logo2

16 Oct 2021, last revised 16 Jul 2022

The one known pharmacy bottle from Thos Serek and its possible contents are more so a curiosity because it turns out, Serek was a barber, not a druggist.

Thomas Serek was born in Poland in 1845 (1). The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded that he immigrated to the U.S. in 1891 (1), but the 1889 Polk directory listed him as a barber in Red Jacket (17), and he already had a barber shop in 1886 (19).

His barber shop changed locations several times. In 1895, he was at 233 N 5th St., Calumet (2), but this address did not exist on the 1893 Sanborn map. In 1897, he was listed at 303 N 5th St., Calumet (3), and the 1897 Sanborn map placed this address near the northwest corner with Oak St. This location was previously a saloon on the 1893 map. In 1899 and 1901, his address was 321 5th St., Calumet (4,5), which the 1900 Sanborn map shows to be four buildings north of his previous location. Curiously, he was not listed in the 1903 directory (6).

Sanborn map, 5th St., Calumet - Dec 1897
Sanborn map - Dec 1897
Sanborn map, 5th St., Calumet - Sept 1900
Sanborn map - Sept 1900
By 1905, he had moved to 417 6th St., Calumet (7). The next Sanborn map was from 1908, and it shows that the street was re-numbered. However, both the old and new locations for 417 6th St. were labeled as dwellings. He was not listed in 1907 (8). The 1909 directory listed him as a barber in Laurium (9), and the 1910 directory specified the address as 322 Lake Linden Ave. (10). He was not listed in the 1912 directory (11), but then he was listed in Calumet as a barber at 506 Portland St. in the 1916 directory (18). He was not listed in the 1921 directory (12), so it seems that he retired by that point since he died in 1923 at the age of 80 and was buried in Lake View Cemetery, Calumet (16).

Despite being a barber, Serek also sold medicinal products. An announcement in The Copper Country Evening News in Jan 1896 stated that Mr. Tom Serek was the sole Copper Country agent for the celebrated medicated balsam pillow (13). In Jun 1897, he hosted Mr. Joseph Blanchard from Marinette, WI who was selling his cure for eczema, salt rheum, pimples and sores (14). The most likely connection to the bottle, however, comes from the 1905 directory, which listed him as a barber and manufacturer's agent, and included a full-page ad for blood and skin purifiers (7). His hair restoring sea foam, in particular, was advertised from 1899. Could he have bottled one of these medicines in his embossed pharmacy bottle?

Newspaper ad - The Daily Mining Gazette, 02 Dec 1899
Newspaper ad - Dec 1899
Polk directory ad - Houghton County Directory 1905-06
Polk directory ad - 1905

Serek's bottle bears the maker's mark of W. B. M. CO. for Westen Bottle Manufacturing Co. and BREED, which signifies a proprietary bottle shape that was probably named after its creator, R. E. Breed (15). The BREED mark dates to 1901-c.1908. Overlapping Serek's history, his bottle probably dates to c.1905.

References

  1. U.S. Census Bureau. 1920 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  2. R. L. Polk & Co. 1895. Houghton County Directory 1895-96. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  3. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Houghton County Directory 1897-98. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  4. R. L. Polk & Co. 1899. Houghton County Directory 1899-1900. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  5. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-02. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  6. R. L. Polk & Co. 1903. Houghton County Directory 1903-04. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  7. R. L. Polk & Co. 1905. Houghton County Directory 1905-06. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  8. R. L. Polk & Co. 1907. Houghton County Directory 1907-08. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  9. R. L. Polk & Co. 1909. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1909. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  10. R. L. Polk & Co. 1910. 1910 Calumet, Houghton, Hancock and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  11. R. L. Polk & Co. 1912. 1912 Calumet, Hancock, Houghton and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  12. R. L. Polk & Co. 1921. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1921-1922. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  13. anonymous. (1896, Jan 10). There can be none better. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 2.
  14. anonymous. (1897, Jun 26). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 5.
  15. Lockhart, B., B. Schriever, B. Lindsey, C. Serr, and B. Brown. 2020. Western Bottle Manufacturing Co. In: Encyclopedia of Manufacturer's Marks on Historic Bottles. posted on Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website. https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/WesternBottle.pdf
  16. Find a Grave. accessed Oct 2021. Thomas Serek. findagrave.com/memorial/190776673/thomas-serek
  17. R. L. Polk & Co. 1889. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1889-90. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  18. R. L. Polk & Co. 1916. Houghton County Directory 1916-17. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  19. anonymous. (1886, Jul 01). Around Town. Portage Lake Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI). p. 3.

15
Thos Serek bottle
12 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape Q
date: c.1905
capacity - base mark - rarity:
12 oz. - BREED / W. B. M. CO. - extremely rare
  • the books says "no makers mark" but this example has one
  • capacity marked above the plate