Seabury & Johnson - Company History

George J. Seabury and Robert W. Johnson established Seabury & Johnson, a drug manufacturing company, about 1867. Seabury had studied medicine before the Civil War, so he at least had some claim to experience in the field.

Acccording to Griffenhagen's Private Die Proprietary Medicine Stamps , Their chief product was Benson's Capcine Porous Plasters, which were recommended for weak backs, kidney troubles, sore throats, coughs, rheumatism, stiffness, sprains and pains of all kinds(!!) Remember that this was very pre-FDA, and fantastic, exaggerated claims for remedies of dubious value were the norm. Many contained drugs such as morphine, cocaine, cannabis, and the like, so that they delivered a sense of euphoria and well-being, and the illusion of better health. I thought "porous plasters" were simply bandages, so I didn't see how the above observations could have applied, but a little web-surfing found various pages explaining that they did contain drugs, which were absorbed through the skin.

R.W. Johnson left Seabury & Johnson in 1885 and founded Johnson & Johnson with his brother Edward.   George Seabury and his brother Robert carried on, though keeping the company name unchanged. Upon George's death in 1909, Robert took over, and the company thrived for another decade at least, being a prime supplier to the American military of first aid packets during WWI.

S & J covers are collected not only for their beauty, but for their connection with the Seabury & Johnson tax stamp (RS216), an example of which is shown below.

That scan is not the greatest, I know. I'm looking for a better one - the image shows an injured figure on the ground in front, a robed and bearded figure offering comfort, and a horse or donkey in back. I think it's supposed to represent the Good Samaritan story.

2/28/2007 - THIS PAGE has some superb images of RS216, plus more information about the company.

This page is a supplement to my pages on Advertising Covers, and the spectacular
advertising covers of the Seabury and Johnson Company. Click on these links to visit those pages:

A is for Advertising Cover <<<       HOME      >>> More about Seabury and Johnson

All text Copyright © 2000, William M. Senkus

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Revised -- 02/28/2007