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When you think of hair extensions, you probably don’t think of the turn of the century, but in the early 1900s, it was actually quite trendy for women to add some extra hair to their hairstyles. While hair was sometimes purchased, it was also not uncommon for customers to send their own hair into a local business to have something whipped up.
There was apparently one such business in Auburn during the early 1900s. According to an advertisement from a 1910 premium guide for the DeKalb County Fair, Mrs. Valeria Zimmer of Auburn, Indiana, accepted orders for “hair switches made from combings and cut hair.” Interested individuals outside of town could also put in an order—they would simply need to send their hair through the mail.
By 1915, Mrs. Valeria Zimmer was succeeded by the Zimmer Hair Bazaar, which specialized not only in switches—which were essentially your average hair extensions—but also in transformations and puffs, which could be used to add volume to one’s hair, an especially fashionable trait in Edwardian society.
This 1915 letter from the Zimmer Hair Bazaar to customer Maud Goodale reads:
“I received the combings you have send (sic) me by mail and have made you a nice switch and have enough short hair left to make a transformation reaching from ear to ear. And should you want to use it sometimes as a puff, I can show you how to roll some into puffs. If this is satisfactory drop me a card at once. . . .”
The switches and transformation she ordered were $1.50 each.
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