Advertisement for grate polish

Advertisement with illustration of a Black maid

In the late 19th century manufacturers used images of Black people extensively in advertisements. In particular soap, starch, boot and grate polish or any other commodity where the issue of black and white and cleanliness came to the fore and the theme of colour could be exploited.

  • Magazine page, about 1900
  • E James and Son, Plymouth, England
  • Image reference DX1779D

The full text of this advertisement, which is on display in the Legacies section of the museum, reads:

'PROPRIETY ARTICLES James' "DOME" BLACK LEAD!
NO WASTE! NO DIRT!
USED IN THE ROYAL HOUSEHOLD.
TOPSY'S TESTIMONIAL "It am good fo' de Cumplekshun."

£100 Reward. INFORMATION WANTED
SPECIAL NOTICE - We regret to find that some unprincipled persons have attempted to deceive the Public with inferior Black Lead, made in a similar shape to our "DOME," but not of our manufacture.

WE HEREBY GIVE NOTICE that the above reward will be paid (on the conviction of persons so offending) to anyone who will supply information which will enable us to take the necessary proceedings. (Signed) E. James & Sons.

JAMES' "DOME" Black Lead being manufactured by a special process from the best materials, adheres at once to the grate, thus avoiding that dust which causes so much damage to carpets and furniture when common Black Lead is used.

BEWARE OF IMITATIONS! Purchasers are requested to see that the words "JAMES" and "DOME" appear on every label, and on the bottom of every block, or they may be imposed upon with an inferior article, which will give no end of trouble in polishing.

A GRATE SUCCESS! No dust or small particles fly about to injure Garments, Drapery, Pictures, Carpets, Furniture, Ornaments, & c., where JAMES' DOME BLACK LEAD is used, and its briulliant polish increases the attractions of the fireside. The Editress of a popular Magazine, a great authority on household matters, desrcibes it as "The Clean Black Lead." Be particular to see that each Box and Dome is labelled "James' Dome Black Lead," as purchasers are often deceived by common black lead packed in a similar shape.

Trade Mark. INVENTORS AND SOLE MAKERS, E. JAMES & SONS, PLYMOUTH. Trade Mark'