Gorgeous Deco Vintage Antique Celluloid DuBarry French Ivory Pyralin Vanity Dresser Manicure Set including 12 pieces of lovely Real French Ivory.
This Vanity or Dresser set is comprised of 12 pieces and is from the late 1800's to 1920's era. Labeled "BuBarry French Ivory Pyralin" the pieces in the set are in very nicely kept antique condition though due to age and composition some naturally occurring spots of discoloration over time have affected a few of the pieces in looks not function. Here is a list of items in this set, with measurements and observations:
Hand Mirror - Excellent condition w/ a few small age spots on the back and near the base of the handle. Size: a whopping 14" x 7 3/4". Gorgeous with an engraved "S" in soft blue on the back. The beveled mirror glass is clear and flattering; the wavy lines indicate this is real French Ivory. This is the best piece and it's a beauty!
Brush #1: Perfect antique condition. Size: 8 1/2" x 2 3/4". Engraved with a soft blue fancy "S" that matches the mirror. The wavy lines indicate this is real French Ivory.
Brush #2: Good antique condition - there are soem broken bristles along both left and right edge -- more ont he left side which leads me to believe this was owned by a right-handed person. Marked "French Ivory" on the handle, this piece has the telltale wavy lines. Beautiful green-blue-black Victorian design on the back is still fairly intact with some missing ink. Size: 9" x 2 1/2"
Nail buffer #1: Ornate nail buffer with jester-hat-shaped handle engraved with ornate, dimensional dragons or fish. Real leather buffer, very good condition with no nicks, scratcehs, etc. though someone at some point put a hair band around the base of the leather buffer area that I dare not remove. Interesting piece and the most ornate Celluloid though lacking in the wavy lines that indicate French Ivory.
Nail buffer #2: The larger of the two that have the telltale wavy lines of real french Ivory. Smooth-handled buffer with matching cover is leather chamois held in place by celluloid band. Very clean with one small age spot on bottom of cover. Otherwise excellent overall condition. Size: 6 14" long x 1 1/2" wide x 2 3/8" tall (including handle).
Nail buffer #3: Sweet little buffer with jaunty handle and matching cover has yellowed with age but cannot disquise it's telltale wavy liens of real French Ivory. Marked "Parisian Ivory Trade Mark France" on the bottom of the cover. Real cahmois leather held in place by celluloid band. Some warping has distorted otherwise close-fitting cover, otherwise good condition. Size: 4" long x 1" wide ' 1 1/2" high (including handle).
Nail file #1: Real French Ivory handle with notable wavy lines. Marked "DuBarry" and "Ivory Py-Ra-Lin" on the sides of the handle. Steel nail file blade in good condition though slightly off center. Engraved with fancy "S" in black with a hint of blue. Size: 7" x 1". Good overall condition.
Nail file #2: Nail file with celluloid handle and steel clip-on blade. Marked "French Ivory" with telltale wavy lines. Size: 6 1/2" x 7/8". Excellent condition.
Nail cleaner #1: Real French Ivory handle with notable wavy lines. Marked "DuBarry" and "Ivory Py-Ra-Lin" on the sides of the handle. Steel nail cleaner blade in good aged condition with some surface pitting. Engraved with fancy "S" in black with a hint of blue. Size: 5" x 1". Excellent condition.
Nail cleaner #2: Smooth, unmarked, rounded handle of French Ivory celluloid with notable wavy lines. Steel nail cleaner blade in good aged condition with some surface pitting. Size: 5 1/2" x 3/4." Excellent condition.
Nail cleaner #3: Real French Ivory handle with notable wavy lines. Unmarked. Steel nail cleaner blade in good aged condition with some surface pitting. Engraved with fancy "S" in black with a hint of blue. Size: 5" x 1". Excellent condition.
Boot hook: Real French Ivory handle with notable wavy lines, clean. Unmarked. Steel boot hook in excellent and overall clean vintage condition. Engraved with fancy "S" in black with a hint of blue. Size: 7" x 1".
This is a wonderful, very usable and lovable set in excellent overall condition with many desirable pieces of real French Ivory. It offers a very good opportunity for a French Ivory collector, an Art Deco enthusiast or anyone who wants a classic and elegant dresser set. This set came down through the Swedish-heritage family of Heddy West of Seattle and was purchased at her estate sale.
What follows is a brief history of French Ivory, culled from other ebay sellers--thank you!--and my own research.
There was a shortage of ivory in the 1800's which led to increased interest and competition to create a material similar to ivory. This is how celluloid "French Ivory" came about.
French Ivory is just a fancy name for celluloid, a type of plastic invented in the late 1860s to imitate ivory. French Ivory was the trade name for objects produced by the JB Ash Co. in Illinois. French or faux ivory is synonymous with several other trade names including Genuine French Ivory or Ivoire De Paris (often accompanied by an elephant symbol), Ivorette, Depose Ivor-Tone France, Ivorine, Ivorite, and Pyralin.
Celluloid was the trade name for a plastic made by the Celluloid Manufacturing Company of Newark, New Jersey. Eventually celluloid became a generic term for plastic that resembled ivory in color and texture, as well as faux tortoise and bone. Unlike real ivory which is carved or sliced, sheets of celluloid plastic were molded into forms and machine turned.
When compared to real ivory, French ivory is much lighter in weight. French ivory can be recognized easily by its uniform pattern of wavy parallel lines, without any of the cross hatching that is particular to elephant ivory. French ivory yellows with age and is susceptible to staining from perfumes and body oils. It also melts if exposed to heat and flames.
French ivory was in vogue from its inception through the late 1930s, with its heyday between 1910 and 1930. French ivory was used extensively for dressing table accessories and manicure sets for the bedroom. Fancier sets were often monogrammed. Many people today mistake French Ivory for bakelite, which eventually replaced it.
If you're looking for a few period accessories to complement that deco era dressing table you just picked up at an estate sale, the best place to find French ivory vanity sets is on ebay or online group shops. Often entire sets are sold together, with the most common pieces being covered powder jars, mirrors, hairbrushes, buttonhooks, combs, cuticle scissors, glove stretchers, dresser trays, nail buffers, hairpin boxes, covered soap dishes, hair receivers, shoe horns, hair combs, and picture frames.
Many objects were made of celluloid, but not all of them imitated ivory. If you are seeking French Ivory, be sure to look carefully for the telltale wavy parallel lines before you buy.
Ivory Pyralin was first made by the Arlington Co. in New Jersey. The DuPont Co. purchased Arlington in 1917 and began selling sets with names such as "French Ivory," "La Belle," "La Parisienne" and "Du Barry."
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