The Hometown History column is presented by the Fenton History Center and The Post-Journal. Each Friday, a distinct item from the Fenton History Center collections or archival special collections will be featured. Learn about your hometown history through parts of its past.
If one of the items featured brings back some memories or brings up a question, please contact the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org to share your memory or get an answer to your question.
The summer exhibit, "From Stage to Talkies," at the Fenton History Center features the theaters in Jamestown. One item that was used in both stage and film was theatrical makeup. In the collection of the Fenton History Center is an empty tin that once held theatrical makeup.
The tin of theatrical makeup from M. Stein Cosmetic Co. in New York City, sold at Swanson’s Drug Store, in the Fenton collection.
This tin has beautiful Art Nouveau style pictures on the lid in blue and white. The makeup came from the M. Stein Cosmetic Co. in New York City. This company was started in 1887 to make theatrical creams and greasepaint. The tin in the collection held 8 ounces of face powder. Unfortunately the color that was in the tin is not indicated. When the lid is removed, remnants of the face powder can be seen. It appears to have been a pink or flesh color.
The side of the tin lists the 19 colors available. The colors include: white, light pink, pink, dark pink, darker pink, flesh, brunette, dark brunette, cream, juvenile flesh, healthy old age, sunburn, sallow old age, olive, Othello, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and moving picture.
Just when this tin was produced is unknown. Obviously it had to have been done after moving pictures were in existence because of the last "color" mentioned on the tin. Early moving pictures began appearing in the mid 1890s and evolved to moving pictures with actors by the early 1900s. Other sources claim that tins like these are from about 1900 into the 1920s. This agrees with the local connection that is also on this tin.
On the bottom is a sticker from "C. A. Swanson Drug Co., Jamestown, N.Y." Charles A. Swanson was in business from the 1880s with C. A. Hult. By 1892 he was by himself and by 1899, the drug store was known as C. A. Swanson and Company. In 1905 it was the C. A. Swanson Drug Company and continued until 1929 when it became Swanson's Drug Store. This means that the tin was probably sold between 1905 and 1929 and thus agrees with the suggested time period of the tin.
The summer exhibit, including the M. Stein Cosmetic Co. tin, will be up through Sept. 29. This Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Fenton History Center invites the community to experience Jamestown's living history at the annual Old Fashion Day. The festival is free, as is the Fenton Museum.
See demonstrations of leatherworking, woodworking, jewelry making, spinning, weaving and other handcrafts. The festival will also have carriage rides, antique cars, modern crafters, and children's activities. Foods include hamburgers, Italian sausage, curly fries, root beer floats and cotton candy.
The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County's history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.
Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.
If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.