Dr. Drake's Remedy and Trademark Law -- Findlay Ohio Items Show'n'Tell

By Marianne Dow

Bottle embossed Dr. Drakes German Croup Remedy.

This is the box for a later product from the same company, the Glessner Medicine Co. of Findlay, Ohio.

Other Glessco products (Photo by Thomas Glessner Weaver)
The bottle at the top of the pix once held Dr. Drakes German Cough and Croup Remedy. It was sold by the Glessner Medicine Co., which has a long history in Findlay. One that includes a landmark Ohio State Supreme Court case that set trademark law precedent.

According to "A History of Northwest Ohio", published in 1917, the Glessner family owned the Findlay Daily Courier. In 1887, while still working for the family newspaper, Leonard Glessner started the Glessner Medicine Co. with a recipe for what he sold as Dr. Drake's German Cough and Croup Remedy. He worked out of his home, and soon left the newspaper business to work on the medicine company full time.

The publication "The Pharmaceutical Era" (Feb. 1904) reported that in 1904 the business had a fire. The business was relocated, and in 1905 Leonard Glessner put together a stock offering, got some investors, and reorganized as the Glessner Medicine Company.

This company stayed in business until 1972, and one of their products is still sold (see below, in the heir's note).

An interesting side note is that there was real live Dr. Drake living and practicing Findlay at the time. Glessner had gotten the rights to his Dr. Drake's recipe from a real Dr. Drake of Iowa. The Dr. Drake of Findlay felt he was losing out on money, and also that Glessner didn't have the right to use his name. So the Findlay Dr. Drake started selling a compeitive product, similarly named and marketed, in Findlay with the Dr. Drake name.

Naturally, Glessner and the Findlay Dr. Drake sued each other. In a nutshell, Drake lost, since he was not the original Dr Drake, and Glessner had the rights to the original Dr. Drake name, and that one cannot trade mark a person's name, and that the Findlay Dr. Drake was guilty of fraud as he had purposely intended to decieve his customers.

The case is covered at great length in "The Ohio Law Reporter / "Generic Geographic and Personal Names in Trademarks / Ohio State Supreme Court case / 1903".  The court report explains it all, and is kind of convoluted, and written in "legalese", but I think it makes for interesting reading.

Photo of the Glessner Medicine Co. building

Also interesting reading is the website of a Glessner decendant, Thomas Glessner Weaver, who writes about his ancestors on his blog. He tells us that the company was closed in 1962. Apparently another company bought some of the formulas, and the Glessner family heirs still gets some income from the products. 

... the family business, founded by Leonard Cowles Glessner (b 3/17/1853 Delaware OH d July 27, 1929), my great grand father who began making Dr Drakes German Croup Remedy out of his Findlay home in 1889 and who founded the Glessner Medicine Company in 1905 as a stock company. In 1912 the word German was removed prior to the WW I antipathy toward German people and the language in America. He built this brick factory on E Sandusky Ave in Findlay that I visited in the 1950's when they were still bottling product at this location. ...

... Pain a Lay, developed by Harry Chappelear Glessner, son of Len, from a formula used by dentists in St Louis, still has a following and sales, that I and my family receive residual income from even after the company was sold in 1962, when operations ceased in Findlay after 73 years of production....
...Pain a Lay is still marketed through Roberts Proprietaries in New York, New Jersey, and amazingly our family still receives royality checks some 40 years after Harry C Glessner sold the business...

That about wraps up the Glessco / Glessner Medicine Co. story.

This is an image of an antique postcard from a great book about Findlay that is illustrated with tons of old postcards --  Findlay in Vintage Postcards, written by Eric Van Renterghem -- click on the book's title to go and see "Inside the Book" on googlebooks. You will see a lot of neat old Findlay postcards.

The book is published by Arcadia Publishing, which produces a huge line of local history books illustrated with antique postcards and photos.

The Tupo Vaporizer to which the postcard refers is a mystery to me. The only thing that comes up when you google it, is the self-same book reference. If anyone knows more, please share!
Update 4-17-11:

Mystery Solved -- Findlay Bottle Club member Joe Frey solved the mystery. At our last meeting, he brought in tons of TURPO Vaporizer items -- solving the mystery of why I couldn't find anything on TUPO Vaporizers. The antique postcard above misspelled it without the R!


Update - 4/08/11: The aforementioned Glessner heir left a comment and I am adding it here to the post.

HI, Thomas Glessner Weaver here, Thanks for crediting me with the photo of the Glessner Products. Fun to see you have collected some of the bottles that came out of the plant at 230 E. Sandusky in Findlay I visited as a kid. Lewis Glessner owned the Hancock Co Courier from the 1860's and his son, Leonard Cowles Glessner built the factory in downtown Findlay. Today at a conference in Minneapolis I ran into Jonah Agner from Bluffton who works at the Revolver Restaurant /www.revolverrestaurant.net / a block away from the old Glessner Co that is part of a church. I will link your site with mine just for fun.
Cheers Tom Weaver

The FinBotClub Blog is published by the Findlay Antique Bottle Club of Ohio
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