Robert Chesebrough

Chemist, Inventor

1837 – 1938


Who was Robert Chesebrough?

Sir Robert Augustus Chesebrough, was a chemist and the inventor of petroleum jelly, which he trade-named as Vaseline. In 1875 he founded the Chesebrough Manufacturing Company that in 1955 became Chesebrough-Ponds, a leading manufacturer of personal care products. Chesebrough patented the process of making petroleum jelly in 1872. Born in London, Chesebrough began his career as a chemist clarifying kerosene from the oil of sperm whales. The discovery of petroleum in Titusville, Pennsylvania rendered his job obsolete, so he traveled to Titusville to research what new materials might be created from the new fuel.

Chesebrough's success stemmed from firm belief in his product. Before Chesebrough began selling petroleum jelly, he tested it on his own cuts and burns. Having demonstrated the product's efficacy on himself, Chesebrough was still unable to sell any to drug stores until he travelled around New York State demonstrating his miracle product. In front of an audience he would burn his skin with acid or an open flame, then spread the clear jelly on his injuries while demonstrating past injuries, healed, he claimed, by his miracle product. To further create demand, he gave out free samples.

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Jan 9, 1837
  • United States of America
Lived in
  • London
Sep 8, 1938
Spring Lake

on July 23, 2013


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