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Simple ingredients, from the very beginning

In the late 19th Century, quartz was a key ingredient in scouring soaps. In New England mines, quartz was entwined with feldspar. After the minerals were separated, the feldspar was discarded.  At the time, feldspar was a waste product at quartz mines, and was being tossed away – until someone noticed that shovels used in the tossing were always shiny. One company’s waste became another company’s key ingredient.

J.T. Robertson saw that the softer feldspar could be used to create a less abrasive soap. The process would be cheaper (the feldspar was trash, after all), and the product would be better. Working from a gristmill on property owned by Gurdon Hicks Childs, Robertson ground feldspar to a fine powder, mixed it with liquid soap in wooden troughs, cured and cut it into cakes – and gave his soap a name: Bon Ami.

Child’s son and nephew formed the firm of Childs and Childs in 1890, becoming the exclusive sales agent for Bon Ami.

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Faultless Starch

Major Beaham's first product, dry white starch, earned immediate acceptance among housewives of the late 1880's because it was simple to use and did not require lengthy boiling. Faultless soon became a household word in the Midwest and Southwest, as women found that the product had many uses other than starching clothes, such as adding an elegant finish to embroidery and lace, treating skin irritations and as both a baby powder and a bath powder.

Faultless' popularity was enhanced, particularly in Texas and the Indian Territory, by the Faultless Starch books attached to the boxes of starch. Salesman John Nesbitt took wagonloads of the books into Texas in the 1890's and attached them to the Faultless Starch boxes with rubber bands. The books were designed as a supplement or substitute for school texts and primers and many people actually learned to read by reading the thirty-six books that were published from the 1890's to the 1930's. The books are still traded on auction web sites.

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