post in March, the billhead for April is one for Kilham & Mears of Boston dated 1817. Obvious plate mark at the header. Also nice decorative printed header.
Jonathan Kilham was a tailor. He was born in Wenham in 1775 and served his apprenticeship in Beverly. In 1796, he went to Boston and four years later formed a partnership with Elijah Mears under the firm name Kilham & Mears. The merchant tailors carried on business for forty years. At some point the firm name changed to Kilham, Mears & Co. Kilham died in 1855.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Early American woodenware was made by tradesmen, specifically coopers and turners. Articles produced were turned bowls, plates, platters, trenchers, salt containers, and mugs. As the American population grew, so did its need for woodenware. Woodenware soon was produced on a larger scale through manufacturers. Woodenware is classified according to its use: kitchenware, storage receptacles, moulds, etc.

Kitchenwares include forks, cooking utensils, rolling pins, egg cups, napkin rings, bowls, dry measures etc.

Storage receptacles include wooden band boxes = hats, round or oval covered boxes – Shaker examples 1850-1920, tiny boxes for medicine or herbs, wall boxes for salt.

Moulds include butter, chocolate and other candy type moulds.

Example billheads:

Daniel Cragin was born in Merrimac in 1836. He worked on the family farm until age 17 when he worked with John Newell of Lyndeborough to learn cabinet work. After 3 years with Newell, he moved to Wilton where for one year he worked in a furniture shop. He then returned to Lyndeborough with a partner and purchased Newell’s shop. He would dispose of his interest in this business and move back to Wilton in the employ of what was the Putnam Corporation. In 1858, he began business in Wilton manufacturing knife trays and wooden toys. He rented a room in the Putnam Bobbin Factory to carry on his manufacturing. After two successful years, he was able to purchase a small building on the factory site. He soon after built an addition onto his shop and eventually added steam power. In the fall of 1876, he began to manufacture dry measures. His initial product had to be bent up hand owing to the lack of machinery available. He would go on to invent machinery to make the dry measures. In 1909, Cragin sold the mill to Morse Fry.

Charles Perry was born in Perryville in 1840. At 19 years old he entered the wood turning factory of James Henry Perry & Co. learning the business and thus joining the firm in 1865. In 1871, he became the sole owner of the business and the same year took on Edwin Perry as a partner. The business thrived until Charles Perry retired in 1890.

Crocker Wilder owned C. Crocker & Son woodenware manufacturer. His brother-in-law, Elijah Whiton, a clockmaker, watchmaker, silversmith and mathematical instrument maker came to work in Hingham making buckets in 1839. Crocker Wilder was born in 1802 in Hingham besides manufacturing pails he was also president of the Hingham National Bank. His son William Crocker Wilder took over the business. William was born in 1829. There is a note that Crocker Wilder also made wooden toys. Hingham buckets were in demand throughout New England and used in the China trade.