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.

Vintage Perfumes For Sale

Friday, January 3, 2014

John Wanamaker Perfumes

In this guide I have listed the various perfumes produced by John Wanamaker of Philadelphia, PA. In addition to selling the world's most famous commercial perfumes, the department store giant had perfumes sold under his own name as well.

Wanamaker's department store was the first department store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the first department stores in the United States. At its zenith in the early 20th century, there were two major Wanamaker department stores, one in Philadelphia and one in New York City at Broadway and Tenth Street. Both employed extremely large staffs. By the end of the 20th century in the shopping-mall era, there were 16 Wanamaker's outlets, but the chain was absorbed into Hecht's (now Macy's) in 1995 after years of change. As of 2012, the occupant of the former Philadelphia Wanamaker's Department Store is Macy's Center City.

Inside the New York store, in 1910, Wanamaker installed a French perfume house who sold them exclusively in John Wanamaker's stores. The company was called Parfumerie Claire and had issued four fragrances: Ge-Ge, Bouquet d'Armenonville, Violette de Paris and Yu-Yu. Violette de Paris was by far their best selling fragrance. Parfumerie Claire also sold French powders and puffs, perfumes, sachets and toilet waters. In 1929, Wanamaker sued a different company, called Claire Parfumer Inc. for copyright infringement because his perfume company was called Claire Parfumerie.

A 1912 advertisement for the Claire Parfumerie 's perfume describes them as such:

 "Ge-Ge with the perfume of the gardenia. Bouquet d'Armenonville a whole garden full of fragrance. Violette de Paris the unmatchable fragrance of sweet violets. Yu-Yu - subtle, curious, almost oriental."

Another 1913 ad talks about Violette de Paris:

"Exclusively prepared in Paris by the Parfumerie Claire, has caught more than the mere violet sweetness. It has caught the fresh woodsy odor of the big single purple blossom, so that a whiff of Violette de Paris gives one the sensation of burying her face in a great mass of Parma violets.. 2 oz bottle $3.50"

This 1911 advertisement describes Ge-Ge perfume:
"Ge-Ge is the new Paris perfume, it is like the fragrance of a gardenia, insistent, haunting one with its sweetness. Totally different from any other French perfume, for it is the new product of the Parfumerie Claire in Paris, and will not be found in America elsewhere than in the Wanamaker Store. Extract, $5 a bottle. Toilet Water, $4 a bottle.Powder, $1.75. Sold in the French Shops with the other exclusive French perfumes, Violette de Paris, Bouquet d'Armenonville and Yu-Yu."

These perfumes are very hard to find nowadays and command a small premium due to their scarcity.

Queen Mary Toiletry line

The Wilmington store even had a perfume filled "dancing water fountain". When it was in use, the Dancing Waters (TM) Enchanted Fountain system used 3000 gallons of water. There was really no tank for the water. Rather, a heavy rubber sheet was placed in the balcony orchestra pit. It is fortunate that that sheet never developed any leaks in its long history of use. Restoration of the accompanying Fountain-and-Colored-Light Show on the balcony in front of the Organ case is not being considered at present because a redesign would be needed to protect the Organ and low-lying light and plug-in power strips that illuminate the case. Also Macy’s new Christmas tree is wider than its predecessor. The fountain show became too old to be used and was discontinued around the turn of the present century.

"ALFRED Stuart is probably the most lasting of all the agreeable perfumes; none of the foreign ones approach it-- It is very rich, strong and full of life; it is agreeable to more persons," probably, than any other perfume. Wild Olive is next in popularity : this also is singularly powerful and lasting. White Rose; Is delicate and lasting. We keep the odors of all the first-class producers, such as Lubin. Isabey, Atkinson and Coudray. Bring a handkerchief; and you shall receive a sample of any odor you wish."

 The perfumes of John Wanamaker:

  • 1881 The Queen Mary (a line)
  • 1883 Cartwright
  • 1910 Claire (a line)
  • 1910 Fleur D'Or
  • 1910 Oree
  • 1910 Ariane
  • 1910 Bouquet d'Armenonville
  • 1910 Reine Marie
  • 1910 Violette de Paris
  • 1910 Yu Yu
  • 1917 Charme d'Amour
  • 1921 Fleurs Celeste
  • 1923 Le Beau Narcisse
  • 1923 Papillion
  • 1923 Coin de Paris
  • 1925 Violette de Paris ( a line)
  • 1926 C'est Paris
  • 1926 No. 5
  • 1926 La Cocquette
  • 1927 Mayfair Tudor Rose
  • 1930 Bouquet de Orient
  • 1932 Phytallia
  • 1935 Carnation
  • 1935 Gardenia
  • 1935 Geranium
  • 1935 Lily of the Valley
  • 1935 Sandalwood
  • 1935 Verveine
  • 1935 Lotus of Luxor
  • 1935 Lido
  • 1935 Melisande
  • 1935 Heures d’Absence
  • 1935 Tribout
  • 1935 Fleur de Lis
  • 1946 C’est Paris

I am sure there are more, but I haven't discovered them yet.

John Wanamaker also had a secondary perfume company called Wahna, that also sold Wahna Wonderful Cold Cream, Wahna Skin Cream, Wahna Directoire Extract, Wahna Directoire Water, Creme Wahna.

Here are the perfumes sold under the Wahna name:
  • 1909 Ma Mie
  • 1909 Eau de Cologne
  • 1909 Melisande (trademarked filed in 1921 for the name)
  • 1909 Fleur de Lis

Wanamaker also was associated with the London based Parfumerie Redleaf and their perfumes were sold in the Wanamaker stores.

The perfumes of Redleaf:
  • 1923 Redleaf English Lavender
  • 1923 Redleaf English Garden Flowers
  • 1923 Redleaf Devon Violets

photos used in this guide courtesy of: 
Passion for Perfume

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