November 18, 2022
A Note From The Founders...

Collectors begin collecting in many different ways. We remember our good friend Deborah Washington telling us that she started collecting perfume bottles after receiving a Czech glass dresser set with two perfume bottles, powder jar and boudoir lamps from her grandmother.

After purchasing similar filigree and jeweled perfume bottles at the “world’s largest garage sale” in a Chicago suburb, Deborah said she became hooked on these jeweled beauties.
We started learning about this category of perfumes and vanity items after attending an IPBA Skyliners chapter meeting at Deborah's home and viewing her beautiful collection. She even used "brasslady" as part of her email!

Deborah's items remind us of some of the ornate Czech bottles with rhinestones and the brassy colors on her vanity items are similar to the colors of the French Palais Royal items from the 1800s.

We realized that there are so many categories for collectors to collect and while some items share similar qualities, they really are a category of their own. So for this issue we thought we'd share some of the brass and glass items that are on display throughout the galleries!

Jeffrey and Rusty 

What are they?...
When Deborah began searching for the filigree items, the internet and eBay became her new best friends, and her knowledge, along with her collection grew. In 2003 she led a round table discussion on filigree jeweled bottles and vanity items at the Orlando convention. She continued researching the companies that manufactured these items with the intention of writing a book one day.

One of the new displays at Perfume Passage includes items from Deborah's brassy and jeweled vanity collection. We have also continued her research and have uncovered additional information on their history and the companies that manufactured them.
The vanity items usually consisted of perfume bottles, trays, powder boxes, brushes and mirrors. In addition, some companies made frames, combs, vases and clocks that matched the more common pieces. The items were made of a gilt brass or a heavy metal. Sometimes the items were a lighter material and have a hollow feel to them.

Gilding is a decorative technique where a thin coating of gold is applied over solid surfaces such as metal, porcelain, wood or stone. When an object is gilded, it can also be described as gilt.
Gilding an item gives it a gold look without it actually being a gold object, and of course, at a fraction of the cost of real gold. In addition, a solid gold accessory item would not be practical to use as it would be too heavy!

There are several descriptive words for this gilded finish collecting category, including ormolu, filigree or dore.

Ormolu, from the French "or moulu" (ground gold) is what the French call "bronze dore," and what the English refer to as "gilt bronze." Whatever you choose to call call these "brass and glass" beauties, they are a popular accessory to collect and Perfume Passage is honored to have items from Deborah's collection on display.
Company History...

The variety of vanity items seem endless and along with filigree, enamel and rhinestone embellishments, these items were manufactured by several US companies beginning in the late 1890s to the early 1940s.

Today, collectors often use these items to create a feminine looking dressing table display. The ornate filigree work, birds and floral designs on the vanity items are reminiscent of those items that were part of a ladies boudoir in the late 1800s.
In the 1950s the Volupte company produced a compact they called Petite Boudoir. They promoted it as "a miniature replica of Marie Antoinette's carved, golden dressing table." It had a mirror and powder area inside and the legs folded down. The compact reminds us that ladies really placed their ornate perfume bottles on vanity tables that could have resembled this compact!
Apollo Studios

Apollo Studios was one of the earliest and most prestigious firm that made quality pieces from 1909-1922. Located in New York, they were a division of Bernard Rice & Sons and advertised that they manufactured boudoir accessories and gift items in gold plate and other metals and were stamped with their Apollo logo.

Some pieces with the Apollo name were still being produced in the 1930s and 1940s and they were not as ornate as the earlier pieces. A regular feature of these items was a large faceted colored glass piece on the perfume stoppers.
Stylebuilt was a New York company established in 1940, specializing in manufacturing vanity and bath accessories. Many of their filigree styles were made in the 1960s-1970s and were made in a gold or silver tone finish. They often had their pieces plated with 24kt gold as mentioned in this 1966 advertisement.

The company made beautiful jewelry caskets that were lined with velvet and their soap dishes and tumblers were fitted with glass pieces. They used a lot of ornate scrolling on the items with roses and ivy designs.
The company is still in business today under the name Stylebuilt Accessories Inc., located in New York. The earlier Stylebuilt items had labels or tags which included the words "Stylebuilt Accessories, New York, 24K Gold Plated, Guaranteed Not To Tarnish."
Beginning in the 1950s, the Globe Silver Company manufactured similar vanity accessories as the Stylebuilt Company and it's sometimes difficult to see their differences. Their pieces were also plated with 24kt gold and included large faceted glass pieces on the perfume stoppers. The perfume bottles are often marked Made in Germany or made in Western Germany on the base.
The E & J Bass Company of New York sold items under the name Empire Art Gold, Imperial Art Silver and Empire Art Silver from the 1890s-1930s. Their logo was a crown in a circle with the E&JB initials, they closed during the Depression.
The New York Farber Bros. Company sold silver plated, brass and copper hollowware items under the name Silvercraft from 1923-1932 and their logo has the Silvercraft name on the bottom. Farber brothers went out of business in the 1960s. This fan shaped vase was one of Deborah's favorite!
The Art Metal Works of Newark, New Jersey manufactured decorative metal items and was later renamed Ronson's Art Metal Works. This is the same company that made the now-collectible Ronson lighters. In addition to the popular vanity items they also made ornate bookends, hood ornaments, desk sets and a variety of novelty items including this dresser tray (above). The three trinket boxes are slightly different from each other and their manufacturer is unknown.
Trinity Plate is not a manufacturer, but is a trademarked name of the technique of triple gilding brass that can be found on vanity items, purse frames and dance compacts. Trinity Plate was trademarked by William Suckling & Sons of Birmingham, England in 1914 for silverware and electroplating. The Trinity Plate ornate vanity compacts date from around 1915 through the 1930s and a wonderful display of them can be found in the Vault gallery.
A fun 5" x 2-3/4" rectangle shaped gold tone Trinity Plate vanity compact with petit point on the front. It has ornate enamel flowers and rhinestones near the clasp with red beaded carrying chain. Inside has a double opening with a mirror and silk lined pockets.
An unusual 3-3/4" x 3-3/4" octagon shaped filigree Trinity Plate vanity compact. It has red rhinestones and six onyx bars that surround a center hand painted scene.There is a wrist carrying chain and inside has two silk pockets and a mirror.
3-1/2" x 6-1/2" Trinity Plate vanity compact with ornate filigree designs and green stones. There is a tango lipstick to carry the item. Inside has a mirror and powder area.
The L & C Mayer Company from New York advertised a variety of ornate dresser items in their 1934 catalog.
This Chicago Mandel Bros. 1926 department store stated "Just as long ago gems gleamed upon the boudoir tables of languid ladies of nobility, so today the modern boudoir gleams with jeweled effulgence." Wow, what a sales pitch that was!
Guildcrest was a US company that made accessories and dresser sets in the 1940s-1950s. Their items were 24kt gold plated and pieces were imported from Germany. A common theme were birds and cupids with amber colored glass often used on perfume bottles and jewelry caskets.
Apollo Studios made these signed 1930s ornate dresser pieces with pink jewels and pink silk showing under the glass. Buyers could have purchased pieces individually to add to their set and there were probably over 20 items to choose from including mirrors, trays, brushes, trinket boxes, combs, glove hooks and frames.
There were several other east coast manufacturers that produced a variety of brass and glass items including:

Florenza was known mostly for their costume jewelry, as they began manufacturing items around 1937 under the name Dan Kasoff Inc. They didn't start marking items with the Florenza name until 1950. They were also known for their of gold tone ornate lipstick holders in the 1950s.

Yule Mfg Co., Inc. were a Brooklyn, New York based company that manufactured vanity sets similar to Stylebuilt in the 1960s-1970s. Their tags often included the words "guaranteed not to tarnish." Some of their pieces can be found with aurora borealis rhinestones and faux pearls.

Astorloid began making vanity accessories in gold tone with filigree designs in the 1950s through the 1970s. A best selling product line was called "Lady Fair" and the pieces included detailed filigree designs.

Matson was located in New York city and their items were marked © Matson or Matson Import. They manufactured vanity accessories in the 1950s-1960s. Their pieces were often 24kt gold plated and most included a small label or attached tag describing this information. Some Matson pieces included a white finish over the brassy colored base color and patterns included: Poppy, Dogwood, Rose and Zinnia.
To maintain the shiny finish of the vanity items, keep them away from direct sunlight. Also, moisture will loosen the gilding and could turn foil backed rhinestones dark. A stiff brush can easily clean dust off the pieces and get in between the rhinestones and into the filigree. It's not recommended to use polishing cream as it will be very difficult to remove and could make the gold tone color uneven.
Palais Royal...

The Palais-Royal is a former royal palace in Paris, France that was located opposite the Louvre. Originally called the Palais-Cardinal, it was built for Cardinal Richelieu in 1628 by architect Jacques Lemercier. Richelieu left the palace to Louis XIII, and it eventually was given to Philippe d'Orleans, the Duke of Orleans. (image is from around 1640 of the Palais-Cardinal)
In 1781, Philippe d'Orleans decided to divide the Palais Royal garden and after five years of renovations and construction, nearly 100 merchants moved into the area.

The complex became one of the most important shopping areas in Paris, frequented by aristocracy as well as the middle and lower classes. It was also a tourist attraction and visitors were able to purchase a treasure to remind themselves of their experiences at the Palais-Royal area in the 1830s-1870s. Perfume bottles and vanity items became the perfect souvenir item.
Fast forward almost 200 years and now those accessory items are extremely collectible and they also represent the brass and glass category that are on display at Perfume Passage.
Palais Royal Baccarat 1860s automated perfume carousel. It has hand-cut crystal, mother of pearl, brass and wood. The rotating tray includes 10 perfume bottles.
Palais Royal Baccarat crystal and gilt bronze 1820s perfume dispenser with dolphin spigots!
Palais Royal Baccarat crystal, abalone shell and gilt bronze 1820s perfume carousel. It has revolving arms with eight perfume bottles.

Today the area houses the famed Cour d'Honneur (Courtyard of Honor), an artwork installation of columns by Daniel Buren, commissioned by Jack Lang, Minister of Culture in 1985. In addition, galleries surround the area as do theaters, shops and cafes.
The south front of the Conseil d'Etat (Council of State) in the center.
Czechoslovakian Beauties...
The Czechoslovakian displays in the Deco gallery show a variety of perfumes and vanity items, many that fall into the brass and glass category with their ornate filigree and glass embellishments.

We know that after glass manufacturers from Czechoslovakia and other European glass houses had pavilions at the 1925 Paris International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, perfume bottles and vanity items grew in popularity.

Several Czechoslovakian companies, including Josef Schmidt and Heinrich Hoffmann, were influenced by the glass of Rene Lalique that was on display at the Expo.
Many Czech bottles and vanity items provided that bit of glitz and glamour that women wanted following WWI. They were enthralled by the Hollywood films showing actresses at their vanity tables surrounded by perfume bottles, mirrors and dresser accessories.

Czech companies soon began to export their perfume bottles, along with other vanity items to the US in the 1920s and 1930s. The bottles were filled with a customers favorite scent at drugstores and cosmetic counters. Rhinestones, filigree and enameling were soon added to the deco shaped bottles to complement the designs.
These beautiful Czech perfumes are part of the display in the Deco gallery.
Treasures of the Collection...
A fun aspect of brass and glass dresser sets is that many were made with more than two dozen matching pieces. That meant family members had a built-in gift list for their wife or sweetheart! Early catalogs advertised a "core" set that included a comb, brush and mirror. Then a variety of pieces could be purchased individually that matched your set. These stunning Czechoslovakian black and opal colored faceted glass vanity items were most likely acquired one by one by one in the 1930s.
On display in the Deco gallery are 21 matching pieces including several different perfume bottles, jewelry caskets, mirrors, trays, combs and brushes. The items are acid etched "Made in Czechoslovakia."

While it seems that just about every usable and practical piece was part of this set, we wonder if candlesticks or vases would have been made?
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Perfume Passage Journal Subscription...

In an effort to share our collection and to create reference material that is both useful for research and beautiful as a coffee table magazine, we have developed the Perfume Passage Journal.

Published three times a year, the magazine includes articles and information about the known history of specific companies and items in our galleries.

We recently launched an annual subscription program, beginning with the Summer 2022 publication on fashion illustrator and artist Rene Gruau. The annual subscription will include three print versions of the magazine. Click here to visit our website and subscribe!

Join our email list: we do not share, sell or distribute our email contacts under any circumstances.

Our mission is to preserve the history, beauty and artistry of perfume bottles, compacts, ephemera and related vanity items. Through education, outreach, and awareness of the Perfume Passage collection and library, our goal is to inspire art lovers, collectors, archivists and curators to keep this history alive. 
We Hope To See You Soon!

Types of tours include:

  • Private docent-guided tours
  • Group tours
  • Symphony of Scents and Sounds
In accordance with local updated guidelines, Perfume Passage no longer requires proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or masks for museum visitors. However, we strongly encourage all of our guests to wear masks while in the building.