Hance Brothers & White

Digger Odell Publications 2007


The house of Hance Brothers & White, manufacturing chemists and pharmacists, was started by Edward H. Hance. who graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1854, and who had also received a careful training in the drug business through his connection with John Gilbert, at that time one of the most prominent wholesale druggists of Philadelphia. The business was first located at Old York Road and Callowhill street, but in 185; it was moved to the building at No. 62 Arch street.

In 1860 Mr. Hance organized the firm of Hance, Griffith & Co., by associating with himself J. Clarkson Griffith and Joseph C. Hance. The rapid growth of the business demanded more space and better facilities, and larger quarters were secured on North street, above Fifth. In 1367 the business was moved to the block surrounded by Callowhill. -Marshall, Seventh and Willow streets. On the retirement of Mr. Griffith, in 1869, Dr. James -V. White was admitted and the firm name was changed to Hance Brothers & White. In 1884 Anthony -M. Hance. a son of Edward H. Hance, was admitted as a partner, and another son, Edward H. Hance. Jr., is now actively associated in the management of the business. The only other changes in the personnel of the firm which occurred during the years of its existence were those brought about by the death of two of the partners, that of Dr. James W. White occurring in 1891, that of Joseph C. Hance in 1905.

The present members of the firm are closely identified with the drug trade of the entire country through their membership in various trade organizations, especially the Philadelphia Drug Exchange. of which Edward H. Hance has been twice president and has served as its treasurer since 1877. In addition to this membership in various business organizations the members of the firm are also members of a number of scientific organizations, such as the American Pharmaceutical Association, the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. etc.

In this connection it fray be stated that Dr. James NN'. White, of this firm, was the brother of Dr. S. S. White for many years the president of the widely known S. S. White Dental _Mfg. Co. He was editor of the magazine known as the " Dental Cosmos." Hance Brothers & White were almost the first manufacturers in this country of nitrous oxide gas on a scale that admitted of considerable experimentation by the S. S. White Dental Mfg. Co. with a view of its being applied to dental practice. The firm also manufactured many other preparations for dentists' use prior to the establishment of a laboratory by the White Dental Mfg. Co. The writer at one time bought large quantities of ammonium nitrate from Hance Brothers & White for the manufacture of nitrous oxide gas. The firm was one of the first in this country to manufacture absorbent cotton and a line of medicated cottons, and for many years it has been a large manufacturer of fruit juices and syrups.

Edward H. Hance. the founder of the house, was an exceptionally able pharmacist. He invented the Hance percolating and littering apparatus, which was of special value in percolating with soluble menstrua. He was also the inventor of the Hance drug mill, which even to this day is not surpassed by any drug mill on the market. The firm has also been a large manufacturer of quinine pills and podophyllin of a yellow color, this shade being distinctive and one which is probably produced by pouring the concentrated tincture of podophyllum into an aqueous solution of alum. Hance Brothers & White were among the very first to produce soluble compressed tablets, a line in which they still take much pride. While making a very extensive line of pharmaceuticals, they are also manufacturers of many widely known specialties. one of which, "phenol sodique." may be found in almost every home and factory in the United States.