Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nail History - 1887 Edition

This is the first article in what I'm thinking about turning into an occasional series on the history of nail polish and nail care. I've done some research, and the thing I've found most interesting are the articles and ads from previous periods. To start off, I bring you the oldest reference I could find to nail care in the archives of my local paper.

This is an excerpt from the March 15, 1887 edition of the Weekly Banner-Examiner article "The Finger Nails: How Ladies May Keep Their Hands in Good Condition."

The polishing they mention seems to have involved just buffing the nails with a soft cloth covered buffer, and occasionally using a mildly abrasive paste or powder to make the nails smooth and slightly shiny (though a high gloss was apparently considered in poor taste). The full article, which you can read here, also discusses how to properly wash your hands and wearing gloves at night. I also found it interesting that they mention getting a manicure to "put your nails in order at first." I assume this means a professional manicure, and I'm curious to know when professional manicures became available and where they were given (hair salons? somewhere else?).

So, what do you think? Is this interesting? Would you like to see more like it?


  1. Very cool! Then I just love history no matter how I can get it.

  2. I'm glad you like it. I pretty much like history in all forms too. I especially like the history of every day life, which I feel like gets overlooked when we study History in formal contexts.