Saturday, May 14, 2022

Oussadba Russe

Princess Clementine Eristavi Tchitcherine owned a restaurant/tearoom called Oussadba Russe, in a 1929 directory, it was located at 84 Faubourg St. Honoré. It featured "tea and Russian music." It was also the name of a perfume, Russian Oussadba.

Clementine de Vere (20 December 1888–31 March 1973), also known by her stage name Ionia, was the most influential female magician in the first half of the 20th century. A British magician and illusionist she was also known as Clementine Weedon and Princess Clementine Eristavi Tchitcherine, she was a British citizen, although she was born in Belgium and lived in France for a long period. She performed with the stage name "Ionia - the Enchantress" or the "Goddess of Mystery".

Born in Brussels in Belgium, Clementine de Vere was the eighth child of the British-born illusionist Herbert Shakespeare Gardiner Williams (1843-1931), a popular conjurer and magician who took the stage name Charles de Vere, and his wife Julia de Vere (née Ferrett, 1852–1916), who performed the first Oriental magic act under the name "Okita". He opened a magic shop in London in 1873, and a magic shop/factory in Brussels in 1878. One of Clementine de Vere's sisters was the French actress Elise de Vère (1879-1917), who starred in the silent film Miss de Vère (English Jig). The family moved to Paris in 1892 where Charles de Vere opened another magic shop which he ran until about 1909, assisted by his sons. Here Clementine de Vere was said to have been influenced by the artists of the Folies Bergère. On 5 May 1904 aged only 15 1/2 she eloped with the American circus artist and tamer Herman Weedon (actually: Herman Armond Wirtheim, 1876–1959) from the Bostock Circus.


In June 1904 the newly married couple travelled to New York as Weedon had a commitment on Coney Island. Clementine accompanied him in the following years on his professional travels in Europe and the United States. From her marriage with Weedon she had a son, Frank H. Weedon (1907-1984), who later was known under the name Frank Wirtheim Tchitcherine. In 1909 Clementine de Vere travelled with Herman Weedon to Denmark, Russia, and Vienna. Between 1900 until 1909 her brother Camille (1885-1909) was working in the family magic business at 13, rue Saulnier in Paris until Camille died of diabetes mellitus. Charles de Vère then gave up his business and retired to Rosny-sous-Bois, where he worked on the preparation of a big show for his daughter Clementine.


Clementine performed as "Ionia" for several years in continental Europe before a series of performances in the United Kingdom. On 30 January 1911, she appeared on stage as "Ionia", later sometimes billed as "the Enchantress" or as the "Goddess of Mystery", in an act at the Birmingham Hippodrome in England, in a routine which required six tons of equipment and elaborate Egyptian costumes for Clementine and her male and female assistants "Ionia" had great success and that year her act was seen in later years in Vienna, Marseilles, Lyon, Prague, and other venues. Her last contemporary mention was apparently in the March 1911 issue of the magazine The Sphinx the cover of which showed a photograph de Vère. The text in this issue dealt with her appearance in Manchester.


"Ionia" was contracted to perform in America, but did not due to the sudden closing of Broadway's Folies Bergere of New York. This theatre was opened in the spring of 1911 and closed in October of the same year because of financial difficulties. Clementine de Vere had a contract with this theatre and after its closure could not find suitable employment. In 1912 Clementine spends most of the year performing in Vienna at the Kaiser Garten and at the Ronacher theatres.

Some of the last recorded appearances of Clementine de Vere as "Ionia" were in Vienna, at the Ronacher Theatre. By 1914 Charles de Vere was disappointed that his daughter had not continued her elaborate act and tried to sell the tricks and pieces of equipment to curb the financial losses that had arisen for him.

She met a Russian-Georgian Prince Vladimir Eristavi Tchitcherine d'Aragvi (19 October 1881–February 1967) in Austria in 1913 and married him on 21 June 1919 in Paris, after her first marriage had been dissolved on 23 June 1917. 





After their marriage, the Prince took Clementine to Russia. This is a postscript from her father's letter from 1928,

"My daughter who was Ionia was at Moscow when the Revolution commenced.  All her material pillaged and she was in cellar of Hotel 3 months."

Her father's statement is correct, but her materials were not magic. Clementine had given up magic before when she met Tchitcherine. She was not performing magic in Russia. Clementine was in Russia to buy large tracts of rural real estate, mostly usadbas. In the 1920s Clementine de Vere lived temporarily with her second husband in Washington, D.C. and later in Paris. It was during this time that she opened a Russian tea room she called Oussadba-Russe at 84 Faubourg Saint Honore, Paris.

 On 26 October 1928, this second marriage too was dissolved, but Clementine de Vere retained the title of Princess, which she had received by the marriage. She lived in France for the rest of her life and was buried with her parents in Batignolles Cemetery in Paris, after her death in 1973. 

Ionia's performing career was relatively short, lasting just five years total. From 1908 until mid 1910 Clementine's act featured trained animals. Her magic act was constructed by her father Charles de Vere in 1909 and debuted in September 1910 in Marseilles. "Ionia's" act was spectacular, filling the stage with illusions. Her act was advertised with beautiful posters which many collectors consider to be some of the most artistic posters of magic's Golden Age. Of the 22 known posters for "Ionia" produced by Moody Brothers of Birmingham, only eleven have survived and are now considered expensive collectibles.

Info on Clementine from wikipedia. More information on deVere can be found at this archival website.


About the Tearoom:


The name Oussadba refers to the usadba, a form of property that includes a house with outbuildings and land surrounding it: a garden, park or vegetable garden. This term for a rural estate is mainly used in Russian architecture. Initially, usadbas were given as presents by Princes or Tsars, who thus "planted" the men they had chosen on a particular land, the usadbas were then inherited, and later bought. The usadba would be a permanent residence of a holiday destination. 

La Revue de Paris, 1922:

"Go back now, look at the few shops that face the presidential palace; the narrowest, the smallest of all will strike you with its bright lighting, its colorful coloring, the disparate strangeness of the objects that you see gathered there and the words painted on the facade: Russian Oussadba. Small objects from Saxony, among small handwritten signs: Cakes and Russian tea, Furs for sale... And oriental-looking jewelry, a miniature, lace and an icon. Come in. The shop is tiny, with a narrow staircase applied to the back wall. An employee in a pleated smock, in Turkish red, is bored behind a table, surrounded by objects that are certainly elegant, but which still have a wild appearance, of too marked a color and of a shape whose whim does not has not adapted to certain rules of harmony, a certain perfection in the finish in which Italy excelled during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, France in the seventeenth and seventeenth."


Bulletin of the American Women's Club of Paris, Inc, 1927: 

"The incense of fragrant tea and a background of old Russian fresques by [Ivan] Bilibin, court-painter to the last of the Romanoffs: the quivering heart of old Russia revives for you at the OUSSADBA RUSSE, Paris' super fashionable tearoom."


Paris and Its Environs, with Routes from London to Paris by Karl Baedeker (Firm), 1932:

"There is no longer a tea room at Chez Masson; La Maisonnette Russe and Oussadba Russe have disappeared."


address of the tearoom today, on the far right.


The Perfume:


Schager Courant, 1930:

"The perfume Oussadba-Russe. There is a lot of history associated with this perfume. Prince Alexander Bezoukoff, who resided in St Petersburg (Leningrad) in 1789, was a real dandy. His love for perfumes led him to convert part of his palace into a laboratory, where he made new combinations every day to prepare delicious perfumes in this way. A new perfume which he had prepared pleased him so much that shortly afterwards when he gave a party in his summer residence Oussadba, he drenched everything with this perfume. Perfume had dissolved even in the water of the fountains. This perfume was therefore very popular with the Russian court, and remained so from the time of Catherine II to Nicholas II. Due to fortunate circumstances, the composition of this perfume came into the hands of Princess Eristavi, who managed to form a combination, who took over the further preparation of this perfume."

The perfume was contained in a heavy, round, clear glass bottle, with a gray-blue tinted glass stopper. It had an oval shaped paper label with the name "Russian Oussadba."


The Prince:

The Price called Orel, Russia home and he claimed his mother was Princess Nadejda (Nadine) Eristoff (Eristow, Eristavi) d'Aragva of Switzerland, from a line of hereditary ruling princes of Georgia, and he was the son of Victor Tchitcherine, he was related to Prince Simon C. Sidamon Eristoff, who married JP Morgan's cousin, Ann Tracy. 

The Tchitcherines were a Russian noble family with medieval roots, although not a royal one, while the Eristavis were a Georgian royal family, and Vladimir added the second name to his own after his first marriage to Clementine de Vere. The Prince assuming the name of his mother, as he had the right to do, in Paris in 1923, his assumption of the name being countersigned by members of his immediate family and the Georgian legation in Paris.

The Prince said he was an officer of the Imperial Russian Guard and was a scion of the first of the Russian-Georgian families. Through his father, one of his ancestors was one of the sixteen electors to place the Romanoffs on the throne in 1613, and another was governor-general of Siberia under Catherine the Great. The Prince was previously married to an unknown Polish woman. 

The Prince claimed to be fluent in four languages: English, Russian, French and German and said he saw military service in the Lancers of Her Majesty in the cavalry of the Russian Imperial Guard as a cadet. Before serving as a member of Her Majesty's Lancers, the prince was a pupil in the Imperial Law School in St. Petersburg. After serving as a cadet in the Lancers for two years, he resigned, but in 1910, was called into active service again, and was promoted to the first grade of officers. Later, due to ill health, he was discharged from military service, thereafter becoming senior officer for special investigation to the governor or Orel. In 1913, he was transferred to the governor in Kostroma in the same capacity.  During World War I, was in charge of the regional Red Cross and hospital organization. After the Bolshevik rebellion in 1917, the prince was mobilized and made inspector for the Red Army of the high military schools for cadets, a position corresponding to the post of colonel. Political persecution caused the prince to flee to Paris in 1919, but he was immediately made a member of the state department by the department head, serving as representative of the white Russian government that then had its seat in Paris. 

Prince Vladimir married second in March 1929, Diane Rockwood who was from Indianapolis, IN, and they were also divorced as she charged "cruel and inhuman treatment and non-support" and that the prince was "fault finding and quarrelsome." After his divorce the Prince went to Palm Beach, Florida and went to work selling jewelry. 

The Prince married his third wife, one-time screen actress and Ziegfeld Follies beauty, Lucy Cotton on 3 May 1941, just one month after they met at a society luncheon, but they too divorced, in 1944.

 She told her lawyer that "life in the household was unbearable; that the prince found fault with everything she did; that she was a prisoner in her own room." When she filed for divorce she charged "extreme cruelty" and "habitual indulgence in a wild and ungovernable temper." She said the prince their their home in a "fit of rage." She said he merely used the place to eat and sleep in and not as a home, despite her efforts to please him. He often locked himself in his room for hours, refusing to speak to her or respond to her entreaties. In the divorce suit, she mentioned that the Prince had none of his own money and basically called him penniless.

It is interesting to note that his former lawyer described the prince as "imperialistic in nature, high strung and irritable; that because of his royalty, he has little regard for what he says of how he says it; that all of these things make it difficult for an attorney to carry out legal affairs of the prince."

In 1941, the Russian Nobility Association issued a bulletin pointing out sternly that the Prince was not a Price. His mother was a Georgian who owned some land and the translation of the Georgian equivalent for landowner into Russian makes him a price in name only. Eristavi was an Italian name and no such title existed in Russia before the collapse in 1917. 

He said in 1942 that he had not heard from his mother for a year who resided in Glion sur Montreaux, Switzerland, and he had a brother, Alexander Tchitcherine, a colonel in the imperial guard residing in Paris.

Also in 1942, he petitioned the war department to let him serve in any capacity to the US military, in his petition, he also stated he would renounce his title and henceforth be called Mr. Eristavi. He explained that, while he is still known by the title "prince," he is no longer technically entitled to it, since he had became an American citizen that May.

In 1944, after the bitter divorce was final, the prince ended up working at the Ocean Surf Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, checking in guests. He said that he found the hotel business "not difficult at all; in fact, I think I will stay in it." 

The next year, he moved to new York City. In 1953, at the age of 71, he married a 21 year old blonde, Natasha Varanoff. Varanoff was from Reval, Estonia, but lived in New York.


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Eau d'Hermes by Hermes c1951

Eau d'Hermès was created by perfumer Edmond Roudnitska in 1951. History tells us that the perfume division, Hermes Parfums, was set up in 1950, marketing the first Hermes perfume, the classic Eau d'Hermes. However, I found a 1946 ad and a 1949 advertisement for Holt Renfrew that offered L'Eau de Hermes, is this a precursor?





Fragrance Composition:


Roudnitska created the scent to "capture the essence of the Hermes elegance" in dedication to Emile-Maurice Hermes who died in 1951. It was the scent of the rich and famous and the horse riding royals who entered Hermès stores to buy luxury items like saddles, Limoges ashtrays, cigar cutters, silk scarves, and leather bags. Finding Eau d'Hermès in a regular perfume store or an American department stores was nearly impossible., it was said that even the Hermès boutiques carried it selectively.


The scent was inspired by the scent on a linen handkerchief wadded up in the bottom of an old handbag that had been sent to Hermes for repair. The challenge had been to recreate the alluring combination of old leather and the classic scent of lavender water. Roudnitska's said the fragrance perfectly captured "the inside of an Hermès bag where the scent of a perfume lingered... A note of fine leather wrapped in fresh trails of citrus fruit and seasoned with spices." Eau d'Hermes was described as "like a secret perfume reserved for an elite of connoisseurs." 

Eau d'Hermes is classified as a refreshing citrus floral fragrance for men and women, in the same family as Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior, O de Lancome, and Eau de Rochas. The fragrance has a citrusy top that comingles the scent of raw leather with new mown hay, fern extracts, exotic hot and dry spices and the flowers of rare Indochinese reeds. It was mainly geared towards men, but women also found it delightful to wear as well. 

  • Top notes: lavender, lemon, bergamot, petitgrain, sage, citron, cumin, cardamom
  • Middle notes: tonka bean, jasmine, clove, cinnamon, coriander, geranium bourbon leaf, floral notes
  • Base notes: cedar, birch, civet, vanilla, labdanum, leather, oakmoss, vetiver, amber, sandalwood
 
 

Bottles:


Presented in the classic Hermes, boxed, squared off heavy, chunky crystal bottle with the mushroom-domed stopper. These are regarded as the "deluxe" bottles and have a suede ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle. Three paper labels are on the botte, the front has its large circular label and a smaller rectangular label down towards the bottom that says "Eau d'Hermes Paris France", and also a rectangular one on the back of the bottle which states the capacity. The base is molded with "Hermes - Paris - Made in France." Most were produced in France by Pochet et du Courval and you can find the little entwined "HP" symbol on the base. 





It was housed in a orange leather presentation box.

Edmond Roudnitska, the “nose” of Eau d'Hermès, comments on the bottle: “The beauty of the bottle presented to me by Jean Guerrand moved me, captivated me and inspired me. The whole universe of Hermes was there, both sumptuous and extremely simple in this crystal bottle...I had to conceive the purest olfactory form. The solid crystal bottle touched with emery, the old-fashioned engraved labels representing the ex-libris of Emile Hermès and the natural leather link were made identically."

The paper labels portray the small Hermès carriage, a prestigious logo of the world famous house.

If your bottle is missing its label and you do not know what size it is, use this handy guide to determine the ounce/milliliter:
  • " tall = 26.3 oz (750ml)
  • 7.75"tall  = 16 oz (400ml)
  • 6.5" tall = 8 oz (200ml)
  • 5.5" tall  = 4 oz (100ml)
  • 4.5" tall = 2 oz (60ml)
 










Fate of the Fragrance:


From the 1950s to the 1970s, Eau d'Hermes could be found in the heavy, chunky crystal flacons. Smaller  bottles have large black caps instead of the glass stoppers, they both sport round paper labels

Eau d'Hermes was reintroduced in 1987 in honor of the company's 150th anniversary. Eau d'Hermes became an internationally favorite of both men and women when it was introduced. Its disappearance later remains unsolved. At Hermes, speculation was that the complex formula vanished from record contained only in the mind of Edmond Roudnitska, who did not use perfume, as he worked with them every day. The only exception he was willing to make was Eau d'Hermes. The then-current chairman of Hermes, Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes, discovered that Roudnitska, then in his 80s, had never stopped wearing what he called "la belle eau," and agreed to recreate the formula for the company. This 1987 formula is known as "Grande Eau d'Hermes."

Scroll down further to read about the limited edition crystal bottle from 1987. Hermes also introduced the Grand Eau d'Hermes fragrance in a wider distribution in lower priced examples. These non-limited edition bottles have pewter colored caps instead of the glass stoppers, and sport round paper labels, they may still retain their Hermes 1987 anniversary ribbons tied around the neck. These bottles were sold well into the 1990s.
.
In 2001, Eau d'Hermes was repackaged in new bottles. These bottles were issued with copper colored caps and have the name printed on the bottle, rather than have a paper label. This packaging was used until around 2007. It was around this time that Eau d'Hermes was presented in bottles with a clear cap. In 2010, a new version was reformulated by Jean Claude Ellena.  

Around 2014, the fragrance was reformulated, this edition is known for its black cap and rectangular orange paper label.





Limited Edition Flacons:


A special crystal bottle was handed out to the guests of the first April in Paris Ball in 1951. Made up of Baccarat crystal and presented in the familiar orange Hermes packaging, this is a rare find today.



The 1987 fragrance was offered in limited edition, each bottle individually numbered. The bottle itself, a hand-blown lead crystal flacon came in a signature Hermes orange box with a pearl yellow silken lining. To ensure handling with extra care, the new 16 oz flacon of precious Hermes perfume was hand delivered by special messenger to the lucky recipient, at no extra cost. A mini, refillable travel-sized bottle for your handbag for a mere $125 was also delivered, as an added bonus.

Prices for this new formulation was $550 for the 16 oz flacon, while the 4 oz flacon retailed for $275. A Baccarat bottle, numbered in a limited series, retailed for $700 for the 400ml. Exclusively at Hermes boutiques and selected retailers starting September 1987.

In 1990, a flacon of faceted crystal, mouth-blown and hand cut by the Cristalleries de Saint Louis was filled with 15 ounces of Eau d'Hermes. This flacon was created as a coronation gift for Emperor Akihito of Japan in November, 1990. A limited edition of 400 pieces was sold at Hermes Boutiques at a price of $5,000.

From 1993 onward, Eau d’Hermès was sold in heavy lead crystal limited edition bottles without the familiar round, paper logo. Hermes assigns a theme to each year and these special bottles were hand engraved with the annual theme. Each bottle's neck was tied with its goatskin leather ribbon dyed a different color each year.

  • 1993 - The year of the Horse (blue ribbon)
  • 1994 - The year of the Sun (yellow ribbon)
  • 1995 - The Year of On the Road Again (sea-green ribbon)
  • 1996 - The Year of Music (pink ribbon)
  • 1997 - The Year of Africa (red ribbon)
  • 1998 - The Year of the Tree (green ribbon)
  • 1999 - The Year of the Stars & Mythology (purple ribbon)
  • 2000 - First Steps into the New Millennium
  • 2001 - Looking for the Beauty of the Earth (orange ribbon)
  • 2002 - Year of the Hand
  • 2003 – Year of the Mediterranean Sea (dark blue ribbon)
  • 2004 – Year of Fantasy
  • 2005 – Year of the River
  • 2006 – Year of Paris
  • 2007 – Year of Dance
  • 2008 – Year of India
  • 2009 – A Beautiful Escape (Travel)
  • 2010 – Year of Storytelling
  • 2011 – Year of the Contemporary Artisan
  • 2012 – The Gift of Time
  • 2013 – A Sporting Life
  • 2014 – Year of Metamorphosis


Inside the signature orange Hermes presentation box was a card describing the theme of the year, the number “out of 500” and the name of the artisan who painstakingly completed the hand engraving. Each was limited to only 500 numbered bottles per year. They were sold exclusively at select Hermès stores and most likely sold out quickly. 





A limited edition bottle for the theme "The Year of the Horse" from 1993 is engraved decoration of an equestrian on a prancing horse.
Engraving titled "la Courbette", inspired by the drawing of René Princereau, containing 120 ml of eau de toilette. Only 500 examples made.




The limited edition from "The Year of the Sun" of 1994 is engraved with the mythological Pegasus, ;e Cheval-Soleil, designed by Raymond Savignac. It has a yellow leather ribbon on the neck.






The theme of 1995 was the "Year of the Road" and engraved decoration of flags, ropes and ears of wheat, "the insignia based on the "Voiles de Lumiere" scarf, designed by Joaquim Metz to celebrate the Hermes Year of the Road." Its neck is trimmed with a sea-green leather tie."





In 1996, a 4 fl. oz., limited edition crystal bottle for the "Year of Music" theme, was engraved with a band of musicians occupying a horse carriage with a man standing in front cracking his whip into the shape of a music note, completed by a beautifully tied leather ribbon around the neck and a large sealed glass stopper. The original orange Hermes presentation box and outer sleeve.






In 1997, a limited edition known as “The Year of Africa,"  inspired by the beauty that is Africa. The bottle held 120ml and retailed for $920. It was engraved with the Elephant, illustration by Abel Alier Rech, a young Sudanese from Polataka, who was chosen to celebrate the year of Africa and is dressed with a red leather ribbon.





The theme for 1998 was the "Year of the Tree," the bottle is engraved with the little Hermes coach passing through a hole at the base of a massive Redwood tree.




For 1999, the theme was the "Year of Stars and Mythology", the image on the bottle is described as "with a graceful leap, the famous horse and carriage soars up towards the starry sky of the third millennium." The bottle is tied with a purple ribbon.


For the millennium, the theme was "First Steps into the New Century." This bottle was engraved with a little boy tugging along a toy horse on wheels.



In 2001,  the theme was "Discovering the beauty of the world," a 120ml limited edition hand-engraved crystal flacon was offered for $650 at Hermes boutiques and selected higher end shops. It is engraved with an image of the sun-carriage of Phaethon, the globe of the earth is sitting in the carriage. Only 500 examples were produced.





Also in 2001, a limited edition in the crystal flacon was released for the 50th anniversary of Eau d'Hermes. This was not an etched flacon, but had the recreated "Ex Libris" round paper label affixed.


2003 was the "Year of the Mediterranean Sea" and the bottle features an engraving of a man looking at a seahorse pulling the little Hermes coach. This 120ml edition was only available in 300 bottles.






Parfums de-Folet

Parfums de-Folet are a very obscure French perfume company who only seemed to be in operation from 1938-1941. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Andrade by Lise Watier c1978

Lise Watier Fragrances was a division of the Montreal-based cosmetic company established by Lise Watier in 1972. Her brand originally started in 1968 with a spa, called 'L'Institut Lise Watier'. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Liana Hawaiian Perfumes

 Liana of Waikiki, Hawaiian Perfumes Incorporated.



Essence Absolue Épurée

 In your travels, you may come across a bottle of "Essence Absolue Épurée" and may wonder what it actually is. A "Purified Absolute Essence" is derived from a concrete, a natural waxy substance which results from a process of extraction of flowers. If the concrete is further refined—by rinsing with strong alcohol in shaking machines called batteuses— cooled, then filtered to remove the wax and natural pigments, the almost pure product obtained this way is highly concentrated, this is called "absolute essence". 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Le Fruit Defendu by Rosine c1913

Le Fruit Defendu by Rosine: created by Henri Alméras and launched in 1913, probably in USA by 1916. The name means "The Forbidden Fruit" in French and referred to the "forbidden fruit" of Adam and Eve's demise. The perfume was a favorite of American actress Gloria Swanson.




Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Silver Overlay & Deposit Perfumes & Scent Bottles

In this guide I will introduce you to the world of the silver overlay/deposit perfume bottles and the different types available.

Most people use the terms interchangeably,  The concept of overlaying a product with a cage work of silver was just starting to become popular in the late 1880s. The thick "silver overlay" we refer to today was generally called "silver deposit" during this period in old newspaper ads. This method of decoration was at first limited to cane and parasol handles. 



Oscar Pierre Erard of Birmingham, England developed an effective method of electroplating silver on glass and porcelain in 1889. Other manufacturers also overlaid ivory, tortoiseshell, horn and celluloid with the silver as well, so you may come across vanity accessories with this decoration. A few years later in 1893, John H. Scharling, an American patented an improved method. By 1895, Americans, the Czechs, Italians, French, English and Austrians were producing exciting glassware with sterling deposit and overlay.








Victorian Silver Overlay & Glass Bottles:


The first type I want to discuss is the late Victorian era bottles. These delicate perfume bottles with permanent solid sterling silver overlay in sinuous Art Nouveau or lacy roccoco designs on glass date from the late Victorian period about 1885, through the Edwardian period and into the 1920s. These bottles were crafted by using a pierced (cut out) cage work of solid sterling silver bands which was then carefully fitted by hand over the glass and fused into place. The silver is generally also fitted over the neck and mouth of the bottle. Today we classify the large examples as used for the eau de colognes or toilet waters, and their much smaller counterparts to the more precious parfum. In old advertisements, we see that a 3.5" tall bottle was for cologne. The most popular sizes were 2 oz, 4 oz and 6 oz.







Almost all are American in origin although a scarce few are English. The glass bottles mainly come in clear, but you can also find them in cobalt, cranberry/ruby or green glass. The colored bottles always command higher prices than the clear examples which are more plentiful. You may also find the silver overlay perfume atomizers as well, but these are scarce. Some bottles are entirely covered in the silver overlay, not a trace of the glass showing through.

The shapes were just as varied as the silver mountings that are bound upon them. You can find pear shapes, round, squat, long necked and tall, cylindrical, inkwell shaped, sloping shoulders, tapered bases, atomizers, and my favorite, the lobed melon shapes from Steuben.




Some interesting bottles were intended to be souvenirs for visitors to a landmark, exposition or city. One such bottle in the newspaper ad below mentions the silver deposit spells out the name of the city, in this case Kansas City.




















Two American companies, Gorham & Alvin, dominated the scene and created some of the most exquisite examples available using thick overlays of sterling silver.
They both used glass blanks from the Steuben glassworks. Another honorable mention is the La Pierre company, I have seen some of their bottles, though not as highly detailed as Gorham or Alvin, but nonetheless, beautiful bottles. I own a lovely Bailey Banks & Biddle one that I purchased in Pennsylvania. Look closely for any tiny markings on the silver, usually you will find the hallmarks for the manufacturer and also the silver content, most likely .925, "Sterling Deposit", or .999 fine sterling. Stoppers and the base of the bottle should have hand inscribed numbers that match, this shows that the stopper and bottle were ground to fit each other perfectly at the factory.

Marks at a glance (do not confuse these with any monograms on the front of bottle):
  • A = Alvin
  • G = Gorham Manufacturing Co
  • FLP = Frank La Pierre
  • BBB = Bailey, Banks & Biddle

Some bottles were covered with the sterling silver overlay by the Eamco Company (Electrolytic Art Metal Company) of New Jersey . In business from 1905 to 1915. EAMCO, a specialized silver overlay firm, had been based in Trenton, NJ and according to public records, was reorganized in 1913 as a manufacturer of silver deposit ware. EAMCO was displayed on the list of high end silver decorators for American Belleek as well as French Limoges. The short list of qualified companies included Gorham Mfg.Co, RI; EAMCO (Electrolytic Art Metal Co), Trenton, NJ; and L.C. Tiffany. 








These higher end bottles usually have an area where a monogram could be engraved, often you will find bottles with owners name or initials in fancy flourishing script. Rather than have a jeweler remove the engravings, I opt to keep them intact as I find this adds a lot of charm to the antique bottles. The most expensive and much, much harder to find are the gorgeous iridescent art glass bottles by Loetz.











You may even come across these antique glass bottles that have their entire surface covered with a thick silver overlay. The gleaming silver is then engraved with sinewy decoration or stylized floral motifs. The matching stoppers are also completely encased in the silver and their engravings match the decor on the bottles. I have only seen a few examples of these bottles over the years and I consider them quite scarce. One thing to remember is that solid silver will be marked sterling or .999 Fine. Silver plated bottles are marked with "quadruple plate" or some other non-precious marking.

Some American perfume companies sold the perfume inside the silver overlay bottles, one such company was Tappan out of Corning, New York. The 1894 newspaper ad below mentions this:






I have seen countless bottles that have cracks in the glass, I suspect this is a common occurrence with bottles which have thicker overlay. In many cases the bottles will show some sort of cracking or damage to the glass. I would not use these today for containing perfume, but rather put them on display. Bottles may also have damage to the silver overlay, resulting in silver bands either lifted up, pulled away from the glass  or twisted at broken ends, some of these bands have been completely broken off. I am unaware if this was done via accident or by someone trying to remove the silver for its melt value. In any case, that is a terrible thing to do. 


 





Bottles with the thick sterling overlay can be safely polished. I recommend a silver polishing cream, do not attempt to use dip products such as Tarn-X, I find it is too harsh a treatment for the silver. Polish by hand or with a special buffing tool on the end of a Dremel or similar handheld machine. Inspect your silver beforehand to make sure there are no loose or pulled strands of silver, and be careful your polishing cloth does not snag the silver overlay. I just use a soft cotton cloth and the silver cream, in gentle polishing strokes at first and when I have found that there are no snagged areas, I can polish a bit harder without fear of damage. Bring your silver up to a soft gleam or a high shine, don't worry about getting into the tiny recessed areas to remove the remnants of black tarnish, I find it adds some dimension to the engraving which is quite pleasant.

Many bottles are found with a whitish residue inside, this is due to residue from silver polish getting inside the bottles when being cleaned and not being rinsed completely out. It can be hard to get inside the bottles to effectively clean it. I have had luck with cotton swabs with longer handles and very skinny bottle brushes.  

If your stopper is stuck or as we say, frozen in place, do not attempt to force it out, you may inadvertently snap it right off at the neck. I just leave mine as is and in place. I don't plan on using it as it was originally intended for perfume so I don't need to remove the stopper.

It is rare to find a bottle without any sort of damage and this should be reflected in the price. Carefully, paying close attention to the areas of glass in between the silver "bands." A bevy of these bottles covered in gleaming tracery displayed together makes for a luxurious addition to your perfume bottle collection. They also make superb gifts for the woman who has "everything" and appreciates fine antiques. In the period when they were manufactured, they were suggested to be given to brides, bridesmaids, bridge prizes, college graduate gifts, birthdays, anniversaries and hostess gifts.

Now we have learned about the more costly examples, we must now learn about the bottles on the lower end of the collecting spectrum. Lower priced examples are made by unknown manufacturers in order to compete with the higher end competitors. 

Rather than having thick solid sterling silver encircled around the bottle, these simply have a very thin sterling silver overlay. Most of the time, these do not have any engraving on the silver and look pretty plain. These bottles are known for having snags and pulled areas, broken or missing spots in the thin bands of silver. Its easy to get your polishing cloth snagged by one of the damages parts, so be careful you don't end up pulling the whole piece off the glass. 

Other bottles simply have the silver overlay literally painted on with a brush. These would be considered the cheapest out of the three types. Because this is a very thin layer, this type often has significant silver loss on the glass. These bottles were still being made into the 1930s-1950s period, these later examples usually in Italy or Bohemia (Czechoslovakia), in addition, you may find liquor decanters plentiful with this manner of decoration. Again, this silver decoration is very thin and tends to wear off with repeated washings so tread carefully when cleaning. I do not recommend polishing these too hard or too often or at all in examples in the worst condition.



French Mini Bottles:


The third type are the small vials from France. These little bottles are made up of black (amethyst) glass and almost always have a pattern of tiny diamond & daisy shapes made of silverplate covering the bottle. The base of the tiny bottle will be embossed "Made in France". The silverplated filigree screw cap usually has a long dauber and a semi precious stone such as turquoise or coral on the end of the cap. These stand about 1 1/4" tall and sometimes come with a small silver funnel.




Silver Overlay & Porcelain Bottles:


The fourth type of silver overlay perfume is the superb examples from Germany. These bottles were made of glazed porcelain that resembled glass and has silver crown shaped sprinkler tops. I have seen these in turquoise blue, green, pink, yellow and a pale pink color. They generally stand approximately 2 1/4" tall. The porcelain was then covered with a thick overlay of 999/1000 fine silver, higher and purer than sterling. The Rosenthal company manufactured these in the 1920s-1930s period.

Perfume bottle signed Spahr 1000 (Friedrich Wilhelm Spahr) dating from circa 1940. This blue porcelain bottle is decorated on both sides in an Art Nouveau style with pure 1000 silver. It also has a lovely crown stopper.  It's 2 1/2" tall and 2" wide.  photo from ebay seller haute-antiques.


All bottles will take a beautiful gleam when polished. I recommend Maas or Wrights Silver Cream and a soft cloth.



Miniature Mexican Silver Overlay Bottles:


Another type of silver overlay bottle is the miniature Mexican silver scent bottles. These small bottles have an almost abstract or floral overlay decorations over clear glass and date from the 1930s onward. They may have been souvenirs or made for the tourist trade. Look for markings for Mexican silversmiths and the fineness stamps.

Aftermarket Embellishments:


A very beautiful type of silver overlay concerns the recycling or upcycling as it is more commonly called these days, and commercial perfume bottles. The old perfume bottles, which would have been considered inexpensive, have now been turned into costly works of art by the addition of silver encasements or filigree "appliques." Some bottles I have found are Chanel, Bourjois, Guerlain, Coty, Lucien Lelong, Dana and others. The silver work is hand crafted by various artisans all over the world, mainly in Indochina and Mexico. These were once thought to be "limited editions" or special commemorative bottles, but this is not the case. These are most likely sold in jewelry stores, duty free and import shops.

One of the better known artists is Sammy Chiu of Hong Kong. SAMMY ARTS, was located at 9, Union House Arcade, Ground Floor, Union House, Chater Road, Hong Kong. The company were "Manufacturers , Exporters , Importers and Retailers of Jewellery , Diamonds , Handmade Sterling Silver and E. P. N. S. Wares, Ivory and Oriental Handicrafts." The proprietress of Mrs. Sammy Chiu Tse Kay. The company was in business at least from 1968 to 1980. I do not know if they are still in business. 












Many of the Art Nouveau designed sterling silver appliques were produced sometime in the mid 1980s and hail from the famed London antique and art dealer Hayman & Hayman. Georgina Hayman selects  antique and vintage bottles of well-known French perfume brands, and commissions expert silver artisans to embellish them with sterling silver overlays, "appliqués" of her designs!   





Info from their About Me section at their etsy shop. "Before setting up in Alfies Antiques in Marylebone, Georgina Hayman was an established antique dealer at Antiquarius in Chelsea for 30 years, having started with her mother Marie-Claude in the 1980s. She has a vast range of beautiful antique frames in a whole load of materials - silver, ormolu, wood inlay, mother-of-pearl and even gutta-percha - ranging from the days of old cabinet photographs in the 1850s through to the 1950s Georgina also stocks a lovely range of Limoges boxes and scent bottles including old Chanel, Guerlain and Lanvin bottles."

You can view some of their current items on etsy .

Welcome!

This is not your average perfume blog. In each post, I present perfumes or companies as encyclopedic entries with as much facts and photos as I can add for easy reading and researching without all the extraneous fluff or puffery.

Please understand that this website is not affiliated with any of the perfume companies written about here in any way, it is only a reference page and repository of information for collectors and those who have enjoyed the classic fragrances of days gone by.

One of the goals of this website is to show the present owners of the various perfumes and cologne brands that are featured here how much we miss the discontinued classics and hopefully, if they see that there is enough interest and demand, they will bring back these fragrances!

Please leave a comment below (for example: of why you liked the fragrance, describe the scent, time period or age you wore it, who gave it to you or what occasion, any specific memories, what it reminded you of, maybe a relative wore it, or you remembered seeing the bottle on their vanity table), who knows, perhaps someone from the company brand might see it.

Also, if you have any information not seen here, please comment and share with all of us.

Featured Post

Faking Perfume Bottles to Increase Their Value

The issue of adding "after market" accents to rather plain perfume bottles to increase their value is not new to the world o...