A Scarce Early Travelling Theatrical Make-Up Compendium by Gamages c.1920-30


Origin: English
Period: Early 20th C
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1920-30
Width: 10”
Height: 5”
Depth: 4.5”

The very rarely seen black tole-ware traveling theatrical make up compendium with the Gamages logo to the inner lid, the concertina action opening to reveal over three tiered compartments, containing a myriad of period stage make-up largely in the form of many coloured cylindrical crayons, puffs, and gums, the whole surviving from the early twentieth century.

The condition of the case is simply well travelled with expected knocks and associated wear and tear with no losses. It remains in untouched order.

Gamages was opened in 1879 as a small watch repair shop by Arthur Walter Gamage (1858-1930) and Frank Spain, but rapidly enlarged to become a monster-sized department store with a heavy mail-order business similar to that of some of the big New York stores, pitching itself as "The People's Popular Emporium". Gamages eventually included departments for cycling and motoring, and an especially well-loved toy department. Like Hamley's, Gamages spent a lot of money on promotions and advertising and events, had sufficient buying power to negotiate with toy manufacturers, and had a railway running around their toy department.

The make-up is largely made by Leichner (1910-1945) who were the best at the time and produded theatrical makeup for early stage & silent screen actors, also helping to further date the compendium as a whole. Once Leichner had perfected his formula for making grease paint makeup for himself, he developed additional ones that he sold to his fellow stage performers. He and his wife started to make his stage makeup products at home in their kitchen around 1870. As news of his new grease makeup products spread by word of mouth, he received more and more orders for his makeup, as a result, his part time side business become very profitable and he decided to establish a full-time professional business establishment for the making of his theatrical makeup products. Much of the early make up in this tin are inherently valuable themselves, dating to the 1920s, they can be seen online at around £50 per piece.

Nigh on ever seen on the open market, this is a fascinating compendium that evokes all it is to be a professional artist of the stage.