Friday, September 12, 2014

Such Actress, Much Doge Cream

I got to the Doge meme a little bit late. I don't really know why but I know it amused my kids to see me checking out all the Doge stuff and laughing my head off when they'd known about it for ages. So when I rediscovered this ad I knew it had it all: history plus humor. Not only that, but it also has the celebrity endorsement of the fabulously-named Miss Madge Titheradge.

Before we get to Madge, though: the Doge Cream. It was named for the Venetian title doge - roughly equivalent to a duke in English. The almond oil based cream was supposed to be "prepared from a secret and priceless Venetian recipe."

1926 ad on Flickr
Doge Cream was made in the 1930s by the Shavex Zee-Kol Company in London, England and was advertised widely in British magazines of the period as the "Marvellous Complexion Restorer" (although in this ad it is Magic, not marvellous).

The company also sold Zec-Kol Ointment and Zec-Kol Toilet Soap and had done so since the early 1920s. My Google Books sources say that Zykol was a British version of Lysol. Fun fact: in the early and mid 20th century, Lysol was marketed not as a household cleanser but as a personal cleansing/disinfecting product, as bizarre as that sounds to us today. It sounds like  Zee-Kol/Zykol/Zec-Kol was the same sort of thing.


Venetian ladies were indeed renowned for their beautiful complexions. Venetian soap was an olive oil soap - it was also called Castile soap. It was a common ingredient in Victorian recipes for face washes and preparations. In 1837 one beauty guide advised that if you wanted clear skin, you must mix Venetian soap, lemon juice, and almond oil and apply it to your face. A recipe for Milk of Roses in 1872 included Venetian soap, almonds, wine and rose water. Doge Cream was probably similar. I don't know if it had any Zeekol in it, though.

Madge Titheradge (1887-1961) was born in Australia to a theatrical family, and was known for playing Peter Pan in London in 1914. She also appeared in a couple of silent movies and in plays by Ibsen, Noel Coward and Shakespeare.
For the bigger version of the Doge Cream ad (and as good a doge-meme joke as I could cook up) please do visit me at Kitsch and Retro, this blog's Tumblr-sister.

No comments: