The Apothecary & Soda Tokens of A.B. Taylor

Alfred Bower Taylor
Alfred Bower Taylor

Born January 6th 1824 in the city of Philadelphia, Alfred Bower Taylor began his pharmaceutical career at a very early age.

Graduating from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at 20, he moved to New York City to learn the retail druggist trade. Over the next three years he worked for two different stores, with the purpose of gaining sufficient acumen in the business.

Having garnered sufficient experience, he departed New York City and returned to Philadelphia, where he purchased his own storefront from the executors of a deceased pharmacist.

Located at the northeast corner of Walnut and Eleventh street, there Taylor remained for the next six years. Having established a well-earned reputation as a competent pharmacist, his customer base grew quickly, to the point where his retail space no longer possessed sufficient capacity to meet his volume of business.

Having outgrown his existing store’s capacity, he moved to a larger store at 1015 Chestnut Street. It was at Chestnut Street that he operated his business for the next 23 years, including the years during the Civil War.

Alfred B. Taylor Denticrete

It was also  during this time, shortly after Taylor relocated, that he undertook his most aggressive advertising campaigns. As discussed later, it is also around this time that he emitted his large variety of storecards.

Alfred B. Taylor Orilote

In 1876 Taylor moved once again, relocating his store to 31 South Eleventh Street. Five years later he moved for a final time, opening a storefront on Ninth Street on the first floor of the Continental Hotel. Taylor retired several years thereafter.

During his long and prosperous pharmacy career, Taylor established himself not only as a successful businessman, but also as a fixture in the pharmaceutical trade. In 1848 he was appointed Inspector of Drugs for the Port of Philadelphia. Three years later he was a founding member of the American Pharmaceutical Association, where he served as its first secretary. In 1852 he became treasurer, and then five years later, reappointed as secretary for a second time. In 1890 he was appointed president of the APA.

Taylor was a prolific inventor of various pharmaceutical preparations
Taylor was a prolific inventor of various pharmaceutical preparations

Taylor was quite active in efforts to improve the efficacy of pharmaceuticals. Over the course of his long career, he published over 50 papers in the field of practical pharmacy.

In addition to his pursuits in the drug trade, Taylor was also a founding member of the Philadelphia Numismatic and Antiquarian Society.

Alfred B. Taylor died on February 28th 1898. He was survived by one son who was also in the pharmacy business. Taylor was married twice.

Numismatic Specimens

Alfred Taylor had a multitude of token varieties struck over the course of only a few years.  Miller lists no less than 21 varieties struck on or about 1860-1861. Fuld reports one Civil War token variety. They are listed in the following table below:

Alfred B. Taylor Token Varieties

Below are several examples of Alfred B. Taylor’s tokens.

The first token is listed as PA-505 and dated 1860. Struck in German Silver with a plain edge, this example is about MS-62 with 50% brightness.

Miller PA-505 A.B. Taylor

The second specimen was struck about 1860.  Listed as Miller PA-507, the specimen has a planchet of cupronickel.  It is about MS-63 in grade.

Miller PA-507 A.B. Taylor

The third token is listed as PA-509 and was struck about 1860.  Made from a planchet of cupronickel, the specimen is approximately Choice Fine in grade.

Alfred B. Taylor PA-509 Cupro Nickel

The final token is listed as Miller PA-504C and Fuld PA750U-1c, struck in German silver.  It is the one and only variety that has been affirmatively verified as a Civil War token. It is approximately MS-64 in grade.

Fuld PA750U-1c A.B. Taylor

Aaron Packard [End Mark]

Notes and Sources

  1. Multiple Classified Advertisements, North American and United States Gazette, Philadelphia PA, 1861-1862
  2. The American Journal of Pharmacy, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, April 1898, pg.177
  3. The Pharmaceutical Era Volume XIX January to June, Charles W. Parsons, D.O. Haynes & Co, 1898, pg.387
  4. United States Store Cards, Edgar H. Adams, 1920, pg.68
  5. A Catalogue of U.S. Store Cards or Merchants Tokens, Donald H. Miller, Henry Hall Inc., ©1962, pg.82
  6. American Business Tokens, Benjamin P. Wright, Quarterman Publications, Reprint ©1972, pg.117
  7. U.S. Civil War Store Cards, George and Melvin Fuld, Quarterman Publications, ©1975, pg.491
  8. Pennsylvania Merchant Tokens, Herman M. Aqua, Michigan Exonumia Publishers, ©2000
  9. Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 Fourth Edition, Russell Rulau, Krause Publications, ©2004, pg.394
  10. A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens, Q. David Bowers, Whitman Publishing, ©2013, pg.378
  11. The Library of Congress Digital Archives
Aaron Packard

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this interesting article on my distant cousin, Alfred Bower Taylor. He was a 1st cousin of my great-great grandfather. I remember seeing another interesting newspaper article which said he provided aid to victims of a horrific fire in Philadelphia.

    Alfred’s brother, William Bower Taylor, also led an interesting life. He lived in Washington, D.C., first employed by the U.S. Patent Office, and later, worked for the Smithsonian Institution, directly under Joseph Henry, it’s first Secretary. Several of W. B. Taylor’s scientific review articles can be found on the web.

    I have a picture of William B Taylor, courtesy of the Smithsonian’s employee archives, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to attach it.

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