1900 Charles Schindler's BUBBLER
"The Greatest Toy of the Age." Makes Bubbles Without Soap Suds.
Massive Sales! Introduces the world to a dozen classic tricks:
18,000,00 BUBBLERS were sold by 1909!
About the claim it makes bubbles without soap suds: This was true, sort of.
The BUBBLER had a replaceable tablet of soap attached inside the bell of pipe.
The tablet was shaped like a Donut.
From the instructions: "Get a glass of rain water, dip the BUBBLER in, blow gently and beautiful bubbles will grow like magic.
When the BUBBLER is dipped in water a film forms over the opening in the center of the tablet; on blowing into the tube this ilm passes over the face of the tablet, picking up enough substance to make a large bubble. Children never have any trouble in making bubbles, but a man after dipping the BUBBLER in water, will frequently give it a sharp jerk, which breaks the film and prevents the formation of a bubble. For best results use rain water, dip, blow gently in starting."
What inspired this patent? Where did the idea come from?
Charles Schindler was already a successful businessman before inventing this bubble maker. He was a pharmacist who owned and operated (with his brother) a pharmacy / drug store in Toledo, Ohio. Schindler was also entrepreneurial, having test marketed other ideas before finding success with this.
As a store owner he knew the profit potential of popular, easy to produce, inexpensive toys. More importantly, as a pharmacist, a Tablet Press (powders and ingredients were pressed into the shape of pills or tablets) was something he used every day at work. In 1896 he had patented a CAPSULE FILLING MACHINE (US 566096). I imagine Schindler witnessed the popularity of Richard Thain's toy and recognized the potential of a bubble blower to make big profits, especially as a give-away or premium product used in advertising campaigns for other products.
Given all of the above it is easy to see where Schindler got his idea for a "BUBBLER for making bubbles without soap suds". The novelty of his invention was the donut shaped Tablet of soap. By pressing soap bar shavings with something similar to a Tablet Press, soap-tablets could easily be formed.
That may explain the idea for his invention but success comes from marketing. More about that below in the interview with Chas. E. Barnard.
Within a few years Schindler sold his store and opened a factory to produce his BUBBLER. He searched for other inexpensive novelty patents his firm could produce and succeeded with many small toys. Business grew, he built a new factory, took his son on as a manager who in the 1920s morphed the company into a provider of radio parts and electronics.
Games and Amusements.
(A few tricks the BUBBLER could do.)
Floating bubbles. Give the bubbles a light jerk to one side and thereby detach the bubble. Blow the bubbles over a heat register and you will be surprised how many of the big bubbles will keep afloat.
Repeaters. Blow a small bubble, floated, then catch it again upon the end of the bubbler. See how many times you can repeat this with the same bubble.
Surprise bubbles. A bubble may be pierced with a hat pin work cut with a knife without breaking it, if pin or knife is perfectly clean; but if you either has the smallest particle of grease on it the bubbles will break. Cover pin or knife with the soapy substance before trying to pass through the bubble.
Double bubbles. Two children stand so that the bubblers are but a few inches apart, then start to blow. The bubbles slowly swell out, touch, then unite into one large sphere. Below carefully and steadily until a monster bubble results. A triangular bubble can be made by having three join in blowing.
The boxers. A game for two, played by making the bubbles strike together. The end of the tube should be closed with the finger, for the bubble is elastic and grow smaller, driving the air out that was blown into it. The bubbles will glide and bound from each other as if made of rubber. The object of the game is to break the opponents bubble or knock it off the bubbler, while your own bubble remains intact.
Lung tester. See who can blow the largest bubble, using but one breath.
Supported bubbles. Put several inverted glass tumblers side by side and put a bubble upon the bottom of each glass. To do this it is best to moisten the bottom of the tumbler with the soapy substance.
Rolling Bubbles. Let the bubble fall upon a woolen surface, either a cloth, felt or carpet. Bubbles las a long time on woolen but break quickly when they come in contact with cotton. Drop the bubble in the center of cloth, move cloth up and down and bubble will roll prettily.
Smoke Bubbles are very beautiful; the small ones look like pearls. These may be made by calling in the service of grandpa, if he smokes. The bubble should be well started before the smoke goes in.
Bouncing Bubbles. Float the bubble and then by using a bat covered with a flannel a woolen mitten on the hand, or a felt hat, the bubble can be tossed again and again; or it may be rolled up and down on the sleeve of a coat.
Toboggan Bubbles. Place a cloth covered board in a slanting position and let bubbles roll down.
Schindler invented and manufactured the BUBBLER and Barnard sold them.
Here is part of a 1909 interview with Barnard from the NEW YORK SUN.
MONEY IN SOAP BUBBLES
There is a man at the Hotel Astor who is making a fortune out of soap bubbles. He is Chas. E. Barnard, and his home is in Toledo. Thirty·five years ago he was driving horses along the tow-path of the Erie Canal. He said so himself recently, and added that if the canal boat business were what it was in those days he would go back to it.
Almost everybody is familiar with that bubble blower that made its appearance about two years ago, and everybody who was in New York at Christmas' time saw those little colored tin cans that sidewalk merchants started rolling in one direction, to have the can come back. They call it a cum-bac. The two were invented by a Toledo druggist named Chas. Shindler, who sold out his store and went into manufacturing bubble blowers about two years ago.
Mr. Barnard, who forsook the canal boat cabin for a salesman's berth in 1877, was a neighbor of Mr. Shindler. He saw the possibilities ahead of the invention, agreed to buy and dispose of bis entire output, and some 18,000,000 of those bubble blowers are working to-day. Then last April the inventive Shindler got to work again, and the result was the cum-bac, of which already 2,500,000 have been sold or contracted for.
“I turned that bubble blower over for three years and had given it up as impossible," said Mr. Barnard, “when I decided on trying it on Kalamazoo, Mich. They went like hot cakes, and then I took the next train for San Francisco, and came back through the South. New York turned out to be the hardest market to reach, but when you do get [in] there is no end of business. Now I have only two salesmen, one of whom is my son. As for the factory in Toledo, there is a surprisingly small number of operatives, for most of the work is done by machinery.
A famous work "THE BUBBLE" 1909, from the photographic artist Alvin Langhorn Coburn (1882–1966) shows THE BUBBLER in action.