Friday, December 15, 2017

Geo. S. Dickey Jr. Pioneer Chemist

 
San Francisco Gold Rush Merchant

George  Dickey first appears in the 1850 San Francisco directory listed as a clerk. In the 1852 SF directory Dickey is listed with Charles Hodge as Hodge & Dickey doing business at 177 1/2 Samsome Street.

1850 clipping listing Dickey as a clerk.
 
1852 clipping Hodge & Dickey
 
The last listing for Hodge & Dickey in the 1856 S.F. directory

According to what information I could gather the first bottle produced by Dickey was the example pictured above.
 This medium blue colored bottle is embossed with a mortar and pestle and the words "PIONEER 1850". The base on this early bottle is flat, the top is tooled and western collectors have named it The Stovepipe. It is also reported that the stovepipe style Dickey bottles come in aqua coloration.

 Flat base of the first embossed Dickey bottle.
 
"I dug two blue stove pipes and an aqua one in a hole in Santa Rosa. In the hole were several broken pontiled pickles including an amber Baker and Cutting. Multi sided pontiled meds and three large Hostetter's in amber were also in the same hole"..... R.T. Siri
 
The first listing for George Dickey as a druggist
 
 
 The above pictured bottles are believed to be the second variant of the Dickey bottle. They come in shades of blue, have a tooled top and a square indented base. I have no idea about the timeline of when this bottle was blown but shared knowledge points to this variant as being the second of the Dickey bottles. This variant has larger and (kind of) flat embossing and the S.F. is higher on the base of the bottle then the last variant.

The above picture shows the square intended bases of the second variant of the Dickey bottle

"I believe the oldest of the blue Dickey's (not including the mold with only the Pioneer 1850....we call these the Dickey without the Dickey) to be the mold that has the deep recessed rectangle on the base. the tops on these are a flared tool-top, similar to early Eastern meds. The examples I've dug, have come from late 60's - early 70's holes" A.P. Hotaling

  
Aqua examples of the Dickey bottle. The bottle on the left has an applied top and the example on the right a tooled top. I have not been able to date the manufacture of this variant of the Dickey
 
Flat bases on the aqua variants of the Dickey bottle
 

 
Amber Dickey bottles with applied tops. Pestle is on the right side of mortar
 
The bases of the amber Dickey bottle with applied tops. Note the circle base with the dot in the center. This is the same variant as the blue applied top bottle with the circle and dot on base. This amber variant is much rarer than the blue examples shown below.

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Blue colored Dickeys with applied tops. These are the most common of the Dickey bottle and have a base with a circle with a dot in the center. The embossing is larger then the latter examples. (Fourth bottle from left has a full label)
 
The bases of the blue Dickey with a applied top. Circle and dot on base.
 
Two examples of the last variant of the Dickey bottle in a chocolate coloration. This variant has the "thin" embossing and the S.F. is embossed lower on the bottle then the earlier variant. These bottles can be very crude and easily mistaken for the earlier blown Dickey variant
 
The flat bases of the last variant of the Dickey bottle
 
That's about all I have on the different variants of the Dickey bottle. - rs -
 
Ops! almost forgot about the variant of the Dickey with the pestle on the left side of the mortar. The variant with the pestle on the left has only been observed on the last variant of the Dickey to my knowledge
Four examples of the last variant of the Dickey bottle with the pestle on the left.
 
Pestle on the left side of the mortar
 
George Dickey goes into the fly paper business in 1870
George Dickey advertised often and donated prizes to horse races, pistol shoots and other competitions. I would never have imagined him going into the flypaper business - rs -
 
In this 1870 ad Dickey's flypaper is available at several well known SF druggists and he is still manufacturing "flypaper".
Remember, in the old days, those sticky pieces of paper hanging over counters etc. with flies stuck to them........You can thank George Dickey!
This 1871 passenger list has Dickey and his wife sailing for San Diego.
 I believe this is the date Dickey moves to Southern California and starts selling his products from Los Angeles as there are several examples of the Dickey bottles with labels from a Los Angeles address. - rs -
 
 
Happy Dickey collecting! - rs -
 
References:
San Francisco Directory's
Daily Alta California - various issues
Western Bottle News
 
Email - oral interviews
Richard Siri
A.P. Hotaling
 
From Eric McGuire:
 
Great piece of research. The Creme de Lis story is somewhat complicated, especially when attempting to fit the evolution of the bottle variants into the picture. Just a little clarity on the early years. Actually it was W. T. Wenzell who held ownership of the brand for most of the early years. Dickey supposedly created the product in 1865 even though the earliest ads were in 1867. Dickey's father died in 1869 which began a protracted process of the settlement of his estate in Baltimore, MD. With the final dispersion of the assets, Dickey left San Francisco for his home town of Baltimore, presumably to take possession of some of the property. He left in 1871, and in the process of finalizing his affairs in San Francisco, Dickey transferred his Creme de Lis to Wenzell, who became the proprietor. Dickey died in Baltimore on 29 August 1877. When in Baltimore he became owner of the Excelsior Steam Forge.
Wenzell continued with the use of Dickey's name on the Creme de Lis, which was probably a stipulation of the transfer of the product. Wenzell trade marked the name of Dickey's Creme de Lis with the California Secretary of State on 24 June 1873, two years after he took ownership. He maintained ownership into the 1880's.
 
Thanks Eric - rs -
 

1 comment:

  1. Great piece of research. The Creme de Lis story is somewhat complicated, especially when attempting to fit the evolution of the bottle variants into the picture. Just a little clarity on the early years. Actually it was W. T. Wenzell who held ownership of the brand for most of the early years. Dickey supposedly created the product in 1865 even though the earliest ads were in 1867. Dickey's father died in 1869 which began a protracted process of the settlement of his estate in Baltimore, MD. With the final dispersion of the assets, Dickey left San Francisco for his home town of Baltimore, presumably to take possession of some of the property. He left in 1871, and in the process of finalizing his affairs in San Francisco, Dickey transferred his Creme de Lis to Wenzell, who became the proprietor. Dickey died in Baltimore on 29 August 1877. When in Baltimore he became owner of the Excelsior Steam Forge.
    Wenzell continued with the use of Dickey's name on the Creme de Lis, which was probably a stipulation of the transfer of the product. Wenzell trade marked the name of Dickey's Creme de Lis with the California Secretary of State on 24 June 1873, two years after he took ownership. He maintained ownership into the 1880's.

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