Soap

Status
Not open for further replies.
B

BEN GREGO

Guest
I'm interested in the face soap used on board; I know you can still buy Vinolia soap today, "the soap of the Titanic" that was in the first class cabins, but did steerage passengers use their own soap? Thanks

[Moderator's Note: This message and the two which follow it, originally in an unrelated thread, have been moved to this thread addressing the same subject. MAB]
 
May 3, 2005
2,200
170
133
What was the background of the manufacturer of Vinolia Otto Toilet Soap---where did the name come from, etc. ?...The advertisement is featured in ANTR and several of the Titanic books.
Or of any other Titanic-connected items of this period ?
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
Robert, if you're interested in the brand names and products of the period the best place to look is in the Gilded Age and Life on Board sections of the forum. There are plenty of interesting discussions, along with recollections of earlier times by ancient relics like myself. It's all a bit scattered about, so you'll need to spend some time finding your way around the threads but it's worth the effort.
 
May 3, 2005
2,200
170
133
Bob Godfrey-

Thanks for the information. The only problem I have on the ET Message Board is finding my way around, but it's worth the effort. :)

However, does not Vinolia Otto have an exotic name ?
:)
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
4
168
I agree Robert-but have not been able to learn too much about the origin. Caswell and Massey still sell it, it shows the British Royal warrant on the box. At one times Pears made the soap, and there are several advertising posters- all vintage. The earliest one I could find is this one. The Braintrust is still on the trail on this slippery mystery.
98043.jpg

"Vinolia Soap is all that is necessary for a healthy and dainty toilet.
This pure soap lathers delightfully; its fragrance is delicate,
its cost is within the reach of all"
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,956
206
193
Otto was a name sometimes given to a perfume that was known as attar of roses. Gilbert mentions it in Trial by Jury.

'Breathing concentrated otto!-.
An existence a la Watteau."

I wonder if the "olia" part of the name comes from it being made from oil of some sort, such as olive oil.
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
4
168
Good point there, Dave. There was another popular vintage brand called Sapolio-so that may be the answer to that oily bit. I have dutifully scanned my box and find it contains cold cream, boracic, sodium cocoate, sodium tallowate, perfume, glycerol, petrolatum, water, sodium chloride, tetra sodium EDTA, Boric acid, etadronic acid-AND Mineral Oil! No scent of roses. But absolutely right about attar and otto-how I love the thorough joy Titanic folks take in getting to the bottom of things. And speaking of bottoms, I am old enough to remember cotton balls and Boric Acid on my nursery changing table!
98047.jpg
 
Feb 7, 2005
331
0
86
Vinolia Otto soap is still available. You can order it online through the Vermont Country Store, or through their catalogue. Here's the link to the page from their online catalogue: http://www.vermontcountrystore.com

If you click on "More Product Information" they have the ingredients listed (as Shelley said above) plus more detailed information about the benefits of using this product.

I have some of this soap. It's a very hard-milled, large-sized bar, white in color, with a very "clean" scent. Each bar comes wrapped in waxed paper and contained in its own decorative box (see Shelley's scanned image above).

Denise
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,956
206
193
In my endless search for useless information, I've uncovered a bit about Vinolia.

The company was English and was called the Vinolia Co Ltd. It made many products, including baby powder, face powder, perfumes, shaving soap and the famous toilet soap. The company was taken over by William Lever in 1906 and the brand name now belongs to Unilever. The soap can be bought from many sources. Whether it's authentic is another thing.

The company was in business at least as early as 1894. I found an account of a British army officer using Vinolia powder to soothe his sunburnt face in that year.

The origin of the name seems to be a mystery. I wonder if it was a place or perhaps a flower.

The name is currently used as a woman's name in Africa and India. I found it used as a name in an obscure British musical in 1903, though this may have been in jest.

"Miss Vinolia Vere de Vere
Has her picture in The Sphere."

Strangely, if any revheads out there want to hot up their dragsters, get some Vinolia forged pistons and put the pedal to the metal!
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,956
206
193
I'm still no wiser on the name. Maybe I was right first time and it was a made up brand name.

I did find that "pusser's Vinolia" was the name given to the cheap and nasty bars of soap issued in the Royal Navy. (Pusser was the Purser)
 
Dec 8, 2000
1,289
2
168
Thanks Dave, interesting stuff. I agree the reference in the musical would be in jest. Reminds of a more recent ditty I've heard with a reference to the Maybelline Queen.

I've also some half-memory of reading about 'Vinolia' as a name fabricated from the idea of vine/olive/oil or the like. Blowed if I can remember where the reference was though, a drawback of growing older... Might've been someone's mum's middle name though, stranger things have happened.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,956
206
193
It's not things I can't remember that bother me. It's the things I can remember, like the end of WW II!
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
I remember the end of the War too, Dave. The street parties, the celebrations, everybody saying "That's taught the Kaiser a lesson!"
wink.gif
 
Dec 31, 2003
272
1
148
Hampstead, London
'Pears' only produced 'Vinolia' when Lever finally owned them both; something which in 1912 he was keen on achieving. Having incorporated many other independent quality soap-makers - such as Hudsons in 1910 - the appeal of Pears' universally famous, transparent, product was foremost in his mind. From the announcement of the loss of Tom Pears with 'Titanic', the success of the future Lord 'Leverholme' was as sure as Unilever's.
 
D

David Hartridge

Guest
I know I am over a year late in engaging in the above debate but if anyone 'tunes' in again and would like to know more about the origins of Vinolia please say so because one of my relations invented it! He was an industrial chemist. I have a copy of the formula used in making it and also it may be of interest that it is exactly 100 years since the Lever Brothers, as they were then, bought my great uncle's company. I have minutes of board meetings after he joined the company but unfortunately after he retired he was unable to persuade any of his family to join him in the new company - if only someone had had a crystal ball!
 
  • Like
Reactions: carmen souza

Kyrila Scully

Member
Apr 15, 2001
2,079
6
168
South Florida
Pears Soap was also available. Pears Soap was founded by the grandfather of Thomas Pears who perished on Titanic.

Both soaps are available today. I found Pears Soap (in a more modern package) at my local Publix Market. Vinolia Otto Toilet Soap is available through Caswell & Massey.

I'm sure not all Third Class passengers avoided washing.
 
May 27, 2007
3,916
3
0
Yes! Just because their poor dosen't mean they don't wash. Although I'm sure Chad meant that the popular conception among the swells were that Steerage didn't wash. But folks of a better class for the most part thought of Steerage or Third Class as vermin anyways.
sad.gif
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
I wouldn't take Chad's remark above too seriously - I'm assuming he was repeating Kenneth More's gag line from the train scene in ANTR! :)

Back in 1912 the manufacture of soaps and other cleaning products was a huge and very profitable industry in Britain, and by then only a very small proportion of those profits came from the sale of luxury brands like Vinolia. Draw your own conclusions.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.