Thursday, April 23, 2020

Higgins' German Laundry Soap,
Part 2

This Victorian advertising trade card pairs with one I featured nearly five years ago, for Higgins' German Laundry Soap. On the back, once again, are the results of U.S. presidential elections, plus a note that in 1824, it was the U.S. House of Representatives that ultimately determined that John Quincy Adams would be president, bringing to a conclusion the Era of Good Feelings. (We could use an Era of Good Feelings II, right?)

In the 2011 book, Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-century New York City, by Carla L. Peterson, the author discovers this historical tidbit about Higgins' German Laundry Soap in an 1887 issue of The New York Freeman:
"Each cake of German Laundry Soap is wrapped in a blue wrapper, and printed on each is the name of Chas. S. Higgins's German Laundry Soap, encircling a trade mark, 'Colored Woman at Washtub.'"
Peterson then states: "It's hard to keep from wondering what the 'Colored Woman at Washtub' looked like. Was she the laundress version of Aunt Jemima? A more virulent caricature? A more benign image?" Peterson's book is very well-reviewed, by the way, if you want to consider tracking down a copy.

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