The Pemberton Chemical Company, and the birth of a new soft drink.

Updated: Jan 8

The original investors written in the handwriting of Frank Robinson on ledger paper, 1886

1886 — The initial investors.

C.A. Robinson, 26 January 1886 — $6,500
CA Robinson was Frank Robinson's brother, Charles A. Robinson
D.D. Doe, 26 January 1886 — $1,000
DD Doe was David Doe, a close friend of Frank Robinson. Both were natives of Maine, and ran a general store together after the Civil War. After moving west to Osceola, Iowa to develop business opportunities, they took their two-color printing machine to Atlanta in December of 1885. They were lured there by advertising opportunities afforded by the large and still growing patent medicine industry. Robinson and Doe were referred to Pemberton , and soon arrived a deal in which they would handle the advertising and promotions, leaving Pemberton free to produce is products. Doe retires from the relationship around June 1887, taking the two-color printing machine with him as his share of the company. He was replaced by MP Alexandra, a pharmacist from Memphis, Tennessee. As the company's value increased by 10,000.00 at this same time, it is believed that he had invested 10,000 cash. This is probably why he was immediately appointed President of the Pemberton Chemical Company.

Ed Holland, 19 January 1886 — $3,000
Ed Holland was the wealthy son of one of Atlanta’s early bankers. Mr. Holland was renting out family’s old home at 107 Marietta Street (between Spring and Bartow Streets). Holland House was a two story brick structure only 3 blocks from the center of downtown Atlanta. For his share of Pemberton Chemical Company, Holland relinquished the home to use as the business premises for the newly formed company.

Holland House, home of the Pemberton Chemical Company at 107 Marietta Street, and the first home to Coca-Cola.

J.D. and J.B. Cohran, 26 January 1886 — $5,000
J.D. Cochran, 01 April 1886 — $500 J.B. Cochran, 01 April 1886 — $500
JD and JB Cohran were friends with either JL Robinson or Frank Robinson.

J.L. Robinson, 26 January 1886 — $500
JL Robinson was Frank Robinson's and Charles A. Robinson's father

Atlanta Constitution article outlining the 1887 election of officers.


The products.

1887 Pemberton Chemical Company Letterhead

Letterhead detail showing the products represented by Pemberton


French Wine Coca

The French Wine Coca Bottle. They sold for 1 dollar each.
A precursor to Coca-Cola and a cure-all based closely on the immensely popular elixir — Vin Mariani

An advertisement from 1885 states that Pemberton's French Wine Coca was "infallible in curing all who are afflicted with any nerve trouble, dyspepsia, mental and physical exhaustion, all chronic and wasting diseases, gastric irritability, constipation, sick headache, neuralgia, etc . . ." It's three primary ingredients were the Coca plant from Peru, the Kola nut from Africa, and pure Grape Wine.

Charles Howard Candler in his 1952 manuscript "The True Origin of Coca-Cola" wrote that the Coca-Cola formula evolved from French Wine of Coca . . . stating "This group of adventurers decided to include caffeine in their syrup blend to make it a headache remedy, starting as they did with Dr. Pemberton's Wine-Coca which had in it the stimulating Extract of Coca leaves; by eliminating the wine and increasing the sugar in the formula and adding an acid for zest, they probably got a medicine which . . . had a far from pleasant taste. They contributed to the bitterish taste of their concoction by including in the formula some fluid extract of Kola" Charles continued that . . . "though this medicine might relieve the results of intemperance, the good doctor apparently believed it would promote temperance and replace alcoholic drinks." According to Charles Howard Candler — "The True Origin of Coca-Cola" was based on matters "which I many times heard my father, Asa G. Candler, and Mr. Frank Robinson discuss at length."

c.1887 newspaper ads for Pembertons French Wine Coca


Globe Flower Cough Syrup

Purported cure for consumption, bronchitis, asthma, croup, bleeding of the lungs, pleurisy, and laryngitis.


Indian Queen Hair Dye