1950s Typewriter For The Ladies & Special Nail Polish
The atomic age office brought with it reams of typing, work which was usually reserved for women. Underwood, the famous typewriter manufacturer, responded to a consistent complaint of secretaries; chipped fingernails. Instead of chuckling at the stereotype, let's examine Underwood's two-pronged solution - a newly shaped typewriter key, and Underwood nail polish.
The Underwood 150 introduced half-moon shaped keys, giving long fingernails a chance to slip into the spaces between keys rather than striking the usual large button-shaped keys head on. Now you can preserve your blood-red talons rather than risk (quoting the ad): "short unfashionable fingernails". The typewriter also promised "kitten soft" key action (who writes this stuff?), so you don't have to mash your fingers down on the keys so much just to make the 150 work. I'll remember that next time I'm slamming out my resume on a baby cat.
The other tool to keep your fingernails and hands (again, quoting the ad...) "lovely to look at, lovely to touch" (they're not encouraging inter-office hanky-panky here, are they?), Underwood also introduced their own nail polish. It looks like it might have been more of a free marketing come-on rather than something you'd pick up at the five and dime. The "Underwood Red" polish promises durability above all, and claims to have been styled by "Beauty Consultants". After thinking about it, I suppose the combination of impact-resistant nail polish and the specially-shaped keys on the 150 could actually have helped eliminate the irritation of chipped nails. Though, why didn't that half-moon key shape stick around? Next time you see a woman with smashed up fingernails that can only be battle scars from a mid-century typing pool, maybe you can ask her for us.