The Museum of Industry announced Monday it had received a surprise donation from Unilever of roughly two dozen boxes of photographs, documents, and advertising materials related to Noxzema, the widely-used skin cream first sold in the early 1900s from a North Avenue pharmacy in Baltimore.
Baltimore pharmacist George Bunting, who named his company the Noxell Corp., later expanded into other areas, including CoverGirl cosmetics. Noxell had about 1,400 Hunt Valley employees in 1989, when Procter & Gamble bought the business for $1.3 billion. Unilever eventually acquired the product in 2010.
Museum of Industry collections manager Catherine Scott-Dunkes said she contacted Unilever in search of a Noxell photo for the May 2013 relaunch of the museum's Bunting Pharmacy exhibit, which chronicles the role of neighborhood pharmacies in the early days of the pharmaceutical industry.
Nothing came of the inquiries, but in April last year, she said a Unilever representative called and asked if the museum wanted a set of boxes that was going to be thrown out.
"I almost fell out of my chair," Scott-Dunkes said.
Some of the material, including the sought-after photo as well as some of the product's signature blue glass bottles, is now on display. The boxes also include photos of Bunting in his lab, a program from the 1949 Falls Road factory dedication, and letters.
Unilever could not be reached for comment.