Slices of life c. 1900-1950s…that is what this exhibit captured. The majority of the objects in this exhibit were collected in Chesapeake Beach, MD. The collection ranged from the simple cuff links a gentleman used, the decorative hat pins a lady would have used, to the chocolate candy we have come to love! This exhibit reflected not only objects of day to day, the simple accessories of life, but the underlying theme also reflected the changing times. The objects captured the ordinary, what people wore and what they ate, how items were used, while at the same time captured dynamic industrial changes in our society. The Industrial Revolution & mass production, population migration to urban settings, women’s independence on the rise, societal and economic changes, all combined to create the perfect storm. It created a leisure class with a bit more time on their hands and money in their pockets. This further allowed places like Chesapeake Beach, MD to become the playground it did!
If only objects could talk! There is always so much more to the story than a simple object!
Objects loaned to the CBRM from private collectors and photographed with permission.
Pieces from Cash Register, c. 1910 – These are miscellaneous parts of cash registers believed to be manufactured by the National Cash Register Company. The first cash register was patented on November 4, 1879. This was during a time when businesses were flourishing and business owners wanted a better way to keep track of their profit. Many improvements were made to this initial patent along the way, and the National Cash Register Company became one of the main manufacturers of registers in the 1900s.
Lowney’s Chocolate Box, Spoon and Tongs, c. 1910 – Lowney’s Chocolates was a well-known chocolate company that was founded in the late 1880s in Boston, MA. At the turn of the 20th century, chocolate was just beginning to find its way into the hearts of the consumer. Chocolates were packaged in attractive boxes, and commonly sold with chocolate tongs or spoons. An interesting piece of history is that of a Lowney’s marketing tactic focused around WWI. During the war, ads were run in newspapers, encouraging chocolate to be sent overseas to our military as a replacement for alcohol and its negative affects. So much chocolate was sent overseas in fact, that there was a shortage here in the U.S. during the war! As an aside, chocolate became a common military war ration starting in 1937.
Cuff Link – Cufflinks originated in the 17th century, and were used by the well-to-do, well-dressed man. Over time, cufflinks were mass produced which lowered their cost, and in turn made them more readily available to the everyday man. Cufflinks allowed men to show their personality and style in a simple and low cost way.
Hat Pins or Weapons?!?, c. 1900-1920 – A fashionable way to hold larger decorations on hats. Also an unexpected way for the “fairer sex” to protect themselves. As women gained more independence and freedom, by some, the hat pin was considered as a way to protect themselves as they went about their daily lives. Of note, there was a movement in the country to outlaw these long hat pins.
Lipstick Cases – In the 1900s, the use of make-up was still controversial. In the early 1900s, bright red lipstick was a sign of female emancipation and commonly used by Suffragettes! Gradually, the use of make up became more commonly used, and applied with no other agenda aside from accentuating one’s features. By the end of WWI in 1918, make-up had become more mainstream and socially acceptable… just in time to usher in the Roaring 1920s!
As far as the nuts and bolts of lipstick, in 1915, lipstick began to be sold in a sliding metal tube (these sliding metal tubes are featured in this picture). In 1923, the swivel lipstick containers that we are familiar with today were created.
- Harriet Hubbard Ayer: This brand carried the name Harriet Hubbard Ayer, who founded the first cosmetic company owned and run by a woman in 1886. Harriet Hubbard Ayer led a very interesting life and broke the mold when it came to traditional women’s roles at the turn of the 20th century.
- Kissproof Lipstick: This brand was marketed as exactly that, “kiss proof”. This was a daring way to market lipstick for the times, but then again, it was created during the turbulent times of change in 1920s.