Squeaky Clean

7 05 2015

This is an early twentieth century newspaper advertisement for U-ar-das Bath of Benzoin. What is that, you ask? Well, according to the ad copy, it is a tablet that when dissolved, “softens the water and daintily perfumes it…removes all oils and foreign matter from the pores – strengthens and tones the natural functions of the skin and restores the perfect smooth, clear complexion which nature originally gave us.” Yeah, right. Oh, and this snake-oil purveyor also sold a companion item, Woodlark Dermatic Egg Shampoo. The Egyptian imagery of poolside temple and decorative Sphinx are applied to enforce the company’s claim that “Centuries ago, it was learned that the bath, prepared with benzoin, invigorated the skin and beautified the complexion. Benzoin is the modern name for Malahathrum described by Pliny. The Beauty Bath of the Ancients, therefore, is not a secret, and can be enjoyed daily by modern women.”

Uardas BH15


A Close Shave

6 02 2015

Endurance was a popular theme for products that used Egyptianizing graphics. In this case – “Eterna” razor blades, the eternity blade. This fold-out cardstock store display contains nine original boxes of blades, but since they are still sealed in their cellophane wrapping, I am not going to open one and tell you if they still work. You’ll just have to take the manufacturer’s, or the Sphinx’s, word that they do.


Eterna razor box


6 10 2014

1938 bath time at its best – relaxing in a tubful of suds and scrubbing the scales off your back with this elegant Catalin (a plastic related to Bakelite) brush embellished with a ‘cameo’ of an Egyptian princess. One of the ad insets explains the design: Created exclusively for Ivory Soap by Lurelle Guild, famous designer and decorator – Lurelle Guild says: “In designing this brush I was inspired by the famous design of ancient Egypt…a beautiful and classic motif immortalized by artists throughout the ages.”

ER bath brush

The Ripples Have It

12 02 2013

I mentioned in an earlier post that I received the gift of toilet paper for Christmas.  Nope, it wasn’t a gag, or because I was naughty in 2012.  Nor was it a veiled hint like when you give someone a tin of mints.  My parents just happened to be in the right place at the right time and found a genuine unused roll of t.p. from 1924 in the original Egyptian themed wrapper.  People sell all sorts of stuff and thank goodness for me they do!!!  Isn’t it incredible that this item has even survived this long?  Eighty-nine years of survival against rodents, water, mold, and desperate visitors to the throne room.  The label text reads: “Nile Queen meets strict requirements for purity and cleanliness.  It is made of high grade materials.  It contains no harsh, gritty substance. It is downy soft in texture – pure white in color – and has a gently rippled surface which aids safe, complete, personal hygiene.  Because it is so soft and absorbent, Nile Queen can be used to remove cold cream and lip stick.  It can also be used as a disposable handkerchief in time of colds.”  If that wasn’t enough to convince timid housewives to ask their grocery clerk to grab a few rolls off the shelf for them (this was pre-shopping cart, folks), the label graphic certainly would have.  Cleverly working those ripples mentioned in the description into the design as the waves of the Nile, upon which sails Cleopatra in her barge, the image evokes a level of sophistication way over the top for selling something as basic and necessary as toilet tissue.  And yet, from an advertising standpoint, that may have been exactly the intent – feeding into the us vs. them mentality that most consumers suffer from.  Let the riff-raff buy the toilet paper that bears in the woods use – I’m going with the elegant stuff.
toilet paper

Butterfly Kisses

17 07 2012

This 1934 ad detail for Maybelline mascara draws a parallel between the modern woman and Cleopatra, who both shared a preference for deeply accented ocular orbs.  If the Cleo reference wasn’t enough to persuade the ladies to run to the nearest drugstore, then the phrase “modern Paris” and the following, rather unctuous, text surely would have clinched it:  “History records that Cleopatra’s greatest charm was the deep, dark beauty of her commanding eyes…eyes that were mirrored pools, their brilliant depths subtly enhanced with beautifully accented lashes.  Yet, with all her wealth and power, Cleopatra had only the crudest materials…How she would have revelled in having smooth, delightful Maybelline…the non-smarting, tearproof, utterly harmless mascara with which modern women instantly darken their lashes to the appearance of long, sweeping luxuriance.  Nothing from Paris can rival it!  Maybelline’s use by millions of women for over sixteen years recommends it to you!  Maybelline is now presented in a new ultra smart gold and scarlet metal case…in Black, Brown and the NEW BLUE.  Still 75c at all leading toilet goods dealers.”

Go Powder Your Nose

13 12 2011

This year’s Christmas gift to myself is this c. 1940s gold-toned metal compact.  When opened,  a mirrored, dual powder compartment is revealed, and the lipstick case can be removed (the residual lipstick in this particular case is a super bright orange-red).  Although somewhat scuffed and tarnished in a few tiny places, the piece is complete (puffs included) and it’s nice to know that it served its purpose.  After all, what’s the point of having things if you don’t use them?

Where’d You Get Those Peepers?

4 06 2011

Although widely considered a great beauty, Nefertiti is rarely depicted in Egyptomania, losing ground to her competitor Cleopatra – who was not beautiful, but spicy.  In this elegant ad from the 1950s, we catch a glimpse of just how fun makeup was in those days: “Germaine Monteil’s exclusive ‘Lumium’ lights your lids with colors such as dreams are made on – brilliant hues that shimmer with light-reflecting magic like the fairy dust that paints a butterfly’s wing.”

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