What would an Edwardian lady have on her dressing table


David Paris

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Mar 27, 2008
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This is a random one - but what would a proper Edwardian lady (such as our first class women passengers) keep on her dressing table. I'm thinking lots of silver and cut glass perfume bottles! Any ideas?

DP
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Probably a hair receiver (dish with a hole in the top for collecting hair from brushes and combs. This was used to make "rats", or little hair poufs and coiffure fillers by inserting hair into small net or cloth pouches which could be pinned into the hair to give the required fullness), silver-backed hand mirrors (usually 2 to see front and back) silver-backed brush with natural boar's bristles, comb, pin tray for hairpins and common pins, hatpin holder (cylinder with many holes in the top)for holding the extremely long hatpins required for the colossal hats of the period, rose water and glycerin for smoothing hands, talcum, scent bottles, handkerchief box, glove box, nail buffer made of chamois and nail rouge (carmine), nail file, button hook, haircombs, swansdown powder puff, "cold cream" jar, lip salve, pin cushion, small scissors for cuticle trimming, ring holder, jewelry box, family photos of loved ones-and that should be about the norm for most!
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Here is an Edwardian manicure set with buffer, carmine polish, files, cuticle pusher.
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Here is a china hair receiver
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and a dresser set with little jewelry boxes and a hatpin holder, 2 hair receivers
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Apr 11, 2001
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Possibly a silver-backed clothing brush would also be on the dresser. Traveling on the old liners, soot was constantly being blown all over from the funnels and traveling costumes were of necessity, dark-coloured and were brushed down by one's personal maid or valet daily. By 1912, skirt widths had narrowed and skirts were clearing the floors and decks for daytime, but evening dresses with demi-trains dragging the carpet and decks still needed to have the hems brushed after each wear. Here are some vintage hairbrushes and a clothing brush. Sometimes, if it were attractive, a small silver-backed shoe brush might be displayed on the vanity table. If it were more utilitarian-looking, a shoe polishing kit would contain these things for the maid to keep up with the footwear. I am not sure when the custom of leaving one's boots outside the cabin door for the "Boots" crew personnel to pick up nightly and polish was discontinued. Imagine nowadays- everyone's shoes would be stolen or disappear forever!
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David Paris

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Mar 27, 2008
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Thank you so much Shelley! I remember my grandmother had one of those smaller silver backed brushes always on her dressing table (glass-top, always immaculate - very 1930s moviestar-ish!) and I always wondered as a small child what it was used for.

The "rats" these ladies collected strike me as odd - I would imagine they wouldn't look too attractive after more than a couple of wears!

D
 
Apr 11, 2001
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I went to visit Hillstead, the family home of Lusitania Survivor Theodate Pope. She was a distinguished architect and designed Hillstead. She had, in her bedroom, the most exquisite leather -bound traveling case- quite large- with beautiful vanity fittings from silver-topped bottles to brushes and combs to mirrors. The case was lined in rich fabric and every single piece was in its place. These traveling cases are worth a fortune if you can find one complete. Antique dealers are always breaking up the set and selling the pieces separately. Theodate's beautiful clothes are all there too and they do a very nice job of exhibit with excellent conservation techniques. Hillstead is a MUSt-see if you come to the Hartford CT area.
http://www.hillstead.org/history/theodate.html
 

Chad Goodwin

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Aug 2, 2006
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I have in my collection a tiny paper box with a picture of pretty flowers on it that was for bonny fleur complexion powder......delightful bouquet odor......T M Sayman products co......ST Louis USA.......copyrighted 1913
 

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