Gibson Girl 1890 Boater Hat Polish with Advertising Poster...Rare!

***Photographs and text copyright JHenri 2010.

If you have a hat collection, or if you are at all interested in the history of fashion advertising, you will be fascinated with this rare and wonderful bottle of early Victorian Hat Polish...and the bottle of polish comes complete with the original, colorful advertising trade leaflet with vivid illustrations that refer to it.

Not only is the hat polish bottle intact and entirely interesting, the advertising leaflet has marvelous imagery!

The leaflet is printed on both sides.

One side has the illustration of two women, relaxing at the seashore. This is printed in royal blue and ruby red. The scene shows one woman elegantly dressed and reclining in a beautiful summer chair, holding out a bottle (this exact bottle, in fact) of Castle Brand Hat Polish.

Dressed in a glamorous full-length red gown with matching hat, at her feet are resting on a small leather folding footrest. Behind the women are balcony railings, an umbrella, and beyond this, sailboats are floating on the horizon. The second woman is standing nearby and is seen adjusting her Boater hat.

Smiling at one another, they casually discuss their fashionable hats when one woman asks the other, "Where did you get that Hat?" She answers, " Well, to tell you a secret, it is only my old one done up with Castle Brand Hat Polish!"

On the verso, the beautifully illuminated, illustrated text reads, "What to do with my old Straw? This is often the question in Ladies' minds at the close of the summer season. The problem is economically and satisfactorily solved by buying a 3d. or 6d. bottle of Castle Brand Straw Hat Polish. In any of the fashionable colours. It is easily applied, dries in a few minutes, has no smell, will not wash off, and is never sticky. It stiffens the straw so that the hat can be re-moulded into shape."

Over 35 delightfully named, fashionable Victorian colors are listed below the dialogue. These colors include: Art Green, Cornflower Blue, Victoria Blue, Forget-me-not, Foxglove Pink, Heliotrope, Lavender, Poppy Red , and Violet!

These two items are in very nice antique excellent (the leaflet) and antique near mint to mint condition (bottle), considering age.

The unusual, square antique bottle is made from heavy, authentic 1890s molded glass. The Castle Brand logo is embossed into the glass on every side of the bottle. Each side of the bottle has a label glued to it. The labeling is printed with sepia ink on lighter sepia toned paper. The illustration on the front of the bottle is absolutely terrific!

Each of the four labels on the bottle is entirely legible, even though the printing is minute! One of the labels indicates all the products registered with Castle Brand.

The bottle of women's hat polish or dye has no chips, cracks or damage!

The leaflet was originally wrapped around the bottle. The leaflet would be delightful framed with the bottle...such interesting ephemera. The leaflet has been folded and rolled around the bottle so that restoration by a framing expert is recommended. The paper ha splint along a few of the fold lines. Again, proper archival mounting would easily take care of this problem. For additional interest, this item might be mounted and then glazed with glass on both sides so that the advertising could be easily viewed in its entirety. The colors have not faded whatsoever. The edges are chipped with minor foxing and a light bleed through of red ink from the dress to the verso side...however, overall this leaflet absolutely delightful and gives a fabulous peek into the daily lives of fashion-minded women during 1890.

The bottle is still capped, but has been opened. The black polish has indeed entirely dried up so that shipping and storage are no longer a problem! The cork remains intact in the bottle, and the zinc cap with the Castle Brand cinnabar colored embossed logo is still intact.

Absolutely unique, this advertising ephemera is documented in the Encyclopedia of Ephemera by Amoret Tanner and Maurice Rickards, published Routledge, 2000 and is indeed documented to be from circa 1890... meant for the very first women's boater styles (such as early 1890 Boater Hat also seen here in The Gilded Griffin shop on Ruby Lane).

The bottle measures just about 5 inches or 12.5 cm in height. The leaflet measures approximately 5.25 x 8.5 inches or 13.5 x 21.5 cm. Castle Brand was located in Newcastle-On-Tyne and London, England.

These items come from a professional collection and a strictly non-smoking environment. There are no storage odors to these items. They come carefully packed and shipped within archival, 100% acid free storage tissues and bags from Light Impressions.

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The Gilded Griffin

Julia Henri, Ann Arbor, MI   

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