Napier’s Medicine Makers Excerpt

Napier’s Medicine Makers

A Brief History of Chemists & Druggist 1860 to 1950’s

DES HARRIS & DON MILLAR

Page 141

CHARLES L. THOMAS

EMERSON STREET

Charles L. Thomas was born in Dunedin in 1877. As a young man he was indentured to the pharmacy profession under Mr Loasby of Dunedin, who manufactured the famous WAHOO products.

Later he held a professional appointment at Leeston in Canterbury where in June 1899 he passed the New Zealand Pharmacy Board’s Examination, his registration with the Society being date 18th October 1899.

Thomas then moved to Australia where he joined the staff of Messrs. Frederick Stearns & Coo. Of Michigan, U.S.A. and later held a similar position in the firm of Messrs. Elliot Bros., of Sydney. Later he accepted a position in the retail business of Mr Washington Soul of Sydney.

With this experience behind him, he returned to New Zealand and settled in Napier in 1904 where he became manager of Dr J. Neil’s Botanic Dispensary which was a branch of Neil’s main Dunedin pharmacy.

On the 25th July 1905, Neil placed an advertisement in the Hawke’s Bay Herald which reads:-

In thanking the residents of Napier and surrounding districts for their liberal patronage in the past J. Neil begs to intimate that he has disposed of his chemist’s business in Emerson Street to Mr Charles L. Thomas, his late manager and trusts that the same liberal support will be extended to his successor. J. Neil appoints Mr Thomas his SOLE AGENT for the Provincial Districts of Hawke’s Bay, for his well known preparations.

Mr Thomas is removing to premises now occupied by the London Dental Company, Emerson Street.

Signed J. Neil.

Photo caption – Thomas’s Pharmacy (Late J. Neil) Emerson Street, Napier 1905

Page 142

Mr Thomas’ purchase of this pharmacy was the start of what was to be a long association with pharmacy in the city of Napier. The Freelance Supplement of 1st March 1922 provides an interesting insight into his business:-

Mr C. L. Thomas’s pharmacy is one of the best stocked and most compact in Hawke’s Bay. The business has been established for 18 years. A very large dispensing business is done and a staff of qualified chemists is employed. Mr Thomas specialises as a optician. He also has a great reputation around the Bay for prescribing for sick dogs and cats. Peculiar as that branch of the chemist’s business might seem, ailing cats and dogs are brought to him form all over the Province. Thomas’s Tiny Tabs, an after dinner tablet for the liver is one of the big lines of the pharmacy. Equally famous is Thomas’s Miraculous Corn Salve that offers certain relief of corns. Thousands of bottles are sold a year of Thomas’s Balsam of Linseed, a splendid cure for coughs and colds. Shel’Ol is an egg preserver discovered by Mr Thomas and is so wonderful that an egg rubbed with Shel’Ol can be poached for breakfast a year later. .

Mr Thomas was a prime mover in the establishment of an Urgent Pharmacy in Napier. Both he and Mr A. W. J. Mann of Gisborne, were early advocates of 6 o’clock closing of pharmacies to reduce the incredibly long hours worked by pharmacists and their assistants. Thomas had already met with Napier pharmacists and they had agreed to close at 8pm. When Thomas met again with Mr Mann he was advised that Gisborne pharmacists had agreed they would close at 6 pm., so on his return to Napier, another meeting of local pharmacists was held and they too, agreed to do the same as their Gisborne colleagues. Some days after this meeting, plans to open an Urgent Pharmacy rostered on a weekly basis and an initial stock of 50 pounds by each pharmacist. Each owner held shares in the new enterprise. The new venture was a success and the idea spread through-out New Zealand.

Photo caption – Charles L. Thomas

Page 143

Thomas was another Napier pharmacist whose building was destroyed in the 1931 earthquake, but he quickly established temporary premises at his Jull Street home to service his customers. The following brief notice appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 26th February 1931:-

CHAS. L. THOMAS

Begs to notify that he has commenced business at PARK PHARMACY, Jull Street gates, Nelson Park. he will be pleased to see old customers

C. L. Thomas. Jull Street.

Photo captions
– Charles Thomas outside his Emerson Street Pharmacy.
(circa 1930)

– Thomas’s temporary pharmacy in front of his home in Jull Street.

(All photos used in this article, courtesy of Mrs J. G. Thomas)

Page 144

Photos of his reconstructed pharmacy in Emerson Street after the earthquake, show features of Art Deco design in the high windows, while the sale of Earthquake postcards on view, became another source of income in the re-established business.

Charles Thomas became involved in the civic affairs of Napier, including the development of the “30 Thousand Club” and he served a term as Grand Master of the Napier Scinde Masonic Lodge. In addition he was a keen dog breeder and was known for his keen wit and readiness to discuss civic matters.

W.D. (Bob) Greenfield commenced his apprenticeship with Charles Thomas in 1938 but after passing his first pharmacy exam in 1939, Bob’s apprenticeship was interrupted by the catastrophic World War II.

Bob’s distinguished career in the NZRAF meant he served in Britain, Canada, Africa and Burma during the war.

Photo captions

– The new Thomas’s Pharmacy in Emerson Street

– The more elderly Charles Thomas

(All photos courtesy of Mrs J. G. Thomas)

Page 145

On their discharge, returned servicemen were permitted some compression of their earlier apprenticeship requirements and Greenfield passed his final pharmacy examination at the end of 1946. Thomas immediately offered Greenfield a half share in the business and Bob willingly became a partner in the business which continued to be known as Thomas’s Pharmacy.

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CHAS. L. THOMAS M.P.S.
EMERSON STREET, NAPIER.

Charles L. Thomas passed away at Napier on 3rd February 1955.

For a brief period Greenfield became the sole owner of the Emerson Street business, however strong competition between national chain stores Woolworth’s and McKenzies resulted in McKenzies buying the building in which Thomas’s Pharmacy was housed.

Greenfield closed Thomas’s Pharmacy and several days later the building was demolished to make way for McKenzIes new store. Chemical supplies and dispensing goods from the old pharmacy were stored in the cellars of the Old Caledonian Hotel until Greenfield could open another pharmacy. Towards the end of 1955, W. D. Greenfield opened his newly established Greenfield’s Pharmacy in the thriving suburb of Greenmeadows.

Thomas’s Pharmacy in Emerson Street had served the public of Napier for 50 years.

Photo caption – Charles L. Thomas
Mounted Rifles – World War I
(photo – courtesy Mrs J. G. Thomas)

Page 146

[Advertisement – Householder’s Annual & Directory 1914]
ACTS LIKE MAGIC
The New and Scientific Remedy for the cure if Influenza, Colds in the Head Aching Limbs, Cold Shivers, Sneezing, Cold Sweats, Etc,
1 DAY COLD CURE
PRICE 1/- Post Free.
The above-named distressing ailments are quickly disposed of by this safe and easy remedy. Breaks up the cold immediately.
CHAS. L. THOMAS – Chemist and Optician,
Emerson Street, NAPIER.

[Advertisement – Hawke’s Bay Observer 6th Feb. 1917]
That Nasty Cough Cured
You want to be rid of it, don’t you? And there are so many “so called” cough cures advertised, you don’t know which to get.
You cannot do better than take a does of
THOMAS’
BALSAM of LINSEED
It heels the irritated Bronchial Tubes, releases the Phlegm and soothes the Lungs.
It is a Chest Strengthener, a Lung Preserver and a Positive Cure.
Price 1/6 and 2/6.
FROM . . . .
CHAS. L. THOMAS, M.P.S.,
Pharmacist and Optician,
Emerson Street – – – NAPIER.
GWV.-7

[Advertisement – Daily Telegraph 20th Jan. 1925]
LET THOMAS
DEVELOP AND PRINT YOUR FILMS
C.L. THOMAS CHEMIST
NAPIER

[Advertisement – 1909]
Thomas’s Tiny Tabs
Carry Health about with you
“It’s great to be able to carry health about in your breast pocket’ – that’s the way one Hawke’s Bay man spoke of Thomas’ famous Tiny Tabs. He had good reason to do so. He tried many expensive preparations but without satisfaction, until he bought
Thomas’
TINY TABS
1/6 Per Vial
Packed in a handy little vial vest pocket size. Purely vegetable, small, tasteless and effectual, Thomas’ Tiny Tabs are unequalled for the relief and correction of Stomach and Liver Troubles, for constipation, Torpid Liver, Headache and Indigestion. Made by skilled and qualified pharmacist, you know that every ingredient has been selected because of its remedial properties. 1/7 post paid for C. L. Thomas, Chemist, Napier.

[Advertisement – Daily Telegraph 20th Jan. 1925]
THOMAS’S MIRACULOUS CORN SALVE
Certain and Painless.
For Hard and Soft Corns.
Only 1/6.
C.L. THOMAS, Chemist, Napier

[Advertisement – From a THOMAS’S PHARMACY Post Card]
A Hair on the Head is worth
Two in the Brush
THOMAS’S HAIR WASH
makes every hair stay where it belongs promotes its growth and cures dandruff.
CHAS. L. THOMAS. M.P.S. NAPIER

Page 147

Charles Thomas used at least four different glass companies (both British and American) to supply him with embossed prescription bottles.

PHARMACIST
Chas. L. Thomas
NAPIER
MM
AQUA
158 X 58 MM

PHARMACIST
Chas. L. Thomas
NAPIER
GW
AQUA & ICE BLUE
161x 63 mm

3 iiii
PHARMACIST
Chas L Thomas
NAPIER
CLEAR
135 x 49 mm

3 viii
CHAS. L. THOMAS
CHEMIST
NAPIER
AQUA
No base mark.
Bottle shape not recorded.

3i
PHARMACIST
Chas. L. Thomas
NAPIER
W.T. Co.
U.S.A.
CLEAR
95 x 37 mm

Original digital file

ThomasS1555_NapiersMedicineMakers.pdf

Date published

2007

Format of the original

Book excerpt

Creator / Author

  • Des Harris
  • Don Millar

People

Accession number

410558

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