University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Lifebuoy Soap: The First Mass-produced Carbolic Soap

Lever Brothers Enters the Soap Business

LifeBuoy

“Lifebuoy: a safe-guard,” undated [c. 1895-1910] Item No. J0013, Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920; Duke University Libraries, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa/

 

 

Lever Brothers, an English soap company, introduced the first anti-bacterial soap in 1895. Named “Lifebuoy,” the soap was from the beginning advertised as a safe-guard to health—like the lifebuoy that saves lives at sea. Originally the red bar of soap contained carbolic acid derived from coal tar which gave it the antiseptic quality. The carbolic soap was so widely used in Britain and North America that the name often functioned as a generic term for bars of soap.

 

Safe from dirt

“If they could always be safe from dirt” (1923) BH1188, Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920; Duke University Libraries, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa/

Further Information

© 2009 Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia