More Camelia ads:
1920s (Germany), 1930s (Germany), 1940/42 (Germany, with underpants made from sugar sacks, 1945/46), 1952 (Australia), 1970s (France), 1990 (Germany) - Underpants directory
Booklets menstrual hygiene companies made for girls, women and teachers - patent medicine - a list of books and articles about menstruation - videos
What did American and European women use in the past for menstruation?
See also How shall I tell my daughter? and Personal Digest and read the whole booklet As One Girl to Another (Kotex, 1940).
See a Kotex ad advertising a Marjorie May booklet.
See many more similar booklets.
See ads for menarche-education booklets: Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday (Kotex, 1932), Tampax tampons (1970, with Susan Dey), Personal Products (1955, with Carol Lynley), and German o.b. tampons (lower ad, 1981)
See also the booklets How shall I tell my daughter? (Modess, various dates), and Growing up and liking it (Modess, various dates)
And read Lynn Peril's series about these and similar booklets!
Read the full text of the 1935 Canadian edition of Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday, probably identical to the American edition.
Is this the first Tampax tampon? Go to Early Commercial Tampons
Other early commercial tampons - Main Tampax patent - Ad from 1936 - World War II Tampax sign
More ads for teens (see also introductory page for teenage advertising): Are you in the know? (Kotex napkins and Quest napkin powder, 1948, U.S.A.), Are you in the know? (Kotex napkins and belts, 1949, U.S.A.)Are you in the know? (Kotex napkins, 1953, U.S.A.), Are you in the know? (Kotex napkins and belts, 1964, U.S.A.), Freedom (1990, Germany), Kotex (1992, U.S.A.), Pursettes (1974, U.S.A.), Pursettes (1974, U.S.A.), Saba (1975, Denmark)
See early tampons and a list of tampon on this site - at least the ones I've cataloged.
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
homepage | MUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | asbestos | belts | bidets | founder bio | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) | cats | company booklets for girls (mostly) directory | contraception and religion | costumes | menstrual cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | facts-of-life booklets for girls | famous women in menstrual hygiene ads | FAQ | founder/director biography | gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux | humor | huts | links | masturbation | media coverage of MUM | menarche booklets for girls and parents | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | olor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | shame | slapping, menstrual | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour of the former museum (video) | underpants & panties directory | videos, films directory | Words and expressions about menstruation | Would you stop menstruating if you could? | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.

The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health
Former museum – Future Comic strip about visit to the museum

Camelia, early disposable menstrual napkin, boxes (Monatsbinde), Germany, 1930s
And see one of the nicest ads ever for a product (just my opinion), Camelia pads.

Imagine this: a company starts a menstrual pad factory in a small town in the Midwest, U.S.A., let's say where Kotex was made. Now, what to name it? Hm.

Oh, I know, let's name it after the flower associated with a famous prostitute!


Well, the Germans did! Of course, it was during the Weimar Republic, in 1926, a famously turbulent and liberal period–oops!–in German history. The wh-, um, prostitute was the heroine of the famous (in Europe, and in earlier America where it was known as "Camille") play "La Dame aux Camélias" ("The Lady of the Camellias") by Alexandre Dumas (which Verdi later morphed into the opera "La Traviata"–"The Wayward Woman"). Educated Europeans would have understood the association and maybe smiled at it. Or felt guilty. Europeans accepted, and accept, these things easier than Americans.

The title character would show a white camellia when she was willing to receive clients and a red one when - you guessed it - she was menstruating. Red has been mostly taboo in American menstrual advertising (but not with Camelia!). We certainly can't hint at the color of the substance our product is absorbing, can we? (Some prostitutes in northern Germany today show a porcelain dog's face when they're available and turn Bowser around to show his [her?] tail when they're not. Wait, shouldn't it be the other way arou- - oh, forget it.)

Look! The boxes are about the same blue as, um, Kotex blue, which Kotex modestly (not Modessly) called hospital blue! What gives with this color? That's just what Dr. Lillian Gilbreth wondered in her report to Johnson & Johnson (maker of Kotex's competitor Modess, which also–Oh, no!–used Kotex blue, here!) in 1928.

Camelia was an early German disposable pad. Hartmann, of Germany, made probably the first commercial disposable anywhere. About the same time (1890s) Johnson & Johnson probably made the first American disposable, Lister's Towels.

And another thing that hasn't happened in America: an exhibit about menstruation in a government museum! (See the catalog particulars in tiny type, right below.) Yes, I had an exhibit in my house for four years but can you imagine the Smithsonian having such an exhibit? But Norway did too.

I adapted the pictures and gleaned information from the catalog "Menstruation: Monatshygiene im Wandel von 1900 bis heute," Text und Katalog: Sabine Zinn-Thomas und Walter Stolle. Eine Ausstellung des Hessischen Landesmuseums Darmstadt in der Außenstelle Lorsch, 26.11.1998 bis 31.7.1999. My translation: "Menstruation: Changing menstrual hygiene [in Germany, mostly] from 1900 to today [1998]." Text and catalog: Sabine Zinn-Thomas and Walter Stolle. An exhibition of the Hessian State Museum, Darmstadt, in the branch at Lorsch, from November 26, 1998 to July 31, 1999.

What? There really
was a lady of the Camellias? Read this short review of a biography of Marie Duplessis (from The New Yorker, 5 August 2013):

The Girl Who Loved Camellias, by Julie Kavanagh (Knopf). The great French courtesan Marie Duplessis was muse to Alexander Dumas fils and Franz Liszt, and, via Dumas, Verdi's inspiration for "La Traviata." Fleeing a dreadful childhood in Normandy, Duplessis bounced from job to job – maid, laundress, apprentice at an umbrella shop – before arriving in Paris, where she found the work that suited her best. While her profession alienated her from the women of society, her natural charm and glamour made her irresistible to men. Tracing Duplessis's many affairs, Kavanagh brings eighteen-forties Paris vividly to life. Denied a formal education, Duplessis proved a quick study, and her command of the works of Balzac, Byron, Molière, and Cervantes added to her allure. She inspired a wealth of imaginative accounts, and was only twenty-three when she died, of consumption [tuberculosis], in 1847.

Left: The prostitute heroine of the play "La Dame aux Camélias" wears the red camellia that shows she's menstruating and not available. This picture came glued to the boxes (below the next picture). She also graces the cover of a Dutch booklet promoting Camelia.
Just below: There seems to be a bad woman-good woman connection between the Camelia lady (left) and this nurse in an earlier Camelia ad, below. The nurse's uniform, after all, derived from a nun's habit. It's almost as if she's wagging her finger at the harlot. Read more about the nurse here.
Don't both pictures enforce the Außenseiter - outsider - side of menstruation as shown here?
Below: The boxes - these are two different sizes - allowed a woman to store them with a blank side facing the viewer, concealing the contents. In the 1920s, American college women wanted menstrual pad boxes that had a similar design. Camelia early on put a slip of paper inside the box that the customer could bring to a female clerk; the slip's text asked for a box of Camelia. This was similar to the maker's suggestion that Kotex boxes sit on the counter next to a coin box. No need to exchange words in either case.
See one of the nicest ads ever for a product (just my opinion), Camelia pads.
More Camelia ads:
1920s (Germany), 1930s (Germany), 1940/42 (Germany, with underpants made from sugar sacks, 1945/46), 1952 (Australia), 1970s (France), 1990 (Germany) - Underpants directory

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