Anyone know anything about Gold Bond Powder?
December 3, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in learning about the history of Gold Bond Powder -- who invented it, when, why... that sort of thing. Maybe some images of old bottles or vintage ads, historical documents, whatever. My Googling has turned up surprisingly little for such a well-known product. Any help, hive mind?
posted by spilon to Shopping (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Huh, interesting question. Their site indicates that they're owned by these guys, who bought them from these guys, who seem to be behind the push into mass distribution they experienced. I bet if you got in contact with Himmel they might be able to help you there.
posted by mkultra at 9:06 AM on December 3, 2009

Perry v. Garey, Rhode Island Supreme Court via the handy Google News archive search, gold bond powder.
posted by zippy at 9:12 AM on December 3, 2009

Don't know the answer but I have fond memories of my time in the Army: when we were in the field for weeks at a time we would take "Gold Bond Showers". Or if you were lucky enough to have a sleeping bag - dump in a few ounces, get naked, and roll around. Embrace the sting!
posted by mtstover at 9:13 AM on December 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

That case is behind a paywall, but searching for it yields a preview of the text which includes a partial recent history of Gold Bond - here's an excerpt:

"This breach of contract action came before us pursuant to the appeal of the defendants, William Garey (Garey), T.I.N. Metals Corporation (T.I.N. Metals), William Garey, d.b.a. Gold Bond Pharmaceutical Corporation, T.I.N. Metals Corporation, d.b.a. Gold Bond Pharmaceutical Corporation, and Gold Bond Pharmaceutical Corporation (Gold Bond) (collectively referred to as defendants)"
posted by zippy at 9:15 AM on December 3, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Zippy -- I think I found a PDF of that case here.
posted by spilon at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2009

FYI in case the Hive fails: This may also be something you could ask the Internet Public Library ( Volunteer librarians (and/or students in library science programs) staff the "ask a librarian" section there and may help you find a starting place at the very least.
posted by subbes at 10:09 AM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To Spilon - Gold Bond Powder was started in 1906 by a man named Arthur Guilford who got the original formula from the conference of physicians of the Rhode Island State Medical Assoc. In 1912 he sold the right go the powder to John M. Chapman of New Bedford, Ma. In 1930 my grandfather, Timothy Shea, became manager and in 1942 became general manger until he died in 1965. My father then became sole owner - somewhere between 1942 and 1960 Mr. Chapman sold out. The original office was in New Bedford and before my grandfather died, they rented a building owned by Kelley's Boatyard on the waterfront in Fairhaven, Ma. - across a small bridge from nEW Bedford. Growing up with the company was great. There was an army recruiting station downtown New Bedford and during World War I, World War II, The Korean War and Vietnam a can of Gold Bond Powder was handed out to every going to war. It was not authorized by the government so it was given for free. I remember Vietnam and on weekends several of us would work through the weekend and everything we made was sent for free to anyone who had written to the company about jock rash and foot fungus specifically. Ther were no old bottles that I am aware of. The oldest cans that my grandfather ever had were a light gold like color - which I have one - and made of maybe tin. Hope this gives you a little insight of a product that was once a wonderful powder - it still is - but has changed over the years. When my father sold the company it was because the government wanted him to change all his bins, etc. in the building because they were trying to get the little guys out while keeping people like Johnson and Johnson in. He was unable to buy the talc he needed so we bought it the only way we could - in a Nevada desert. He was too straight to keep on doing that and that was the way it went. You might want to look up a newspaper article on my father from the Standard Times from New Bedford, Ma. dated July 1, 1973 that you might find very interesting.
posted by maursam at 3:58 PM on February 16, 2010 [61 favorites]

To Spilon - Something I forgot to mention, Gold Bond is used by vets all over the U.S. My grandfather and father had letters from all 48 continental states. We had a small dog that had exczema and when he saw that yellow can he'd roll over on his back and just wait for the relief. I have a shit-tzu now who has the same problem and it works.
posted by maursam at 4:29 PM on February 16, 2010

WOW! Thanks so much for the first-hand knowledge!
posted by mkultra at 4:57 PM on February 16, 2010

Very interesting, I never knew the story. However, I know it works well. We used copious amounts of it at the kennel I managed. Owners of dogs with hotspots thought we were miracle workers. They would drop them off on Monday with a raw itchy hotspot, by the time they picked them up the hotspot would be dried out and on the way to healing. That little green can worked wonders.
posted by meeshell at 6:38 PM on February 16, 2010

I know that most stage crews would die without it...90% (ok, most...but on the high end) of the stagehands and techs I know (including myself) carry a multitool, flashlight, wrench, and a thing of Gold Bond.
posted by nevercalm at 5:36 AM on February 17, 2010

FYI, there's some further discussion over at MeTa.
posted by mkultra at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2010

There's a little spoken of but widely known practice among male athletes of squeezing a huge puff of the blue Gold Bond medicated powder on one's nutsack. I wouldn't do it, but some swear by it.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:53 AM on February 20, 2010

(the blue medicated stuff is not what you'd normally use for jock itch, it's the tingly, stingy stuff)
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:53 AM on February 20, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry for taking so long to come back and post this, but here is a scan of the 1973 newspaper article that maursam mentions above, which was helpfully dug up by jessamyn. Thanks again everyone!
posted by spilon at 12:28 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

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