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Henry Bower Chemical Manufacturing Compay records

1854-1957
 Collection
Accession: 1070

Abstract

Henry Bower Chemical Manufacturing Company was a chemical manufacturing company that primarily produced ammonia. The company was formed in 1906 by the merger of three existing companies. These records include account books, production records, sales records, and inventories.

Dates

  • 1854-1957

Creator

Extent

2.9 Linear Feet

Historical Note

Henry Bower Chemical Manufacturing Company was a chemical manufacturing company that primarily produced ammonia. The company was formed in 1906 by the merger of the Ammonia Company of Philadelphia, the Kalion Chemical Company, and the Baltimore Chrome Works. The Bower family controlled it until November 1967, when the company was sold to Pickands Mather & Company of Cleveland.

Henry Bower (1833-1896) was the son of Wilhelm Bauer (1790–1874)(who anglicized his name to William Bower), a drug broker who came from Hamburg to Philadelphia in 1825. His uncle, George D. Rosengarten (1801-1890), was a leading drug manufacturer in Philadelphia. Henry Bower graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1854 and established himself as a drug broker at 7 South Front Street the following year. In 1858, Bower began to manufacture his own chemicals at a small plant on Gray's Ferry Road. He was the first to produce pure inodorous glycerine for use in medicines. He also manufactured ammonium sulphate from the condenser and waste liquors of the Philadelphia Gas Works.

In 1865, Bower added a chamber process plant to manufacture sulphuric acid, a major ingredient in the manufacture of ammonium sulphate. He also developed and marketed a "complete manure," a fertilizer consisting of sand, phosphate, potash, lime, and ammonia, between 1867 and 1877. In 1894, Bower began manufacturing aqua ammonia from ammonium sulphate, and in 1903 his sons began the production of anhydrous ammonia.

In 1867, Bower also began manufacturing potassium ferrocyanide, using nitrogenous animal matter (hooves, horns, and recycled leather). Potassium ferrocyanide was used to produce "Prussian blue" pigments, and Bower's output was marketed by the Roessler & Hasslacher Chemical Company of New York. Eventually, the animal wastes were replaced by cyanogen derived from gas works waste. When potash from Germany was cut off during World War I, the firm developed a process to substitute sodium cyanide derived from sodium carbonate.

In 1882, Bower, Thomas S. Harrison (1837-1919) of the Harrison Brothers paint firm, and Henry Pemberton (1826-1911) of the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company joined in investing in Pemberton's manufacturing bichromate process that was used in the tanning and textile industries. The following year they organized the Kalion Chemical Company, adjoining the Bowers' plant. When the Pemberton process proved commercially unviable, they reverted to the conventional lime and potash process. Bower became the sole owner of the company in 1892.

Henry Bower brought his sons William H. Bower (1864–1956), George R. Bower (1866–1919), Frank B. Bower (1871–1958), and his son-in-law, Sydney Thayer (1867–1932), into the business, the title of which was changed to Henry Bower & Sons in 1855. The firm was incorporated as the Ammonia Company of Philadelphia in 1887. In 1893, they imported from Belgium the Lambotte process for the manufacture of tetrachloride of tin and the Deacon process to manufacture chlorine.

In 1902, the Bowers bought the Kalion Company's major competitor, the Baltimore Chrome Works, which Isaac Tyson (1792–1861) had founded in 1845. The Kalion plant was closed, and production concentrated in Baltimore. The three firms were consolidated as the Henry Bower Chemical Manufacturing Company in 1906. Two years later, the Bowers merged their chrome division with the American Chrome Works of Arlington, Massachusetts, and the Mutual Chemical Company of Jersey City to form the Mutual Chemical Company of America. In 1911, the Bower Chemical Manufacturing Company purchased the business and equipment of Carter & Scattergood, an old competitor in the manufacture of Prussiate of potash.

Scope and Contents

Henry Bower Chemical Company's records include account books, production records, sales records, and inventories.

There is a memorandum on the manufacture of prussiates of potash; a monograph on glycerin; a historical brochure on the Edwin H. Fitler Company; and briefs in a lawsuit over the cutting off of European chemicals in 1917. Documents from the Henry Bower Beneficial Society include: minutes (1894-1903; 1926-1938); constitution and bylaws; a proposition book (1900-1909); dues books (1917-1938); receipt books (1904-1932); and a sample of letters dealing with sick visitations and company excursions. Carter & Scattergood is represented by the original 1834 partnership agreement.

There is a receipt book (1857-1868); patents (1869-1889); testimonial letters; newspaper clippings; parts of a chemical notebook on dyestuffs and cyanides; loose receipts (1848-1868); and contracts with the Philadelphia Gas Works for a supply of waste chemicals.

The Ammonia Company of Philadelphia is represented by minutes (1887-1906); and a notebook of chemical tests (1894-1908). The Kalion Chemical Company is represented by minutes (1882-1906); and a factory book (1894-1899). The Mutual Chemical Company of America is represented by newspaper clippings and by a lithograph of their Baltimore and Jersey City plants.

There are also a few personal and family items, including Wilhelm Bower's exit visa from Hamburg and his naturalization papers; and genealogical notes on the Hart family of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Related Materials

Henry Bower Chemical Manufacturing Company records (Accession 1032), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Carter & Scattergood records (Accession 0376), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.


Additional Information

Additional Description

Separated Materials

Henry Bower Chemical Manufacturing Company photographs (Accession 1971.MSS.1070), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

The Museum Division has eight medals and awards presented to Henry Bower.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Henry Bower Chemical Manufacturing Compay records
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Laurie Sather

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400