Collecting Novelty Soaps – Soap has been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that soap became a common household item. The first boxed household soap was made by Sunlight in 1884. Prior to that, soap was typically made in small batches and was a luxury item. The invention of mass-produced soap eventually led to a novelty soaps boom in the 1970s and 1980s based on films, TV and cartoons and especially aimed at children. The soaps would often be shaped as the characters themselves.
Many famous characters found themselves appearing in figural novelty soap form including: Snoopy, Paddington, Rupert the Bear, Sooty and Sweep, The Smurfs, The Mayor of Trumpton and Miss Piggy; and Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck; and characters from film franchises such as Star Wars.
A few companies appeared to have produced a large number of the TV related novelty soaps in the 1970s and 1980s including Jean Sorelle of London and Norton of London.
Novelty soaps had of course existed before the 1970s and companies such as Cussons had a ranged based in Disney characters including Donald Duck, Bambi, and Thumper; and Cullingford of Chelsea had made a figural novelty soap of Muffin the Mule in the early 1950s.
Many examples can still be found cheaply at car boot sales and flea markets for very little but there is a growing collectors market. The packaging can be attractive, the association with TV and film and bring back memories of childhood make them a fun and inexpensive collecting theme.