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Perfume Bottle Collecting

Posted on 11-Feb-2012

What to collect

Just getting started?

If you are just getting into collecting, you are probably excited and feel like a kid in a candy store. A world has opened up to you; it is something fun, and you find it full of rewards. Whether you are seduced by the twinkle of crystal, or the thrill of the chase for the rare and luscious vintage scent you just can't live with out, you share a bond with thousands of other people. You make friends in the most unusual of places.

You may find that your choices of what to collect are overwhelming. If you are limited to space, you may find it nice to start with a miniature bottle collection. If you are collecting for the perfume mainly, then miniatures may not be satisfying for you, as most are toilettes. Not all. But you want to be sure to check and see whether they are parfum or toilette. Toilettes have water in them to dilute the perfume and they do not hold up well over the decades, as the water breaks down the molecules in the essential oils and evaporates. Parfum and colognes are best to collect, especially ones that are 30 or 40 years old, as the alcohol evaporates, and you are left with parfum. So pay attention to colognes. When you see an old bottle, that has been kept in the box, and there is a lot of evaporation, buy it. It is probably wonderful. Colognes that have been opened and are more than half full, are probably not as appealing to wear. Pay attention to the color of the fragrance as that is a clue to its age. Dark perfume is generally the most concentrated. Toilettes don't usually darken, as the oils evaporate with the water.

Many sellers on auction sites sell bad perfume, so pay attention to how they describe their items. Bad sellers will say that they don't open the bottles to smell them. Most of them will state that they are selling a decorative collectable and not to buy based on the contents of the bottle. In those auctions, beware. As they are telling you they suspect the perfume is bad. sigh. Another thing to remember is that you get what you pay for. If they are a perfume seller specifically, they usually will state whether the contents are good or bad, as they know that is important. If they are a seller who doesn't care whether you like your item or not, they may even lead you to beleive the perfume is good, but slyly. "All the perfumes were kept in a cool dark place for decades." But they state they don't smell the bottles because they have allergies. Oh, I have heard them all. Or they tell you they don't clean their bottles, and leave that to the new owner to do. That also is a red flag if they are a perfume collector. Who wants dirty bottles with frozen stoppers to display? Collectors like pristine bottles, or rare ones are happily accepted in a dirty condition, because the contents are good. If the bottle a collector has is dirty then it may mean they smelled it and it was bad and they never added it to their own display. Only a seasoned collector should buy old bottles with frozen stoppers, if they are after the contents. Years of studying and buying bottles gives them the expertise to decern whether the contents are good or bad, when the seller won't say. And they have studied how to open bottles and can open them safely. If you look around much, you will see many auctions where the stoppers are broken off at the neck. That was probably owned by someone who was not a seasoned collector.

The History of the House of Weil

Posted on 13-Feb-2012

From a furrier to a perfume manufacturer

If you research Weil perfume on the internet you will find there is a lot of conflicting information out there. Why do some bottles say Secret de Venus Zibeline, and others are just Zibeline? And some are Secret de Venus, and don't say Zibeline or Antelope. If you look for the oldest bottle you can find, you will come across little 2 ml bottles with blue plastic lids, which someone claims is the oldest of the Huile Pour le Bain line. They claim that Weil created the Huile Pour le Bain line in 1941. This is incorrect.

I bought a collection of perfumes this weekend, and two of the bottles I bought are 1/4 oz Weil bath oil bottles from the 1920s. One has a label, and it does not have the Secret de Venus label, just Zibeline Huile Pour le Bain, and it has an early bakelite lid. I tested the lids, and they pass the bakelite test. These are the oldest Weil bath oil bottles I have ever seen. I have never seen a Weil bottle with a bakelite lid like these before. And I know they are from the 1920s, as the bottles were part of a lot of other 1920s bottles. And since I have the largest collection of Weil Secret de Venus Zibeline bath oil you will find any one collector to have, I can attest that the contents of these bottles, are NOT Secret de Venus bath oil. So I am here to add to the confusion. sigh.

Weil was a furrier who was approached by a customer in 1927 who complained that their Sable furs smelled badly. Weil created a perfume for the customer to scent their furs, and Weil Parfums was born. Zibeline was the name of their first fragrance and it was so well received that they created a perfume to be worn with their furs, that was sweeter. The next year they released Chinchilla, to be worn with Chinchilla furs. In 1933, they created an even sweeter perfume which they called Secret de Venus. It was their most successful perfume, so in 1941 they released an entire line of Secret de Venus, in the various scents they had created previously. Those bottles bear the Secret de Venus designation as well as the name of the perfume, Antilope, Zibeline, Chinchilla, Hermine, etc. They still were producing the regular scents, in additon to the Secret de Venus versions.

So the big question everyone wonders about is what did the orginal Zibeline smell like? Well, since I have one of the bottles, I can tell you. It smells like leather and fur, and probably did make an old stinky fur smell new again. There are no spicy notes that you typically smell with Secret de Venus. I can't imagine why someone would take a bath in this scent. Hence why they created a sweeter version in 1933 and called it Secret de Venus. And it makes sense why they continued their original "fur" scents, as they were probably very effective at masking the old fur smell. And since the Zibeline bath oil they first created did not smell good in a bath oil, they spiced it up and called it Secret de Venus. This is why no one knew that Weil had actually created a bath oil much earlier than 1941. No doubt, no one wanted to take a bath and come out smelling like wet leather and fur. lol.

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