Menorah in 1914 Advertisement

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, May 4, 1914: Nothing much doing for today except to work.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1914)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1914)

 

What was Grandma doing? It hardly seems possible that the spring housecleaning would last this long, but maybe she was still helping with it.

—-

Occasionally a post takes a surprising twist or turn as I work on it—and goes off on a tangent. Today is one of those days.

I was looking for a 1914 advertisement for some sort of cleaning supply—and found this advertisement for Jap-a-Lac. As I was cropping it, I suddenly noticed that there was a menorah in the picture.

Why was a Jewish symbol in the ad? I know next to nothing about Jewish history a hundred years ago. Did many Jews live in the US in 1914? Did the Glidden Company think that putting a menorah in the ad would increase sales? Were the owners of the Glidden Jewish? . . . .1914-06-33-b

 

28 Responses

  1. Looks like Glidden has been and continues to be a successful company http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/the-glidden-company-history/

  2. I found this for you: http://www.israel-flowers-center.com/articles/JewsAmerica.asp. It has some stats relating to the number of Jews in NYC in 2014.

    • Thanks for finding this link. It has a lot of great information. I’m amazed that there were 1.5 million Jews in New York City in 1914.

  3. jap a lac sounds so cheesy for a product name. I noticed they had a factory in Toronto! A Canadian connection!
    Diana xo

  4. That isn’t actually a menorah. It doesn’t hold enough candles. A menorah holds nine, not seven, in order to commemorate the 8 nights of Hanukkah. However, the observation brings up a topic little referenced in much of American history, so I’m glad you wondered about it!
    Jews were in America almost from the very beginning of colonization in the 17th century, albeit in the minority of colonists. During the mid-19th century there were parts of the west which had somewhat strong representation of Eastern European Jews, along with major cities such as New York. I think it is a shame that this part of our history is so ignored by textbooks…we learn as small children about the settlements of Separatists and perhaps a few select groups (such as Shakers), but if we learn about other settlements such as that of the Jews in America, it is usually only a passing mention of Holocaust survivors who arrive after WW2. Most history texts do a poor job of giving a well-rounded view of the various waves of immigration which took place in this country over the last 400 years.

  5. Soo interesting! My Dad was a painting contractor and he used Glidden paints and varnishes all the time.

  6. You are right Cheryl it is in fact a menorah – which does have seven candles – one for each day of the week. It’s the Hanukkah menorah that is different and has nine candles. It is interesting that there would be such a casual depiction of a religious symbol that wasn’t a christian cross when showing a nice family home…maybe the times were momentarily more inclusive than we give them credit for!

  7. I just love the old illustrations from that era…

  8. What an interesting discussion this has provoked!

  9. Interesting observation

  10. Glidden is an English name and part of the Aristocracy of Yorkshire. There is even a coat of arms for the family. There is several listed as inventors during the 1800’s. One co-invented the typewriter that ended up being called Remington. An other one invented barbed wire. They migrated probably because they were younger sons or cousins and took what inheritance they had to set up business in the new world. Chemistry and engineering was the past time of the well off. They started migrating in the 1700’s to Canada and US,

  11. One more thing. Japanning was a form of lacquerwork. It was popular in the 19th century. Jap a lac was probably a dark varnish and the name was to market it. The old black sewing machines with the gold stencils was Japanning that was baked on enamel.

    • And, thanks for the explanation of the probable origins of Jap-a-Lac. It seemed like a very odd word, but now that you’ve explained it, it makes a lot more sense.

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