One of my biggest time drains and frustrations is picking covers for my novels. I have sifted through literally thousands and thousands of pictures–passing up ones that would be fine, if only the lady wasn’t wearing nail polish!
It’s not as historically inaccurate as you might think.
While it’s not hard to believe someone like Cleopatra might have found some sort of dye to stain her nails, the trend did not die there until Revlon presented Nail Lacquer in 1932.
No, for centuries women did dye their nails–but only those of royalty or upper class were allowed to use dark or bold colors, while those of a lesser social standing had to stick with pale hues. But, this particular rule faded in 1830 with the introduction of the first official emory board, which then allowed women of all statuses to have their nails manicured.
So if this isn’t historically inaccurate, why don’t we see more heroines with colored nails on book covers? Because this is one of those “assumed inaccuracies”, meaning the majority of people don’t know that such a thing was common back then. People do judge books by their covers and if the cover appears to look inaccurate, many will pass it right up for the next in line. Plus, frankly, it does look kind of odd since, in general, we don’t really think about people in the 1800s having their nails painted.
For other fun facts about the history of manicures and nail polish, go watch this video.
Who Knew? is one of my favorite sources for fun historical trivia. They way they present it is quick, fun, very informative and highly entertaining at times.