Baby nearly named Bandoline Fixatrice

Here’s something interesting I found in a newspaper from 1885:

The Rev. Frederick George Lee, the well known ritualistic rector of All Souls’, Lambeth, England, writes that he had a child presented to him recently for baptism; and when he said to the parents and sponsors, “Name the child,” the answer was, “Bandoline Fixatrice.” The father was a barber and thought no prettier name could be found than the cosmetic in question. The clergyman, of course, refused to baptize the baby girl by that name and the parents had to be content with the homely name of Mary Ann.

First, I should note that Rev. Frederick George Lee was the vicar of All Saints’ Church in Lambeth, not All Souls’. Splitting hairs, perhaps…

Speaking of hairs, what is this strangely named cosmetic called “bandoline fixatrice”?

Bandoline advertisement, 1921
Bandoline ad, 1921

Turns out it was just called “bandoline” and it was used as a hair fixative, not unlike today’s gels and mousses.

One 1891 newspaper told women that “belles must use bandoline” in order to achieve the fashionable curls of the day.

But bandoline wasn’t just for the ladies. Men used it too. And it wasn’t just for the hair on your head, but also for taming unruly eyebrows and mustaches.

Usage of bandoline began in the mid-1800s, back when it was made by boiling quince seeds in water. Here’s one recipe:

Grandmother’s Bandoline

3/4 of a dram of quince seed.
1/4 pint of hot water.
1/4 ounce of rose water.
3 drops of oil of cloves.
3 drops of oil of lavender.
3 drops of essence of violet.

Soak the seeds over night in the hot water, putting them in a bowl at the back of the stove. Into the rose water put the perfumed oils and the violet essence. Then mingle the perfumery with the mucilage made of the seeds and water, straining it previously.

Later on (late 1800s and early 1900s) commercial versions like Jackson’s Bandoline and Owl Bandoline became available.

After the 1920s, bandoline fell out of fashion.

So, what do you think of the word “bandoline” as a given name? Is it better or worse than the name Mary?


  • Mixter, Margaret. “Keeping Hair in Curl During Hot Weather.” Daily True American 21 Jul. 1906: 8.
  • “Religious Notes.” Brooklyn Eagle 22 Feb. 1885: 10.
  • “The Girl with a Curl.” Pittsburgh Press 1 Nov. 1891: 11.
  • Walsh, John Henry. A Manual of Domestic Economy. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1874.

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