Sweet Home Soap

Trade card, circa 1880s – 1890s.

Price:  $3.00          Size:  About 3 and 1/4 x 4 and 5/16″

Young love in an old trade card

Here’s a trade card, a little worse for wear, but still….a beauty:  depicting a lovers’ scene of a young man cutting roses for his sweetheart (or maybe clearing a path for her, or both).

From small cake soap manufacturer to industry giant

Buffalo, New York native John Durrant Larkin (1845 – 1926) was the founder of J. D. Larkin & Co., manufacturer of Sweet Home Soap, a bar laundry soap, and with the help of the marketing genius of his brother-in-law Elbert Hubbard (1856 – 1915), became one of Buffalo’s most successful businessmen. Hubbard is reported to have been Larkin & Co.’s first salesman, and pioneered the strategy of selling direct to the consumer, thereby cutting costs to be able to offer many incentives to buying the company’s products (which became numerous, a “laundry list,” pun happily intended, of household, food and other items). These incentives or “premiums” as they were called, were first small enough to be included with the customer’s order, until the idea was expanded to include the redemption of beautiful pieces of furniture, as well as pottery and glassware, lamps, bed frames and other items.

Below, a clipping from a Google search for Larkin & Co furniture:

Glove buttoners and biscuit cutters

Below, a clipping from an 1888 ad appearing in The Appleton Crescent, listing the bonus items one could get, along with 100 cakes of Sweet Home Soap. We’re wondering if any of the pictures mentioned titled, “Desdemona”, “Skye Terrier”, “Jockey Joe”, “Love’s Young Dream” etc. still grace any walls today. Then too, when we look at the artwork in the average working family’s home, as in….after gazing at our ancestor’s photo, then looking past them to see what was in those picture frames (if we can see, sometimes it’s just barely, and always to the point of wanting to jump in the photo for a moment)….we can imagine what might have been the humble soap origin of that prized piece of wall decor (as in our related post, The Village Belle.)

Factory girls in ’04

Below, a photo courtesy of the Buffalo Courier, May 29, 1904 of Larkin factory girls packing products (and if your ancestor worked in Buffalo for Larkin’s it’s rather nice to think that she might be one of these ladies.) Last thought:  Are those wreaths hanging on the pillars?

Sources:  John D. Larkin. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Larkin (accessed May 6, 2018).

Elbert Hubbard. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbert_Hubbard (accessed May 6, 2018).

“images of Larkin & Co. furniture.”  Google.com search. (accessed May 6, 2018).

“Twin Babies” Larkin ad. The Appleton Crescent (Appleton, WI). November 24, 1888, Saturday, p. 4.

“One of Buffalo’s Most Successful Manufacturers.”  Buffalo Courier, May 29, 1904. Sunday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

Globe Soap Trade Card

Trade card. Globe Soap Company. Circa 1880s – 1890s. Gies & Co., Buffalo, NY.

Price:  $12.00          Size:  3 and 3/16 x 4 and 13/16″

Captain Jinks, etc.

This seems like a good trade card for autumn, of a boy with long hair, wearing a felt hat with a peacock feather and a scarf with stripes. The colors are wonderful, along with the boy’s expression, the clouds in the background almost seem to be moving…..all-in-all a beautifully-done card. The lithographers were Gies & Company, out of Buffalo, New York. And this particular design was evidently a popular one:  others can currently be seen for sale online showing several different companies or brands being advertised. In addition there’s one version (lithographer unknown) with the printing underneath, “Young Captain Jinks,” which was paying homage to the public’s love of a song or a play, or perhaps both.

“Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines” was a humorous number (you can find it on YouTube) written in the mid-1800s that is credited to T. Maclagan, or William Lingard, or sometimes both. It was later very much in the public eye as a comic play by Clyde Fitch, which debuted in January 1901, and starred Ethel Barrymore. And in 1975 the title was re-introduced as an opera written by Jack Beeson.

The Globe Soap Company

Back to our card…..According to a 1918 excerpt (below) from Moody’s Manual, the Globe Soap Co. was incorporated April 27, 1881 in Ohio. They included the brand names, Grandma’s Borax Powdered Soap, Export Borax Soap, Pearl Soap and others. The plant was located on 23 acres in Saint Bernard, Ohio.

A pretty long distance

Globe Soap was bought out by Procter & Gamble in 1928, along with some other soap manufacturers around this year, tallying Globe Soap’s run to around forty-seven years. Interestingly, articles in 1928 report the possible buy-out, and then that it was only a rumor.

Sources:  “Miss Barrymore’s New Play.” The Buffalo Enquirer (Buffalo, NY) December 21, 1900, Friday, p. 5. (Newspapers.com).

William Lingard. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lingard (accessed October 28, 2017).

Clyde Fitch. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyde_Fitch (accessed October 28, 2017).

Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Jinks_of_the_Horse_Marines (accessed October 28, 2017).

Moody’s Manual of Railroads and Corporation Securities. Vol. 3, Industrial Section, 1918. Moody Manual Company, New York. 642. (Google.com. book search).

“Rumor Procter Buys Globe Soap.”  The Daily Times (New Philadelphia, OH) May 23, 1928, Thursday, p. 5. (Newspapers.com).

Whitten, David O. and Bessie E., eds. Handbook of American Business History:  Extractives, manufacturing and services. Vol. 2. p. 226. Westport, Connecticut:  Greenwood Press, 1997. (Google.com. book search).

Celluloid Collars And Cuffs Frog and Gnome

Trade Card for Celluloid Collars and Cuffs. Circa 1878 – 1880s.

Price:  $7.00          Size:  About 4 x 2 and 1/2″

Frog and gnome-like (for lack of a better description, I know, where’s the beard? Maybe a young gnome 😉 ) character advertising Celluloid collars, cuffs and shirt bosoms. This trade card was one of a set of six. Very charming, especially when viewing the whole series. Here’s a crop from a Google image search showing the others:

Our frog and gnome card is the second one we have for Celluloid collars and cuffs. See also, B. J. Stone Trade Card, New Haven, CT.

A trade name

The term Celluloid was a trade name registered in the United States in 1873, and was used in a variety of applications, including hairbrushes, toys, billiard balls, ping-pong balls and the film industry. See the Encyclopedia Britannica’s article:  “Celluloid:  Synthetic Plastic.”  The collars and cuffs were linen, covered with celluloid on the front and back to make them waterproof, thus drastically cutting the high cost of cleaning, and letting the wearer sidestep the “wilted look” in hot weather. Below, the earliest advertisement we found, which appeared in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (June 13, 1878).

Another early-ish ad below, this one from The Star Democrat, February 24, 1880 indicating Celluloid collars and cuffs had newly arrived to Easton, Maryland.

And, hundreds of thousands of ads and related articles can be found late 1870s – 1910s and beyond, but at some point Celluloid collars and cuffs started to fall out of favor. When is a good question, but probably at least by the mid-1890s. Their use came to be associated with outmoded fashion, and a need for thriftiness. (The history of celluloid is book subject matter and much too detailed to research here.) Below, a short glimpse from 1910, into the life of a chap called Folsom Peverill (possibly a made-up name) that appeared in the The Topeka Daily Capital.

Last, but certainly not least, there were reports of high flammability, accidents where people were injured or even killed, in wearing Celluloid covered items or using objects made from the material (like hair combs). Some attribute some of these stories to urban myth, however, certainly there were instances of factory fires, which were always a threat, in general. Below, a report, from 1910, that lends credibility to the reports of the dangers of wearing Celluloid covered items. This ad was run in a number of U.S. papers, including The Sedalia Democrat.

Sources:  “Wear celluloid collars and cuffs trade cards frog” Google image search. Google.com. (accessed August 24, 2017).

“Celluloid:  Synthetic Plastic.” Encyclopedia Britannica. (accessed August 24, 2017).

“Celluloid Collars and Cuffs.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 13, 1878. Thursday, p. 1. (Newspapers.com).

“Something New Under the Sun!” The Star Democrat (Easton, MD). February 24, 1880. Tuesday, p. 3. (Newspapers.com).

“Time works great changes.”  The Topeka Daily Capital (Topeka, KS). June 16, 1910. Thursday, p. 4. (Newspapers.com).

“Ban on Celluloid in Theaters.”  The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, MO). January 7, 1910. Friday, p. 9. (Newspapers.com).

Queen Anne Soap, Kitties And Basket

Trade Card. Detroit Soap Company. Circa 1871 – 1890s.

Price:  $7.00       Size:  4 and 9/16 x 2 and 13/16″

“Use Detroit Soap Co.’s Queen Anne Soap. The Best Family Soap in the World.”

This is the third trade card that we’ve found so far, for Queen Anne’s Soap and the Detroit Soap Company. See the prior post for the second.

Bortree Duplex Corset Trade Card

Duplex Corset1Duplex Corset2

Bortree Manufacturing Company, Duplex Corset Trade Card. Circa 1884. Card printed by The Krebs Lithographing Company of Cincinnati.

A wonderful, colorful, slightly comical, (depending upon how this strikes you) trade card for Duplex corsets and the Bortree Manufacturing Company. This lithographed card shows six (maybe four, depending upon interpretation) different scenes:  three gentlemen in a sailboat with other sailboats in the background; a couple taking a drive in the country in a cart pulled by two horses; two couples tobogganing; a country scene showing four artists, two of whom are accompanied by their dog; a ballroom dancing scene. The details in this card are wonderfully done:  the different poses of the couples dancing cheek to cheek; the smitten-looking gentleman with his lady love on the toboggan; the lively “movement” of the horses; the dogs in the artists scenes that are naturally intent upon their own interests; the concentration of the woman artist in the rowboat; the understandably happy expression of the gentleman (or lady in trousers?) that is either on his or her way to the plein air site, or heading home, well satisfied with the day’s work.

There are also a few puzzling things about this lithograph:  the name on the sailboat, the two brownish objects on the left, and the type of plant in the border. The sailboat name looks like Merrur or Merkur; maybe these were the initials of the artists involved, or maybe mer for sea and then the artist’s initials, or maybe it’s a street name in Cincinnati, but I only see Mercer (this speculation could go on forever) or after looking at the back of the card again, maybe it’s a reference to the New York City address of No. 7 Mercer St. As to the two unknown, rather highlighted objects on the left – could these be buckeyes or flax seeds? Maybe, but the shapes for either don’t quite seem correct. And the plant making up the border seems familiar but if it is supposed to depict a real plant, I’m not able to verify it. Maybe some horticulture experts will come across this post and be able to solve the mystery.

As for the three little images of the Duplex corset, one appears on a shield, another inside some nice scroll work, but the placement of the one on the waterfall is priceless! (Is the artist furthest in the background seeing corsets in the waterfall? Is this depicting our litho artist himself, and showing that the inspiration for the card has come to him while gazing at a waterfall?)

As you can see, this card was glued in someone’s scrapbook or glued somewhere, so a little of the wording is missing, but the Bortree Manufacturing Co. had a factory in Jackson, Michigan, and as the card indicates, had an office and salesroom at 7 Mercer St., New York, NY. According to an online article by Leanne Smith at mlive.com on Jackson, Michigan’s corset industry, “Bortree Corset Co., 112 W. Cortland St., was the first corset company founded west of New York. Moses Bortree, who migrated to Michigan from Pennsylvania in 1866, opened the factory in 1868 to manufacture crinoline skirts and bustles. In 1875, Bortree switched to corsets. Within five years, he was producing 50,000 to 300,000 corsets per year. In its heyday, the company employed almost 400 people, 350 of whom were women.”  This trade card would have to be from at least 1884 though, per the date on the image of the medal shown on the back, that was awarded to Bortree at the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition.

The Krebs Lithography Company was established in about 1875, but had evolved from Ehrgott & Forbriger, a company founded in 1856 by Peter Ehrgott, a “practical lithographer” and Adolphus Forbriger, “an excellent artist.” The company had a reputation for it’s fine artistic work, and was located in the Carlisle Building at 4th and Walnut in Cincinnati. When Mr. Forbriger died in 1869, German-born lithographer, Adolph Krebs, became partner with Mr. Ehrgott in November of the same year, and the company became Ehrgott & Krebs.  In 1874 Peter Ehrgott left the partnership, and Adolph Krebs became president of the company. The American Stationer, in a March 1883 publication, made note of The Krebs Lithography Company’s plans to build a new factory on Sycamore St, as by this time, they had outgrown the 4th and Walnut location. The new factory was located at 138, 140 and 142 Sycamore St., between 4th and 5th, in Cincinnati, and comprised six floors with a basement. Adolph Krebs died September 1884 at age 53 (unfortunately before he could see the completion of the new factory.) His son, Hermann T. Krebs, was then elected as the new president, having been with the company for about 8 years. The 1888 City Directory for Cincinnati shows Hermann as president, along with the other company officers, and that the company was still at the same Sycamore St. address. The company’s name changed to Henderson Achert Krebes Lithographing Company on February 22, 1889, according to an annual report to the governor showing corporate name changes.

Trade card, circa 1884.

Price:  $20.00

Sources:  Michigan Historical Collections, Volume 2, Michigan Historical Commission. Pioneer Collections Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, Together with the Reports of County, Town and District Pioneer Societies. Vol. 2, 2nd edition. Robert Smith Printing Co.State Printers and Binders, Lansing, MI, 1901. Page 342 (Google eBooks)

Peek Through Time: Corset business thrived in Jackson during the early part of the 20th century. Leanne Smith article dated July 9, 2010. (http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2010/07/peek_through_time_corset_busin.html)

Leading Manufacturers and Merchants in Cincinnati and Environs. The Great Railroad Centre of the South and Southwest. An Epitome of the City’s History and Descriptive Review of the Industrial Enterprises that are making Cincinnati the source of Supply for the New South. 1886, International Publishing Co., 102 Chambers St., New York, Boston, Cincinnati and Chicago. Page 67. (Google eBooks)

The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. (http://www.philaprintshop.com/effirm.html)

Artists in Ohio 1787 – 1900. A Biographical Dictionary Compiled and Edited by Mary Sayre Haverstock, Jeannette Mahoney Vance and Brian L. Meggitt. Kent State University Press, 2000. Page 500. (Google eBooks)

The American Stationer. Vol. XIII – No. 11. New York, March 15, 1883, pg. 358. (Google eBooks)

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Annual Report of the Secretary of State to the Governor of the State of Ohio for the Fiscal Year Ending November 15, 1890. The Westbote Company, State Printers. 1891. Page 447. (Google eBooks)