This book is the most elaborate advertisement I have ever seen. It is remarkably attractively produced, sturdily bound in decorated red cloth boards. A picture of a globe on the front appears to label ‘PORT SUNLIGHT’ as being somewhere on the south coast of England,* and the back cover proclaims that SUNLIGHT SOAP is used in the Royal Laundries.
Edited in by popular demand, here is a photo of the (rather faded) front cover:
Inside, it is a sort of almanac-cum-general information manual. There are instructions on everything from how to butcher a fish to how to bind a wound and even read someone’s palm, along with lots of general almanac-type information about the cycles of the moon and the tides, current postal rates, etc., and a general who’s who of the day. However, cleverly worked into the text of every article is some information about just how superior Sunlight Soap is, and how useful it is in every task you could imagine.
For instance, in the article on palmistry, the entry for the line of Fortune helpfully instructs: “You cannot absolutely foretell your fortune, but you may be absolutely certain of less labour and greater comfort by the use of Sunlight Soap.”
Finally, just in case you didn’t pick up on their subtle intra-textual advertisements, there are overt advertisements across the bottom of every single page — in a book nearly 400 pages long. Here are a few highlights:
“With SUNLIGHT SOAP to help you, there is nothing alarming in a large wash.”
“SUNLIGHT SOAP is a trusty friend.”
“Do you know that SUNLIGHT SOAP costs little but is worth much?”
“SUNLIGHT SOAP, the Queen of Laundry.”
“SUNLIGHT SOAP — the best soap for washing pigeons.”
There are also newspaper clippings folded inside, dated 1929 and 1938, which leads me to believe that it was either still useful 20 and 30 years after publication, or else just as amusingly ridiculous back then as it is now.
* Port Sunlight turns out to be a real place, although its location was obscured by the fading of the cover. It’s actually in Merseyside, pretty far from the South Coast.