February 9, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Francis Glidden

In 1875 a group of middle-aged men banded together to form a varnish-making business in Cleveland. Glidden, Brackett & Co. brought together the talents of Francis Harrington Glidden, Levi Brackett and Thomas Bolles. That the Glidden name survived is a testament to his outlasting his partners, becoming The Glidden Varnish Company in 1894.

In the early days the partners produced 1,000 gallons of varnish each week and delivered it to customers across Cleveland in a horse and wagon. For the first twenty years of the business only industrial varnishes were manufactured, coating furniture, pianos and carriages. In 1895, with his partners retired, Glidden took off after the growing, new consumer market for varnishes and paints. The company introduced Jap-A-Lac in 16 colors for use in the home.

Glidden was one of the first manufacturers of the consumer age to realize the influence of women, traditionally the commanders of the home, in the purchasing process. He advertised in Ladies’ Home Journal and Housekeeping Magazine, with depictions of women finishing chairs and tables and window casings. Glidden’s aggressive advertising propelled his varnish beyond Cleveland into New York and Chicago and even Canada.

Francis Glidden had built a $2 million business when he sold the company in 1917 at the age of 85. The new owners pushed Jap-A-Lac into the best-known varnish in the company and when the Glidden Company introduced the first water-based paint in 1949 the prominence of the Glidden name was assured.

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