Illinois Cosmetics Co., est. 1926

 

Museum Artifact: IL Cosmet Talcum Powder, c. 1920s

Made By: Illinois Cosmetics Co., 2108 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL [Near West Side]


“This is the day of the Flapper. With the Armistice she came, and today she is firmly established in the hearts of all America.”

 

Those words appeared in a 1927 advertisement for the Illinois Cosmetics Company—aka Il Cosmet—and for all intents and purposes, it’s what we’re left to remember about them. For a business that did its fair bit of national promotion in the toiletries industry from the ‘20s into the 1940s, the actual details of the operation are very difficult to pinpoint outside of its sophisticated approach to selling cheap bathroom products.

 

 
The company had two different main office spaces over its existence, first at 2311 W. Erie Street, then at 2100 W. Lake Street during the Depression and war years. While one old newspaper ad described them as “one of the largest manufacturers of toilet preparations in the United States,” it’s hard to say whether Il Cosmet was actually producing its own talcum powder, bath salts, shampoos, etc., or focusing more on the packaging and distribution end of things. There is little evidence of any company patents for actual cosmetic products, but there are some designs for fancy tins and bottles attributed to the company during its prime Flapper years. And yes, they had an actual line of products called “Flapper.”

In the early 1920s, dozens of American cosmetic companies were starting to realize that fancy, European-inspired packaging could mean the difference in determining which version of an otherwise generic toiletry a customer might select at a department store.

 

 

 As evidence of this trend, a 1922 issue of The American Perfumer and Essential Oil Review recounts a meeting of New York City’s Perfumery, Soap & Allied Industries, in which a representative of the Tin Decorating Company (Baltimore, MD) addressed the room as its keynote speaker.

The talcum powder business has exerted a great influence on the production of artistic tin containers,” explained William H Green, who then proceeded to show that “the demands of manufacturers of toilet preparations for artistic packages had spurred the makers of these containers into the production of some very attractive designs.
 

 

[Newspaper advertisement for Il Cosmet products, 1937]

 

Without question, Il Cosmet was one of the companies piloting this ship. The tall, green Orange Blossom Talcum Powder container in our collection, complete with a flapper logo and floral/deco design, is certainly quite easy on the eyes. Being made from cardboard, though, it's surprising it managed to outlast so many of the company’s more aesthetically appealing tin bottles.

 

 Buyers the country over have discovered something!” proclaimed a 1927 Illinois Cosmetics Co. ad in Chain Store Age magazine. “They have found that the IL COSMET line of Toilet Articles is bringing more trade to their toilet goods counters than anything they have displayed in years. In large stores and small stores—in department stores and variety stores—in ‘chain’ stores and the corner dry goods ‘emporiums,’ no matter where, the story is the same! …The Reason? Astounding Values! 

 

Over the past two generations, there has been an increasing bit of paranoia surrounding talcum powder—or more specifically, talc—and its possible connection to some rare cancers. As is often the case in these matters, the actual cause-and-effect connection has never really been established, but that hasn’t stopped a growing anti-talc movement from filing lawsuits and forcing cosmetic companies to develop talc-free powdering alternatives.

This would all seem a bit silly to the people of the 1920s, who essentially moved through life within a perpetual floating cloud of fresh-smelling talcum powder. The life expectancy was also a bit shorter back then, too, I suppose. But I think we could find many better scapegoats for that than a friendly 10-cent can of Il Cosmet. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the remaining powder in our vintage bottle to powder my own unborn child’s bum. …Actually, I’m going to back out of that proposal right now on the off-chance that talc becomes super-toxic after a 100-year gestation period. But the point remains.

 

 

 

 

 

Please reload

Lost Chicago Factory Map

Help Support the

Made In Chicago Project

Artifact Categories
Company Histories

A.B. Dick Company

A.L. Hansen MFG Co.

Abbott Laboratories

Ace Fastener Corp.

Adams & Westlake Co.

Addometer Co.

Addressograph Company

Adjustable Clamp Co.

Admiral Corp.

Airguide Instrument Co.

Albert Dickinson Co.

Albert Pick & Co.

Allied MFG Co.

American Automatic Devices Co.

American Bird Products Inc.

American Cutlery Co.

American Family Scale Co.

American Flyer MFG Co.

American Metal Ware Co.

American Shoe Polish Co.

American Varnish Co.

Ampro Corporation

Anacin Company

Angel Dainty Dye Co.

Armour and Company

Arrco Playing Card Co.

Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co.

B. Heller & Co.

Bally MFG Co.

Bambino Products Co.

Bell & Howell

Benjamin Electric MFG Co.

Bersted MFG Co.

Bloomfield Industries

Bremner Biscuit Company

Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co.

Bunte Brothers Candy

Burke & James

C. Cretors & Co.

C. H. Hanson Company

Cable Piano Company

Cadaco Inc.

Calculator Machine Company

California Beverage Co.

Calumet Baking Powder Co.

Carl Goldberg Models Inc.

Central Waxed Paper Co.

Central Wholesale Grocers Inc.

Chas. A. Brewer & Sons

Chess Records

Chicago Electric MFG Co.

Chicago Flexible Shaft Co.

Chicago Hardware Foundry Co.

Chicago Mail Order Co.

Chicago Printed String Co.

Chicago Roller Skate Co.

Chicago Specialty MFG Co.

Chicago Telephone Supply Co.

Citation Hat Co.

Citrus Products Co.

Claire MFG Co.

Clipper Products Co.

Columbia Medallion Studios

Compco Corp.

Cracker Jack Company

Crane Company

Curt Teich & Co.

Curtiss Candy Co.

D.B. Fisk & Co.

Dad's Root Beer Co.

Damon MFG Co.

Denoyer-Geppert Co.

Detect-O-Ray Company

DeVry Corporation

Ditto Incorporated

Dowst Brothers Company

E.B. Millar & Co.

E.C. DeWitt & Co., Inc.

E.H. Sargent & Co.

E.J. Brach & Sons

E.K. Pond Company

Ekco Products Co.

Electric Clock Corp. of America

Electric Corp. of America

Elgin National Watch Co.

Empire Spice Mills

Essanay Film Mfg. Co.

Eugene Dietzgen Co.

Excel Projector Corp.

F.B. Redington Co.

F.H. Smith MFG Co.

F.W. Planert & Sons

Fidelitone Inc.

Fitzpatrick Bros.

Flavour Candy Co.

Florsheim Shoe Company

Foley & Co.

G. Felsenthal & Sons

Gateway Engineering Co.

General Television & Radio Corp.

Geo. B. Carpenter Co.

Geo. W. Diener MFG Co.

Gold Eagle Products Co.

Grossman MFG Co.

Hallicrafters Co.

Halsam Products Co.

Halsey Brothers Co.

Hammond Organ Co.

Hanson Scale Co.

Harmony Company

Hedman MFG Co.

Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co.

Hump Hair Pin MFG Co.

Illinois Bronze Powder Co.

Illinois Cosmetics Co.

Indestro MFG Co.

J.C. Deagan Co.

J.P. Dieter Co.

J.W. Allen & Co.

Jas. P. Marsh Corp.

Jays Foods, Inc.

Johnson Publishing Co.

Kelling Nut Company

Kellogg Switchboard & Supply

Kling Bros. & Co.

Kraft Foods Company

L. H. Thomas Co.

Langson MFG Co.

Liberty Dairy Products Co.

Lincoln Logs

Ludwig Drum Co.

Lyon & Healy

M.A. Donohue & Co.

Mall Tool Company

Mars Incorporated

MasterCrafters Clock & Radio Co.

Maybelline Company

Metal Moss MFG Co.

Mid City Uniform Cap Co.

Monark Silver King Inc.

Morton Salt Company

Motorola Inc.

National Washboard Co.

Nestor Johnson MFG Co.

Northwestern Beverage Co.

O-Cedar Corp.

Oliver Typewriter Co.

Olson Rug Co.

Page Boiler Company

Paymaster Corp.

Peerless Confection Co.

Pelouze Scale & MFG Co.

Peter Hand Brewing Co.

Playskool MFG Co.

Princess Pat Ltd.

QRS Music Company

Radio Flyer

Rand McNally & Co.

Reed Candy Company

Regal Musical Instrument Co.

Reid, Murdoch & Co.

Reliable Paste Co.

Replogle Globes, Inc.

Revere Camera Company

Rival Packing Co.

Rock-Ola MFG Corp.

S&C Electric Co.

Sanford Ink Company

Scholl MFG Co.

Schulze Baking Company

Schwinn Bicycle Co.

Sherman-Klove Co.

Shotwell MFG Co.

Shure Brothers, Inc.

Signode Steel Strapping Co.

Simoniz Company

Simonsen Metal Products Co.

Slingerland Drum Company

Spartus Camera Corp.

Sprague, Warner & Co.

Standard Brewery

Steele-Wedeles Company

Stenographic Machines, Inc.

Stewart-Warner Corp.

Stone Medicine Co.

Sunbeam Corp.

Swanberg MFG Co.

Swedish-American Telephone Co.

T.C. Gleason MFG Co.

TootsieToy

Triner Scale & MFG Co.

Turner Brass Works

Turtle Wax Inc.

U-C Lite MFG Co.

Union Publishing House

United Razor Blade Corp.

Universal Medicine Co.

Vail MFG Co.

Val-A Company

Valmor Products Co.

Van Cleef Brothers

Vaughan Novelty MFG Co.

Vee-Jay Records

Victor Adding Machine Co.

Victor X-Ray Corporation

W.D. Allen MFG Co.

W.F. McLaughlin & Co.

W.M. Welch Scientific Co.

Webster-Chicago Corp.

Westclox

Western Electric Co.

Western Fluorescent Light Co.

White Cap Co.

William Cooper & Nephews Inc.

Williamson Candy Co.

Wilson Jones Company

Wilson Sporting Goods

Wm. E. Pratt MFG Co.

Wm. Meyer Co.

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company

Woodstock Typewriter Company

Zenith Radio Corp.

Zeno MFG Co.

rogers-park-footer_edited.jpg

If you have any insights on this company and its history, or corrections about the details above, please share them below to help us tell a better story.

More Resources

rogers-park-historical-society-logo.jpg

© 2019 by Andrew Clayman. Created with Wix.com