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30 Oct 2021, last revised 04 Jul 2022

Similar to most druggists, Vastbinder & Read did not leave us with many embossed bottles, despite being in business together for about 17 years. They were pharmacists in the Copper Country before becoming proprietors of their own drug store.

Frank R. Vastbinder was born on 19 Dec 1868 in Painted Post, New York (1). He resided in Manistique (23) before arriving in the Copper Country and was listed as a clerk for Sorsen & Sodergren in the 1895 Polk directory (2). In Aug 1896, it was explained that he worked for Sodergren & Sodergren, then for J. Clemo, Jr., & Co. (of Eagle Drug Store), and then went back to Sodergren & Sodergren (17). He was then listed a clerk and a druggist for Sodergren & Sodergren in 1897, 1899, and 1901 (14,15,16).

Russell Harry Read was born on 04 Dec 1872 in Canada (1) and immigrated to the U.S. in 1897 (3). The 1897 directory listed him as a druggist (14) and the newspaper stated in Aug 1897 that he worked at the City Drug Store (owned by Sodergren & Sodergren) in Vastbinder's absence (18). The 1899 directory listed him as a clerk for Sodergren & Sodergren (15), and then he was a pharmacist at the C & H Hospital (16).

Vastbinder & Read purchased the Macdonald drug store in May or Jun 1903 (22). They were first listed in the 1903 directory (4), and they maintained the 100 5th St. address (3). In May 1911, they moved to the southeast corner of Oak St. and 5th St. (5), which the 1912 directory specified as 220 5th St., Calumet (6). Upon the move, they installed new fixtures of early English oak with a green background, pyramid showcases with glass shelves, a fully equipped 25x23 ft prescription room, a new soda fountain, tungsten lights and electric fixtures, and a big cigar case (19,20). The Superior Pharmacy then opened a branch in the old location (5,13).

Sanborn map - May 1908
Sanborn map - May 1908
Sanborn map - July 1917
Sanborn map - July 1917

Newspaper ads show that they became a Rexall Store in 1908 or 1909.

Newspaper ad - The Calumet News, 31 Dec 1909
Newspaper ad - Dec 1909
Newspaper ad - The Calumet News, 04 Jun 1910
Newspaper ad - Jun 1910

An article from Apr 1910 declared their confidence in the Rexall brand: (10)

The Vastbinder & Read Drug Co. have a firmly established reputation for square dealing and sterling honesty. When they told the people that Rexall Remedies are the purest and most dependable medicines that it is possible for modern science to produce and that they would tell the public what each one of these 300 or more remedies contained, and that they sold Rexall Remedies on their personal guarantee that they would give entire satisfaction or they would not cost the user a single cent, they were believed.

Their two bottles do not have maker's marks, but they have a shape that was popular in the early 1900s, including the easy-pour shoulder. Thus, they probably date to 1905-1910.

They were druggists together in the 1916 directory (7), druggists and store owners on the 1920 U.S. Federal Census (8), and then only Read was listed as a druggist in the 1921 directory (9). Read died on 03 Jun 1923 and was buried in Lake View Cemetery in Calumet (1). The 1930 and 1940 censuses placed Vastbinder in Caro, MI where he was a druggist in his own store (11,12). He then died on 11 May 1942 in Caro with his occupation still being "pharmacist" (1). At some point, Metropolitan Pharmacy moved from Oak St. to the 220 5th St. location (21).

Prescription Label<br>Courtesy of the Westlake estate
Prescription Label

References

  1. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Death Records (accessed on ancestry.com).
  2. R. L. Polk & Co. 1895. Houghton County Directory 1895-96. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  3. U.S. Census Bureau. 1900 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  4. R. L. Polk & Co. 1903. Houghton County Directory 1903-04. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  5. anonymous. (1911, May 12). Will Move Next Week. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 1.
  6. R. L. Polk & Co. 1912. 1912 Calumet, Hancock, Houghton and Laurium Directory. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  7. R. L. Polk & Co. 1916. Houghton County Directory 1916-17. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  8. U.S. Census Bureau. 1920 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  9. R. L. Polk & Co. 1921. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1921-1922. R. L. Polk & Co. Detroit, MI.
  10. anonymous. (1910, Apr 08). A Public Benefit. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p.6.
  11. U.S. Census Bureau. 1930 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  12. U.S. Census Bureau. 1940 United States Federal Census. accessed on ancestry.com.
  13. anonymous. (1911, May 23). Laurium Briefs. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p.7.
  14. R. L. Polk & Co. 1897. Houghton County Directory 1897-98. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  15. R. L. Polk & Co. 1899. Houghton County Directory 1899-1900. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  16. R. L. Polk & Co. 1901. Houghton County Directory 1901-02. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  17. anonymous. (1896, Aug 06). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 2.
  18. anonymous. (1897, Aug 18). untitled. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.
  19. anonymous. (1911, May 19). Vastbinder & Read Move. The Calumet News (Calumet, MI). p. 1.
  20. anonymous. (1911, May 22). Local Briefs. The Calumet News. p. 8.
  21. R. L. Polk & Co. 1930. Polk’s Calumet (Michigan) Directory 1930. R. L. Polk & Co., Publishers. Detroit, MI.
  22. anonymous. (1903, Jun 02). untitled. The Native Copper Times (Lake Linden, MI). p. 1.
  23. anonymous. (1899, Jan 04). Expected Home Soon. The Copper Country Evening News (Calumet, MI). p. 8.

16
Vastbinder & Read bottle
6 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape D
date: 1905-1910
capacity - H x W - base mark - rarity:
2 oz. - 11.1 x 4.6 cm - (none) - extremely rare
4 oz. - 14.1 x 5.3 cm - (none) - extremely rare
6 oz. - 15.8 x 5.9 cm - (none) - extremely rare
8 oz. - 17.5 x 6.5 cm - (none) - extremely rare
16 oz. - 21.8 x ? cm - (none) - extremely rare
  • capacity not marked on bottle

s40
Vastbinder & Read bottle
1 oz
color: colorless
top: cork top - tooled
base outline: base shape D
date: 1905-1910
capacity - base mark - rarity:
1 oz. - (none) - extremely rare
  • capacity marked above the plate