Star Soap Trading Cards

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Marie-Luise Fricke

Star Soap Trading Cards

ISBN 978-3-86821-196-2, 165 S., 89 Abb., € 18,00 (CD-ROM, 2010)

(Cultural Studies in the Heartland of America, Bd. 23)

The Gilded Age in American history, which followed the American Civil War and Reconstruction eras, is said to be the heyday of American business. This time is characterized by changes brought by the Industrial Revolution, business and technical progress, along with great waves of immigration. A number of these immigrants became famous and rich and considerably changed the American society. These individuals demonstrated that a combination of business skill, courage and hard work could lead to enormous success. Along the success stories of wealthy and famous entrepreneurs are also found the tales of business losses, mismanagement and financial depressions. The city of Zanesville, Ohio provides examples of several businesses which advanced dramatically in a relatively short period of time. In this cultural examination, emphasis is put on the Zanesville soap manufacturer Schultz & Co. The first part of the work is devoted to the company history and the reconstruction of the owners’ biographies, since Robert D. Schultz and John Hoge were both extraordinarily successful entrepreneurs and the latter was among the most influential and flamboyant personalities in the nineteenth century American Midwest. Hoge also had a knack for special ideas and advertising strategies, and Schultz & Co. was among the first companies to issue trading cards to extol their products. A sample of these Star Soap trading cards will be interpreted in the second part of the work, taking into consideration the cards’ design, hidden meanings and advertising purposes.