William Carter began his ink business in 1858 on Water St. in Boston. Two years later he was joined by his brother Brother Edward in Carter & Bro. In 1861, John H. Carter entered the firm which changed to William Carter & Bros. The earliest bottles known are pontiled and smooth base umbrellas ink bottles bearing their label.

Around the same time, James P. Dinsmore was dabbling in the patent medicine business and had some kind of relationship with Seth Fowle, a successful Boston Druggist. Fowle had purchased the rights to Wistar’s Wild Cherry Balsam along with several other lesser known patent medicine brands. Dinsmore and Fowle collaborated on a wide-spread advertising campaign probably to share costs. Dinsmore moved to New York and settled at 491 Broadway. In May 1863, he became the agent for his own patent medicine, “Peruvian Syrup, prepared as heretofore by N. L. Clark &Co.” He listed himself as sole agent and advertised conjointly with Seth Fowle for the Peruvian Syrup, Wistars Balsam of Wild Cherry and Russian Salve.

In mid 1865, Dinsmore opened another business, likely a stationer at 36 Dey St. In New York where he remained for the next four to five years. How Dinsmore became connected with the Carter firm is not known, perhaps he was simply a successful salesman but after filing for bankruptcy upon his own petition June 10, 1868, he began advertising Carter’s inks at his Dey st. address. An 1868 ad for Carter’s Ink list Carter & Bros, 36 Water St Boston as the manufacturers and J. P. Dinsmore 36 Dey St, New York selling it. A similar ad January 14, 1869 Dinsmore is still at Dey St. Selling Carter’s Combined Writing and Copying Ink.


In 1867, cousin John W. Carter became associated with Carter Bros. & Co. He had been accepted and attended Harvard, “he enlisted in the 45th regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, from which he re-enlisted into the 17th infantry regiment of the regular army. He received a commission and participated in all the severe campaigns of the army of Virginia, until December, 1864, when he resigned, because his health had been seriously impaired. After leaving the army he spent two or three years with Dunbar, Hobart & Whidden, in Abington, Mass. He returned to Boston.”


After a Boston fire in 1872 destroyed both Carter’s buildings, John W. Carter old his interest in the manufacture of paper together with J. P. Dinsmore took over the firm. The combination of John W. Cater and J. P. Dinsmore turned the Carter firm into one of the most successful in the ink industry. Innovation seemed synonymous with the Carter Company. They devised clever advertising strategies such as the 1872 ‘Revolving Calendar of Carter’s Inks, patented, and not on sale, but can be obtained by any thorough believer in the inks. It is too convenient to be spared from the desk.”


Numerous patents were filed by the company. In 1873, J. W. Carter filed patents for writing inks in England. In 1874, Carter & Dinsmore patented a sewing machine. In 1875, they attended the Stationery and Fancy Goods Fair held at Broadway and Fourth St in New York displaying their good and in 1878 Carter Dinsmore won a silver medal for writing and copying inks at the Paris Exposition. They were one of 42 winners of 48 American entries.

The company also was active in registering trademarks. In 1883, Carter Dinsmore Registered trademarks for writing ink #10099 and #10,101. In 1887, it was for “safety ink” trademark #14837. December 17, 1889, they listed a trademark for Laundry Bluing. In 1892, they advertised “Wanted agents for our Household Combination consisting of famous products constantly needed in every household; sold in this form at cost for introductory purposes. For further particulars and territorial rights address, Carter, Dinsmore & Co. Boston Mass.”

They were constantly looking for new sources of revenue. In 1897 the Gilson Adjustable Album for the Amateur or Professional Photographer, had interchangeable leaves. And you were to mount your photos with Carter’s Photolibrary Paste. The Firm was selling millions of bottles annually by the beginning of the 1880s. They built a new plant 1884 in Boston to keep up with production. Dinsmore retired in 1888 and John W. Carter died in 1895. they business they built continued to expand. In 1910 another factory was built in Cambridge- 13 million bottles produced that year.


CARTER, DINSMORE & CO. "While maintaining the excellence of their staple products, which have been for years household works and counting room standards, Carter, Dinsmore & Co., the makers of Carter's inks, mucilage, etc., are continually placing something new on the market. Their typewriter ribbons and carbon papers brought into prominence comparatively recently are generally recognized as the best of their class and are used by the Government Departments at Washington, by the leading railroads and largest corporations in the country. A new discovery in adhesives-their Photo-library Paste-designed for such uses as mounting photographs and scraps, labeling books and magazines and other work for which ordinary mucilage is unsuited, fills a long felt want. The secret of their success in the production of these new lines as well as of their celebrated inks and mucilage, is due to the fact that all their operations are conducted on a rigidly scientific basis. This system is made possible by the ;existence of a large plant, fully equipped laboratories, and a corp of skilled chemists. The appearance of their Automatic Ink Protecting Stopper, just placed on the market, bids fair to revolutionize the sale of high priced automatic inkstands. As will be seen by detailed descriptions elsewhere, the addition of one of these stoppers (which cost but ten cents), will make any open well as good for all practical purposes as the most expensive automatic stand. The stoppers are fitted to 2J inch square twist wells, also to 4 oz. round twist stand, filled with Carter's ink, either style costing but twenty-five cents. The prominent features of the stoppers are their simplicity of construction, convenience of use, durability, and saving of ink and pens. "


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