Monday, 30 January 2017

My Nans Hand Bag

* Photograph taken from Ron Woollacott's book 'A Historical Tour of Nunhead and Peckham Rye.

Drifting off to sleep last night I started to recall when my Nan (pictured above with my Grandad in the 1930's) used to give me a peak at the contents of her hand bag.  As a young girl it was fascinating to me to see the various items that she pulled out:

  • Smelling salts
  • Ladies handkerchief with embroidery in one corner
  • 2 lipsticks - one orange/red and one pink/red
  • Face powder compact with pressed powder and mirror
  • Small container of Bourjois rouge powder blush
  • Rain hat
  • Emergency sewing kit
  • Scented cachous to sweeten the breath
  • Nail clippers
  • Emery board
  • Nail polish
  • Orange wood nail stick (for pushing back the cuticles)

I notice that all her products are connected with self care, grooming and appearance.  People of a certain era used to take pride in their appearance.  They were presentable without being self absorbed about how they looked.  People used to sew on buttons, turn up hems and polish shoes.

My Nan was born in 1912 and lived through two World wars.  She came from a generation who truly knew the meaning of hardship.  Younger generations could learn a lot from such people.  They had to face daily problems head on, cope in a crisis and just get on with it.  They didn't have a choice.



  1. And no way of contacting people in a emergency either.......

    Made me think of my handbag with children. The odd sticky sweet wrapper, bits of mucky chocolate, and crumbs, lots of crumbs!

    Now I have a purse credit card and mobile phone!

    Julie xxxxxx

  2. Just to say they look a fine couple. Is that your grandad?

    Julie xxxxxx

  3. Hi Julie, yes it is my maternal Grandad and Nan:)

  4. What a very elegant couple your Nan and Grandad are. How wonderful to remember the contents of your Nan's handbag and what wonderful things she had in there. I have two powder compacts that belonged to my Mum and one of them is very Art Deco 1930s. I suddenly feel old as my Mum was born in 1916 and her Mum in 1884 both having children in their mid 30s. How resiliant grandma was to live through two world wars and the depression in the 1920s. Things are so different today:)

  5. My Dad was born in Peckham in 1911 and grew up there...wonder if he knew your Nan? I'm impressed by your memory...not sure what's in my own bag these days! They look a smart pair. xx

  6. A true lady. And couldn't we all learn a lot from your Nans. Thanks for this glimpse into her life and time.

  7. Awe how wonderful do your grandparents look!!
    V x

  8. Your Nan looks so elegant in that photograph, there are definitely elements of that time that we could learn from. I have a strange collection of useful and not so useful stuff in my handbag. I think the brownie motto to always 'Be Prepared' has kind of stuck with me. Like Julie, I also seem to have a never-ending supply of crumbs!

  9. What a marvelous photo, Simone, and I am amazed that you still remember the contents of your grandmother's handbag! Your refections are always so poignant - I would love to see more posts like this from you!
    Are you working on any art lately? (just a gentle nudge!)

  10. How dapper they both look.
    How very wise of your grandma to keep all those items on her, looking after yourself should be a top priority.
    Lisa x

  11. Wonderful picture of your grandparents, Simone. And such an interesting post. Fascinating to read that list too :)
    Helen xox

  12. What a beautiful couple your grandparents are!

  13. wow what a fantastic photo!
    My own handbag leaves a lot to be desired after reading this!

  14. How fun to list what's in her handbag. Smelling salts! I've never known anyone (other than in books and movies) who actually owns smelling salts!


  15. What a fun post, Simone! That's quite a photo!I have such fond memories of my own grandmother. I grew up next door to her and I still miss her. I've got a sweet box of her embroidered handkerchiefs, still scented with her perfume.


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