Mar 25, 2021 - Sale 2562

Sale 2562 - Lot 70

Price Realized: $ 2,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(BEAUTY.) Printed portrait and small catalog for Madame Mamie Hightower's Golden Brown Beauty Preparations. Sizes as noted; short tear and pinhole to portrait, folds to leaflet. [Memphis, TN?], circa 1920s

Additional Details

Offered here are a 10 x 8-inch printed portrait of "Madame Mamie Hightower, Illustrious Creator, Golden Brown Beauty Preparations"; and a folding leaflet titled "A Beauty Book Written by Stars of Stage and Screen," 8 pages on one 7 x 16 1/2-inch sheet. The well-illustrated leaflet features 7 endorsements including singers Rosa Henderson and Ethel Waters.

This company was inspired by the success of Madame Walker's beauty supply empire. Circa 1921, Hessig-Ellis, a white-owned Memphis company, set up a separate division with 35 Black employees called Madame Mamie Hightower's Golden Brown Beauty Preparations. Mamie Hightower (1867-1927) was an actual person--wife of a porter at Hessig-Ellis--but apparently served only as a figurehead (see Martha Patterson, "The American New Woman Revisited," pages 269-270). She had one powerful credential: her portrait shows a strong facial resemblance to the best-known Madame Walker portrait, emphasized by a nearly identical pose. The company continued long after Hightower's death in 1927. We don't know for certain what role Mamie ever played in the company, but in 1930 after her death, her husband Zack remained a drugstore porter.

Although this was a profitable and long-lived company, we find no other Hightower / Golden Brown material at auction or in OCLC.