Jergens Lotion

Lotion Dispenser Corp., Rock Island, IL, c. 1937, 16 1/2". Silent Salesmen Too (page 277) says "this machine is about as art deco as you can get," and it's right. A few others (such as the Pack-It Shop, the EHL 4-in-1, and the Stewart & McGuire) are as art deco, but none are more art deco.

This is made of cast aluminum, and almost all of the examples I've seen have been black wrinkle-painted. It came in 2 versions: The one pictured above, which has a "curved-slope" lid, and another with a "straight-sloped" lid. There were other minor differences between these versions, but I can't recall the details. Both versions came with a separate wall bracket, which mounts to the wall with a couple of screws and holds the machine in place with a single screw that passes through the body of the machine and threads into the wall bracket. The wall bracket is missing from most Jergens vendors that I see for sale. You could mount the machine directly to the wall if you don't have the bracket, but I've always considered the bracket to be an important part of the machine and have not been interested in any machine that doesn't have it.

Silent Salesmen Too says that most of these dispensers sold Jergens Lotion, which is a logical conclusion given that "JERGENS LOTION" is stamped into the round end of the plunger on the machine's front. I've seen some globes labeled "Jergens Lotion," but I've seen quite a few labeled "Italian Balm" as is the one above. I've not tallied these over the years, but my knee-jerk reaction is that I'm not sure Jergens would come out ahead. I'll pay more attention to that feature and will update this page as my impression solidifies one way or another.

This example is 100% original and in excellent condition. I've owned 2, with this one being the second. The first one was the other version, with a "straight-sloped" lid and other minior differences that I can't recall. In about 1999 I traded that one toward a Northwestern 31 in rare red porcelain because it was the only way I could pry the Northwestern from its owner's hands, and I had to have it because I loved the deep red shade of the porcelain and had never seen it before on any Northwestern. I figured I could get another Jergens, but might not see that color on another Northwestern.

I bought the machine above at the Spring 2010 Chicagoland show as a package deal with a nearly full bottle of Italian Balm lotion. I hemmed and hawed a bit before I bought it because as much as I like art deco, I'm typically not fond of black wrinkle paint and that partially offset my enthusiasm for the machine's deco styling. The stock of lotion finally pulled me into it, and I'm glad it did. Once I got it home and mounted, I liked it more than I thought I would and was glad my hesitation hadn't cost me the deal. The bottle of lotion sits just below and to the side of the machine and complements it nicely.



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