The Great East River Suspension Bridge
Promotional Print for Bogue Soap Company, c. 1900
The Great East River Suspension Bridge

Front


The Great East River Suspension Bridge detail

Detail


The Great East River Suspension Bridge back

Back, with hanging loop


Bogue Soap Company, New York (issued for)
The Great East River Suspension Bridge
Newark Specialty Co., Newark, New Jersey: c. 1890-1907
Chromolithograph mounted on cardstock, as issued
10 x 14.25 inches
$2,600

A promotional colorful bird's-eye view of the Brooklyn Bridge issued as a promotion for Bogue Soap. It has a printed caption and advertisement for Bogue Soap on the back including the title The Great East River Suspension Bridge and subtitle "Connecting the Cities of New York & Brooklyn, from New York looking Southeast." The vista takes in the Lower Manhattan buildings in the foreground and a portion of what was then the Manhattan entrance in the lower left. Along with that entrance structure are other buildings that no longer exist, such as the obelisk-like Tatham Shot Tower to the right of the bridge which was demolished in 1907. There are a number of interesting period details: a stream of pedestrians and horse drawn carriages traverses the bridge, clipper ships and steamboats sail in the East River, and the numerous masts of sailing vessels line the river's edge in the foreground.

The printed border — which serves as a self-frame to make the picture ready for immediate hanging by a paper loop attached to the back — is printed in green, gold and black in the Aesthetic Movement taste. At the bottom, the border and a faux brass plate are overprinted with the words "Compliments of the Bogue Soap Co." and in the sky just below the border is the slogan "For Easy Washing Use Bogue's Soap."

The description of the bridge and ad copy on the backside extoll the benefits of Bogue Soap for washing clothes and dishes. The goal of the promotion seems to have been to get prospective customers to try the soap: "These pictures are not given away or sold at any price, and can only be obtained by purchasing ONE DOLLAR'S WORTH OF 'BOGUE'S SOAP.' This picture will be taken up with the soap by agent, if you do not wish to purchase the soap after carefully trying one bar according to our short and simple directions." The advertising copy hearkens back to the days before washing machines, when doing laundry was a laborious process of boiling and scrubbing clothes, and promises that switching to Bogue Soap will eliminate the need for boiling and reap savings of both time and of fuel.

The Brooklyn Bridge opened to great fanfare in 1883 and immediately captured the public imagination as an engineering achievement. Currier & Ives produced no fewer than 19 lithographs of it, and images of the bridge appeared on advertisements for many products, including Singer Sewing Machines. The source of the particular view of the Brooklyn Bridge on this print is unknown; no other examples of it have been located in other forms or issues. Indeed, no other examples of this Bogue Soap promotional print (with this view on front and promotion on the back) have been located either.

Bogue Soap Company was a soap manufacturer founded by Charles Bishop Bogue (1855-1934). Bogue was born in New York State. His first business was a grocery store in Albion, Michigan. By 1886, he had moved to Chicago and founded Bogue Soap Co. An image of the Brooklyn Bridge may have been chosen by Bogue Soap for the offered promotional print due to its popularity under the assumption that consumers would take advantage of the promotion to have it to hang in their home. Bogue might also have chosen the image because it represented technological advancement, which Bogue was also claiming in the realm of laundry soaps. There are extant examples of Bogue soap promotional smaller trade cards with images, respectively, of a rose and a die-cut dog. On each of these, the address is given as 92 and 94 Hudson Street in New York.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall toning, wear, handling, soiling, soft creases. Outer edges and corners slightly bumped and worn. Margins with some cracks and restored short tears. Losses to two corners replaced in facsimile; another corner reinforced verso with Japanese tissue. Still, overall very good for an ephemeral advertising piece originally intended to be hung without being framed.

References:

Chris. "The Lost Tower." Dreamers Rise. 31 December 2011. http://dreamersrise.blogspot.com/2011/12/lost-tower.html (10 March 2016).

Passic, Frank. "Charles Bishop Bogue, Downtown Grocer in the 1870s-1880s." Albion Recorder. 24 August 1998. p. 4. Online at Historical Albion Michigan. http://www.albionmich.com/history/histor_notebook/R980824.shtml (10 March 2016).