Bluine Manufacturing eventually occupied 20 Beharrell Street (the building now housing Minuteman Printing and a variety of other businesses), though it previously was on Commonwealth Avenue and at other locations as well. Twenty Beharrell is a three-story, woodframe clapboard building (now with asphalt-siding) typical of that time and purpose.
The 1936 street directory for Concord shows the last entry for this company. It is not known if after that date they moved out of town or went out of business.
What is Laundry Bluing?
Bluing is made from a water-based colloidal suspension of very finely powdered blue iron. A small amount is added to the wash cycle or final rinse of the laundry to keep whites bright. Before automatic washers, this was often accomplished in a "bluing kettle" in which clothes were briefly dipped and then hung to try.
"Everyone Wants it! You Want it!"
When it came to distribution, sales methods and sales force motivation, there were further twists. Their sales force consisted of school children. Boys and girls throughout the country (as many as 50,000 in 1900) received their packets via United States mail, selling each 12-pack for a dime. The children received prizes for sales success. For the really accomplished, there were early home movie projectors, bicycles, and b-b guns.*
The children may have sold other merchandise, too. Unfortunately, the Concord Free Public Library's Special Collections holds only one piece of primary material from this company, so further details are not available. It is a letter to their child sales force dated December, 1900. It encourages them to finish selling their "Beauty Pins," tempting those who do with their choice of a "beautiful and valuable ring shown on the enclosed Ring Premium List" worth $1.50. They further sweeten the prize by offering their "'Gem Christmas Casket,' or collection of six elegant and costly pieces of Jewelry..." valued at $2.00. As their literature says of one of these pieces: "It is all the rage! Everyone wants it! You want it!"
Post Office Success Hinges on the Bluine Company
Other Uses for Laundry Bluing
Mrs. Stewart's also reports customers use it to relieve the pain of insect bites, clean crystal, as an aid in making sculpture and pottery glazing, for coloring flowers, detecting plumbing leaks, and to give a swimming pool that Caribbean-blue look. A more refined bluing preparation is also used in medical and drug testing to dye tissue samples. Do you remember the Magic Salt Crystal Gardens some used to grow as kids? Right -- bluing was a vital component. Art historians have also traced laundry bluing's use as a paint pigment in African art, it having arrived along with Europeans.
Though it is difficult to tell how many of the above applications were used with the Bluine products, given all the possibilities it does seem hard to see how bluing fell from fashion. But maybe after reading here about all its wonders, you will realize what was once true still is today: "It's all the rage! Everyone wants it! You want it!"