Faultless Starch Reading Library

Michael Bushnell
Publisher


This week’s postcard is a bit of a departure from the penny postcard we normally profile in order to bring you some unique branding booklets from the Faultless Starch Company headquartered in the city’s West Bottoms district.


Major Thomas Beaham arrived in Kansas City from Ohio in 1886. In 1891, Beaham bought out his partner in the Beaham & Moffit Company and formed Faultless Starch Company. The company’s first product, a dry white starch, won almost immediate acclaim among housewives in the 1890’s because of its simplicity – unlike others, it did not require boiling to make it work.


Faultless grew exponentially throughout the Midwest, given the product’s varied uses in addition to starching clothes. It could be used as a bath powder and a baby powder that also helped heal skin irritations.


In the mid-1890’s, Faultless embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign that involved the publishing of small books that came free with every box of Faultless starch.


The Faultless Starch Library published 36 titles between 1896 and the mid-1930’s and bore titles such as “The Fairies,” “Little Jack” and “Upside Down Land.” Some of the books spotlighted the varied uses, through verse, of Faultless Starch such as in The Van Troons or The House that Jack Built: “This is the washing, a dreadful sight that looked as though it had suffered blight, before it was starched with the kind of starch, that was used in the house that Jack built.”


The booklets were a huge hit in Texas and the Indian Territories as they were used as primary readers and supplements to school texts. Many in rural areas learned to read using the Faultless booklets.


The company is still located in the West Bottoms and remains family owned.

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