A Fun Holiday Tradition
Glass wax, a window cleaning product made by the Gold Seal Co of Bismarck, North Dakota, was brought to market locally in 1945 and was very popular nationally by the 1950s and remained so through the 60s. Claimed as a “wartime chemical discovery”, the thick pink liquid was applied to glass in a thin layer and much like car wax today, was left to dry and then buffed off to a perfect shine. Touted as bringing an end to'' wearisome scrubbing and harsh scouring” the instructions from the company said, “just wipe it on–wipe it off…Dirt disappears, only glistening cleanliness remains.”
While the Glass Wax liquid was pink when it came out of the can, it dried to a semi opaque white, resembling frost on a window. This gave someone at the Gold Seal company a creative idea and a way to sell more products. Sometime early in the 1960s, Glass Wax began to sell stencil kits at Christmas time with instructions on how to decorate your windows for the holidays.
Betty Thomas of Boylston, Massachusetts, gifted a Glass Wax stencil kit to the Boylston Historical Society Museum in 2004. The creative kit is held in a decorative and informative 12” x 8” paper cover envelope. This one has the name of Kathy Thomas written in pencil on the envelope. The contents consist of 12 cardstock cutouts of various ornaments; a snowflake, a Christmas tree, Santa in his sleigh, his reindeer, holiday bells and candy canes, Christmas stockings, a holly wreath and more.
The instructions printed on the back of the enveloper package are simple:
“1. Pour GLASS WAX into a shallow dish.
2. Use a dry cellulose sponge and dip end in GLASS WAX.
3. Then apply by dabbing over stencil design. Note: a sponge with a coarse texture will give an interesting lacy or frosty effect.”
And voila, windows decked out for the holidays!
The idea was further popularized by a 1966 television advertisement starring George Fenneman, best known for his work with Groucho Marx on the quiz show, "You Bet Your Life" (1950-1961). The young girl in the Glass Wax advertisement which can be found on YouTube, was Pamelyn Ferdin who went on to be the voice of Lucy Van Pelt in the early "Peanuts" specials as well as numerous other child actor roles.
The Gold Seal Co. which was founded in 1942 by Harold Shafer, a Bismarck, North Dakota area businessman, was sold to Airwick Industries in 1986. Sadly, Glass Wax, along with their other popular products, Snowy Bleach and Mr. Bubbles were eventually discontinued. Authentic Glass Wax stencils are a thing of the past. Do you remember the commercial? Did you ever use the Glass Wax stencils to decorate your home?
We at the Boylston Historical Society and Museum
would like to take this opportunity to wish our members and supporters
a healthy and Joyous Holiday Season
and a Happy New Year!
Boylston Historical Society Artifact Collection
Editor, Nancy Filgate, Boylston Historical Society Museum, Director
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB28fvRqg4s, video of Glass Wax stencil TV advertisement
Life Magazine, April 11, 1949 p.6 Glass Wax advertisement
Photography, Carrie Crane, Boylston, Massachusetts
Published 17 December 2021