Historical information

Wright’s Coal Tar Soap was a popular brand of household soap, manufactured by William Valentine Wright from 1860. The soap was antiseptic and orange colour designed to thoroughly cleanse the skin. It was originally named Sapo Carbonis Detergens, which remains a registered trademark.

The product was developed from ‘liquor carbonis detergens’, the liquid by-product of the distillation of coal to make coke; the liquid was made into an antiseptic soap for the treatment of skin diseases
William Valentine Wright, born in 1826 in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, was a wholesale druggist and chemist who had a small business, W.V. Wright & Co. at 11 Old Fish Street Hill, City of London, where he first sold the soap. In 1867, n 1867, Wright moved his firm, Wright, Sellers & Layman, to small premises at 50 Southwark Street, Southwark, London. The company's name changed to Wright, Layman & Umney, when Charles Umney (1843–1909) was taken into the partnership in 1876.


The advertisement of Wright’s Coal Tar Soap is representative of the many consumer goods sold at pharmacy/chemist shops across the world, such as Sambell and Son, who operated a pharmacy in Fairy Street, Warrnambool in the 19th-century.

Physical description

Paper with printed text for the promotion of Wright's Coal Tar Soap

Inscriptions & markings