Victorian

All posts in the Victorian category

Antique Bavaria, R.S. Prussia, and Austria Porcelain.

Published September 16, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

bavaria-set-9-14-16

I know, don’t make it a habit. Don’t eat off of them. Don’t drink from those gorgeous delicate Bavaria tea cups, and steer clear of those antique silver plate Demi spoons and put that antique Demitasse cup back as it was. You can appreciate it with your eyes, just not your taste buds. It was once called The Rich Man’s curse because only the rich fell ill with lead-poisoning from porcelain dishes they used everyday back in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

It was at the antique store a while back where I discovered a demi-cup (not a bra), a Demitasse cup for drinking espresso coffee that was usually served after supper. Prices vary for antique dishes. Sometimes you might get lucky and find a near complete set of beautiful antique pristine dishes for dirt cheap.

bavaria-sugar-and-creamer-9-12-16

And where did I find out about it being a ‘rich man’s curse’? I actually had to do a lot of research on this topic of antique porcelain dishes to find this out. Way back in the Victorian era and I’m going to include the Edwardians in this as well since high society tended to drink and eat from gold-painted and hand-painted porcelain dishes. Those crazed, dusty, often times, aged antique porcelain dishes that appear too fragile to even look at with an undecided glance are what I’m talking about. The kind of dishes that would have given our ancestors lead poisoning in accumulative doses over time.

However, the low income Victorians and even the Edwardians did not have disposable incomes to throw around in their time when these antique dishes were brand new, so they more than likely ate and drank from inferior table wear and/ or tin cups perhaps.

The most expensive antique porcelain I’ve come across recently was stamped R.S. Prussia, which I later discovered, is incredibly scarce to find in mint and flawless condition nowadays. Even at that, expect to pay upwards of $85 for one sugar container that has no signs of crazing under the glaze, no chips, no cracks, and no blemishes, etc. I’ve even scoured eBay for price comparisons and was shocked by the higher prices for similar near complete sets of antique R.S. Prussia porcelain. I assume the prices reflect the era in which they were made somewhere between 1847-1914. Well, when pigs fly or if I ever win the lottery, then I might upgrade to some exquisite antique R.S. Prussia China.

I’m a little wiser now than I was a year ago in terms of collecting antique porcelain dishes and what to look for. I know to avoid using those gold-rimmed tea cups, plates, saucers, bread plates, oh and tea tiles. Excuse me?

I believe they were once called ‘tea tiles’ back in the 1800’s and a pot of steeped tea would be placed on the tile like a trivet. I don’t know when the tea tile fell out of fashion. In fact, I had no idea tea tiles existed until just recently when I laid eyes on a set of Bavaria stamped antique dishes and discovered a few miscellaneous tea tiles placed in with other misc. antique dishes.

Do I plan to use these antique Bavaria dishes? No. They will be for display until I can do further research. And since they’re one of a kind I may display them in a inset book shelf. I scoured the net and came across some porcelain collectors’ blogs describing in length what to avoid when buying/collecting antique porcelain dishes and whether or not they’re safe for everyday use. The verdict on how safe they are is still very up in the air and there’s a lot of inconclusive answers floating around.

The very early makers of porcelain dishes may have maker’s stamps, or they might not have any markings. Transferware is nice. However, it didn’t call to me nor does it ‘fit’ in my Victorian-themed porcelain dishes. My heart and eyes were set on that particular ‘Bavaria’ porcelain set that included a covered butter dish with pink roses. And it was pristine white. Can’t beat that. There were no chips, no cracks, no crazing under the glaze, no stains, but one or two dark spots likely from when it was produced and trapped under the glaze.

And that wraps up my antique dishes blog post. I do apologize if I’m unable to blog as often as I used to on here, but will continue to do so as my new schedule permits. I will continue to answer all comments on here like always, but there might be a delay due to my work load. Please keep checking back for more interesting antiques I might happen across. As always thank you for commenting, re-blogging, sharing, tweeting and liking. I always appreciate it. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Collecting silverplate: The saga continues…

Published April 3, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1
silverplate brushes 4-1-16

Three antique silverplate brushes.

 

Everywhere I look there’s something else that catches my eye. How much silverplate is too much? To a collector that would be hard to define. I have come across (and paid high prices for), a few pieces of early tarnished (almost black), dented, dinged, and cracked silverplate and that was when I was a newbie to collecting and didn’t know any better. We all live and learn along the way. In fact, a few pieces were so bad off, they’d likely do better extracting whatever trace amounts of silver was left in them rather than hide them in some closet out of sight.

 

And during my time collecting silverplate I’ve also come across some mis-matched pieces, forlorn, and almost every piece silently begged to be re-purposed (as in using it for something else other than what it was meant for in some cases). Other times it just required a very good thorough soak in hot water, baking soda and placed in an aluminum roasting pan.

 

On the other hand do keep in mind the more delicate silverplate pieces like combs, brushes, and certain types of footed creamer and sugar pots mustn’t get too hot in a water/ baking soda bath. Why? Because some of the feet, pour spouts and handles were fused with lead back in the day. Lead, when subjected to high heat can melt, thus ruining that once stunning tea pot or water pitcher. Thankfully, I haven’t had any issues when soaking my silverplate to remove the years of tarnish, but just the same, I do keep a constant eye on it from start to finish when I clean it.

 

How to date silverplate:

 

If it is dark (almost black) this doesn’t mean the piece is tarnished, rather it has been oxidized over the years. Depending on how and when a particular piece of silverplate was designed (and what year), can be traced either by a maker’s mark, or by the age of the silverplate and the darkening of the silverplate (or absence thereof). And it doesn’t really mean that the silverplate lost all of its ‘silver plated’ finish. I found out if a piece of silverplate is dark and kind of heavy to the feel, it is an older piece (pre-1900s), for example. If it resembles tarnish and feels light weight, the particular piece might have been produced after the late 1800’s. It appears that some folks nowadays are extracting what silver they can from these precious antiques thus ruining them entirely.

 

Oh, and the issue of potential lead is another concern. However, if the silverplate is in tact and doesn’t have any scoring, gouges, scratches, chips or cracks, then it might be safe to use if it’s a sugar or creamer set, a salt and pepper shaker. Some collectors advise to promptly toss out the salt and pepper when done with a meal, and make sure the salt and pepper shakers are clean and allowed to dry completely after washing them out by hand. I wouldn’t recommend placing any silverplate item in a dishwasher. In fact, it amazes me that so many people don’t do dishes the old-fashioned way anymore: at the sink with some dish soap, a sparingly amount of bleach, and hot water.

 

I see folks commenting all the time when it comes to buying up old porcelain dishes, Transfer ware, antique Ball, Kerr, Quick-Seal, and Mason canning jars that have wire dome glass lids and the zinc porcelain-lined screw cap lids. Some canners still use the antique canning jars and just fit them with new lids and bands. I’ve also found that antique canning jars come in very handy for storing dry foods like beans, pasta, rice, flour, etc. I can’t vouch for the silverplate items as I’ve downsized yet again, only to buy some silverplate brushes likely from the 19th century or a little earlier. They might be hair brushes, or clothing brushes. I have one right now I’m in the process of shaking out some sediment. The celluloid overlay has come slightly detached from the silverplate handle, and thus it sounds like a maraca when shook and loose bits of black dust fall out. I suspect this might be coal dust, or something very similar. So it leads me to believe this brush had collected soot most possibly when homes were once heated by coal and wood as a primary heating source which in turn might date this particular brush back to the early 1900s or earlier.

 

The designs on the brushes are what catch my eye, and you just don’t see beauty like that anymore. When have I ever walked into a store, plucked a package of plastic brushes (or combs) and saw a breath-taking embossed image of a woman’s face, hair free-flowing and every nook, crevasse and cranny filled with a flower motifs? Nowhere in today’s times, and since I’m making great strides to downsize all the plastics out of my life (although I do realize plastics can’t be entirely avoided), I figured silverplate brushes, combs and other antiques will likely survive another 100 years.

 

I love silverplate, and since using a real bristle silverplate hair brush and versus the inferior plastic counterparts, my hair is thanking me for it. When I used plastic brushes (didn’t matter if was cheap or pricy), my hair would never fail to snap and tangles were painful to brush out, creating more frustration, painful tangles. There’s a different sensation to using a real bristled antique hair brush as opposed to using a plastic one. I even discovered that some of the celluloid hair brushes worked better than what’s mass-marketed today, and with a growing trend among health-conscious consumers, you’d think there’d be more choices than just plastic hair brushes and combs. I seen a real bamboo toothbrush made of wood. But the bristles were made by the DuPont company and sounded very much like a synthetic plastic just marketed under a new name. Oh, and the toothbrush was made in China from American parts and cost $6.

 

Well, looks like its plastic toothbrushes for the time being, and no, I would never, ever use an antique celluloid toothbrush. I only saw one surface many years ago in a matching set that had belonged to a family going back generations. The real boar bristles were very dirty, tanned, and the celluloid itself appeared very unclean, yellowed, and stained. Sometimes celluloid attracts stains like magnets. And here again, why brush with an antique that’s comprised of camphor and nitrate? That’s asking for it if you want my opinion and icky. Now I don’t mind sanitizing the celluloid hair brushes or even the combs, but the celluloid combs never worked great for me.

 

Now the silverplate brushes make good dry skin brushes since the bristles are already broken in in some cases, soft, and likely made out of real boar hair, or similar bristles and not plastic since that wasn’t invented until the 1930s.

 

A dry skin brush routine also helps the skin breathe, helps blood circulation and the body release a build up of toxins. When I read about the dry skin brush and it’s advantages in a recent 2015 freebie vitamin magazine, I remembered late natural path Bernarr McFadden promoted doing the same along with friction ‘baths’ as he termed them. A friction bath is taking a dry towel and rubbing it all over your body. It is similar to a dry skin brush which he does recommend as well. And I decided to put my antique silverplate hair brushes to good use. After all I had neglected them for the past two years or so, and found some more recently to add to my collection.

 

The dry skin brush works best with a shower/bath brush. But the advice given in the vitamin magazine urged to avoid plastic bristle brushes because not only are they rough on the skin, but also plastics might contain harmful BPA’s as well. At any rate, I’m sticking with my silverplate brushes. Hope you enjoyed my blog. As always thanks for reading, commenting, sharing, liking, tweeting, re-blogging. I truly appreciate it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The Ladies Tunic 1890s-1900s.

Published December 3, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

ladies tunic front cranb

This is a special blog post dedicated to antique clothes. And believe me at one time I found myself swimming in antique bloomers, corset covers, chemises, Victorian era nightgowns (nursing gowns), and various mismatched lawn cotton articles. Their conditions varied. Some even wearable with extreme care. Others just for study. Since I’m not much of a seamstress I never copied these antique clothes. Why not? They’re incredibly easy to duplicate with brand new materials that could closely match.

Simply because I didn’t have the work space or a sewing machine. Therefore, rather than hang on to the fragile antique clothing, I made the decision to sell it on eBay some years ago. I had way too many antique clothes. I don’t regret ever selling off the tattered clothing. It freed me up tremendously, but with all things, sometimes you find a true article of clothing that you can’t pass up. A ladies tunic I bought recently is the nicest (and most pristine) article I ever laid eyes on.

I don’t intend to sell this tunic. What I do plan to do is have somebody help me make a duplicate of it though. Judging by the picture the tunic appears to be for a very extremely petite woman. Maybe even a teenage girl in her late teens. Perhaps there was a long bell-shaped skirt that went to this lovely tunic, but I didn’t find anything else. I think it dates between the late 1890’s- 1900’s. So, I bought the tunic.

I got it home and studied it’s design and how it was sewn together. I believe it was constructed from cranberry/ almost dark grape cotton-twill with tan-colored lining. I could search from now on and never find exact buttons to match it. Not that its missing any. But if I’m going to make another like it, finding similar buttons is like finding a needle in a haystack. They’re the special kind of tiny brass buttons that are sometimes seen on the old Victorian button-up boots. I have a pair of new-old-stock black wool spats (for a woman) that has similar buttons.

What is it with this particular antique clothing that I’m so in love with? Maybe its the lost style—perhaps even the cut of the garment is what appeals to me. It screams; “I’m not mass-produced!” I already have one corset cover that was graciously given to me. Although there’s some paint stains on it I still love it. It was the better of the two corset covers I that I kept for myself. Then I have one very long heavy eyelet-laced and pleated petticoat. The waist on it is large and I believe it was likely made to fit over a bird cage—eh, sorry— I mean to wear over a crinoline hoop skirt. A crinoline is a metal ‘cage’ skirt women of the 1850-1860s used to wear under their dresses. Sometimes they were strapped into the cumbersome contraption. And I can’t image wearing a crinoline nowadays in combination with a whale-boned corset as well. It would probably feel like wearing an over-sized metal wire whisk strapped around the waist. And forget trying to sit down wearing a crinoline skirt. I don’t think women could have reclined all that well on the fainting couch much less sit upright without that metal skirt jabbing them. I think I can gather in the petticoat with some Velcro strips or ties so it’ll fit. It won’t be period authentic, but I’m not out to win best altered petticoat awards. I’m more about getting in and out of it with ease.

I believe I might still have one outer black tunic jacket with puffy sleeves, black tassels, circa 1909-10. And for its age it’s falling apart. I believe the black tunic was made of real silk (no synthetic materials there) and the sleeves were lined in quilt batting material for winter. It was another gift that was graciously given to me. I also have a black shoulder half cape in excellent condition stored with my long coats. I haven’t ever tried to wear the shoulder cape because I would need to first see how it was worn and with what attire. I believe the cape dates to the Pioneer days, and if not, then maybe falls somewhere in the first half of the Twentieth century.

I also have four pair of black Victorian era boots (conditions vary for their age) and they’re still wearable with care. I reserve those for special occasions and never use them for everyday boots. I also have two pairs of black lace up “granny” shoes from the 1930s. And those I do wear on occasion. I receive a lot of compliments on them because they are so unique and kept in nice condition. I also have a ton of antique/ vintage dress gloves (colors vary). My oldest pair date around 1910 or a little earlier. They’re white, but have a few rust stains and some fraying of the material due to their age. I often wore them out and about with my everyday hat and coat. I received a ton of compliments and one antique vendors told me “Might as well enjoy those gloves because given another hundred years, they’ll turn to dust.” And they’re probably right so I lovingly don them during the winter. I also have extra pairs of everyday newer gloves that I keep tucked in the vehicle, in my extra coat pockets, etc. Never want to go somewhere in the dead middle of winter without a pair of gloves. When I was in my Twenties I had a bad habit leaving the house without so much a coat on nor did I own any pairs of gloves. And when you get older then you realize you want warmth and comfort. And if you’re me, you’ll long for your favorite pair of fuzzy house slippers, nightgown, and steeped mint melody tea at the end of a long day.

I have yet to turn up anymore Edwardian and/ or Victorian era hats. I had one that I just adored. It was very Titanic in style and swore I’d never part with it. I wanted it so badly and it was the first antique ‘clothing accessory’ I gravitated to when a small antique shop had their grand opening in a town where I used to live many years ago. Two ladies ran the shop and the older lady scowled at me and didn’t want to sell me the Edwardian hat. She made a huge fuss she was going to take it home earlier that same day before they opened shop. The lady standing beside her told her in a firm tone to sell it to me.

In a huff the older lady sold me the hat, but not before smashing it into the shopping bag. It was worse for wear and suffered splits in the velvet material. It still retained bits of its ostrich feathers that were sewn inside the wide brim and would have graced the hat all the way around.

That particular Edwardian hat traveled with me. It moved back home with me and I kept it stored away. I removed it from the storage container one day and saw that it was in worse shape. Well, the move likely damaged it. The shape of the hat was flattened and couldn’t be re-shaped. It was also shedding black dust from its lining. I made the decision to sell it. I’ve only seen one other hat similar to it on eBay selling for a lot and was in much nicer shape. I keep holding out for a better condition Edwardian hat to turn up that I could wear. And if asked, no, I don’t wear the hat pins. I believe those would set off metal detectors one-hundred miles away, get stolen or broke. And since none of my grandmothers are alive anymore, I have nobody to show me how to wear the hat pins. I do know they went through the back of the hat and through the bun of the hair to hold the hat on the head. But some of those wide brim hats were meant to sit on top of head that was piled high with hair extensions to round out that Edwardian style.

My best advice for lovers of antique clothing: make copies of the clothes if you know how to sew. Or wear them “as-is” with care. I have a shirtwaist that’s bright white lawn cotton in good condition for its age, but the material is so see through (most all shirtwaists were back then) that a chemise would be worn underneath it along with a corset cover and corset. And I have a few detachable lace arrow collars made for women that I have incorporated with modern blouses. You just have to add buttons and do some slight alteration of the modern blouse if you can’t find any collar buttons. I have no shortage of those collar buttons lying around. Thanks again for liking, sharing, commenting, re-posting, tweeting, I truly appreciate it. 🙂

The forlorn antique pewter cruet set…

Published November 21, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Copy of table parlor1 Indeed, it called to me silently: four empty glass condiment containers that likely hadn’t seen table service since when? Probably since the late 1880’s. Curious as I was about it, I flipped the price tag over. $22 that’s more in my price range, and no, that doesn’t make me impractical, but I think in terms of what I feel an item should reflect price-wise.

I returned home to think about it. That roughly translates: “Don’t think about it too long.” Because it goes without saying if you see an item for a good price, then chances are someone else will swoop in and buy it out from under you. It’s happened a lot to me.

But it’s also within writing this that alas the pewter cruet set I purchased does contain lead. Does that shock me after the fact? Nope. I suspected such was the case.

Now before I go off on a ‘back in the day’… they didn’t know what we now understand about lead contamination and what nasty effects lead poisoning can do to the body.

From the pewter cleaning article I skimmed through it suggested mixing half a cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt and some vinegar, baking soda into a paste. Coat this paste on the pewter piece and gently polish it. Pewter won’t shine like silver or that of silverplate either. The end result is okay, but nothing fantastic. I think I’ll let the pewter age again and don’t plan to re-polish it. I have a habit of cleaning everything that first comes into my home since I don’t know where, how, or who cared for it before I purchased it.

So, the forlorn pewter cruet set sat there day after day in the antique store. The weeks rolled by and still no takers. I was looking for an antique cruet set within my budget (Good luck finding one of those for under $20 that isn’t “As-Is” with missing, cracked or taped together shattered glass bottles). I looked at several the shop had to offer and the more expensive silverplate cruets really didn’t appeal to me, surprisingly.

The antique store owner is exceptionally helpful and always willing to go out of their way to show me more antique cruet sets they have. I sincerely appreciate all their help.

And there’s ruby glass antique cruet sets. No, thanks. It’s not that I have anything against ruby glass, I just want something that’s not going to be one of those high dollar antiques that might be accident prone.

And what about those original glass condiment containers? What’s a person to do if one of those accidentally breaks? Hopefully, that won’t happen. But with all antiques anything can happen no matter how well cared for and loved. Replacements from other mismatched sets can be obtained.

And what about the glass containers? They might have lead or some other kind of heavy metal. Nowadays people tend to collect antique cruet sets for display purposes (I’m sure there are those that do use them). I don’t plan to use the cruet set simply due to its age, for one. And secondly, the fragility of the glass containers. Sure, the salt and pepper shakers are nice—actually the best condition I’ve seen thus far in all antique cruet sets I’ve run across.

So… I cleaned and polished. And now knowing that antique pewter does contain lead, I tossed all used dust rags into the trash. I don’t re-wash or re-use the dust rags that comes in contact with pewter or even silverplate.

How does a person know if an antique cruet set contains lead? Wash and polish it with a homemade flour paste with a little vinegar, salt, and baking soda. And when you dry it off and there’s more black residue on the rags and your hands, you’ll know there’s lead in the pewter.

The older the pewter the more black residue there will be. Also, this might help in dating a particular piece of pewter if you can’t find a maker’s mark. Mine has some of the mark missing. The words I made out K and CO, which might mean it is a Knickerbocker Silver company cruet set likely made sometime in the early/ late 1890’s. My first guess was early 1900’s, so perhaps I wasn’t too far off the mark.

Older pewter will darken with age and this is due to handling without white cotton gloves on, oxidization, and oils from our hands can be very unforgiving on pewter and other lead-created metals from the past. The lead was added into the pewter to give it some substance, but lead is also a soft metal and shouldn’t be exposed to extreme heat as it does melt. I once bought what I thought to be at the time, a copper tea kettle. I’m sure you’ve seen these turn up from time to time in antique stores. The ones I used to love [at the time] were the kind with the porcelain handles. However, ninety percent of the copper tea kettles I was finding where made in Portugal, Korea, etc. And most of them, if not all, were in poor to extremely unusable condition. I waited for quite some time to find one that appeared in fairly okay condition.

I also heard more cons about the old copper tea kettles than pros. Well, the one I wound up buying was made in Portugal. The inside looked clean, but I still sanitized it, and before I ever used it, I boiled some water in it and noticed small itty bitty shiny beads on the burner falling from the spout. As it turned out, the spout had been fused to the tea kettle with lead. Thankfully, I never drank from it and never bought another since then.

I never would trust anybody that tells me those copper tea kettles are safe to drink from. And I would steer clear of the true antique copper tea kettles since the metals used to make them would probably contain a mix of alloy, zinc, lead, copper, tin and a bunch of other nasties that would be a toxicity brew nowadays.

And what about that antique cruet set that I just bought? It’ll be a display piece only.

As always, thanks for liking, re-blogging, sharing, tweeting, commenting. I do appreciate it. 🙂

Victorian era makeup part 1:

Published May 27, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1
Gibson Girl

Gibson Girl

How many makeup choices did our ancestors have? Practically zilch compared to nowadays. In this first part series I’m going to focus primarily on makeup and how the women of yesteryear achieved their beautiful elegant looks. I’m no fashion expert, let me start off by stating. Also, I don’t hold a degree in cosmetology or even as a hair stylist. In fact, my blog on the earliest inception of ‘makeup’ as a whole, and beauty regimens might bore you to tears. And then again, some of these beauty regimens might even come with considerable hidden dangers, that are thankfully, no longer used today. We have much worse hidden dangers.

The number one asset a Victorian or even Edwardian woman had at her disposal was—you might have guessed it; her natural beauty. Oh, sure there were beautifying products on the market to enhance the eyes (think in terms of Visine eye drops), only the ones I discovered could cause a woman to be blind.

What was such a big deal about putting these old-fashioned eye drops in the eyes? It was once seen a sign of physical attraction to have big pupils. And these eye drops could not only cause blindness as a result, but a large majority of the beauty industry in its infancy came without too much concern over health or safety. And sadly, the same still rings true in today’s beauty industry and products that over saturate the market with heavy metals, carcinogens, lead, and other toxicities the leaders in the beauty industry won’t tell their customers. Why? It’s bad for business.

Going back to that refined, over-decadent Victorian and Edwardian eras where women were corseted wasp-waist figures and expected to be mother, housekeeper, cook, maid, physician, seamstress and entertainer to guests. Oh, and she had to look her very best even if she was having one hell of day five days out of every month. Nope, playing the ‘hormone-enraged’ card wouldn’t get her a day to herself back in these times. Edwardian and Victorian women were supposed to grin and bear it.

Does that mean their mascara-smeared crying eyes on any given day was to be expected too?

They didn’t have mascara as we think of it. Again, going back to my great grandma (who had a wealth of makeup knowledge and some of her own makeup she hung onto from her Flapper days of the Roaring Twenties), she told me makeup was a lot simple and there wasn’t much of it. She also told me girls in her generation guarded their makeup like gold. It was at one time that scarce to purchase.

But how about in her mother’s day (my great, great grandmother’s)?

Looking over the family photos (Yes, I do have pictures of my ancestors and not too many great, great grandchildren in my generation can say they have pictures of theirs), my great, great grandmother relied on her natural beauty. The picture I’m thinking of was taken in 1907 when she and her husband arrived from Hungary. Even though the picture is black and white, its not difficult to tell she wasn’t wearing any makeup, if any at all.

So, what did they have/ use in the Victorian and Edwardian eras?

If anything (and this is if they were rich), they might have had a lilac-colored type of eye shadow and for their blush they would have pricked their finger and rubbed in some blood. No joke. That’s even how the lower classes of Victorian and Edwardian era women would apply blush before there were a billion trillion kinds that now boggle the mind. But makeup as we know it today, would have shocked and horrified our ancestors. Makeup was once regarded as a stage actor and prostitute thing—thus the very idea a Victorian and Edwardian woman would sink to their levels of depravity was frowned on at one time.

Okay little Miss “fashion” expert of bygone days, what else did the Victorian and/ or Edwardian era woman have at her disposal to make themselves more beautiful?

Other than their natural beauty, they were bombarded with all kinds of quackery products that sprung up. Often times, these did more harm than good and left behind a lot of empty promises to the consumer.

The Victorian and Edwardian look of the day was pale skin. No sun bathing or ‘golden-baked’ tans, either. And forget that trip to the tanning bed, that would have been a major ‘No-no!” The ‘fragile’ and dainty appearance was in vogue. Also, there was no lipstick, however, dyes could be bought and aimed more at the brunettes, but this was more centered around the makeup industry in the U.K. and not here in the U.S.

Cosmetics didn’t see their day until about the early Teens into the Roaring Twenties. My great grandmother explained to me they had eye liner/ mascara that was ‘brushed’ on. She told me the applicator brush resembled a miniature tooth brush and they would have to melt the mascara before they applied it.

Can you still get ready in fifteen-to-five minutes? Oh, wait, you still need to style your hair with a heating comb. No lie. They had heavy combs that they’d heat over a tiny gas-fed, open flame contraption that sat on a dresser. Now lets get even more complicated. Forget your twenty-five watt light bulb. Try styling your hair and applying makeup by the light of a kerosene lamp… yeah, it’s no brighter than a single candle and very hard on the eye sight over time.

Now say you’re in a rush—and I mean major get round and go—you’d still have to start the fire to cook your breakfast, and suppose your Victorian and/ or Edwardian husband was up at five and needed to be out the door by six? In these days, women very seldom, if ever, needed to work out of the home. Most tended to household routines and went to the market maybe once a week, at best. Sometimes they would have their food delivered to them and took out a line of credit.

Oh, and don’t forget about the ‘child’. If you weren’t rich enough to have maids or butlers, you’d be doing all this yourself. And your husband would likely be the demanding “Where’s my sausage and eggs and coffee?!” type of man. He would work to buy you the beautiful things you, as a woman back in these days, required. Being a woman had never been so tough and literally hard. It was even harder if you were a farmer’s wife and still had livestock that depended on you, hungry mouths to feed, and that of your husband as well. And with it all makeup evolved over the years.

By the Twenties, women began to have a choice (not many). They had one shade of lipstick which was ‘oxblood’, a very dark shade of burgundy, one shade of dark red nail polish, some face powder and blush. Poor women of the Twenties still relied on the old standby of pricking their fingers and apply a drop of their own blood to use in place of blush.

A Flapper was? Essentially a young woman who smoked, drank, danced, gambled, used profanity in speakeasies, (very unheard of for a woman back then), engaged in risky behaviors, congregated with the opposite sex. Flappers were like any young person and the original ‘Flaming Youths’ of their generation and really set the stage for future generations to follow and blaze a trail of their own unique individualism, expressionism, creativity, beauty all while daring to push the envelope.

Hairstyles of the Twenties were extremely different than the swept up Gibson girl. The Twenties had bobbed-looks (think of Louise Brooks, for example), and Finger wave hairstyles were all the rage. Eye shadow consisted of a dark green almost turquoise hue. Perfume manufactures were also a huge hit and wish I had some of my antique Atlantic Monthly magazines handy to reference back to exactly what brands of best-selling perfumes were back then. I don’t want to drive Channel No. 5 into the ground, although it was a unisex perfume and did get its start in the Twenties thanks to Coco Channel.

And long gone were the wasp-waist corsets. Flappers donned the first ‘bra’ that cinched in their bosom to reflect a more flat-chested ‘boyish’ figure. They wore their panty hose rolled down exposing their knees and donned Mary Jane heels. Their skirts were shortened (although not dramatic like today’s short skirts) and the dresses were made of crepe, almost sheer fabrics. Their mothers and grandmothers would have worn the stiff neck, leg-o-mutton sleeved bodices and long skirts with granny pointy toed boots. And cloche hats (bell-shaped) fit like a helmet, worn close above the eyebrows and covered the ears.

The styles and makeup were changing with the times, and as time marched on, so did makeup and the beauty industry, in general.