Around 1880, a small pharmacy was opened in New York city and sold perfumes, cosmetics and assorted toiletries. Richard Hudnut, the son of the proprietor of the shop, became the first American selling luxury perfume presentations, (though some of these were created in France) in an elegant shop which was directly influenced by the French and European perfumeries.
"RICHARD ALEXANDER HUDNUT. The ancestry of Richard Alexander Hudnut is English on both sides of the house. The family is of English origin and derives its name from Hodnet Shropshire. His father's family came from England and settled at Princeton, New Jersey about a hundred years ago. There the family filled an important place in local affairs and the uncle and namesake of Mr. Hudnut's father, Alexander Hudnut, was Mayor of the borough of Princeton. Mr. Hudnut's father Alexander Hudnut, had a conspicuous career in New York as proprietor of one of the best known drug stores in the city, which on Broadway between Fulton and Ann streets, was for many years a landmark. He, some years ago, retired from active business life and recently died at Brighton, England. The maiden name of Mr. Hudnut's mother was Margaret Parker. She was a daughter of Peter Parker, who had married Rebecca Herbert. Both the Parker and Herbert families are of English origin, and are well known in the State of New Jersey, in which they have held large landed estates, and have been influential in social industrial and political affairs since the days of the Revolution. Mr. Hudnut's mother is now deceased.
Mr. Hudnut was born in the city of Philadelphia on June 2, 1856. Soon thereafter the family removed to New York, and he was educated in the schools of that city, and in the Polytechnic Institute Brooklyn. At the age of eighteen years, he left school and entered the drug store conducted by his father in New York. There he made a thorough study of the drug business, and paid especial attention to the chemistry and the manufacture of perfumes. He remained in association with his father in that store until the latter's retirement from business and the closing of the famous store in 1889.
Mr. Hudnut made a prolonged visit to Europe, during which he traveled widely, and made a careful study of the most approved and successful methods of manufacturing perfumery. Then on his father's retirement, he opened the Richard Hudnut Pharmacy Incorporated at No 925 Broadway New York. To that establishment , he has since devoted practically his entire business attention. While conducting a general pharmacy business of the best kind, Mr. Hudnut's corporation as might be supposed, makes a specialty of the manufacture and sale of perfumery. In that industry nearly a hundred persons are employed, and the Richard Hudnut Perfumes are sold in all parts of the country and are recognized as of the highest standard of excellence, competing not only with the best American, but with the best foreign makes.
Mr. Hudnut has not engaged in politics beyond discharging the duties of a citizen, nor has he engaged conspicuously in any other business undertakings. He is secretary and treasurer of the Richard Hudnut Pharmacy Incorporated, and gives his time and energies to the promotion of its prosperity.
Mr. Hudnut was married in 1881 at St Thomas's Church New York to Evelyn I. Beals, daughter of Horace Beals, and grand niece of the late Hannibal Hamlin, formerly Vice President of the United States. Horace Beals was a well known granite quarry owner, and the builder of many important public buildings, including the custom house and the post office in New York, and the post office in Philadelphia. Mr. and Mrs. Hudnut have no children."
American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Volume 62, 1914:
"Hudnut's Pharmacy Is No More. Furniture, fixtures and stock of the Richard Hudnut Pharmacy at 925 Broadway New York City has been sold at public auction to the C & C Pharmacy of Williamsburg by Frank Walker auctioneer as a sequel to a recent abandonment by the Richard Hudnut corporation of its retail business hitherto conducted in that store. As the title Richard Hudnut is the exclusive property of that company which is now engaged solely in the manufacture and sale of perfumes cosmetics and proprietary toilet articles at 115 East Twenty ninth street it cannot be used by the proprietor of any retail drug store and it is therefore considered unlikely that anyone will conduct a pharmacy on the site of the old Hudnut drug store which has been located at the Broadway address for twenty five years.
The passing of the Richard Hudnut Pharmacy has occasioned considerable surprise in local pharmaceutical circles as the business of the Hudnut store was one of the oldest in New York City having been established by Alexander Hudnut about half a century ago in the old Herald building on lower Park row. Hudnut's soda and Hudnut's high class perfumes and toilet preparations quickly established an enviable reputation for themselves and the business of making and selling the latter has grown to such proportions of recent years as to make it advisable for the company of which Richard Hudnut is president to retire from the retail field especially as it deemed selling of its own products at retail unfair to the pharmacists to whom it was selling its goods at wholesale for retail distribution to the public.
It was while serving as a clerk for Alexander Hudnut in the old Herald pharmacy that the late Dr. Charles J. Perry conceived the idea of establishing the Perry Pharmacy which has since become famous in the downtown business section of the city. The Hudnut Pharmacy was closed when the Herald moved uptown and Doctor Perry embarked in business for himself in the Sun building and later moved his store to the present Pulitzer or World building. As Hudnut's had always been popular with the newspaper writers of Park row, Doctor Perry became intimately acquainted with the journalists of the day and retained their friendship to the time of his death which occurred nearly two years ago."
The Pharmaceutical Era: (Semi-monthly), 1914:
"Hudnut's Pharmacy Sold. The stock and fixtures of the Hudnut Pharmacy 925 Broadway near 2lst street Manhattan, valued at $50,000 were sold at auction on April 23. It is understood that Richard Hudnut had been looking for an opportune time to retire from the retail drug business and that the above action is the result of his desire. The wholesale and manufacturing business will continue undisturbed at 115 117 East 29th street. The Richard Hudnut perfumes and toilet specialties are a well known line in the trade. The original Hudnut Pharmacy first established in 1855 by Alexander Hudnut the father of Richard Hudnut and later moved to 205 Broadway New York, was at one time the hang out for the city's and nation's famous men. The proprietor was locally known as the official unofficial weather recorder of New York. In 1890 Alexander Hudnut upon the indication of failing health sold the business to H.L. Cutter, who had been associated with him in business for $200,000. It soon passed into other hands and in 1902 was assimilated by Hegeman & Co 200 Broadway. The pharmacy operated by Richard Hudnut at 925 Broadway was also well known and was one of the landmarks of the metropolitan district."
In 1916, the company was sold to Henry & Gustavus Adolphus Pfeiffer and Richard Hudnut was no longer involved in the business. As a result of this, Gustavus Adolphus became the president of the Richard Hudnut Company.
The Pharmaceutical Era, Volume 49, 1916:
"RICHARD HUDNUT SELLS INTEREST. An announcement of interest to the trade was made recently by Richard A Hudnut who has sold a substantial interest in Richard Hudnut to Messrs H. Pfeiffer G.A. Pfeiffer and G.D. Merner of the firm of Wm. R. Warner & Co, of Philadelphia and St Louis. Mr. Hudnut continues as president and the business policies that made the name Richard Hudnut famous in the perfume and toilet goods world will be continued office and laboratory located at 115 117 East 29th New York City have been leased by the new organization."
In the 1920s, the company had expanded into Europe, opening a branch on 20 rue de la Paix, Paris in 1927, and acquired the French style. The company produced several luxurious presentations during the 1920s but the quality of designs declined gradually starting in the 1930s and right on thru to the 1950s.
The following three photos show the Richard Hudnut shop in the 1920s.
The Richard Hudnut business was then acquired by William R. Warner & Co which, in 1955, became the Warner-Lambert Pharmaceuticals Co., which was later acquired by Parke-Davis in 1970, which, in turn, was merged into Pfizer in 2000. Today, it seems the Richard Hudnut brand has been resurrected, a website for the brand is under construction, but you are welcomed to contact the company at email@example.com
Richard Hudnut, 6th Ave., 18th-19th Sts., New York City. Exterior X Creator(s): Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer. Date Created/Published: 1946 June 16.
Richard Hudnut, 14th St., New York City. Exterior . Creator(s): Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer . Date Created/Published: 1947 Mar. 21.
Richard Hudnut, 6th Ave., 18th-19th Sts., New York City. Exterior IX
Creator(s): Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer. Date Created/Published: 1946 June 16.
Richard Hudnut, 6th Ave., 18th-19th Sts., New York City. Exterior IV. Creator(s): Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer. Date Created/Published: 1946 June 16.