|Description||The origins of the Vinolia Company lie in a perfumers, toilet soap and toilet preparations maker, Blondeau et Cie, which was founded in 1885 by Dr Eggleston Burrows and James Hill Hartridge, with premises in New Bond Street, London. The brand name Vinolia was adopted for the company's toiletries range, including soap, cream and powder advertised as suited to sensitive skin conditions. Factories were established in Kentish Town and other parts of London. |
In 1898 the Vinolia Company was formed as a limited liability company to take over the business of Blondeau et Cie, and in 1899 it was incorporated as a public company, to acquire the business of this previous Vinolia Company. In 1900 the company achieved the accolade of a Royal Warrant as soapmakers to Queen Victoria. The company was acquired by Lever Brothers on 1 October 1906 and in 1907 production of the Vinolia range was transferred to the Lever Brothers' factory in Port Sunlight. On 24 September 1915 another company, Blondeau et Cie, was formed to work in conjunction with the Vinolia Company, apparently to preserve certain patent rights belonging to the original concern of Blondeau et Cie.
By the end of the nineteenth century the Vinolia range included eau de cologne, brilliantine for the hair, toilet soap and powder, dentifrice, shaving sticks and a lip-salve that was to prove its most enduring product: Vinolia Lypsyl. By 1920 the Vinolia range also included toothpaste and bath salts, a baby range of soap and powder, and a range of speciality perfumes called the 'cut flower series', including such fragrances as English Rose and Russian Violets, Aralys, Osiris and Sourire d'eté contained in crystal-cut glass bottles.
In the years following the formation of Unilever in 1929 (through a union between Lever Brothers and the Dutch Margarine Union) the many former subsidiaries of Lever Brothers underwent reorganisation as part of a corporate strategy of rationalisation, and in July 1942 the marketing of Vinolia products, at this time including Vinolia baby soap and powder and Vinolia Lypsyl, was transferred to D & W Gibbs, another former Lever Brothers subsidiary. This marketing function was transferred again in January 1950, this time to Pepsodent Ltd, until the formation on 1 January 1963 of Gibbs Pepsodent through the integration of three of Unilever's toiletry manufacturers: Pepsodent Ltd, D & W Gibbs Ltd and Joseph Watson and Sons Ltd.
The Vinolia baby products, along with Vinolia Lypsyl, were the brands transferred when firstly D & W Gibbs in 1942 and then Pepsodent in 1950 took responsibility for the marketing of Vinolia products. During the early 1950s the baby range underwent some imaginative marketing schemes, which included the production of a variety of novelty bear-shaped products. These included a polythene 'puffer bear' containing Vinolia baby powder, available in pink or blue, which was introduced in 1951; a 'three bears' house' comprising three bear-shaped tablets of soap, again in pink or blue, contained in a decorative house-shaped carton, introduced for Christmas 1951, and a 'three bears' bed' following a similar concept in 1952. In 1953, in celebration of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the baby soap and powder was packaged in special Coronation-design containers sporting horse guards and a horse-drawn coach, reflecting the Vinolia Company's position as Royal Warrant holder. In the same year advertising for Lypsyl was able to exploit the fact that the product was the lip-salve carried exclusively by the British Mount Everest Expedition.
Another marketing project was the establishment of a Vinolia baby bureau, launched on 1 January 1955 as the Mary Lawley Bureau, under a fully qualified health visitor using the alias Mary Lawley. The object of this bureau was to gain support of the Child Welfare Centres [baby clinics] . . . for Vinolia baby products (Pepsodent Ltd annual marketing review, 1955). Methods included personal visits to medical officers and health visitors, the distribution of health education visual aids, indirectly promoting Vinolia products, for use in the Welfare Centres, and the mailing of samples of Vinolia products to the centres for distribution to new mothers.
Vinolia toilet soap was reintroduced to extend the Vinolia range in 1952 and in January 1963 a new product, Vinolia hand lotion was launched. When Gibbs Proprietaries (previously Gibbs Pepsodent Ltd) relaunched the Pears baby range in 1968 they decided to withdraw their Vinolia baby products in order to concentrate on a single baby care operation, and in the same year Vinolia toilet soap was withdrawn. By the end of the 1960's Vinolia Lypsyl was the only remaining Vinolia product, this being finally sold by Elida Gibbs (previously Gibbs Proprietaries Ltd) in August 1983 to Ciba Geigy to help offset the cost of launching Timotei shampoo.
Records in EFL/VN date from the time that the marketing of Vinolia products was transferred to D & W Gibbs Ltd in 1942. For Vinolia material prior to this period see the Lever Brothers Ltd collection, LBL. Further post 1942 Vinolia records can be found with D & W Gibbs Ltd sales and marketing material (EFL//DG/7) and Pepsodent Ltd sales and marketing material (EFL/PP/4).