Collections Curiosities Blog

Cosmetics and Wellness

Collections Curiosities is a monthly blog highlighting intriguing artifacts, books, and archival materials that staff, volunteers, and interns have discovered in Center collections and the Center Library. This month, SDAC Volunteer James Sinclair explores beauty and wellness products from a collection recovered from a historic-period site in Oceanside.

Ad for Pond’s face cream

Cosmetics and Wellness
Blog post and artifact drawings by SDAC Volunteer James Sinclair

Beauty and wellness products—from eyeliner to cough remedies—have been used since ancient Egypt. In the ninetheeth century, companies around the world began marketing their skin tonics and face powders to the public. These companies especially targeted women with products to make their skin glow and cuticles shine year after year, and some of those products are still sold to this day. Here are a few found in a Center collection recovered from a historic-period site in Oceanside.


One-to-one scale drawing of a Pond’s jar made of milkglass. Though it could be either cold cream or vanishing cream, it is remarkably intact. Drawn with greyscale sakura pigma micron pens.

Well-known brands such as Pond’s and Vicks have been in production since the late nineteenth century. One artifact is a lidless glass jar of Pond’s cream. Without the lid, which has always been color-coded by product, it is hard to say exactly which product was found, but it is in excellent condition. Founded by Theron T. Pond around 1846, Pond’s originally sold witch hazel extract. By the 1910s the brand was also selling Vanishing Cream, Cold Cream, and Pond’s Healing Cream. These products were advertised to women especially during World War Two as a way to preserve their femininity while in the workforce, specifically factories.

One-to-one scale drawing of the Cara Nome astringent bottle done in pen

Another artifact is an intact Langlois Inc. astringent bottle from circa 1910 to 1920. The brand is most well-known for their perfumes (sold from 1910 to 1962), beauty creams, powders, and other cosmetics and toiletries. This particular bottle held the Cara Nome Skin Freshener, which was an astringent. It was used in conjunction with a cotton pad to remove old face cream and makeup from the face and was supposed to be used cold.


Digital rendition of a Cutex nail polish bottle. An iPad, Apple pen, and Procreate were used.

Another artifact is two tubes of Cutex nail polish. Founded by Northam Warren in 1911, Cutex originated as a liquid cuticle remover then added nail tints and lacquers to their product line. These specific tubes are from the 1930s, when reddish colors like coral or cardinal were popular. Nails were meant to match a woman’s outfit and/or lipstick to emphasize style and fashion, and often had a half-moon pattern at the tips and cuticle area. This is also a product heavily marketed to American women joining the workforce during World War Two, and it was advertised to protect their nails in the factory while looking stylish and feminine.


Drawing of a Vicks VapoRub jar post 1911, to scale. Since this drawing is done in greyscale as well, it should be noted that this item is made of royal blue glass.

One artifact is a small blue jar of Vicks VapoRub. “Vicks Family Remedies” was founded in 1898, and its first product was Vicks Croup & Pneumonia Salve. Created by the founder Lunsford Richardson for his sick son, it was well-known for its unique “vapors”. The boy recovered, and in 1911, Richardson renamed the product that saved him “Vicks VapoRub”. Vicks went on to create a variety of wellness products such as nasal sprays, cough drops, and DayQuil/NyQuil.

Learn More

Cutex Nail Polish

Pond’s face creams

Perfumes Manufactured by Langlois on Cleopatra’s Boudoir blog covering history of perfumes

Vicks VapoRub

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With the assistance of Center staff, the intern will use photogrammetry to prepare one or more archaeological collections for digital preservation, as well as create a virtual museum exhibit for our Public Archaeology department. Per approval, special projects of the intern’s choosing are also available. During the research and planning, the intern will receive guidance as appropriate to their selected project. Prospective interns should already be familiar with photogrammetric procedures, and Agisoft Metashape.

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Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology

Prospective Interns must have completed three courses: Introduction to GIS, GIS Database Management, and Intermediate/Advanced Methods in GIS. The intern will be assigned a project where they will create shapefiles and maps for curated archaeological collections, museum exhibits, and/or public outreach using ArcGIS 10.6. Center staff will instruct the intern on archaeological GIS laboratory procedures such as computer cataloguing, storage requirements, and database management.

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Harness your passion for Public Archaeology and gain hands-on experience with K-12 museum field trips, lectures, and public outreach. Additional projects may include creating virtual museum exhibits and activities, assisting in the development and implementation of K-12 curricula programs, planning and presenting public facing content, or educational field trip content of your own design. Must be able to pass a Live Scan.