After yesterday’s lengthy piece about Dura-Gloss and Cutex package designs you might have thought there wasn’t much left to say about nail polish caps with simulated fingernails. It turns out, we hadn’t even scratched the surface.
There were quite a few other inventors and package designers (besides Edwin T. Reynolds & Donald Deskey) who, in trying to solve the problem of how best to merchanidise nail polish in assorted colors, had thought of fingernails.
A collection of patented bottles and caps follows. All feature simulated fingernails, mostly as a color identifier and, in some cases, as a way of “trying on” a color by slipping a finger underneath a fake fingernail.
(13 patents, after the fold…)
1. Jean E. Masbach’s 1936 “Indicating Device” envisions pockets of “tinted or colored celluloid” attached to the side of a nail polish container. (Figure 6 is a counter display embodiment of the invention in which the consumer may insert four fingers simultaneously in order to view a choice of colors.)
2. Harry E. Popp’s 1940 “Package” features a flexible, fingernail-shaped tap attached to the side of the bottle. The consumer may slip her finger underneath this colored tab to consider the effect.
3. Allan Robinson has two patents fingernail-shaped bottle cap patents. This one from 1941 is for a nail polish cap with a pivoting, fingernail-shaped cover. Here again, the idea to for the consumer to rotate the cap cover 180° and lay it over her fingertip to consider the color choice.
4. Franz Neuschaefer has several patented, fingernail-related package designs for nail polish. He seems to have been somewhat a specialist. His “Container Cover” from 1941 is pretty similar to the cap Donald Deskey designed for his 1940 Cutex bottle we saw yesterday. (Both caps include three painted fingernails.)
5. In another of Neuschaefer’s patented designs it’s the body bottle, rather than the cap that includes a fingernail. The idea here, however, is that the embossed glass bottle reveals the color of its contents through a fingernail-shaped window! The area surrounding this portal would be covered by a die-cut label (Figure 7). Another interesting thing to consider about his design, is how the geometry of bottles when seen from above. Figures 5 & 6 show how the bottles may be arranged for display or “closely packed” for shipment.
6. Farnham Blair’s 1942 “Container” patent shows two embodiment of his invention. The first one is fairly straightforward—the bottle stopper had a transparent Lucite tube with a simulated painted fingernail attached. The consumer inserts her finger to gauge the effect.
The second embodiment, however, is pretty damn funny. In this case, the consumer is meant to insert her finger into the back of a pelican’s head and it’s the pelican’s beak that serves as the simulated fingernail.
7. The last of the Franz Neuschaefer’s brilliant fingernail-related design patents. This 1942 “Container Construction” is similar to his 1941 “Container Construction” except that, here, the package design includes a paperboard carton to “slidably receive” the embossed bottle. As with his earlier container, these bottles also close pack by nesting.
8. The design of Allan Robinson’s 1944 “Cap for Colored Nail Polish Bottles” looks a bit like the Dura-Gloss cap, but works more like Robinson’s own flat, pivoting bottle cap cover from 1941.
9. This “Liquid Applicator” by Elmer L. Blooecher reminds me of “Six Finger” (a toy I coveted in 6th grade) Yet this 1946 patent is all about the technical details and doesn’t really get into get into the novelty of a nail polish container extruding nail polish onto a fingernail from a fingernail-shaped applicator tip.
10. Albert M. Cohan’s 1947 patent is for a “Display Card” rather than a package, but it uses the same basic idea as Harry E. Popp’s 1940 package with the fingernail shaped color tabs. I especially like the embodiment of the invention shown in Figure 10 where the fingernails rotate in a circle. Like an old-fashioned fingernail clock. (As opposed to the digital kind)
11. Melvin E. Kamen’s 1993 Nail Enamel Brush is probably the most modern and minimal of the whole batch. An ovoid cylinder, truncated at an angle to make a fingernail-shaped surface, which could presumably be colored. Assigned to Revlon.
12. Dat V. Ma’s 1995 design patent is for a “Fingernail Glue Bottle Cap” and features 5 fingernail shapes divided by ornamental ridges. (Assigned to Ma’s Inter-Continental Nail Products.)
13. More recently, Debra Lynn Barclay’s 2008 “Nail Works” re-envisions the 1940s idea of a color-indicating nail polish cap with a movable simulated fingernail. Only now the simulated nail is in the more contemporary “squoval” shape…
Another difference between now and the 1940s: all this talk about fake fingernails on packaging becomes even more convoluted when one considers how many “real” fingernails are also artificial.