Friday, November 4, 2011

Holiday Shopping Guide--"This Fateful Year"

This from December 1941, a truly fateful year for so many, the gift guide from McCall's:

In case you can't make out the text, it says: "Christmas gifts, in this fateful year, seem somehow more precious. So I say, choose them with an eye both to beauty and usefulness. The cosmetic houses have made kits that are sleeker, more tailored. Boxed sets this season are more decorative and feminine. Find out 'her' preferences as to perfume and shade. Or let her pick her own scent or make-up harmony. You can't make a mistake when you give gifts of beauty--whether for the pigtailed miss of fourteen or the dear lady of seventy-five!"

So, suggestion number 1 is: "A sleek case that looks like red kid, holds 8 cosmetics, with room for more, $5."
2. A bargain at about $1--bouquet-scented dusting powder, matching eau de cologne.
3. A big box of pan-cake make-up and 4 beauty aids in 4 facial types, $4.55.
4. Manicure case with all needed items, including scissors. Red or blue leather, $3.50.
5. A dainty setof popular beauty aids, 6 good-sized ones for $1.
6. Another $1 bargain of full-sized box of face power, flacon of eau de cologne, morning-glory box.

7. A "duffel bag" in plaid fabric with removeable platform of 4 manicure aids, $2.
8. Weathercock turns around over 4 flacons of famous perfume, to suit any mood, $5.
9. Another plus value. Well-known fan box of powder, bottle of cologne, jar of face cream, $1.
10. Make-up kit hold tri-color compact, rouge, lipstick, $1.95.

The article even has some wrapping tips: "Leftover yarn ties a pastel paper box. The little woolen doll gives it that extra touch. Brown paper for big boxes covered with pasted stars. Red stars tip the red cord ends. From scrap bag, a trim of fabric, cut out and pasted on; make tassels of the fabric, too."
Now... more gifts:

And on closer inspection:

For him:
11. Cotton gabardine rain coat, about $19.
12. Wool sweater, $8.95.
13. Moccasin slippers, $5.
14. Wrinkle-proof dollar ties.
15. Silver tie clip, $1.50.
16. Cuff links, $3.50.
17. Manicure packet, $3.95.
18. Seamless billfold, $5.

For her:
19. Water-proof velvet carriage boots, $5.50.
20. Sweater matches "his," $8.95.
21. Slippers match "his," $5.50.
22. Scissors set, $3.95.
23. Scarf matches "his," $1.95.
24. Clip-on silver pencil, $3.
25. Billfold matches "his," $3.

And on closer inspection:

26. A bargain at 50c. Colored gabardine kit holds nail necessities: liquid polish and remover, cuticle remover, cotton.
27. De luxe comb and brush set in colored plastic, jewel-like and transparent: crystal, sapphire, ruby, or emerald hue, $2.
28. Called the "Quints" package, here's a set of 5 bottles of fine-grained bath salts, assorted scents and dainty colors, $2.75.
29. Clensing tissue boxes in pastel quilted satin make ideal gifts. Cover, containing a box of 200 tissues, costs about $1.
30. Rosemary is the name of this pottery jug of a freshly scented cologne from a well-known house. Rose, pale blue, $1.
31. Three soap babies in spicy fragrance with early American names and quaint bonnets. A cunning surprise gift at only $1.
32. Cute ug set of eau de cologne in scents reminiscent of old southern plantations: spicy, sweet, or a mixed bouquet, $1.
33. Gift box made like a basket witih wire handle holds 3 bottles of cologne in different types of scent. Good choice for $2.

And finally,

34. Two creams, two lotions, rouge, powder, in this travel kit of simulated leather. Comes in black, dark blue, brown, $3.50.
35. Bath gift set from a famous English lavender line: big bath soap, dusting powder, "lotus" eau de cologne, $3.50.
36. New kind of hand lotion leaves hands soft even after washing. Nice gift at 50c. Crackled atomizer, $3.
37. A gift kit covered with a gay print holds nail items and a new nail lacquer in bottles make like Chinese vases.
38. The Santa Claus box with its realistic beard covers a supply of famous dusting powder in "blue grass" fragrance, $2.
39. Ultra-feminine with the garland on its lid, this set holds a lightly scented talcum, toilet water, extra atomizer top, $2.
40. Elegant-looking gold-finished compact from a famous Fifth Avenue house has costume lipstick to match. $2.75 boxed.
41. It's called "the commuter" because it's such a handy packet with mirror, famous lipstick, rouge, and face powder, $1.50.

So... what would be on your list to get or give? I love the #3 set, the carriage boots (19), and the commuter (41). I also love the matching ladies scarf and man's tie. Not too cheesy when it's subtle like that. My daughters would take almost anything here, especially the nail polish in Chinese-style jars. I'm not sure if my husband would like the slippers... or the sweater!


  1. It's interesting looking at the prices for these items. One would assume that these gifts were high quality, not cheap junk, so maybe the price equivalent of what we think of today as "top of the line" in the $60-100 range?

    Yet, the above prices aren't that far off from today's cheap junk Walmart prices. Just goes to show how we no longer value high quality, as long as it is cheap!

  2. One Web site I looked at says that $100 in 1940 is equivalent to about $1,400 today. So $1 would be about what? $14? So, yes, some of these things would have quite pricy! Even the "really cheap" stuff would still be a little chunk of change! I just like the idea of encouraging giving useful but luxurious gifts. Timely!