Today’s post was written by Laney Stevenson, Archives Technician at the National Archives at College Park.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve gathered together some registered patent labels of beauty products created for and used by women, including cosmetics, hygiene products, and medicines, dating from 1878 to 1937. All of the labels are from Record Group 241, Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, Case Files for Registered Product Labels, 1874-1940 (NAID 563415). These patent labels have been digitized and will soon be available in the National Archives Catalog.
Thomson’s Torso Corset and Thomson’s Unbreakable Corset Steels, 1878 – Corsets were one of the earliest mass-produced products for women and in the Victorian era were used to emphasize the hourglass silhouette that was in fashion. The corsets of the mid to late 19th century were stiffened with bone or steel and tightly laced in order to shape the body and create the desired narrow waist.
Flowers of Petroleum, 1878 – This unique patent label featured a folding flap which opened to reveal a woman before and after using the product, which is described as “a beautifier of the hair” and “the only hope for the bald and gray.” Continue reading