Vintage Ad

(See below for more information on Pond’s Extract.)

My left elbow is not cooperating – not with sewing or much of anything else. Hand sewing hurts like crazy. Using the  machine requires my arm to bend and straighten, over and over again. Mr. Elbow raises a ruckus. Embroidery? Doesn’t like that either. I tried knitting and made it a whole 10 minutes before the pain started again.

Basically, my elbow wants to rest in a neutral position: not board straight and not bent very much. And I throw a couple of aspirin at it every 8 hours. Then it’s happy. I, however, am not. I can’t make it to the 18th century beer tavern event this weekend (it hurts when I drive much of a distance), which is a disappointment and not only because I’ve paid for the ticket. The garments are not finished (I tried, but the pain was just too much).

The elbow is slowly getting better, though. It takes tendons a long time to heal because there’s no blood supply going directly to them. As a result, the repair process goes slowly. Very slowly. If I push it too hard it can make the damage worse and lead to all the nasty things doctors do to fix it. Which means I just need to cool my jets and be patient. (Can you hear my foot going tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap…?)

What to post in a blog about historical sewing when I can’t sew historically (or any other way)? I’ve been saving some fun things to share, interesting photos, some historical tidbits, etc., and it looks like now it the time to bring them out to play.

So for the next however many days I’ll be light on the sewing end of things. Happily, historical dress is a subject that runs wide and deep.


AA, BB and CC products for your face…when did the notion of a network of skin care products originate? A lot earlier than I ever imagined. Meet the Pond’s Extract Company.

“Pond’s started out in 1846 as a patent medicine company when Theron T. Pond [1880-1852] (sic), a pharmacist from Utica, New York, began selling ‘Golden Treasure’, a homeopathic remedy he had developed from witch hazel. Therron Pond died and much legal wrangling took place over ownership of his formulas, but by the 1880s things had settled down and the Pond’s Extract Company emerged.

1894 Pond's Extract ad

1894 Pond’s Extract ad

“Pond’s Extract was a mixture of witch hazel distillate, alcohol and water. It was promoted as a general cure-all for burns, colds, catarrh, wounds, chilblains, hoarseness, sore throats, piles, scalds, bruises, sunburn, rheumatism, chapped hands, bites, boils, chafing, lameness, nosebleed, frost bite, inflamed eyes and female complaints.

“An 1891 marketing survey identified an increased demand for skin care products (Peiss, 2007, p. 99) and this gave the company a possible way out of its declining margins, leading to it eventually concentrating on cosmetics. It began this process with the addition of some new skin creams.

“By the twentieth century most of the patent medicine claims for Pond’s Extract had been dropped and the product was promoted as a general antiseptic for bites, wounds, sunburn or after shaving. Advertising was often aimed at families, presumably because children were expected to have a larger number of scrapes.

“In 1904 Pond’s began selling Pond’s Extract Cold Cream and Pond’s Extract Vanishing Cream that had been developed by William Wallbridge, a chemist who worked in the Pond’s factory.

“A campaign based around the idea that ‘Every skin needs two creams’, developed by the J. Walter Thompson advertising company in 1916, resulted in a threefold increase in sales by 1920 (Peiss, 1998, p. 121).

Every normal skin requires two creams. A cold or grease cream for cleansing, for massages, and a non-oily, greaseless cream before going out—to protect the skin from chapping, to keep it from becoming dry and tough.
No matter what creams you are using now, send for the free samples of these two creams. Rub the cold cream on one hand, the vanishing cream on the other. See how different each cream is—how each cream, in its own way, benefits your skin.

(Pond’s advertisement, 1917)”

And so began the notion of a skin care system consisting of products used in conjunction with each other, each with a specific purpose. (And ever-increasing cost.)

1929 Pond’s two creams ad

1929 Pond’s two creams ad

***Thanks to cosmeticsandskin.com for information on the Pond’s Extract Company and the evolution of their products. You can get their full story here.