Please understand that this website is not affiliated with any of the perfume companies written about here in any way, it is only a reference page and repository of information for collectors and those who have enjoyed the classic fragrances of days gone by.

One of the goals of this website is to show the present owners of the various perfumes and cologne brands that are featured here how much we miss the discontinued classics and hopefully, if they see that there is enough interest and demand, they will bring back these fragrances!

Please leave a comment below (for example: of why you liked the fragrance, describe the scent, time period or age you wore it, who gave it to you or what occasion, any specific memories, what it reminded you of, maybe a relative wore it, or you remembered seeing the bottle on their vanity table), who knows, perhaps someone from the company brand might see it.

Vintage Perfumes For Sale

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Collecting Antique & Vintage Nail Buffers

Have you ever wanted to collect something unusual but feminine at the same time? Well, then collecting antique and vintage nail buffers might be just the ticket. These have been popular since the Victorian era and are still sold today. You might see a a buffer being used in an old Hollywood movie by a beautiful actress or remember your mother or grandmother using one to complete her manicure.

If you are interested in older buffers, you might wish to collect the various Victorian sterling silver, solid gold, gold plated, brass, ebony, silverplate, ivory, tortoiseshell or the later celluloid and Bakelite ones from the 1920s and 1930s, lucite and acrylic buffers were seen in the 1930s-1960s and other plastics came about later on. The bottoms of the buffers were fitted with chamois which would buff the nail to a high shine. Many buffers had a small matching tray that would fit over the chamois to help keep it clean.

I find that the Victorian era sterling silver buffers are some of the most prized. They range from simple shapes with very little decoration to highly ornate repousse designs of cherubs, Art Nouveau ladies with flowing hair and elaborate floral patterns, sometimes you can find a buffer with all three of these design elements!

The three images below are taken from a 1907 catalog and depict sterling silver nail buffers with various designs.

Ivory, horn, and tortoiseshell were also very popular during the Victorian era right up into the Edwardian era and the 1920s. Ivory implements were carved whilst the horn and tortoiseshell pieces were heated and then molded to form the desired shape. Designs and monograms could be etched into the material and  then picked out in silver or gold, this is known as pique (pee - kay) work.

Also found are the rich, black ebony wooden buffers, these were often made in France and had small sterling silver medallions attached to the handle.

The celluloid buffers from the Edwardian period and into the 1920s often imitated ivory and tortoiseshell. The earlier pieces were plain, but the 1920s saw more variety such as etching like that done on the genuine ivory pieces we covered before, as well as little glass rhinestones and enameled decorations.

Bakelite, Catalin and lucite buffers made their appearances in the 1930s. Sometimes they are indistinguishable except that much of the lucite was marked, though buffers were not always marked, so if your piece came from a larger dresser set, check the bigger pieces for a marking. Bakelite and lucite often imitated colors like jade, amber and orange. Solid colors and Bakelite's Prystal may have also been commonly used.

There are many styles and materials out there for you to make a wonderful collection. These can be found inexpensively on ebay and flea markets, but don't forget to see if an elderly family member might have one tucked away in a vanity drawer somewhere. Good luck and have fun hunting!


  1. How to replace the chamois on an antigue buffer. Mine is 4 1/2" long. I could replace the whole block or recover. Any thoughts.

    1. I think you need to loosen the tiny pins on the handle to remove the chamois buffer. I believe that a jeweler would be better suited to do this for you as I am unsure what the pins were made of and whether you can find replacements if they break or get damaged. A replacement chamois covered buffer could be found at beauty supply shops online, look under the "nail" category. Measure the size of your chamois buffer against the replacement to see if you have a good fit, also keep in mind the shape of the replacement buffer and your piece, some are more curved than others, while some are more straight across without any curve.


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