Skin Constipation, 1937

I have a feeling things are going to get a bit 1937-y around here for a while as my latest Ebay ephemera purchase is an edition of the Mirror from May 1937. It’s not the usual daily newspaper, though, but the overseas weekly edition compiled from a week’s worth of newspapers. The date is quite portentous as it’s the week before George VI’s coronation, and there’s a huge sense of build up and excitement, with special adverts recommending food to eat whole you’re waiting for the procession to pass, endless details about visitors from other parts of the world arriving to take part in all the pageantry, and romantic asides with pictures of the recently abdicated Edward and Wallace Simpson smiling at each other.

And that’s apart from the amazing news stories and general adverts, which are reliably fascinating. One thing I have learned from the adverts I have from the 1930s and 40s – you’re never far away from a laxative ad. Not sure why this was such a huge deal at this time – I imagined everyone was eating quite a lot of vegetable matter at this point. In fact, I’ve previously written about my favourite advert ever, a laxative advert in my Grandad’s 1940 copy of the Radio Times (he was on the cover) –

So, how to capitalise on this apparent fear of constipation if you didn’t actually manufacture laxatives? Wright’s Coal Tar Soap decided to basically invent a new problem -“Skin constipation”, a kind of poisoning from your blocked pores. Luckily, this terrible affliction could be avoided with their soap, of course.

Wright's Coal Tar soap advert, 1937

Wright’s Coal Tar soap advert, 1937

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