July 19, 2020
Perfume Passage Foundation is dedicated to preserving the history, beauty, and artistry of perfume bottles, compacts, ephemera and related vanity items. The Foundation seeks to educate and inspire visitors by illuminating the connection between perfume and the human experience

Red, White & Blue - Colors of an American Tradition!
Patriotic / Patriotism as it Relates to America

  • the quality of being patriotic; love for or devotion to and vigorous support for one's country

  • having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one's country.
Estee Lauder compacts and perfume solids with iconic flag motif in red, white and blue. Some are enameled while others contain glittering crystals.
In times of crisis, patriotism unites us. We put our differences aside to help our countrymen in need. After Hurricane Katrina, millions of Americans made charitable donations, and many went to the Gulf coast to help rebuild communities. 

Perhaps the greatest example of patriotism was September 11, 2001.

What led to patriotism is in fact a nation coming together in time of need and supporting a greater cause for each other and humanity in general.  A journey through the patriotic efforts of the cosmetic industry in the US and Europe during the first and second World Wars certainly helps us to understand some of this.

Patriotism is reflected in our collectibles and the beauty industry diligently supported the troops during the war time years.
The military hat figural compacts were plastic and made by Henriette, advertised in 1944 magazines. The insignias represented the different service branches--army, navy, marines, coast guard. An interesting note about these compacts is that the mirrors were such poor quality that almost all of the hat compacts have discolored/damaged mirrors, regardless if the compact is unused in the original box.
Since the first military and patriotic cosmetic cases were made, a major WW2 cross collectible market was created. Collectors interested in military and patriotic items are now collecting related themed compacts.

There are two categories of WW2 compact cases. One is the generic patriotic images that do not have specific identification such as eagles, flags and slogans.

The second category are the compacts that include a specific branch of military service such as insignias, military bases, wings, etc.
2-1/2" x 2-1/2" cardboard red, white and blue Uncle Sam hat with a 1-1/4" perfume bottle inside. The label says America Irresistible Distributor, Jersey City, NJ.  The ceramic US Army tank measures 5” x 3” and is painted green. The black screw off cap reveals a perfume bottle.
In addition, compacts with themes that also supported the war effort were made in sterling, silver plate, gold tone, faux wood, leather and plastic. The Red Cross and British War Relief Society were two supporting agencies whose logos appeared on ladies’ compacts.

Left: This 3" green plastic compact included a mirror and powder area. The center enamel logo says "American Red Cross Volunteer" and was probably provided to offi ce workers during the war 
Right: The British War Relief Society (BWRS) was a US-based humanitarian umbrella organization dealing with the supply of non-military aid such as food, clothing, medical supplies and financial aid to people in Great Britain during the early years of  WW2. They acted as the administrative hub and receiving depot for items donated from other charities which were then distributed to its affiliate organizations. These donations were raised in the name of the BWRS, rather than in the name of the smaller groups. Henriette made this enamel powder compact with their logo as well as a matching cigarette case.
The war, when it began in the US, caused major upheavals in the cosmetic industry as restrictions against metals and silk for domestic use was put in place.

In April 1942, the only metal allowed in the production of costume jewelry and compacts was sterling. The government enacted a ban on silk, channeling all the production to the navy for battleship gun powder bags! The silk ban did create a new product for a short time--liquid leg make-up to replace silk stockings.  See Article:  Liquid Stockings

The silk ban, at first, didn't seem to affect the cosmetic industry, but silk was the only fabric that worked as a loose powder screen inside compacts. Substitutes such as paper, pierced tin plates, mesh fabrics and puffs with powder pockets were not very successful.
This 1940s leather compact with US Air Force motif measures 3" and includes a mirror and non-metal pierced plastic powder screen. The 8th was based in England as WW2 American daylight heavy bombers forces

The development of pancake and creme powders were a result of compacts not using silk powder screens during the war years.

Below Left: American Can Co. manufactured a 2-1/2" round brassy pressed powder container. The case is signed Beaute Box--Canco. A US Army soldier's photo is under the lid. The company advertised that if you sent in your photo, the company would mount it under the celluloid on the lid.

Below Right: General Eisenhower's portrait appeared under celluloid on this 1940s silverplate powder compact
Non-metals such as celluloid, Bakelite and other plastics were early attempts to lower the cost of vanity items. And several manufacturers advertised their military and patriotic compacts using innovative names for plastics.

Volupte used "Crystallite" and "Pearl-glow," and Henriette used "Crystal Clear and "Feather Light." It became a patriotic gesture to buy and carry plastic accessories to support the war efforts by not using metal products.
Most cosmetic companies were not able to introduce new makeup lines during the war because of alcohol and other ingredient restrictions. Instead, companies recycled and renamed their existing products.

Lipstick colors were given patriotic names: Bourjois/Courage, Hudnut/Emblem Red, Elizabeth Arden/Winged Victory and Dorothy Gray/All Clear Red.
Advertisements stated that "A sudden streak of lipstick across the lips spells courage."

Many of these compacts were bought by servicemen at military bases for their wives or sweethearts and sent home. That's one of the reasons that it's possible to find military themed compacts that are unused and still in the box. They were a memento of a loved one serving their country and kept as a treasured keepsake.
Below: Cara Mia's 1940s compact was known as a "Foto-Kompak." It has a blue enamel lid with US Army eagle. Inside has a mirror and powder area. 
Above: This 2" Zell silverplate compact has an enameled lid with US Army insignia. Inside has a mirror and powder puff. It came with a plastic comb in a matching case.

The UK patriotic compacts were sold in New York during the Battle of Britain prior to the US entry in WW2. Mugs, plates and lapel pins are some of the items that were made that matched the images on the compacts.  
Even going as far back as WW I, we can find perfume related items sold to support and honor soldiers and sailors.   Below is an example of  “Patriotic” Perfume Sachet in support of Belgium, Great Britain, USSR and France in the war against Germany. 
War time has also given us Trench Art
Trench art is any decorative item made by soldiers, prisoners of war, or civilians where the manufacture is directly linked to armed conflict or its consequences. It offers an insight not only to their feelings and emotions about the war, but also their surroundings and the materials they had available to them.  To read more on this topic and see other artifacts in our collection visit the article on our website Trench Art History
This is an example of a vintage WWII Military Sweetheart Locket Compact Brooch Pin Cap Hat:  Metal makeup compact in the form of an aviation officer’s cap.   It was most likely a gift from an American serviceman for his sweetheart back home. .  The compact measures 3 x 3 x 1 3/8 inches.  Provenance: Ohio Valley Military Society, seller on ebay, Perfume Passage Foundation.  The original mirror is not inside  (description from worthpoint.com, photos of artifact at Perfume Passage Collection ).
Trivia Segment
When asked how to show patriotism, these were some of the responses:

  • Support veterans and active-duty military.
  • Taking care of the people who serve our country is an important way to show patriotism 
  • Vote
  •  Fly the flag – the correct way
Top 8 Patriotic Songs according to YouTube:

  • God Bless the USA 
  • God Bless America
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • America The Beautiful
  • America
  • Only In America
  • This Land Is Your Land
  • Born In The USA
Patriotic Holidays in the US
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - third Monday of January (for MLK’s birthday January 15 th )

Presidents Day - Washington's Birthday / Lincoln’s Birthday – co mmemorating both birthdates  - third Monday of February

Memorial Day - last Monday in May  commemorates the men and women that have died serving the US

Flag Day - June 14:  commemorating the official adoption of the US flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777

Independence Day - July 4 th   commemorates the first Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence from Britain, on July 4, 1776

Constitution Day -  celebrated on September 17th, memorializing the date that the Constitution was signed in 1787

Election Day -  the Tuesday following the first Monday of November, ballots are cast for elected officials

Veterans Day - November 11 th  -  commemorates all veterans of the US military. A federal holiday, it occurs on November 11th to memorialize the Armistice which ended World War I on that date in 1918

Bill of Rights Day - December 15 - celebrating the addition of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution on that day in 1791
From the Archives: Liquid Stockings
Paint-on Hosiery During the War Years:

The Second World War influenced fashion in a great many ways. Between women going to work in huge numbers and war rationing, fashion got a huge make over. 
Silk and nylon was needed to make parachutes and other war items, but in the 1940s it was against the social norm for women to go out bare-legged. Many women took to wearing pants to save their silk stockings for special occasions. With the “Make Do and Mend” mentality, many women were repairing holes or worn areas in their stockings using needle and thread alone in order to wear their stockings many more times than normal.

And so liquid stocking was introduced to the market.

We Look Forward to Seeing You Once We Open Again

Located in the Chicagoland area, the Perfume Passage Foundation is 38 miles northwest of downtown Chicago and 25 miles from O'Hare International Airport.

Types of tours include:

  • Private docent-guided tours
  • Group tours
  • Symphony of Scents and Sounds