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16 Oct 2021, last revised 01 Jun 2022

Geo. H. Nichols Pharmacist, Quincy St., Hancock<br>Courtesy of Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, John T. Reeder Photograph Collection, MS042-999-T-019

It appears Geo. H. Nichols had one of the longest running drug stores in the early years of the Copper Country. The number of bottles embossed with his name is a testiment to this.

George Henry Nichols was born in Hancock on 22 Aug 1863 (12) to immigrants from England (1). He started in the druggist business quite young, as the 1880 U.S. Federal Census listed him as a druggist clerk at the age of 16 (2). In 1887, his drug store was newly established as it was not listed in the 1887 Michigan State Polk directory (13), but the 1887 Holland directory for Hancock (3) stated:

The drug store of Mr. Nicholls though open to the public but a short time, has already taken a firm position in popular favor; a gentleman well known and esteemed by the citizens of Hancock, and one thoroughly up in all the details of his profession, his successful debut cannot but ripen as time goes on into a substantial and enduring reputation.

Like with other drug stores, Nichols sold more than just drugs. His 1887 directory ad specified sundries, wall paper, etc. His 1909 directory listing specified drugs, toilet articles, books, stationery, office supplies, cigars, and confections (14). He installed a soda fountain in 1892 (17), and then in 1897, in preparation for summer, he replaced his soda fountain with one from Lippincott & Co., which was double the size of his previous one and could dispense to two persons at once (15,16).

Holland directory ad - 1887-8 Hand-book and Guide to Hancock, Mich
Holland directory ad - 1887

The address of the drug store changed over the years, which may have been due to re-numbering of the street in addition to at least one change in location. In 1887, it was listed at 123 Quincy St. (3), but the 1888 Sanborn map did not survey this area of Hancock. It was listed at 125 Quincy St. in 1895, 1897, and 1899 (4,5,6), but the Sanborn maps of 1893, 1900, and 1907 show a dwelling at this location. The early photograph of the store shows a watchmaker and then an open alley on the right side, and a small structure in the alley on the left side. This layout matches a building labeled "Drugs" on north side of Quincy St. between Tezcuco St. and Reservation St. on the 1893 Sanborn map. On the 1900 Sanborn map, this building was labeled "Drugs" and also "To be torn down".

Sanborn map, Quincy St., Hancock - Aug 1893
Sanborn map - Aug 1893

From 1901 to 1916 (the last Houghton County directory we have access to), the store was listed at 220 Quincy St. (7,8). A change in location makes sense if the previous location was torn down. On the 1907 Sanborn map, we see this location on the south side of Quincy St. between Ravine St. and Tezcuco St., and we also see that the street was re-numbered. This location was not labeled as a drug store on previous Sanborn maps.

Sanborn map, Quincy St., Hancock - Nov 1907
Sanborn map - Nov 1907

Bottle #8 has the older Chicago Oval shape, which helps to identify it as being the first. It curiously has two L's in the spelling of Nichols, and so do three other bottles (#9, s30, and s60). The 1887 directory (7) and an 1888 newspaper article (18) spelled his name with two L's. He name was spelled with one L from the 1891 directory (19), and the remaining bottles have only one L in the spelling of Nichols. The bottles embossed with KELLOGG (#s24) and KLONDIKE (#10) signify proprietary shapes produced by A. M. Foster & Co. (9), and they help to narrow the date range of this maker's mark. The last bottles were embossed with the franchise name, THE REXALL STORE, and we see him listed as a Rexall Store in the 1916 directory (8). The spelling of his name with two L's seems to be an error, but we also found this spelling in the earlier 1887 Holland directory (3) and in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census (2). Thereafter, his name was consistently spelled with one L.

Polk directory ad - Polk's Hancock (Michigan) Directory 1930
Polk directory ad - 1930

It seems that Nichols ran his store up until his death, or at least close to his death. He and his Rexall Store were still listed in the 1930 directory (10). He then died on 14 Sept 1933 at the age of 70 and was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Houghton (12). This marked the end of his business after about 46 years. But the Rexall Store at this location continued as Halls Pharmacy with Robt H. Halls as proprietor (11).

Nichols label on Scott's Drug Store bottle
Nichols brandy bottle
Header of Nichols' Sales Receipt, dated 1901<br>Courtesy of the Richard Dana Collection
Header of Nichols' Sales Receipt - 1901

References

  1. U.S. Census Bureau. 1870 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau. 1880 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  3. Holland, A. H. 1887. 1887-8 Hand-book and Guide to Hancock, Mich. Mining Journal Book and Job Print. Marquette, MI.
  4. R. L. Polk & Co. 1895. Houghton County Directory 1895-96. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  5. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Houghton County Directory 1897-98. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  6. R. L. Polk & Co. 1899. Houghton County Directory 1899-1900. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  7. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-02. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  8. R. L. Polk & Co. 1916. Houghton County Directory 1916-17. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  9. Lockhart, B., B. Schriever, B. Lindsey, C. Serr, and B. Brown. 2013, revised 2021. A.M. Foster & Co. In: Encyclopedia of Manufacturer's Marks on Historic Bottles. posted on Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website. https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/AMFoster.pdf
  10. R. L. Polk & Co. 1930. Polk’s Hancock (Michigan) Directory 1930. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  11. R. L. Polk & Co. 1939. Polk’s Hancock (Michigan) Directory 1939. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  12. Find a Grave. accessed Oct 2021. George Henry Nichols. findagrave.com/memorial/216465507/george-henry-nichols
  13. R. L. Polk & Co. 1887. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1887-88. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  14. R. L. Polk & Co. 1909. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1909. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  15. anonymous. (1897, Feb 18). Portage Lake News. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  16. anonymous. (1897, Apr 09). Portage Lake News. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 3.
  17. anonymous. (1892, May 12). untitled. Michigan Copper Journal (Hancock, MI). p. 1.
  18. anonymous. (1888, Aug 23). Hancock Happenings. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.
  19. R. L. Polk & Co. 1891. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1891-92. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.

8
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
7 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape R
date: early 1890s
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
1 oz. - 8.9 x 3.2 cm - M / PAT. MAY 15. 88 / D. F. & CO. - rare
2 oz. - 11.0 x 4.5 cm - (none) - rare
3 oz. - 12.3 x 5.0 cm - M / PAT. MAY 15. 88 / D. F. & CO. - rare
4 oz. - 13.7 x 5.3 cm - M / PAT'D MAY 15 8 / D F & CO - rare
7 oz. - 16.5 x 6.4 cm - (none) - rare
  • two L's in NICHOLLS
  • capacity marked on 2-oz size

9
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
6 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape K
date: mid to late 1890s
capacity - base mark - rarity:
½ oz. - (none) - common
2 oz. - A M F & CO. - common
4 oz. - A M F. & CO. - common
6 oz. - A M F. & CO. - common
  • two L's in NICHOLLS
  • rounded shoulders
  • capacity marked above the plate

s30
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
½ oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape N
date: mid to late 1890s
capacity - base mark - rarity:
½ oz. - (none) - extremely rare
  • two L's in NICHOLLS
  • different shoulders from 9
  • capacity marked above the plate

s60
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
1 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape D
date: mid to late 1890s
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
1 oz. - 8.7 x 3.8 cm - (none) - extremely rare
  • two L's in NICHOLLS
  • different bottle shape from s30 and 9
  • capacity not marked on bottle

s24
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
12 oz.
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape K
date: c.1897-c.1902
capacity - base mark - rarity:
½ oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
1 oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
2 oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
3 oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
4 oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
6 oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
8 oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
12 oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
16 oz. - KELLOGG / A. M. F. & CO. - extremely rare
  • one L in NICHOLS
  • different shoulders from s30
  • capacity marked above the plate

s31
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
7 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape D
date: late 1890s - early 1900s
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
7 oz. - 16.1 x 6.3 cm - (none) - extremely rare
12 oz. - 19.7 x 8.2 cm - (none) - extremely rare
  • different shoulders from s24
  • capacity not marked on bottle

10
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
4 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape E
date: c.1897-c.1900
capacity - base mark - rarity:
½ oz. - KLONDIKE / A M. F. & CO. - rare
1 oz. - KLONDIKE / A M. F. & CO. - rare
2 oz. - KLONDIKE / A. M. F. & CO. - rare
4 oz. - KLONDIKE / A. M. F. & CO. - rare
6 oz. - KLONDIKE / A. M. F. & CO. - rare
8 oz. - KLONDIKE / A. M. F. & CO. - rare
  • footed-style base
  • capacity embossing does not include units
  • capacity marked above the plate

s57
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
7 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape K
date: c.1900-c.1910
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
7 oz. - 16.3 x 6.6 cm - (none) - extremely rare
  • rounded shoulders
  • Rexall Store
  • capacity not marked on bottle

s56
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
7 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape K
date: c.1900-c.1910
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
7 oz. - 16.5 x 6.6 cm - (none) - extremely rare
  • rounded shoulders
  • collared top
  • Rexall Store
  • capacity not marked on bottle
s56a
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
12 oz
capacity - H - base mark - rarity:
12 oz. - 19.8 cm - W. T. CO. / 1 / U. S. A. - extremely rare
  • smaller font

11
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
8 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape F
date: c.1913-c.1915
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
½ oz. - 7.0 x 2.9 cm - W. T. CO. / U. S. A. / PAT. DEC. 11. 1894 - scarce
1 oz. - 9.2 x 3.2 cm - W. T. CO. / U. S. A. / PAT. DEC. 11. 1894 - scarce
2 oz. - 10.6 x 3.8 cm - W. T. CO. / U. S. A. / PAT. DEC. 11. 1894 - scarce
4 oz. - 13.8 x 5.2 cm - W. T. CO. / U. S. A. - scarce
8 oz. - 17.0 x 6.9 cm - W. T. CO. / U. S. A. / PAT. DEC. 11. 1894 - scarce
  • patent date not found on 4 oz. size
  • collared top
  • The Rexall Store
  • capacity not marked on bottle

s68
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
2 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape F
date: c.1913-c.1915
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
2 oz. - 10.5 x 4.4 cm - W. T. CO. / U. S. A. / PAT. DEC. 11. 1894 - scarce
  • top lacks a collar
  • The Rexall Store
  • capacity not marked on bottle

7
Geo. H. Nichols bottle
16 oz
color: colorless
top: porcelain lightning stopper - tooled
base outline: base shape A
date: c.1913-c.1915
capacity - base mark - rarity:
16 oz. - W. T. CO. / B / U. S. A. - extremely rare
  • citrate of magnesia bottle
  • The Rexall Store
  • capacity not marked on bottle