A Crude History of Mabel’s Eyelashes
When a young New York chemist distills paraffin from booming Pennsylvania oilfields into petroleum jelly – Vaseline – his invention will lead to a popular mascara and Maybelline cosmetics.
Few associate 1860s oil wells with women’s smiling faces, but they are fashionably related.
This is the story of how goop that accumulated around the sucker rods of America’s earliest oil wells made its way to the eyelashes of American women.
In 1865, a 22-year-old chemist left the prolific oil fields of Titusville, Pennsylvania, to return to his Brooklyn, New York, laboratory and experiment with a waxy substance that clogged well heads.
Even before America’s first commercial oil well was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859, young Chesebrough had dabbled in the “coal oil” business. His expertise was distilling cannel coal into kerosene – an illuminant in high demand among consumers.
Chesebrough knew of the process for refining oil into kerosene, so when Edwin L. Drake’s historic oil discovery launched the U.S. petroleum industry, he was one of many who rushed to the Titusville oilfields to make his fortune.
Scientific American reported, “Now commenced a scene of excitement beyond description. The Drake well was immediately thronged with visitors arriving from the surrounding country, and within two or three weeks thousands began to pour in from the neighboring States.” Read the rest of this entry »