Artifact of the Month

Marcel Wave Curling Iron

Marcel Wave Curling IronThe Marcel wave was invented in 1872 by a French hairdresser named Francois Marcel Grateau. The hairstyle is described as deep, regular waves made by a heated curling iron. Starting out in a small salon in Montmartre, France, Marcel initially gave free hairstyling to his clients in order to perfect the distinct wave. His success grew, and eventually exploded when he gave the hairstyle to Jane Hading, a French actress. He went on to invent a curling iron that was patented in the U.S. by 1905. He secured other patents on a variety of hair devices through the years. Early irons were heated over gas, but during the 1920s, electric irons were being made. On the left is the electric Marcel Wave curling iron which was patented on February 3, 1920. In the lower photo it is an example of the hairstyle created with this type of iron.  Our upcoming exhibit Beehives & Smokey Eyes: From Bathrooms to Barbershops opens on August 12, 2021, and will feature this iron, as well as many other beauty and barber products.