Sunday, May 4, 2014

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Laundry Soap

Click on image to enlarge.

This poor lass. She’s being a helpful girl and helping Mummy with the washing. What does she get for her troubles? Animated clothespins attack her.

They crawl from every nook and corner of the room—bounding at her from all angles, above and below. They titter forward on their stick legs, their little crescent mouths pulled up in blank grins of hungry ecstasy. In an effort to make peace with her tormentors, the girl has allowed one to stand in her hand—its sharp little feet leaving splinters in her tender flesh. She smiles hesitantly, hoping to show them that she’s no threat. Meanwhile, a group of the monsters bathes in a box of Kendall Manufacturing Company’s French Laundry Soap.

One of the scoundrels naps on a washboard as his comrade tears apart a bug that it found in the grass. The girl—she has no chance.

Or, that’s how it seems to me. What do you think?

Attractively printed with a metallic gold background, this is actually a pretty nifty card. But, as many of these Victorian cards are, it’s a little bizarre. Still, if you think about some of the monstrous mascots that hawk their wares to us, we’re no better today.

White letters across the front of this custom-designed and custom-printed card read: 


Let’s see what the back says. I’m sure it’s a truly unbiased and honest account of what this soap can do for you and your sad, tormented child.

The “French Laundry” 
It is the Oldest Popular Soap in the market, 
Having Outlived all its Rivals. 
It has won its way into public favor solely on its merits and thousands 
of families who are now using it would not be without it. 
It is now offered in a 3-4 Pound Pressed Cake, 
as well as in the old style. Pound Bar for such 
persons as prefer it in that way. 
If you will give it one trial, you will never be without it. 
Kendall Mfg. Co. 
Established 1827 Providence, Rhode Island 

There’s some damage to the reverse of this card as it’s been, at one point in its life, glued in an album. I’d place it as having been printed in the late 1870s. 

Click on image to enlarge.

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