Gre-Solvent soap, first produced in 1903, was the equivalent to Lava Soap (which in fact was a competitor since that brand launched in 1893). It was the soap used by factory, field and farm workers to clean heavy duty grease, paint and rust when regular bar soaps wouldn’t do the trick. The brand’s slogan was “Hands grimy? Gre-Solvent cleans them clean” — they had copywriters then.
Gre-Solvent was produced by the Greenwich Village-based Utility Company which also produced industrial materials such as “Squail-Skin Tire Sleeves; spark plugs and raw silk machinery, gear and body wipers.”
A surviving ad for Gre-Solvent can be found on West 51st Street just off 9th Avenue, in the heart of the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant district. The Indispensable Walter Grutchfield describes a Gre-Solvent ad at Kenmare and Elizabeth Streets in Little Italy in 1986 but that one is long disappeared; this one is faded but game.