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The mystery of the twin beauties...

This short story is about two beautiful Japanese women, a smart business man and a gramophone needle tin, where a puzzling ending lead me to discover its beginning.

In late 2017 I was delighted to find the "CLUB" gramophone needle tin (shown below) in Japan. It's appeal was immediate, adorned with two beautiful Japanese ladies wearing bold floral hair decorations. It took very little imagination to picture these beautiful tins for sale in a general store and how they might tempt buyers to choose them over their competitors. That said, the tin gave no clues as to its history in terms of where it came from in Japan and what might have been the catalyst for the the brand and design. At the time I was simply delighted with the visual appeal of the tin and from the style of the image and printing, guessed it was from the early 1900's.

Just a few months later I was at one of Japan's biggest antique fairs in Tokyo, hunting for treasure, when i spotted the familiar image of the two Japanese ladies on a packet of CLUB "Toilet Washing Powder" and a small round powder box of CLUB "Face Powder". "Sugoi!" I exclaimed, which is a Japanese expression of surprise. I immediately bought both items and set out to find their connection to my gramophone needle tin.

On this packet (above) we can see that the two Japanese ladies are modestly covered by the beautiful native Japanese bell-flower and the design has a distinctive art nouveau border, a style popular in the early 1900's.

The small cardboard compact (left), just 42mm in diameter, again features the twin beauties, albeit in much less detail, and is decorated with Japanese Camellia flowers.

The most important thing these two items tell us, is that they were made by a company called 'Nakayama Taiyodo', also known as the 'Imperial Toilet Club', in Osaka. The CLUB brand of toilet washing powder was released on the 3rd of April 1906 and quickly became their number one selling product.