AMC’s “Mad Men” has nothing on late 1800′s – mid 1900′s vintage soap advertising!
Life imitates art!
Babylonians were the first one to master the art of soap making around 2800 BC. Soap got its name, according to an ancient Roman legend, from Mount Sapo, where animals were sacrificed. Rain washed a mixture of melted animal fat, or tallow, and wood ashes down into the clay soil along the Tiber River. Women found that this clay mixture made washing their clothing in the river a lot easier. The chemical mechanism that produces soap is called “saponification.”
Soapmaking was an established craft in Europe by the seventh century. The English began making soap during the 12th century. The soap business was so good that in 1622, King James I granted a monopoly to a soapmaker for $100,000 a year. Well into the 19th century, soap was heavily taxed as a luxury item in several countries. When the high tax was removed, soap became available to ordinary people, and cleanliness standards improved.
Commercial soapmaking in the American colonies began in 1608 with the arrival of several soapmakers on the second ship from England to reach Jamestown, VA. An important advancement in soap technology was invented in the mid-1800s Belgian chemist, Ernest Solvay, in which he used common table salt, or sodium chloride, to make soda ash.
Scientific discoveries like Solvay’s, together with the development of power to operate factories, made soapmaking one of America’s fastest-growing industries by 1850. At the same time, its broad availability changed soap from a luxury item to an everyday necessity. With this widespread use came the development of milder soaps for bathing and soaps for use in the washing machines that were available to consumers by the turn of the century.
Advent of Soap Adverts
It was the toward the late 1880′s the first of the soap adverts appeared in print in newspapers and in magazines. Looking back, some of them are quite racist and sexist.
We’ve come a long way. Thankfully, just as soap making evolved, so have our societal attitudes.
Still, I am fascinated with the art and the vintage soap ad campaigns that reflect what was happening in American society. There’s a clear transition in ad messaging from the early 1900′s luxury to the 1940′s and the war.
And even though I have been making soap for years, and use sustainable organic palm oil and olive oil in my soap recipe, I never made the connection to the “Palmolive” brand until I began to look at vintage soap adverts. Duh!
If you’re a fan of vintage adverts, or Mad Men and would like to see more, there’s a wonderful collection of vintage soap adverts on Pinterest and Vintage Ad Browser.
On more than one occasion I’ve overheard people talking about handmade soap and mentioning that they have hard water. Hard water can be a problem for us “handcrafted soap snobs” who want to avoid putting chemicals, surfacants and detergents on our skin.
If your water is too hard, you won’t be able to build up much of a lather. In that case, a water softening system or a filter may be the way to go. But if it’s just a matter of “soap scum,” not to worry!
No doubt soap scum is a “Bad” thing. But it’s not that hard to “Break” it down without toxic chemicals and detergents.
First it’s helpful to understand why people are concerned about using true soap when they have hard water. That means it’s time for another chemistry lesson!
Yeah Mr White, Science!
I SO love this project!
They have chosen to crowdfund instead of seeking large investments or selling stock, as their Advisory Board advised against it. They don’t want to find themselves in the position of having to answer to stock holders who might want them to move the manufacturing overseas (along with all of the jobs)
And they’re SO CLOSE to the goal for this phase!
You can read more about the project here.
Dandy’s, The Gentleman’s Store in Austn TX is now carrying Eco-musings Shaving Soap in their unique shop!
According to Austin’s Tribeza Magazine:
Dandy’s is an escape into an early twentieth century haven: the bustle of South Congress fades, replaced by the smooth sounds of jazz, as you enter a world of sack suits and suspenders, herringbone and handkerchiefs. Owners Wendy Bykowski and her husband, Chris, have always been fascinated by decades past, but they have a particular affinity for the turn of the century. “It’s the last wearable era,” Bykowski says. Evoking the time period through vintage-inspired fabrics and shapes, Dandy’s offers classic style for the modern-day gentleman. In addition to an extensive selection of boots, custom and ready-to-wear hats, a full shaving section, gramophones, pocket watches and other accessories, the duo’s specialty is the custom suit, which often begins with a modernized sack suit silhouette that customers can then personalize with their choice of fabric, liner, overall fit and more. “We want guests to have an experience at Dandy’s,” Bykowski says. “They can get measured, enjoy a glass of scotch and have this beautiful piece of clothing they’ll be able to keep forever.”
As I mentioned in THIS POST, the glorious male ritual of wet shaving is making a comeback and since I am such a sucker for all things vintage, having my shaving soap in a shop that features gentlemen’s suiting design from the 1870’s through 1930 just makes this soapmaker’s heart beam with pride.
My Aunt Dot was a haberdasher in Worcester MA and the craftsmanship that went into her hats was something to behold. Haberdashery and wet-shaving, both enjoying a renaissance and on display.at Dandy’s.
Seriously, take some time right now to mosey around in Dandy’s Facebook page and Pinterest collection. I think you’ll be amazed.
Our Earth Is Changing. We’re On It.
NASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day NASA is trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while also fostering a collection of portraits of the people of Earth. Once those pictures stream around the on Earth Day, the individual pictures tagged #GlobalSelfie will be used to create a mosaic image of Earth — a new “Blue Marble” built bit by bit with those photos.
Post your photo to Twitter, Instagram or Google+ using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie, or post it to the #GlobalSelfie event page on Facebook or the #GlobalSelfie group on Flickr. You can also join the #GlobalSelfie Google+ event page.
Chris got a new pair of work boots.
Caterpillar brand work boots to be exact.
And then this happened.
Scooter always was a sucker for a box. This one was personalized!
Happy St Patty’s Day!
From the funny folks at I Can Haz Cheeseburger,
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