Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Joseph Nathan and Co

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1873 Joseph Nathan, who had left the UK to seek new business opportunities in 1853, established a general trading company at Wellington in New Zealand - Joseph Nathan and Co.

1904 The company developed a process for producing dried milk, first sold under the brand name Defiance.

1906 The brand Glaxo was registered by Joseph Nathan and Co, as a trademark for dried milk. The Nathan directors realised that selling dried milk as an infant food called for a more appealing name than Defiance, the name used for the New Zealand product. They settled on Lacto, but this was not acceptable because similar names were already registered. By adding and changing letters, the name Glaxo evolved and was registered in October 1906.

1908 The Glaxo department of Joseph Nathan and Co opened in London and the first "baby book" was published. The "Glaxo Baby Book" was a unique publication that aimed to answer questions from mothers about infant feeding and care. The booklet provided practical advice from nursing staff and reflected the advances in medical and nutritional science. "Glaxo - the Food that Builds Bonnie Babies" became a familiar slogan in Nathan's advertising efforts of the time.

1912 Joseph Nathan died and his sons took over, the company soon becoming a household name.

World War I. Increased demand for dried milk and sales were accelerated with the First World War, and concern for the quality, safety and consistency of dried milk led to technical control improvements.

1924 The vitamin D preparation Ostelin became the company's first pharmaceutical product following the obtaining of rights to a process of extracting vitamin D from fish-liver oil.

1935 Glaxo Laboratories was formed and new facilities were created at Greenford, near London.

World War II. Glaxo Laboratories was crucially involved in the production of penicillin and by mid-1944 was responsible for 80 per cent of the UK's penicillin doses.

1947 Glaxo Laboratories Ltd became a public company and Joseph Nathan and Co ceased to exist. Glaxo Laboratories Ltd absorbed the Joseph Nathan company and became the parent company - see Glaxo.

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