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Antique Score: 1950's Handy Hannah Hairdryer

Posted by Courtney Lynn/Supersize Family Kitchens on July 25, 2017 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Antique Score: 1950's Handy Hannah Hairdryer

Last year I stopped at a yard sale. Honestly it didn’t look like much of a yard sale, so I almost didn’t even stop. Boy, was I wrong. There were dishes, antique silverware, and (amidst a pile of random knickknacks) a brownish-looking carrying case. I opened the case… and almost dropped my purse. There, nestled in the lining, was a 1950’s-era Handy Hannah hairdryer with the stand.

Cutest 5 bucks I ever spent.

I didn’t know if it worked, but that didn’t matter. For that price it could sit in my bathroom and look pretty. But… !!!surprise!!! It works!!!

First of all, I should say right now that I’m obsessed with the 1950’s. I love any movie or book set in the 1950’s, and I love the clothes, the hairstyles, the music, and the good-looking men. (I’m talking about you, Robert Conrad on Hawaiian Eye.) This hairdryer makes me want to stand in front of a mirror in a poodle skirt, doing my hair while singing some fun 50's song.

My dryer is a Handy Hannah 995 and it's in EXCELLENT condition. It’s apparently pretty rare because I couldn’t find a single one like it online. Other models are available, particularly the 995-C, which is modified from the 995. My dryer is metal with a wooden handle, but other versions come in several colors.

The top has two switches, On/Off and Hot/Cold. It’s only 215 watts, so it doesn’t blow very hard, but in the 1950’s, 215 watts was state-of-the-art.

The front has a slider switch that says Reduce Heat/Increase Heat. The circular label surrounding the vent says “Handy Hannah Hair Dryer. Heat Controlled. 215 Watts. 50-60 Cycles. Pat Pending. 115 Volts. AC Only. MFG By Standard Products Corp, Whitman, Mass.”

I don’t think the case is original. It doesn’t have any markings to indicate an association with Handy Hannah, but I love it anyway. It keeps my little hairdryer nice and safe until my 1950’s themed bathroom is finished and ready to decorate.

I wish my dryer had the original box! I found a 995-C on Etsy) and it has the box! It’s a great deal if anyone is interested.

I did a little research about the makers of Handy Hannah, and I found a pretty cool article on, written by Nancy Jane Thompson, about Handy Hannah and the history of hair dryers. It states,

“In the late 1800s, some people used their electric vacuums to suck the moisture out of their hair, the vacuum oftentimes taking some of their hair as well… In 1890, Frenchman Alexander Godefroy invented the first hair dryer. It was a hooded type, similar to ones available in modern salons… The first handheld hair dryer was patented by American Gabriel Kazanjian in 1911, but wasn’t widely available until 1915. The dryer was quite heavy, weighing in at over two pounds, prone to overheating, was capable of electrocuting people, and at only 100 watts, it took a lot longer to dry one’s hair than the 2000 watt models we have today. By the 1950s, different materials were being used to make the dryers lighter, and the wattage was steadily increasing. One of the top brands of hair dryers during the ‘50s was the “Handy Hannah,” a lovely model, coming in three different colors and boasting a massive 215 watts. It was made of metal with a wooden handle, had an improved electrical motor, and was one of the first hair dryers to have a heat control mechanism.” 1.

Reference 1: 

What about you? What's your favorite yard sale find?