Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Old South Toiletries

In the 1930s and into the 1940s, a fascination with all things early American were showing up in various forms, from reproduction maple furniture to hand blown glassware, and perfume companies jumped on the bandwagon eager to take in the benefit of the fads.



Old South of Batavia, Illinois,  a subsidiary of Campana Sales, came out with a line of  toiletries in 1940,  inspired by the plantations of Williamsburg, Virginia.The perfumes were based on old fashioned favorites from the Colonial era. the tag line was "Romance...Southern Style".

The toiletry line consisted of cologne, toilet water, perfume, soaps, sachets, bubble bath, rose jars (potpourri), bath salts, talcum and bath powders. They were wrapped in exquisitely fine containers that were reminiscent of the culture that belonged to Williamsburg.

The perfumes came in charming hobnail bottles that they advertised may have graced the table of a Colonial lady. The bubble bath essences came in crystal styled bottles. The soap and sachets were wrapped in paper printed with the pinkest roses and the talcum and bath powders came in lovely containers delicately decorated with frail ladies in pink and blue gowns.

These items were packaged in lovely gift boxes.


  • For instance, there's The Plantation Box which contained a hobnail bottle of toilet water and a round container of dusting powder. Both came on a bed of shredded pink paper in an eight cornered box that may be used later to hold jewelry.
  • The Virginia Reel Trio gift box held three cologne decanter jugs of Plantation Garden, Cotton Blossom and Woodland Spice. Each sat in a little depressed plinth which would have been covered with a round cylinder case decorated with dancing couples.
  • The Memory Box gift set held a decanter jug of cologne, sachet, talc and guest soap all housed inside a rose trellised box with a Plantation Lawn Party scene on the cover.
  • The Basket gift set included a decanter jug of cologne, sachet pillow, talc and soap inside a hand made basket.
  • The Duet Gift box held a charming box of dusting powder and a jug of cologne. The cover f the box featured a courting scene of a gentleman and his sweetheart.
  • The Old South Romance Box held a large decanter jug of cologne, sugar shaker of talc, sachet and guest soap, all elegant housed in an oval box decorated with a whimsical bridal scene on the lid and an Old Fashioned marriage certificate inside the cover.
  • The Clock Box was a gift set replica of an old fashioned mantle clock, the "works" are a jug of cologne, another of bubbling bath essence, and a big cake of perfumed bath soap.
  • Other gift boxes were titled the Charleston box, the Quilt box and the Sweetheart box
  • The Treasure Chest gift box contained soap, sachet, a little hobnail bottle of toilet water and a pretty slender container of talcum powder, all inside a green edged white box decorated with a pink lady and many flowers, the lid opened to disclose a message "In this bouquet from friendship's garden, pink betokens pure love, violet betokens modesty, rose betokens majesty and love".
  • The language of flowers was further stressed on tiny booklets tied to the bottlenecks and bath salts containers. "Primrose betokens early youth, heliotrope betokens admiration, jasmine betokens amiability", this and more were told in the booklets.
  • Four colognes called Woodland Spice, Cotton Blossom, Old Fashioned Bouquet  and Plantation Garden were available in various quaint  bottles. They were meant to recapture the coquetry of Southern belles, the romance of moss-filtered moonlight. The Decanter Jug, was a hand blown replica of imported Waterford glass. The Violin Bottle was a delicately molded replica of old American glassware.


The Old South toiletries ceased production around 1948-1950.


Motion Picture, Volumes 69-70, 1945:
"Old South Perfumers, 347 Fifth Ave; c, New York. Old South Toiletries, in Woodland Spice or Plantation Garden Bouquet: Cologne 1.00 and 1.75; Perfume 3. 50; Quilt Box 1.75; Charleston Box 1.00; Virginia Reel Trio 1.00; Natchez Rose Jar."

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