Antique c.1900 curling iron or crimper features an “Ebonoid” handle with repoussé sterling silver mount in a swirling Art Nouveau pattern. A mother of pearl button accents the tip of the clamp to the steel curler barrel. The silver mount is stamped “STERLING’.
Ebonoid, a trademarked celluloid or similar plastic meant to suggest (and cost slightly less than) ebony wood, came on the scene at the turn of the 20th century, offering an alternative to the sterling silver toilet articles and “novelties” wildly popular throughout the 1890s.
The trademark “Ebonoid” is listed in the 1899 US Patent Gazette and described as “in use” since 1898, and countless ads for silver-mounted Ebonoid toilet articles for gift-giving appear beginning in 1900—especially just before Christmastime.
For example, a Dec 2, 1900 ad in the Montana Anaconda Standard states: "Ebonoid is the latest novelty that is shown this season. It is extremely serviceable and has an extremely effective appearance. You couldn't select anything prettier for a Christmas gift", and then goes on to offer everything imaginable in silver-mounted Ebonoid, from hair brushes and paper knives to toothbrushes and button hooks. The ad’s boast is well-justified: After more than 100 years, the handle of this curling iron is still solid, lustrous, and hard to distinguish from ebony wood.
Photo #6 shows ebony wood-handled toilet articles offered in the 1903 NY Jeweler, and photos #7 and #8 detail Ebonoid alternatives in the 1900 Restless & Sleepless Catalog.
Measuring 7 1/8” long and weighing 27 grams, this Edwardian hair dressing accessory is in excellent condition.
Proud Member of the Vintage Fashion Guild
1900s “Ebonoid” & Sterling Curling Iron or Crimper MOP Button