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Caswell-Massey is an American personal care product company and apothecary shop founded in 1752 in Newport, Rhode Island, by a Scotland-born doctor named William Hunter.[1] The main product categories it sells are soaps, fragrances, lotions, shaving products and toiletries, other apothecary-style personal care accessories, and bath- and fragrance-related products for domestic use.


Originally called Dr. Hunter’s Dispensary, it began as an apothecary shop selling medical supplies. Hunter gave the first lectures on anatomy and surgery in the Colonies in 1755. During that time, he also invented orange soda to help his customers take the medicines sold in his apothecary shop.


Newport, Rhode Island, at the time, was a destination for the social elite to buy European-style luxuries. While selling medical products, Dr. Hunter also began selling cosmetic, personal care and hygiene products. He imported fragrances from Europe and blended 20 different colognes, numbered One through Twenty.


For approximately the first three quarters of a century the apothecary shop changed owners in the tradition of each retiring pharmacist handing over the keys to his apprentice. Dr. William Hunter was followed by Charles Feke who in turn was followed by Rowland Hazard in 1822. Hazard took Philip Caswell into partnership and the name became Hazard & Caswell. In 1833 following Rowland Hazard’s death the company became Caswell & Hazard. In the same year the first Caswell-Hazard branch opened in New York City.


A fragrance called Jockey Club was introduced in 1840. In 1860 Castile Soap is introduced. The company during that time also continued to make other apothecary products.

The company took its present name Caswell-Massey when then-owner John Rose Caswell formed a partnership with New York businessman William Massey in 1876. In that year the company operated two stores, one in Newport and one in New York City. Over the next 30 years Caswell-Massey grew to 10 stores in New York City, but closed its Newport store in 1906.


In 1916,13-year-old Ralph Taylor was hired to sweep the shop and clean bottles in the basement. Twenty years later, in 1936, Ralph and his younger brother Milton bought the company. Ralph and Milton owned Caswell-Massey for 53 years.

During the early-to-mid 1900s, customers to the Caswell-Massey stores included the Astors and Vanderbilts;[2] Edgar Allan Poe, George Gershwin, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo.[3] In 1926 a store was opened on Lexington (the 48th in New York City), in what was then the Barclay Hotel, later InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel. It is currently the company’s flagship store.


During the second half of the century, customers also included Jacqueline Onassis (who bought avocado oil) and the Rolling Stones.[3]


  • Caswell-Massey Timetable”, by Wermuth/Reed Associates; part of company archives.
  • The Amazing World of Caswell-Massey”, Cosmopolitan Magazine, 1977

External links[edit]


  1. ^ “Caswell-Massey Timetable”, by Wermuth/Reed Associates; part of company archives.
  2. ^ Caswell-Massey products can be found on display in the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, New York
  3. ^ a b The Amazing World of Caswell-Massey”, Cosmopolitan Magazine, 1977