LOCAL HISTORY MYSTERY

A few weeks ago, the former Duxler Auto Repair building (1910 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago) was leveled to make room for a new condominium development. On the east side of a neighboring building, 1914-16 W. Irving Park Road, can be found the following faded image:

The above picture is an ad for Fairbanks Gold Dust Washing Powder. Following is an advertisement from the March 1931 Woman’s Home Companion magazine:

Below is a close-up of the ad on the Irving Park building:

The advertisements depicted above can be explained with this excerpt from SouthCoastToday.com (10-24-99 edition):

The image of two African-American children sitting in a tub was one of the most recognized trademarks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fairbanks Soap Company introduced its Gold Dust washing powder in the 1880s. It registered the popular trademark in 1884. One of two slogans appeared on the company’s products. “Fast Colors Warranted to Wash Clean and Not to Fade” was one. The other was “Let the Gold Dust Twins Do Your Work.” Realizing the effect of the trademark, Fairbanks Soap Company arranged to have live twins hand out advertising information at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. The popularity of the twins led to a radio show in 1925. Gold Dust washing powder products are eagerly sought after by collectors of advertising and of black memorabilia.

There are still some details that I would like to uncover; the approximate date the ad mural was painted on the Irving Park building being one, more information about the Fairbanks Soap Company and the “Gold Dust Twins” ad campaign another. Don’t hold your breath, though.

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