Retro/Vintage

A vintage menagerie from Shiseido

Well well well, what have we here?

Plushies making new friends

To be honest, I really have no idea.  All I know is that when I searched for vintage Shiseido on Ebay, I came up with a spate of white porcelain animal figurines.  Some other things: 1. they represent the animals from the Chinese zodiac; 2. there were a few different designs of each animal; 3. I went into a frenzy trying to collect all of them (unsuccessfully), and; 4. they were produced, or at least sourced, by a company named the Connor Group for Shiseido.  What I'm struggling with is why they were made and for whom they were intended.  I'm also not certain about the exact dates of the various versions, since some of the sellers listed them as being from the '70s, others from the '80s, and still more were made in the '90s, according to accompanying paperwork. 

I'll go in the order of the zodiac, starting with the rat.  Cute, no?  Given the shiny finish (more on that soon) I'm assuming it's from 1972 or 1984, but it's impossible to say.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac rat figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac rat figurine

Next is the ox, from either 1973 or 1985.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac ox figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac ox figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac ox figurine

Here's a different version of the ox, which I think might be from the '90s.  I was able to save this image from the Ebay listing but unfortunately someone snatched up the figurine itself a while ago.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac ox figurine
(image from ebay.com)

Tigers!  This one came with a fold-out that made things even more confusing. 

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac tiger figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac tiger figurine

The style of the figurine is consistent with ones that are from the '90s, which we'll see later in this post, but the paper it came with clearly indicates it's from 1974.  Plus, there's no mention of Shiseido anywhere, not in the letter or even on the figurine - the other ones with the shiny finish have "Shiseido Japan" printed on them.  The seller also included the original shipping box it came in to the U.S. from Japan, but there were no clues there either.

Shiseido/W.E. Connor letter

Here's a different tiger. 

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac tiger figurine

RAWWWRRRR!

This rabbit could be from 1975 or 1987.  According to this Etsy seller who had one listed for sale previously, it's from the '80s, but without anything else to go on the date is uncertain.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac rabbit figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac rabbit figurine

My favorite is the dragon, again most likely from 1976 or 1988.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac dragon figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac dragon figurine

The snakes are pretty cool too, unfortunately I couldn't track them down.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac snake figurines
(image from hautejuice.wordpress.com)

The horse is also tricky.  This one could be from 1978, given that this Ebay seller has another style.  (I have one of them on the way to me).  I got so desperate for answers I actually asked the seller if they had any other information.  No answer yet.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac horse figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac horse figurine

This goat (or ram) is from 1991, according to the foldout it came with.  But it's in a similar style to the tiger that's allegedly from 1974, and also has the same non-shiny finish and no Shiseido name printed on it.  See why I'm frustrated?!

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac goat/ram figurine

Poor little guy has a tiny chip on his nose.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac goat/ram figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac ram fold out

Another version of the goat/ram, which was also sold before I could get my hands on it...no clue as to when it's from.

The monkey is also perplexing.  This one is apparently from 1992.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac monkey figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac monkey figurine

Shiseido monkey figurine foldout

And here's a different version, from the same Etsy seller who had the rabbit for sale, so maybe this one is from 1980?

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac monkey figurine

Shiseido Chinese zodiac monkey figurine
(images from etsy.com)

Here's this year's critter, which I also missed out on.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac rooster figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac rooster figurine
(images from worthpoint.com)

This cute little akita was another that got away.  I'm assuming this one is also from the '80s.

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac dog figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac dog figurine
(images from etsy.com)

And finally, a little piggy, ostensibly from 1995. 

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac pig figurine

Vintage Shiseido Chinese zodiac pig figurine

Sadly, I don't think I'll ever solve the mystery behind these figurines.  I emailed both Shiseido and the Connor Group for more insight and was quite disappointed at not hearing a word from Shiseido.  You would think a company that is so committed to preserving their history would be interested in hearing from someone who is equally passionate about it and get back to me.  I don't think it's a matter of them not having any information either - again, since they have a whole museum and are clearly dedicated to recording all aspects of the company, I just know someone there knows something about these figurines!  I bet all the paperwork related to them is sitting in a basement in Shiseido's headquarters, but no one can be bothered to do a little digging.  I did get a reply from the Connor Group but they had no idea what these were and asked for more information.  So I sent pictures of both the figurines and letter that came with the tiger and never heard back.  Sigh.  My best guess is that these were either gifts to employees or gifts for Camellia Club members - in researching the rainbow powders, I learned that the latter group had access to exclusive Shiseido items (um, how awesome are these Erté dishes?!)  However, most of the Camellia Club gifts are labeled as such, whereas there is no such notation on the figurines or the papers they came with.  Shiseido also seems to collaborate with companies for other non-makeup items, like this anniversary plate produced by Noritake, so maybe the figurines were just some random item they had for sale.  Still, it drives me crazy that I don't have a definitive answer.

At least the plushies are enjoying playing with their new friends!

Let's joust!

Wait, don't we need lances for that?

Do you have any idea as to why Shiseido made these figurines?  And which one was your favorite?

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Back to the zodiac with Ziegfeld Girls

You might remember around this time last year I explored some great Elgin zodiac-themed compacts, along with Estée Lauder's lovely Erté zodiac compact series.  The zodiac seems quite popular as a decorative motif for compacts, since I came across yet more vintage zodiac compacts since then.  Tangentially related (obviously) to the popular Ziegfeld Follies, Ziegfeld Girl compacts made their debut in the early 1940s.  Collecting Vintage Compacts has an incredibly thorough history of the Ziegfeld Girls line so I implore you to go check it out when you have a chance.  Since my research skills are nowhere near on par with that blog's author I will just provide a brief summary of his amazing findings about these compacts.  The creator of Ziegfeld Follies, Florenz Ziegfeld, passed away in 1932; however, his enterprising widow licensed the rights to his name for use to other companies.  In the early '40s, a man named Walter Crane joined a plastics company owned by Dwight Hirsh.  These two businessmen got the idea to manufacture plastic compacts (a natural choice for material given the company's business and also because it was wartime) and somehow managed to secure the rights to the Ziegfeld name.  Crane filed a patent application for compacts in late 1943.  Several different types of Ziegfeld Girl compacts were produced prior to the zodiac series' introduction in 1946.  These were, sadly, a flash in the pan - they didn't sell well and were gone by 1947.

Now let's get to the compacts, shall we?  I found the designs to be so utterly charming - a different sort of playfulness than the Elgin ones, to be sure, but adorable nevertheless.  Like the Elgin compacts, however, these tend to be snapped up rather quickly once they pop up for sale.

I was unable to find an image of the actual compact for Aquarius, but you can see it in this ad.

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact ad, February 1946

While encased in not-so-luxurious lucite, each one matches the sign's color. 

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Capricorn
(image from worthpoint.com) 

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Pisces
(image from ebay.com) 

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Aries
(image from etsy.com)

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Taurus
(image from etsy.com) 

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Gemini
(image from ebay.co.uk)

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Cancer
(image from etsy.com)

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Leo
(image from etsy.com) 

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Virgo
(image from etsy.com)

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Libra
(image from ebay.com)

The one I'm most excited about, naturally, is the Scorpio one.  Not only did one of these compacts come up for sale after me keeping an eye out for many months, but it's also my sign. I couldn't believe my good luck!  You better believe I pounced as soon as I got that Ebay alert.

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Scorpio

I have to say that the accompanying scorpions in depictions of the Scorpio sign creep me out a little.  I'm definitely a Scorpio personality-wise, but strictly from a design perspective I wish I were a Capricorn or Sagittarius.  Both are traditionally represented as mythical creatures - Capricorn is sort of a mermaid but with a goat head and Sagittarius is like a centaur.  Scorpions (and crustaceans for that matter - lobsters, crabs, shrimp, etc.), just look like big gross bugs to me.  :P  Oh well, I can't change my sign, right?

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Scorpio

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Scorpio

Anyway, these compacts are positively ginormous.  Here's a comparison photo with a Guerlain Météorites container so you can get a sense of the scale.

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact - Scorpio

Sadly, I was also unable to find a photo of the Sagittarius compact, so I found an ad for that one as well.

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact ad, May 1946

Speaking of ads, they were really cool to look at.  Just for fun here are some more.

I wish the compact I bought came with the little horoscope insert mentioned in this ad.

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact ad, March 1946

Perfect for that glamorous cousin Gloria!  LOL.

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact ad, November 1946

I liked this one not only since it features my sign but also because it shows all the different designs as well as an illustration of the horoscope insert.  This must have been from the official launch of the compacts, since it's from early 1946 and mentions special window displays. 

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girl compact ad, January 1946

And a sad sale ad a little over a year later.

Ziegfeld Zodiac Girls ad, April 1947
(images from newspapers.com)

Finally, a funny zodiac-related story: indicating just how obsessed I am with zodiac symbols and decor, a month or so ago I dreamed that Stila released their own zodiac palettes.  They were the same size and shape as the Look of the Month calendar palettes from 2004, and made of cardboard, but each had a Stila girl representing a zodiac sign instead of the month.  The zodiac glyphs were a continuous border around the edge of the palette.  For example, the Scorpio sign looks like a little M with a tail, so that was the border for my sign.  The Stila girls themselves were ridiculously cute...if I had any Photoshop or illustration skills I'd totally do a mockup!  I can see each design clear as crystal in my head but have no means of sharing them, sadly.  I remember being so happy at seeing Stila going back to their roots.

Anyway, did you like the Ziegfeld Zodiac Girls?  What's your sign and did you like the design for yours?


MM Smackdown: Brush holder bloodshed!

Mum.11-2016.smackdown.poster

In the spirit of Black Friday, which we celebrate in the U.S. by trampling each other to score cheap TVs and the latest must-have children's toy, I thought I'd put these ladies in the ole MM boxing ring to duke it out.  I found it pretty interesting that two companies decided to release vintage-inspired brush holders for the holiday season.  At first glance, they don't seem so different - both are from similarly sized brands, blonde with perfect cherry-red pouts and dainty pearl necklaces, but as we'll see each have their own unique secret weapons.

Bésame and LM Ladurée brush holders

It's gonna be intense, so...let's get ready to rummmmbbbblllllle!  *ding ding*

"Step off, bitch!"  "Make me, whore!"

In one corner of the ring we have the Bésame brush holder.  With her bouncy ponytail that also acts as a handle and makeup straight from the 1940s, this girl packs a strong punch. Bésame is also available at Sephora, which could be seen as an advantage over her opponent.

Bésame brush holder

Bésame brush holder

But LM Ladurée won't be pushed around so easily.  She boasts an equally jaunty hair style with a striped bow, but her thick black eyeliner proves she's not playing around.  Her eyes seem to be closed, making her face (in my opinion) less creepy than Bésame's somewhat lifeless stare.  LM Ladurée is only available in the U.S. through international sellers, making it more difficult to track down.  However, this could be also be an asset in that hard-to-find items can be seen as more special than readily available ones.

LM Ladurée brush holder

While both appear to be made from ceramic, there are significant differences:  Bésame's shine and heftier weight pits her directly against LM Ladurée's featherweight feel and matte finish.  Bésame may be bigger and stronger, but what LM Ladurée lacks in brawn she makes up for in agility.  

Bésame and LM Ladurée brush holders

And while the size disparity doesn't seem that big at first, adding brushes is the true size test.  As you can see, Bésame edges out LM Ladurée in terms of storage space.

Bésame and LM Ladurée brush holders

I predicted this was going to be a particularly intense smackdown, and I was right.  Things are getting ugly!  LM Ladurée has seized Bésame's ponytail and is ferociously yanking her head around.  Bésame swiftly retaliated by tearing off LM Ladurée's hair tie.  Well, as long as they're not going for their jewelry I guess it's fair game.  Oh, I take that back!  They have now ripped off each other's necklaces...I just hope LM Ladurée doesn't reach for Bésame's earrings.  Hoooooo boy!  Someone's gonna get KO'ed soon, so in these final moments, tell me who you think wins.  Will Bésame's larger size and ergonomic shape take down LM Ladurée?  Or will LM Ladurée's international status, more subtle matte finish and lightweight feel allow her to cleverly maneuver past Bésame's blows?


Friday fun (and fright): Halloween roundup

It's almost Halloween, so in keeping with the spirit I thought I'd share some sweet and spooky items I've come across.  Hopefully you'll enjoy this mix of vintage and new makeup ephemera.  However, I must warn that if you're a plushie aficionado like me, you may not be able to sleep after seeing some very bizarre vintage stuffed animals.

We'll start with the good stuff.  I've loved this vintage Pum-kin Rouge since I spotted it at the IPBA website a while back, and a recent Instagram post by the Glamourologist jogged my memory.   Pum-kin Rouge, a blush that was meant to be flattering on all complexions, was first introduced in 1922 by the Owl Drug Company.  In an effort to stay competitive with ever-popular French-sounding brands, in 1925 Owl Drug began marketing Pum-kin Rouge under the Darnée Perfumer name.  You can read the entire Owl Drug story, which is divided into two parts, over at the excellent Collecting Vintage Compacts blog. 

Pum-kin Rouge tin(image from worthpoint.com)

Even more rare than the round Pum-kin Rouge tin is this octagonal compact with a different pumpkin design, which appeared around 1928.  You can barely make it out in the photo below, but if you look closely you can see a woman's profile in the middle of the pumpkin.  So cool!

Pum-kin Rouge compact(image from ebay.com)

In terms of contemporary pieces, I admired these Halloween-themed highlighters from Etsy seller Bitter Lace Beauty.  (You may recall that this is the same company responsible for the rainbow highlighter frenzy.)  I didn't purchase them because I'm not sure how much I really want to branch into indie companies in terms of collecting for the Museum, but they're pretty cute.

Bitter Lace Beauty Halloween highlighters

Bitter Lace Beauty Halloween highlighters(images from @bitter.lace.beauty)

There were also these adorable coffin packages containing highlighters and glitter eye shadows from ColourPop.  Alas, they were only available to one lucky winner of a Halloween giveaway, not for sale to the public.  It's a shame, I would have snapped these up in a minute.

ColourPop Halloween giveaway sets

ColourPop Halloween giveaway sets(images from bustle.com and @colourpopcosmetics.com)

Now we're moving on to the very strange and scary items I found, all of which are vintage.  You may want to get some towels to sit on in case you soil yourself.  Okay, maybe they're not that bad but I have to say, if I found any of these at a vintage shop or flea market I'd hightail it out of there real fast.

First up is this super weird lip-shaped box.  It's listed as a powder box on Ebay, but it looks more like a trinket box rather than something cosmetic.  Still, since it's lip-shaped maybe it was intended for makeup.  So while I'm not certain of its original purpose, I do know that it really freaks me out.  This isn't comical like Charlotte Tilbury's new Pocket Pout (which honestly reminds me of those goofy novelty wax lips and/or Mrs. Potato Head), it's just creepy as hell.

Vintage lip-shaped powder box
(images from ebay.com)

I nearly jumped out of my chair when I saw this pop up in my Ebay search for vintage compacts.  Do you know who this character is? (I didn't but thought he was absolutely the most horrifying thing I've ever seen on a compact).

Vintage Charlie McCarthy compact
(image from pinterest.com)

If you said Charlie McCarthy, the doll companion of '30s-'40s-era ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, you are correct.  If you said "Why the hell is some terrifying dummy on a makeup compact?", that's also an acceptable response.  It's actually a pretty remarkable likeness, which makes it all the scarier.  *shudder*

Charlie McCarthy(image from britannica.com)

Also disturbing is that the asking price of another one I found is $199.95.  I'm sorry, but who would pay that amount to have this evil thing staring back at you?

I saved the most frightening items for last* - hopefully they won't leave you with nightmares.  If violence against plushies upsets you, don't finish reading! 

Searching for vintage compacts on Rubylane, I came across this little monkey.  He's got kind of a scary face that reminds me of the original cover for Stephen King's Skeleton Crew.  But whatever, he's makeup-related so it's probably okay, right?

Vintage Schuco monkey

And then I saw the next photo.

Vintage Schuco monkey(images from rubylane.com)

My approximate reactions (bonus points if you can name the horror movies these are from):

Terrified

gif

ack

Apparently there was a German toy company named Schuco that produced these abominations in the 1930s (insert Nazi joke here.) These are stuffed animals that one essentially mutilated to reach the makeup hidden inside.  They came in a variety of colors and critters, with a powder compact shoved in the tummy and a lipstick in the neck.  :(

Vintage Schuco monkey
(image from liveauctioneers.com)

Vintage Schuco bear
(image from pinterest.com)

If the sadist makeup-user preferred, they could also tear the shell off a turtle or gut a dog, cat or duck.  Their faces look so unhappy to me, what with their downturned mouths and lifeless eyes - could it be because their innards had to get brutally ripped apart every time someone wanted to powder their nose?

Vintage Schuco dog and turtle

Vintage Schuco duck and cat

Of course, you could always choose to "only" yank the head off to access your favorite perfume rather than both decapitation and disembowelment.

Vintage Schuco monkey - perfume
(images from liveauctioneers.com)

I don't know, maybe it's because I have an unnatural affection for plushies, but these upset me to my core.  I really can't tolerate seeing their little bodies split apart like this, not even for makeup.  It's just wrong!  Plushies should not be dismembered for any reason.  As with the Charlie McCarthy compact, I'm also astonished at the prices.  Granted, these stuffed animals are somewhat unique and Schuco is well-known enough to fetch a nice sum, but $300??  This is one of those pieces where I know, rationally, that it would be an important item to have in the Museum's collection, but my heart says absolutely not.

Anyway, if you're not scarred for life please tell me which of the fun picks you liked most and which of the scary ones most haunted you.

 

*I did come across this gun-shaped compact, but ultimately decided not to include it as I realized my post was turning into a political rant.


Vintage makeup highlights from DuBarry

This post is a result of my very kind mother-in-law gifting me some vintage DuBarry items, which she found while cleaning out her deceased mother's belongings.  She knew I would appreciate them and give them a good home, and I'm really pleased to have vintage makeup that came from a family member.  I'm okay with buying vintage items without knowing anything about who they belonged to, but obviously I feel more of a connection to the object when they come from someone I actually know.   Anyway, these items inspired me to learn a little more about the DuBarry line and, of course, purchase some other items so they didn't feel so alone. ;)

I'm not going to rehash the entire history of the line, as both Cosmetics and Skin and Collecting Vintage Compacts have excellent, thorough histories of both DuBarry and Richard Hudnut, the founder of the line (along with many other brands.)  The story in a nutshell:  DuBarry originally started as a fragrance developed by Hudnut in 1902.  In 1929 a makeup and skincare line was spun off the fragrance as an additional revenue source.  The line wasn't doing so well by the late 1930s; however, ever the businessman, Hudnut expanded his lucrative "Success School" (a charm school to prepare young debutantes for their coming out events) to include a new DuBarry "Success Course" that borrowed many of the same principles but without the debutante focus.  Part fat camp, part beauty and fashion tips, the Success Course earned the company over $4 million in a little over 3 years.  Not only was it a major money-maker, the course also helped the DuBarry makeup line gain significant brand recognition.  Since the 1960s the company passed through many owners but is still being sold today.

Without further ado, let's take a peek at some notable DuBarry items from their golden age (roughly 1940s-60s).  I found this beautiful fan-shaped color guide over at the Baltimore Shoeseum, an online museum that  specializes in swing era artifacts.  Let's hear it for another Baltimore-based online museum!  I'm sort of tempted to call and ask if they'd be willing to deaccession it to me, as I think the Makeup Museum would be a better fit.  ;)  I think this is from the early '30s.

DuBarry color guide(image from baltimoreshoeseum.com) 

There's also this gorgeously designed face powder.  Love the butterfly and reversed colors set on a diagonal.

DuBarry powder box
(image from etsy.com) 

But what DuBarry was particularly known for was the use of an image of Madame du Barry, a.k.a. the last mistress of Louis XV who, along with rival Marie Antoinette, lost her head in 1793. Collecting Vintage Compacts' entry notes that Hudnut named the line after Madame du Barry, but I'm curious to know what the source is on that and why Hudnut chose her.  In any case, there is no fabled tale of how Hudnut arrived at using Madame du Barry as inspiration the way there was with Harriet Hubbard Ayer's Madame Recamier skincare.  And it shows:  the company came up with vague likenesses of Madame du Barry for the product packaging rather than borrowing a real portrait.

The powder box below looks quite early and also resembles this etching.

Early DuBarry powder box(image from etsy.com)

This box also appears to be very early and is somewhat similar to this portrait.  These two boxes are the only ones I've seen with these particular designs, so I wonder if they were samples or prototypes not actually put into mass production.

Early DuBarry powder box(image from etsy.com)

The only exception to DuBarry's lack of faithful reproductions of the Comtesse was a sketch of a sculpture by Augustin Pajou. 

Madame du Barry by Augustin Pajou, 1773
(image from louvre.fr)

Roughly from the start of the line in 1929, DuBarry utilized a drawing of the sculpture for ads and powder boxes and continued to use it up until the early to mid '40s.

1930 DuBarry ad
(image from cosmeticsandskin.com)

1941 DuBarry ad(image from library.duke.edu) 

Naturally I had to get one to add to the Museum's collection.

Dubarry powder box

Okay, maybe I got 2!  But the design was a little different and I figured variety couldn't hurt.

DuBarry large powder box

I also liked the pattern on the sides.

DuBarry large powder box

Just to give you a sense of the size, that 2nd box is body powder and way bigger than the face powder pox.

Dubarry powder boxes

But starting around 1935 (at least according to the ad below), DuBarry displayed a different, completely imaginary representation of Madame du Barry, and it appears that in 1942 they began adding her to their packaging and phasing out the other, accurate Madame du Barry depiction.  I've looked everywhere online and there is no portrait of Madame du Barry that even remotely resembles this one. 

1935 DuBarry ad(image from library.duke.edu) 

It appears to be an amalgam of the Pajou sculpture (the asymmetrical, drapey neckline), this 1770 portrait by François-Hubert Drouais (hair is up with one lone curl around the neck), and this 1771 portrait, also by Drouais (hairstyle is similar, although DuBarry seems to have swapped out the blue ribbon for a blue jewel on the packaging).  You can see, however, that the woman on the box is not a direct copy of any portrait, as was the case with the Pajou sculpture.

1942 DuBarry ad(image from periodpaper.com)

1946 DuBarry ad

I bought this one too, along with the ad above. :)

DuBarry powder box

Then in 1949 DuBarry changed the likeness on the packaging yet again.  This time Madame du Barry appears with the ridiculously high powdered wig hairstyle that we associate with the French Revolution era.  Again, as far as I could tell, there is no portrait of Madame  du Barry that resembles this - here's the closest one I found - but even the face on this DuBarry packaging looks nothing like her!

1950 DuBarry ad(image from etsy.com) 

This image was used through the mid 1950s.

1954 DuBarry ad(image from flickr.com)

To round out the Madame du Barry representations I had to get this one too.  This is probably the most common DuBarry box I came across.

Dubarry powder box

The next item I thought would be a nice addition to the Museum's DuBarry holdings were these lipstick blotting sheets.  Clearly men are the only ones who are affected by lipstick transfer and it's their comfort we have to worry about most, not the simple fact that women would just like a lipstick that stays put so we're not constantly touching up. *eyeroll*  Still, I thought it was amusing that they put a cartoon man on the case and I don't have any vintage lipstick blotters in the Museum's collection.  (And like the DuBarry powder boxes it was super cheap, which is always a plus.)

DuBarry lipstick blotting sheets

DuBarry lipstick blotting sheets

DuBarry lipstick blotting sheets

Based on the graphics I really thought this was from the early '60s, but I was way off.  Turns out DuBarry's "Treasure Stick" lipstick was introduced in 1947 and was sold at least through 1951, according to the ads below, so these blotting sheets are from around then as well.

1947 DuBarry ad
(image from pinterest.com)

1951 DuBarry ad(image from etsy.com)

Finally, here are the items that once belonged to the husband's grandmother which my mother-in-law kindly passed along to me.  Thanks, M.!

Dubarry lipstick refills

Dubarry lipstick

Naturally I was eager to find out approximately when they were from.  Just at first glance they appeared to be early '60s to me, but I couldn't say so with any certainty, so off I went to search for clues.  Based on the ads below it didn't look like the lipsticks I have are from the '40s.

1941 Dubarry ad(image from library.duke.edu)

1945 DuBarry ad(image from library.duke.edu) 

It wasn't from the mid-'50s either.

1956 DuBarry ad(image from pinterest.com)

Low and behold, in 1958 we see a new lipstick tube and bullet that are very similar to those bestowed upon the Museum.  With the debut of the "Royal" lipstick (you've seen this ad before), there also came a new case.  However, it's gold-toned and not silver like the ones I have.  Hmmm...

1958 DuBarry ad

1958 DuBarry ad

1959 DuBarry ad(image from mudwerks.tumblr.com)

It's hard to tell, but judging from this 1961 ad below, it looks like DuBarry made the switch to the silver casing by then.

1961 DuBarry ad(image from pinterest.com)

1962 DuBarry ad(image from adweek.com) 

So while I'm still not 100% sure, I can say with confidence that the lipsticks I was given date from the late '50s or early '60s, especially given that the prices are the same on the refill boxes and in the ads. 

Just for fun, how cute is this "Morning Noon and Night" set?  Now that would be quite a find!

1964 DuBarry ad(image from pinterest.com)

DuBarry went on to launch a pretty interesting campaign for their Glissando range starting in 1964 - at least, from an advertising point of view.  Since there were so many ads I simply couldn't narrow it down, but they were a good representation of mid to late '60s style.  As noted earlier, the brand changed hands several times over the years but is still around today.  I kind of wish they would look to their golden age and re-introduce packaging with an updated (and accurate) depiction of Madame du Barry.  As Collecting Vintage Compacts points out, the Comtesse's consumer appeal cannot be denied:  "[The DuBarry] fragrance could not have failed to be recognized by the buying public as representing the essence of feminine beauty, intrigue and even a hint of scandal."  Indeed, I can see many people buying makeup with the King's favorite adorning the packaging.  :)

So those are some highlights from DuBarry when they were in their prime.   Which ones did you like best?

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Quick post: Meet Enrico!

You might remember this neat ad for Max Factor's Italian Touch that I featured in the summer exhibition.

Max Factor Italian Touch ad, 1957

I also mentioned there was a really cool bust used as a store prop floating about on E-bay, but that it was pricey.  Well, as it turns out I didn't have to worry about the cost because a certain very thoughtful and generous husband purchased it for me!  I really don't have anything like this in the Museum's collection and I was so happy he snagged it for me.  As far as store advertising goes it's pretty unique.

I've named him Enrico.  :)

Max Factor Italian Touch bust, ca. 1957

Max Factor Italian Touch bust, ca. 1957

Max Factor Italian Touch bust, ca. 1957

Max Factor Italian Touch bust, ca. 1957

Max Factor Italian Touch bust, ca. 1957

I love the sphinxes on each shoulder!  Perhaps they were borrowed from the Augustus of Prima Porta.

Max Factor Italian Touch bust, ca. 1957

I couldn't find a complete history of the campaign but it must have been quite large, given that I've seen ads in various languages.  In addition to plain old English, I also came across French:

Max Factor Italian Touch ad
(image from hprints.com)

Italian (of course...additionally, Italian film star Virna Lisi starred as the model, which further demonstrates how calculated the campaign was):

Max Factor Italian Touch ad
(image from delcampe.net)

And Dutch.  This is particularly fascinating given that the e-bay seller Enrico was purchased from was located in the Netherlands.  I also would have loved to get my hands on the little set pictured in these ads to round out a sort of capsule collection of the Italian Touch campaign, but I'm pretty satisfied with the bust.

Max Factor Italian Touch ad
(image from invaluable.com)

I also found these two English-language ads from Canada and Singapore. 

Max Factor Italian Touch ad(image from middlebrowcanada.com)

I couldn't remove the watermark from this but you get the gist.

Max Factor Italian Touch ad, Straits Times, October 8, 1957
(image from eresources.nlb.gov.sg)

In the U.S., a new shade called Roman Touch was available in several products in addition to the Italian Touch collection.

Max Factor Roman Touch ad, Deseret News, May 1, 1957
(image from news.google.com)

Max Factor Roman Touch ad, Torrance Press, April 25, 1957(image from arch.torranceca.gov)

All in all, I think this is one of the strangest, yet well-planned advertising campaigns for a vintage collection I've come across.  Normally I'd be creeped out by the idea of statues coming to life, but in this case I think the offbeat nature of it is quite amusing. And based on what Museum Advisory Committee member Sailor Babo has told me about his conversations with him, Enrico is totally harmless and has lots of interesting stories.

Sailor Babo makes a new friend!

What do you think about this latest Museum gift?  Big huge thanks to my awesome and supportive husband. :)


Quick post: Celebrating (sort of) National Lipstick Day with Urban Decay

In honor of National Lipstick Day I thought I'd take a quick peek at how Urban Decay's lipstick tubes have essentially come full circle with their new Vice collection.  When the brand launched in 1996, the gritty, decidedly un-pretty feel of both the packaging and color names were fairly groundbreaking.  The design of the Vice lipsticks, which debuted earlier this summer, is a nod to the shotgun shell-shaped cases in which the lipsticks were originally housed. For your viewing pleasure I took some comparison photos (and skipped directly over the now-discontinued Revolution lipsticks.)

I kind of wish they kept the brown cardboard boxes and punk-inspired font.

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

The Vice packaging is definitely more sleek and modern, plus the company's name is engraved on the case, which makes it a little more luxurious than the somewhat plain-looking former case.  The only drawback to having a shiny metal case vs. a brushed metal finish is that the former gets very fingerprint-y very quickly.

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.  I remember thinking how edgy the whole Urban Decay line was and how badass the shotgun shell packaging looked - whipping one of these out made me feel like a rebel and even a little dangerous, which I enjoyed.  In hindsight, however, I think this design should be left firmly in the '90s.  I don't want to write a whole big long whiny essay because, you know, it's a special day for us makeup junkies, plus it's Friday and I wanted to keep this post light, but I must point out that I'm not sure Urban Decay should have referenced their original packaging at all, as much as I liked it back then.  Given all the gun violence we have now (and it was a problem in the '90s too, to be sure, but I was young and dumb and not as "woke" as I am now) any beauty product that evokes mass shootings shouldn't exist.  I understand you can't avoid it completely - we commonly refer to lipstick shapes themselves as bullets - but no matter how cool Urban Decay's packaging seemed in 1996 and its importance in cosmetics history, I just don't think it's appropriate now.*  I'm not the only one who shares this sentiment either.  Says Tynan Sinks at XO Jane, "In 2016, perhaps we could model our lipstick packaging after anything but bullets," while the author of A Life With Frills remarks, "I don't agree with the fact that Urban Decay are marketing these lipsticks as looking like shotgun shells. I understand that Urban Decay are a brand that like to push boundaries (and I love them for that) but given the way guns are used in the world now and the impact they have, it's not appropriate to trivialise them like this."  I think Jane at British Beauty Blogger says it the best:  "I get it that the roots of Urban Decay are all about the badass and the edgy and going against the grain – who needs make up to look pretty? It should speak to our rebellious side or our sexy side – but not, er, our inner killer."  I fully appreciate that Urban Decay wants us to remember that they were among the first companies to run completely contrary to many outdated notions of what's attractive and why we wear makeup, but I think in this instance they should have gone in a different direction.  Having said all this, I won't stop buying the Vice lipsticks anytime soon (I own 3 and have my eye on several more) but I felt the need to at least mention my issue with the packaging.  So, um, happy National Lipstick Day, I guess.  Leave it up to me to put a bit of a damper on it.  :P  At the very least, the tubes make an interesting case study in how the brand has evolved in the past 20 years. 

What do you think?  And did you own the original Urban Decay lipsticks?

 

*I'm particularly aghast that these lipsticks actually exist and are for sale.  Just...no.


Vroom vroom! Makeup and cars

Buckle up and start your engines, 'cause you're in for a wild ride!  Well, as wild as this boring old curator can be.  ;)  I almost feel like I need a flow chart or diagram to explain the myriad and complex ways cosmetics can be related to cars, and by extension, women. I can't go into much detail since that would be an entire book, but I can provide a basic summary.  The first thing that comes up when I searched for "women and cars" is images of "hot" (read: young, thin, usually white) women standing next to, or perched on top, a car.  Traditionally these women have been used to sell cars to men; but instead of the opposite (i.e. showing hunky male models), makeup can be used to persuade women consumers into buying a car, and sometimes vice versa (a car is used to sell makeup).  Makeup and car collaborations are fascinating, I think, because they're so obviously an attempt to coax a population that's usually not associated with cars into taking an interest in automobiles, and what better way to do that than to appeal to a woman's supposed vanity?  Obviously, I love makeup and don't believe many aspects of it are un-feminist, but I do find trying to reach a female customer almost solely through the use of makeup to be remarkably sexist.  These tie-ins are also interesting when we think of the admittedly shady strategies used by Mary Kay.  Instead of being a passive consumer of cars and cosmetics, a woman could sell makeup to earn a pink car - the reverse of some of the ads and collaborations we're going to look at today. 

Starting in the 1950s makeup became a way to get women on board with the idea of car ownership.  As this site devoted to the Dodge LaFemme, the first car marketed specifically to women, explains, "Shortly after World War II (and the Korean War) America entered a new era of prosperity and success. The days of one car families were fast becoming obsolete and families were now buying second cars to accommodate their new lifestyles. Suburbs were springing up outside urban areas and super highways were the wave of the future...Living in the suburbs meant the breadwinner had to drive to work downtown each day, leaving the housewife without a car. With the current prosperity being experienced in America, it seemed natural to go out and buy a second car for 'the wife'. But what car to buy?...Gone were the days of 'the wife' simply staying at home. If 'the wife' was getting a new car, then Dodge needed to produce a car that 'the wife' would want to be seen in."  

In addition to the cars' overall design that was meant to entice women, an exclusive makeup kit was included to emphasize that this was a vehicle made especially for the ladies.  The 1955-56 Dodge LaFemme was a pink (naturally) car that boasted not only a matching raincoat and umbrella - if, heaven forbid, you got a flat tire in the rain - but also a special compartment hidden in the armrest supplied with an Evans compact and other items. 

Dodge La Femme

1956 Dodge La Femme

1956 Dodge La Femme interior

1956 Dodge La Femme makeup

From the photo below it looks like Elizabeth Arden's Ardena was also included, which seems odd - why go with two cosmetics brands?

1956 Dodge La Femme makeup kit(images from historydaily.org)

Apparently La Femme failed to be a popular seller.  Despite the alluring inclusion of cosmetics, the rest of the marketing was not on the same level as that for other automobiles.  "Some suggest that the flop of the La Femme model was due to its lack of marketing exposure. It was only displayed on single-sheet pamphlets; there were no shiny demonstration models and no evidence of magazine, radio and television advertisement. It was likely most American women never even knew it existed at the time."  Well, color me surprised - promoting a car geared towards women was not treated with the same importance as other (men's) cars?  Shocking!  Sarcasm aside, it is interesting that Dodge didn't see the need to spend the same amount of advertising dollars.  If anything, I would think a car company would have to work doubly hard and put more funds towards marketing for a segment of the population that typically did not own cars.  Guess they thought the makeup kit alone would hook women in without having to do a ton of additional advertising.

Despite this failure, Elizabeth Arden followed suit in 1959 with a tie-in to the Chrysler Imperial.  The makeup and skincare kit was stashed in the glove compartment.  The advertising also highlighted women's ability to be totally in control while still, of course, retaining a ladylike manner:  "The Imperial 1959 is powerful but well-tamed...does what you ask, instantly, serenely...you sit head-high, imperially straight, as becomes a woman whose car is so much hers that even the interior fabrics are an obedient and tasteful foil for her ensemble."  In a world where women couldn't even have a credit card in their own name, I could see how the prospect of independence and power through owning a car solely for her use would definitely be appealing.  Still, if we're to follow the aforementioned '50s narrative of suburban families with the husband as primary breadwinner, how empowered could his wife really be?  Even if she drives a car designed for women, the man still paid for it. 

Elizabeth Arden Chrysler Imperial ad, 1959

Elizabeth Arden Chrysler Imperial ad, 1959(images from imperialclub.org)

While Chrysler made a bigger marketing attempt than Dodge by placing ads in Vogue, I'm not sure if the sales of this car in "Arden Pink" fared any better than LaFemme.  Nevertheless, automobile companies had alternatives for getting cars on women's radar via other sorts of collaborations with makeup companies.  Take, for example, this 1955 Cutex ad for a red shade inspired by Ford's Scarlet Thunderbird that "separates the sirens from the sissies!"  If you're woman enough to wear this color, you're woman enough to own a Ford.

Cutex Slightly Scarlet ad, 1955(image from flickr.com)

Yet another tactic was the giveaway.  In 1967, Dorothy Gray and its sister brand Tussy (owned by the same company) advertised sweepstakes to win cars in the same shades as their lipsticks, which naturally had car-themed names like Defroster. 

Dorothy Gray Honda ad, 1967(image from ebay.com)

Tussy Mustang ad, 1967(images from przservices.typepad.com)

More recently, in May Givenchy revived the idea of a car designed just for women in the launch of the Givenchy Le MakeUp, produced by French manufacturer DS.  Le MakeUp borrows Dodge's concept of esconcing an exclusive makeup kit in the armrest.  The car is also "fitted with a special LED lighting system on the two sun visor mirrors in the front seats, for ease of make-up application before or after driving. Floor mats feature the limited edition Givenchy logo, while the dashboard is rose pink." While the exterior isn't pink, I can't help but be amused by the fact that they retained at least some inclusion of the color. 

Givenchy-Le MakeUp-car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car

DS 3 Givenchy Le MakeUp car(images from forbes.com)

Not only that, but "Whisper Purple" is used for the roof, mirrors, a hubcap accent and finally, to fully tie the car to the makeup, as a nail polish in the cosmetics kit.  There's also a video of Ruth Crilly, founder of the popular beauty site A Model Recommends, highlighting the car's various features while wearing the makeup.

Givenchy whisper purple nail polish(image from dsautomobiles.co.uk)

While the promotional copy claims that the car was designed to "meet to meet the expectations of many modern-day women who are always on the go," Givenchy's Artistic Director for Makeup Nicolas Degennes says, "I dreamt of a car that would enhance the beauty of women. They would be beautiful because they would be at the helm of the new DS3, a vehicle that characterizes this era. Beautiful because of colour, the reflections on the face. Beautiful because of the liveliness of the pink interior.”  Indeed, even the style of the tires, one the company calls "Aphrodite," reference beauty ideals for women.  All of this further bolsters my opinion that the notion of gendered cars is astonishingly dated and sexist.  Givenchy may have come up with a modernized version of the "Arden Pink" Chrysler or Dodge LaFemme, and while many more women today are making their own car payments, the cosmetic aspects of the DS's design remain firmly in the '50s.  Especially since the inclusion of makeup in a car meant for women completely ignores the fact that this is the 21st century, and there are men who wear makeup as well as non-cis genders.  Finally, there are still folks out there who think all women do before/during/after taking a spin in their car is applying makeup. The remarks at this website regarding the Givenchy car take the cake:  "Girls don’t have such a great reputation as drivers, and a car with a makeup kit? Well. Let us only hope and pray that some 20-year-old doesn’t stop in the middle of a highway to dab a fresh layer of paint on her lips." Oof.

Along these lines, even in the art world women can't escape the traditional link between cars and makeup.  For International Women's Day in 2012, Indian car artist Sudhakar Yadav created several cars in the shape of a shoe, purse, lipstick and eye shadow as a tribute to women.  Stereotype much? 

Lipstick car

Eyeshadow car(images from huffingtonpost.com)

I mean, don't get me wrong, these look like a lot of fun and I give the guy credit for acknowledging there even IS an International Women's Day.  I'm sure his intentions were good and these were made as art, not to sell cars.  But it still rubs me the wrong way.  Obviously all women care about is makeup and shoes and bags, and they would appreciate the artist's offering of wacky cars only if they were in the shape of girly things.* 

As a seemingly harmless response to all of this, I'll leave you with Italian brand Collistar's summer 2016 lineup.  The company teamed up with, fittingly enough, Fiat to create a collection celebrating the 500 model. 

Collistar spring/summer 2016 collection

Collistar Ti Amo spring/summer 2016 collection

How adorable are these blushes?! 

Collistar Ti Amo spring/summer 2016 collection(images from chicprofile.com)

Personally, I generally hate cars (their design and history bores me, not to mention that they're dangerous...I have a terrible fear of driving), and no amount of cool makeup is going to make me more accepting of them.  And I sure as hell wouldn't buy a car designed just for women - I dislike the fact that in 2016 some companies are 1. still thinking in terms of binary genders for products that should so obviously be gender-less, such as cars, and 2. still thinking that a car's key selling points to reach women need to involve makeup.  The Collistar collection, however, is something I'd gladly snap up if I had access to it.  ;)

What do you think? 

*The art cars remind me of the time my sister attended a conference on women business leaders, and the swag was all Clinique products.  Not like, a tech gadget or a nice business card holder or something.  (Ironically, my sister doesn't wear a stitch of makeup.  I believe her exact words were, "I don't even use this shit!") 


Celebrate Independence Day with these vintage compacts

Thought I'd throw some red, white and blue your way for the 4th of July.  As usual, I found almost all of these searching for entirely unrelated things.  

Compacts featuring the U.S. flag grew popular during World War II.  I think all of the following date to the early-mid 1940s.  Of course, they could be earlier or later but patriotism spilled over into every aspect of American life during the war, including the cosmetics industry, so I'm guessing these most likely were produced during wartime.

Rex Fifth Avenue U.S. flag compact(image from goantiques.com)

Rex Fifth Avenue U.S. flag (48 stars) compact

Rex Fifth Avenue U.S. flag (48 stars) compact(images from etsy.com)

God Bless America compact, unknown maker

God Bless America compact, unknown maker(images from ebay.ca)

Instead of a mirror, this compact has a space to insert a photo of a loved one.  These types of "sweetheart" compacts first came about during WWI but became big sellers during WWII.

God Bless America compact, unknown maker

God Bless America compact, unknown maker(images from etsy.com)

This Mary Dunhill set is so cool.  It actually came to my attention in the form of an email inquiry.  I felt really bad that I couldn't find any related information, other than a review of Dunhill's autobiography and a short profile of the company.

Mary Dunhill "Young America" set, 1940s

The compact is notable for the fact that it doesn't show the usual American flag but rather a representation of the original 13 U.S. colonies, which is apt given that the set is called "Young America".

Mary Dunhill "Young America" set, 1940s

Mary Dunhill "Young America" set, 1940s

Estée Lauder started releasing stars and stripes-themed compacts in 1994.  I found all of these images at a great little site that lists every single limited-edition Estée Lauder ever made.  I have no idea who this person is but she did a great job cataloguing all of them.  If you have an hour or so to browse through all 208 pages I highly recommend it.  :)

Estee Lauder American Dream compact, 1994

Estee Lauder America the Beautiful compact, 2001

Estee Lauder America the Beautiful compact, 2002

This design was previously released in 1996 and 1999.

Estee Lauder America the Beautiful compact, 2004(images from swisslady.com)

I also found some great ads.

Elizabeth Arden ad, 1942
(image from hprints.com)

Let's go red, hot and blue for that "beautiful American look" with Cutex!  Too funny.

Cutex Red Hot 'n Blue ad, 1952(image from ebay.com)

I'd be curious to see if there's any other bicentennial-themed makeup floating out there.

Coty Sweet Earth ad, 1976
(image from pinterest.com)

Are you feeling patriotic now?  And any favorites from this bunch?


MM Mailbag: they don't make nail buffer packaging like this anymore

I received a rather intriguing inquiry from someone trying to identify an object that once belonged to his deceased aunt.  I was up a creek initially but luckily the interwebz allowed me to unravel the mystery. 

First, the object in question.  It's obviously a nail buffing stone, but beyond that I had zero information...

Kopp & Joseph Youpla nail buffing stone

Kopp & Joseph Youpla nail buffing stone box

Kopp & Joseph Youpla nail buffing stone

Kopp & Joseph Youpla nail buffing stone

...until I found this print.  I totally can't remember what search terms I typed into Google to pull this up, but I'm glad I came across it.

Kopp & Joseph nail stone ad by Alfred Boeld, ca. 1911(image from fineartamerica.com)

According to the description, "Stein der Weisen" means "Philosopher's Stone".  The man on the right is turning the woman's nails into gold using this seemingly magical nail buffer.  I wasn't familiar with the lore of the Philosopher's Stone, but the stone apparently possessed alchemic properties, hence the transformation of this lady's nails into gold.  The artist for the ad was Alfred Böld; unfortunately I couldn't find any sort of official bio for him.  This site says that he worked primarily as an advertisement artist and was active till about 1926. 

Just for fun, here are the other two works of his I was able to find online. This one, also from 1911, is for something Google Translate calls "head washing powder", which I'm assuming is shampoo.  In any case it's lovely.

Alfred Böld ad, 1911
(image from artnet.de)

The other image was a poster from 1912 for...well, I have no idea.  Google Translate gave me the exact same words I typed in to translate.  Some kind of event or festival, I guess, since it has specific dates.

Poster by Alfred Bold, 1912
(image from plakatkontor.de)

It's a shame there's not more on Böld, as I'm liking the few works by him that I could access.  To my delight there was more information available on Kopp & Joseph, which I stumbled across in this book (which honestly seems like a depressing read.)  The nail buffing stone was a quite popular item, and the company not only made cosmetic items but was also a wholesaler for them (see p. 80).

Here's a picture of their storefront in Berlin around 1927.  It's so pretty, I wish drugstores still looked like this.

Kopp & Joseph storefront, Berlin, ca. 1927
(image from lempertz.com)

What I couldn't figure out is how a German item ended up being sold in the U.S. market and for approximately how long it was sold here.  The original ad dates from 1911, and the person inquiring informed me that his aunt was born in 1912, so the nail buffer had to have been sold in the U.S. at least through the 1930s (I highly doubt she was purchasing such an item as a child.)  At my request, the inquirer kindly unwrapped the insert that I had spotted inside the box so I could hunt for more clues.

Youpla nail buffing stone insert

This was the big break in the case, so to speak.  How an extensive history of a seemingly obscure company ended up online I don't know, but wow was I lucky it exists!  The George Borgfeldt company manufactured many things - they were particularly known for dolls and toys - but I noticed "druggist sundries" was listed among the many departments, so obviously this is the same company that produced the nail stone.  The history also says that the company was known as George Borgfeldt & Co. from 1883 through 1933, and was liquidated and changed to George Borgfeldt Corporation in 1933 and was in operation till 1961.  Given that it's listed as Geo. Borgfeldt & Co. on the inside wrapper and the date of the original German ad is 1911, I initially thought the product had to have been made between 1911 and 1933.  However, I found a 1915 U.S. patent for Geo. Borgfeldt nail items, including "enamel, polish, paste, bleach, pomade and tints for the finger-nails,"  so that means it's unlikely it was sold in the U.S. prior to 1915, as Borgfeldt would have had to secure patents and translate everything on the package into English before selling.  Additionally, the company moved to new headquarters in 1910 and stayed there until 1931. The address for this is the same as the one on the insert:  16th street and Irving Place.

Geo. Borgfeldt & Co. headquarters, ca. 1910 (image from 14to42.net)

Given what we know about the patent date and the address, that means the particular nail buffer in the inquirer's possession was sold in the U.S. between 1915 and 1931. So my initial hunch was correct - the item dates to the early '30s.  Also, since the Borgfeldt company was primarily an importer of items outside the U.S. and Kopp & Joseph operated partially as a wholesaler, my best guess as to how this nail buffer ended up being sold in the U.S. is that Borgfeldt scoped out popular items from different countries that they could get wholesale and distributed them here with their name.

The inquirer also asked about the monetary value of the nail buffer.  Unfortunately for him, most vintage cosmetic items, no matter how cool the packaging is, don't go for much.  Sure, there are some rare and in-demand items that fetch several hundred dollars, or even artifacts that go for thousands, but generally speaking these things simply don't carry a high price tag.  I found another example of a Youpla item on e-bay which sold for a whopping $7.99. 

Vintage Youpla nail polish

I'd be curious to see how the polish actually works, since the packaging is so different than the bottle and brush we usually associate with nail polish.  In these pictures it reminds me of a pack of Lifesavers.

Vintage Youpla nail polish(images from ebay.com)

Based on the price of this item, but also taking into consideration the excellent condition of the nail stone, the fact that it was a best-selling item and the packaging was based on actual artwork, I estimated it could be sold for about $20-$25 for the average person browsing vintage beauty items.  If there were someone out there who is either a rabid collector of Philosopher's Stone ephemera or one who focuses exclusively on vintage nail products, it could go for slightly more, maybe high as $50.  But I know I certainly wouldn't pay more than $35 and I'm someone who truly values the historical and artistic significance of objects like these.

To conclude, I'm so glad online searches came through, especially since when I first laid eyes on the piece I had absolutely no clue what I was looking at and was sure it would be impossible to find anything.  While I wish there was more on the artist behind the packaging, I was very pleasantly surprised to come across any information on both Kopp & Joseph and the George Borgfeldt companies.  Given the difficulty I've had with other inquiries in the past (and there are still more I couldn't answer, but those are for another edition of MM Mailbag), I was so very happy to provide some pretty good details about the item.

What do you think? 

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