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George B. Gilbert, who had been a clerk in the house for some ten years, was admitted as a partner, January 1, 1854, John McKessou, Jr., in January, 1862, and E. Theo. Paine, in January, 1865, all of whom, except Mr. McKesson, Jr., had been previously trained in the apothecary business.
To keep pace with the progress of trade and meet the requirements of an increasing business, Messrs. McKesson & Robbins built, in 1855, their present warehouse, which is situated in Fulton Street, on the east side of Broadway, one hundred feet below William Street, which last street may be considered to be the present center of the jobbing Drug trade in New York.
This warehouse is a brick structure, with an iron front of 50 feet 7 inches, comprising Nos. 91 and 93 Fulton Street, and 80, 82, and 84 Ann Street. The whole area of building is a little over 50 by 120 feet, with five stories in front on Fulton Street, and six stories in the rear, with basement, sub-cellar and vaults, making a total of nearly 50,000 square feet of floor room in the whole premises.
The sub-cellar is devoted to storage; the basement is entirely occupied with broken packages for the execution of the jobbing business, and contains what is called in the trade the “Wet and Dry Departments.” The first floor on Fulton Street is occupied for 50 feet from Fulton as an office for commercial purposes, and the rear, 70 by 50, is devoted to the packing and shipment of orders, as well as for reception of goods for stock, for which purpose and for the execution of the business with facility, two steam elevators of six-horse power are employed, and goods can be moved from floor to floor with the greatest dispatch. The second floor of same building comprises a complete assortment of Druggists' Sundries and Druggists' Fancy Goods, as also all articles pertaining to the business of the Apothecary and Druggist which require display and examination; and the four upper floors are exclusively devoted to dry stock, including dry, crude goods, and medicinal and other preparations in dry packages.
This house bas most extensive and complete arrangements for importing and jobbing Drugs and Druggists' articles, but it lays claim to no exclusive or peculiar system of business, for it knows very well that in a new and undeveloped country like ours, almost every business pursuit, as compared with the older European countries, is in a crude or formative condition, and that the dealer or professional man, if he would be useful or prosperous in his vocation, must recognize and adapt himself to the necessities of his situation, while permanent success or distinction in any pursuit can only be secured by considering the interest of his profession as his own, and contributing in every possible way to that development and perfection which is so much to be desired.
The Drug business, in a commercial point of view, is limited, and the profession of the Pharmaceutist or Apothecary, in common estimation, a humble one, but there is no profession which requires more varied information and acquirements in the individual; and while this fact is not appreciated as it should be, it may be asserted that there is no one pursuit or profession which comprises, as a whole, more personal character and respectability than that of the Pharmaceutist; as also the wholesale Drug trade is the most permanent and stable of any mercantile pursuit; and both the Pharmaceutist and Druggist will be more justly estimated when it comes to be recognized as a fact that with the advance of civilization all of the uncivilized races decrease in numbers, and in civilized communities the increase of population for the future will be measured, not so much by the the supply of food, as by the regard these show to the marriage relation and to medical science.
In 1843, WILLIAM BAKER bought the Baltimore WindowGlass Works. These were the oldest Glass Works in the United States, having been established in 1790, and always maintaining a high reputation for the superior quality of their manufacture. In 1845, HENRY J. and CHARLES J. BAKER, sons of WILLIAM BAKER, became cornected with these works, and began the sale of WindowGlass in Baltimore, combining with it other articles demanded by the various branches of their trade, and doing a prosperous business.
In 1850, the importation of the Belgian or French Glass had increased to such an extent, and prices were so cheap, as seriously to interfere with the manufacture of American Window-Glass. Compelled by these circumstances, HENRY J. BAKER went to Europe to ascertain the cost of the article, with a view of going into this business, if it could be made profitable.
Having made satisfactory arrangements with the foreign manufacturers, he returned to this country. But a difficulty now presented itself; there were no facilities for the shipment of Glass to the port of Baltimore, and it was through this that the house came to New York, establishing itself under the style of “H. J. BAKER & BROTHER”—HENRY J. BAKER removing here, in order that he might give his personal attention to the business.
In 1851, FREDERICK G. HEYE became connected with the house as salesman, remaining with them until 1853, when he left them to establish the house of “HEXE BROTHERS." FRANKLIN WILEY became a clerk in the house in 1851, and CONRAD BRAKER, Jr., joined them in the following year, as book-keeper, becoming a partner in 1855. FRANKLIN WILEY was given an interest in the house, January 1st, 1861. The articles of Paint, Colors, and Chemicals having been added to that of French Window-Glass, their business increased rapidly. In August, 1857, the manufacture of Castor Oil was also added, the house connecting themselves with D. L. LATOURETTE, of St. Louis, Mo., under the style of BAKER, LATOURETTE & COMPANY, for that express purpose. Previous to this, they had relinquished the articles of Paints and Colors—not deeming it to their interest to continue to deal in them.
The firm of BAKER, LATOURETTE & COMPANY was disolved on the 1st of February, 1859, D. L. LATOURETTE retiring, and the firm of H. J. BAKER & BROTHER purchasing his interest in the business, together with his patent for oil-presses, which they still retain and use. They have succeeded by perseverance, and the greatest care, in bringing the quality of their oil up to the highest state of excellence ; and it may be said, with perfect propriety, that their manufacture is superior to any other offered in the markets of the world : so little of the Italian oil being made, that it cannot be said to offer competition.
In 1864, the firm purchased from John COLVILL the Gowanus Chemical Works, which were erected principally with a view to the manufacture of Saltpetre and Liquid Caustic Soda from Nitrate of Soda and Pot-Ashes, but they have since erected additional buildings, and introduced new apparatus, for the manufacturing of Bi-Carbonate of Soda, Sal Soda, Glauber Salt, Refined Camphor, and any other articles that come within their province as facturers of chemicals. During this period the business of the Baltimore house had increased and the firm had changed from H. J. & C. J. BAKER to BAKER & BROTHER, and JOSEPH ROGERS, Jr., had been admitted as a partner; subsequently, the style of the firm became “ BAKER, BROTHERS & COMPANY,” with the same partners.
In 1805, the firm of H. J. BAKER & BROTHER and BAKER, BROTHERS & COMPANY, were dissolved—HENRY J. BAKER and JOSEPH ROGERS, Jr., retiring from the firm in Baltimore, and CHARLES J. BAKER retiring from the house here. HENRY J. BAKER, CONRAD BRAKER, Jr., and FRANKLIN WILEY succeeded to the business of the house here, the firm name continuing the
It has always been the aim of this house to do their business on the most liberal principles ; and it is to this as much as to their enterprise, that they owe their success. As manufacturers, they have ever striven to bring their articles to the highest state of perfection,-being convinced that a well-deserved reputation would ultimately prove more valuable than any temporary or present gain that might arise from large profits derived from inferior articles, and having also that feeling of emulation which led them to desire not to be excelled either at home or abroad.