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 thoughts on “Menorah in 1914 Advertisement

    1. 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.

      1. Wow, this is a great find! It’s amazing that it’s possible to find an old Jap-o-Lac brochure online. And, the color chips really make it possible to get a sense of what a floor (or other woodwork) might look like if coated with this product.

    1. I hadn’t noticed the Canadian connection until you mentioned it. It’s kind of amazing that Glidden had operations in two countries –in the days before the globalization of industry. 🙂

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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,

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s