A gilt bronze sign for the New York Coiffure Guild in the shape of an artist’s palette. A woman with an elaborate hairdo tied down with a bow is shown in low relief profile against an abstracted background of horizontal wavy ridges. The profile of her face is accentuated in the front with a shadow-like shape to the relief surface. Although the overall style is Art Deco, the woman is depicted in the classical taste of ancient Greek or Roman coins. Moreover, her hairdo is likewise characteristic of the Art Deco period, with neoclassical inspiration. On the front of the sign, raised letters in the lower right read, “Member of Coiffure Guild Inc. N.Y.” The back is stamped “Property of Coiffeur Guild Inc. NY” and hand-painted with the number 85. The original hanging chain is attached to the back by two screws.
The plaque was evidently intended for display by members of the Coiffure Guild of New York, a trade organization of hairstylists and hairdressers. The Guild members contributed to style trends and publically commented on the latest hair styles of the era, including references to celebrities. For example, as reported in the St. Petersburg Times, December 28, 1935, the Coiffure Guild made an annual list of the ten best coiffured women in the country. In that year the Number 1 selection was Bette Davis; other actresses and socialites were also included on the list that year including Katherine Hepburn, and Countess von Haugwitz-Reventlow (heiress Barbara Hutton in her second marriage).
In 1934, a copyright was granted under the category of “Works of Art; Models or Designs for Works of Art” to the Coiffure Guild of New York, Inc. for an emblem designed by Helen Riha. It is possible that the offered palette plaque was based on the copyrighted Riha emblem design, though research has been unable to verify this and no other extant examples of this sign are known.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light wear, abrasions, and discoloration to the gilt finish.
“Coiffure Guild Selects Ten Best.” St. Petersburg Times. 28 December 1935. Section 2, p. 1. Online at Google News: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=888&dat=19351228&id=XFJPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4E0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=3158,7736833 (24 September 2012).
Library of Congress Copyright Office Catalog of Copyright Entries for the Year 1934. Part 4. Vol. 29, No. 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1935. p. 110 Online at Archive.org. http://www30.us.archive.org/stream/catalogofcopyrig294libr/catalogofcopyrig294libr_djvu.txt (21 September 2012).