Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Victorian trade card for James Pyle's Pearline Washing Compound

A young girl and her cat are pictured on the front of this attractive Victorian trade card, which was produced more than 100 years ago (probably between 1880 and 1907).

Here's the advertising copy from the reverse side:
James Pyle's Pearline Washing Compound is better than any soap; handier, finer, more effective, more of it, more for your money, and in the form of a powder for you convenience. Takes, as it were, the fabric in one hand, the dirt in the other, and lays them apart -- comparatively speaking, washing with little work.

As it saves the worst of the work, so it saves the worst of the wear. It isn't the use of clothes that makes them old before their time; it is rubbing and straining, getting the dirt out my main strength.

For scrubbing, house-cleaning, washing dishes, windows and glassware, Pearline has no equal.

Beware of imitations, prize packages and pedlars.
Pearline's advertisements aren't hard to find online, as the product was promoted heavily during its heyday. Here are a few more examples:

Best of all, though, I came across Elizabeth Handler's fabulous "From Maine to Kentucky" genealogy blog. Almost exactly one year ago, she published a well-researched post about one of her relatives -- James Pyle.

I'm offering up a few highlights, but you should really go read the whole post.
  • "[He] was born in Nova Scotia on August 16, 1823, to a father who fled to Nova Scotia as a Loyalist in the Revolutionary War."
  • "In New York City directories in the 1870s, Pyle, James, is listed as having the occupation 'soap.'"
  • "Pyle initially called his soap 'O.K. Soap' and placed an ad in the New York Times, October 23, 1862, which refers to James Pyle's O.K. Soap. The New York Times obituary of James Pyle says 'Brought O.K. Into Popularity.' It also states 'He was the first to utilize in advertisements the letters 'OK' in their business significance of "all correct".'"
  • "From the 1870s until about 1907, Pyle's Pearline was widely advertised. About this time, it was decided that the name of Pearline was well known enough that advertising could be discontinued for a time."
Read the rest of Handler's post on her great great grandfather here.


  1. Thanks for the reference to my blog! You've got some great links here. You can also search eBay on Pyle Pearline and see what's available for sale. I've always found it fascinating that so many of these Victorian era advertising cards have survived. And what variety!