March 19, 2014

Do you know what this is?

The Oskaloosa Herald


This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is a Mervin Finger Wave Clip.

One reader gave his guess as to the identity of the artifact. Bob Klucas wrote in an email: “The item in the 3/12 issue is a “hair wave tool”, just press the lever, put it in your hair and release and the tool holds the wave until set, then remove the tool.

Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert did some research on the artifact. She wrote: “Mervin Finger Wave Clip

This torturous looking device is a 1930’s Mervin Finger Wave clip. Just 6” long and 1” wide, the spring loaded arms had teeth that molded hair into the popular waves of that era. Finger waves were the height of style, a fashion started by the starlets of the 20’s and perfected in salons using the electric Marcel iron (similar to a curling iron used upside down). Mervin clips were made of aluminum, inexpensive and could be used at home. Damped hair or hair slicked with styling gel was combed through the clips and held tightly in place until dry. When the clips were removed swooping “S” waves swirled over the head.

During the depression working people didn’t have much discretionary money to splurge on salon care. The image of sophisticated elegance gave the illusion of carefree prosperity while reality was the opposite. The close fitting, boyish bob of the 20’s no longer fit the image and around 1932 full, lush, deep all over waves created a sexy, casual look. The waves ran vertically, horizontally or diagonally all over the head ending in small curls along the neckline. While the clips held hair in place to dry in the fashionable waves, pin curls were twisted around the finger then secured with small hair pins. Every hair was kept in place: styling gels, pins and hair nets were employed to keep that casual look.

 Hats added to the illusion of glamour and were always designed to accommodate the hair style. A half circled wave in the very front of the head would twirl about making a spiral curl for the hat. The Saucer Wave began in the front and became a circle all around the head. The Sculptor Wave started with horizontal waves beginning just below a center part to end in a cluster of round pin curls that circled the ears.”

The Oskaloosa Herald and the Nelson Pioneer Farm are teaming up to test your knowledge of historical artifacts.

The Nelson Pioneer Farm has about 15,000 artifacts in its collection spanning in age from the 1840s to the present.

The Herald will take a picture of an artifact and publish it in the Herald section of the Oskaloosa Shopper, The Oskaloosa Herald an the Herald's Web site, www.oskaloosa.com. People can make a guess on what they think the object could be.

People can either email their guess to oskynews@oskyherald.com or mail their guess to The Oskaloosa Herald, P.O. Box 530, Oskaloosa, IA 52577. You can vote from Wednesday through Saturday.

The identity of the artifact and the vote breakdown will be announced in each Wednesday's Herald Shopper along with the week's new artifact.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com