Salvation Lass

These paper masks were worn at parties and other social gatherings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The first character, a sort of menacing clown, is labeled on the back with its original 5-cent price tag from Wannamaker’s department store, but remains otherwise unidentified.  The second character is clearly marked as having been produced by Raphael Tuck & Sons, famous for their postcards of the period, and is titled “Salvation Lass.”  This term was apparently used to describe proper young girls who worked as pamphleteers and solicitors for the Salvation Army.  The girl’s stiff bonnet, modestly parted hair and heavenward gaze attest to her wholesomeness.  These two masks are excellent examples of fine chromolithography, embossing, and die cutting.  The detail is amazing, not only in the variation of color and tone but also in the fact that the facial features, including individual wrinkles and strands of hair, have a raised texture acquired through the embossing process when the cardstock was stamped and shaped with heated brass molds.  Reproductions of many character masks from the period are available today and, though they don’t approach the quality of these originals, I can say from experience that their effect on observers is remarkable.

Note: Due to resolution conflicts, the images appear grainier than they actually are.  To correct for this problem, images can be opened, saved to your desktop and then viewed in their original clarity.

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