June 26, 2023
A Note From The Founders...S
We both love to travel and have had the opportunity to visit friends, museums and exhibits around the world. And as collectors, our adventures have led us to discover perfume and vanity treasures from six of the seven continents, maybe one day we'll visit Antarctica and find an elusive perfume bottle for our collection!

Our most recent trip was to London and Paris where we relaxed, dined at favorite restaurants, visited museums, found antique shops and met up with IPBA friends.

As June is the beginning of summer vacations and usually a good time to hit the road, we thought we'd share some of the travel and souvenir items that are on display throughout the galleries. If they could only talk and reveal the adventures of those that originally purchased them...


Jeffrey and Rusty, Co-founders
On the Road Again...
Road trip! - The words can evoke fond memories for many of us -- station wagons, campgrounds, family trips and squabbles about who had to sit next to the sibling who always got car sick!

We all remember that a favorite part of traveling and exploring by car, bus and train was collecting souvenirs along the way.

Today the vanity related souvenir items that were purchased many years ago are highly collectible. While the compacts were probably purchased to use and the perfumes to wear, they often ended up in a drawer or box as a memento of the fun trip.

Maybe you visited tourist attractions or attended special events and bought a vanity item that are still part of your collection? Please share!
Buying a car to drive on your road trip? If you test drove a Chrysler, Buick or Pontiac in the 1940-50s, chances are you received a powder compact. An enticement to purchase...?
It makes sense to start our vintage vanity souvenir trip in Illinois as Perfume Passage is located about 45 miles from the downtown Chicago site of the 1933-34 Century of Progress World Exposition.

The World's Fair was held on the near south side lakefront in Chicago during the depths of the Great Depression, to celebrate the city's centennial. The theme of the Fair was technological innovation. The motto was "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Adapts.” Its architectural symbol was the Sky Ride, a transporter bridge on which one could ride from one side of the Fair to the other.
Thousands of souvenir and promotional items survived and are very collectible today, including compacts and purses.
Carol Sprunger, a 95 year old IPBA member from Chicago, attended the Fair. "I was 6 or 7 and we rode the Sky Ride." I remember thinking that they didn't tell us it was going stop with such a jolt!" The Ride had a 1,850 foot span and two 628 foot towers, making it the most prominent structure at the Fair.
Carol has collected a variety of perfumes and vanity items over the years, but didn't buy any vanity souvenirs while attending the Fair. However, her ticket stubs were kept as souvenirs and are part of the Made in Chicago exhibit at Perfume Passage! 

Wonder if she visited Pavilion four that featured exhibits of cosmetics and perfumes from Chicago companies including Franco American Hygienic and Boyer Chemical?

If you were a train aficionado like Jeffrey's dad Jasper, perhaps you attended the Chicago Railroad Fair. The event was organized to celebrate and commemorate 100 years of railroad history west of Chicago.

It was held in 1948 and 1949 along the shore of Lake Michigan and is often referred to as "the last great railroad fair" with 39 railroad companies participating. This powder compact souvenir was made by the Elgin American company. They also made similar looking state and city souvenir compacts that were advertised in their catalogs. So every road trip could include purchasing a compact from the state or city that you visited!

Heading East...
If we headed east from Illinois, you could stop along the Pennsylvania turnpike to fill up on gas, buy snacks and purchase a Pennsylvania powder compact to commemorate the trip.

The Pennsylvania turnpike was the first of its kind and received nationwide acclaim as an engineering marvel. It was considered the first superhighway in the US when it opened on it opened on October 1, 1940.

Heading north off the turnpike you can drive about 300 miles to one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. The group of three Niagara Falls waterfalls, span the border between the Canadian province of Ontario and New York state in the US.

Another powder compact could be picked up to add to your growing souvenir pile! Most were made by unknown manufacturers.
If you enjoyed the Chicago World's Fair and wanted to visit another Expo, you just had to wait until 1939 to attend the New York World's Fair. About a six hour drive from Niagara Falls, the event included an exhibition hall built specifically for the cosmetics industry.

The 1939–40 New York World's Fair was held at Flushing Meadows, a public park in the borough of Queens. Many countries participated in it, and over 44 million people attended the exhibits over two years. The Expo, the first based on the future, had the slogan of "Dawn of a New Day," allowing visitors to take a look at "the world of tomorrow."

The Fair's cosmetics pavilion was eventually called Maison Coty (House of Coty) and other cosmetic exhibitors were housed in the building.

Images of Coty products were on the walls, advertising the company's Air Spun powders, perfumes and cosmetics. Coty also set up a display with ingredients that were used to make perfumes.
And of course, a great souvenir would have been their iconic Air Spun powder box with powder puff images, introduced in 1935.
This original Coty display case is located in the foyer area at Perfume Passage. It includes a variety of cosmetics and perfumes, many that could have been purchased as a souvenir at the New York Fair.
This 1939 one cent postcard featuring the Coty pavilion at the New York fair would have been an appropriate souvenir to purchase at the event and mail home to friends!

Who Did You Vote For?!!!!!!
Before heading south, a trip to Washington DC would have been on many road trip schedules. And of course, just about any political or vanity themed souvenir could be found, regardless if you were a Democrat or Republican!

Presidential themed 1940s compacts were popular souvenir items including these promotional unmarked vanities for Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Dewey and Wendell Willkie.
Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, known as FDR, served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945.
Thomas Edmund Dewey was a lawyer, prosecutor and politician who served as the 47th governor of New York from 1943 to 1954. He was the Republican nominee for president in 1944 and best known for losing to Harry Truman in 1948.
Wendell Lewis Willkie was a lawyer, corporate executive and the 1940 Republican nominee for President.
If you were visiting the nation's capital in the 1950s, you could have received these 3-1/2" enamel telephone dial shaped powder compacts produced to perhaps sway female voters. 

Republican ladies could use the "I Like Ike" and Democrat ladies could use the "We Need Stevenson" souvenir compacts to touch up their makeup after receiving them at political fundraisers for Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower or Adlai Stevenson.

Seems like the compact benefited Eisenhower more as he was elected president after both 1952 and 1956 campaigns!

Colognes depicting past presidents are also popular souvenir items that could be purchased as a remembrance of a trip. Barack Obama cologne, produced by Parfums Deray, was a clean and refreshing blend of aquatic notes. Perhaps Obama wore the scent too?
Watergate was a political scandal involving the administration of President Richard Nixon from 1972 to 1974 that led to Nixon's resignation. It stemmed from the administration's cover ups over its involvement in the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Office Building in Washington DC.

Those events led to the production of many souvenir items, including mugs, plates, hats and of course, cologne!
Heading South...
Heading south to Florida where souvenirs are in abundance, who could resist purchasing bottles of Murray & Lanman's Florida Water. Originally made in New York in 1808 by perfumer Robert Murray, David Lanman joined the company in 1835 followed by George Kemp in 1853. The company has remained a family-owned business for over two decades.

Florida Water was sold all over the country and its Florida name would have made it a perfect souvenir from the Sunshine state. Its technically considered an eau de cologne (meaning "cologne water) and its clean and refreshing scent has been used to freshen the air, as an aftershave, to help skin ailments, prevent infections, reduce fevers and even relieve headaches!

Many trade cards with colorful graphics were produced to advertise their products.

If you were a high school junior visiting college campuses in the 1990s, perhaps you took a summer trip to Florida State University in Tallahassee. Maybe you even purchased a 4" bottle of cologne manufactured by Wilshire Fragrance, Inc. to help you decide if you wanted to be a Seminole freshman?

Other Florida souvenirs that could be picked up in the Sunshine state were Tropic Spice Men's cologne that was produced by All Florida Products from Jacksonville.

The image of palm trees on the box might make you think fondly of your trip every time you used it once you returned home.
Travelin' Westward...
Heading west, Texas would be a good place to stop and purchase the Texas themed Estee Lauder solid perfumes to add to your collection, definite souvenirs from the Lone Star state.

And since Western themes were a popular Texas souvenir item, why not purchase one that you could actually use during your trip to the second largest US state.

If you traveled about five hours south of Rockwall you'd run into Flatonia, home of the Arnim & Lane Mercantile on Flatonia's Main Street. You could have picked up this Frontier Days men's after shave lotion and powder set in 1944, it still has the store sticker on it!

E. A. Arnim, Sr. and partner Jonathan Lane opened the Arnim & Lane Mercantile Store in 1886, when the town was still in its infancy. (The photo of the store is from the The E. A. Arnim Archives & Museum website).
A road trip could continue west where Rusty grew up in California and Jeffrey went to college at the University of Southern California. So it makes sense that Perfume Passage is always on the look out for vanity souvenirs from our 31st US state.

Once in California, a visit to Disneyland would have been on the list. The Disneyland slogan “The Happiest Place on Earth” was first used in 1955, when the park opened in Anaheim, California. It's been said that creator Walt Disney originated the phrase as a way to sum up the joy and wonder feelings he wanted visitors to experience when they visited.

This 1950s silverplate powder compact in the original box would have been a popular souvenir to purchase after a day at the park!
If you were in need of more cosmetics, you could then travel about 33 miles north and visit the building that today houses the Hollywood Museum on Hollywood Boulevard. It was originally purchased in 1928 by legendary make-up artist to the stars Max Factor.

The four-story Max Factor Building was known as the "Jewel Box of the Cosmetic World." The company began manufacturing their famous makeup on the upper floors while transforming the ground floor into a salon, Fashionable women and celebrities came to visit the salon to be seen as well as to purchase a variety of cosmetics.

The building was declared a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in 1994 and eventually became The Max Factor Museum of Beauty. They closed in 1996 but reopened in 2002 as The Hollywood History Museum. (The photo of the building is from the LA public library and is from the 1930s).

This 8-1/2" x 7-1/4" black cardboard box came with Max Factor makeup that was used for portraits and photographs. It came with the used makeup and a 1929 pamphlet!
A 5 oz. bottle of Max Factor Original Deodorant Cologne from 1963 sounds like a necessary souvenir to wear as you traveled!
This 1974 Max Factor Herbal Musk aftershave/cologne for men would have also been an ideal souvenir to purchase and actually wear on your trip!
While Jeffrey says he didn't wear their products while attending college at USC, the bottle with the Trojans mascot (back row, center) was one of the first Collegiate Cologne souvenirs he added to his collection!

And who could complete a California road trip without a souvenir from a shop on the famed Rodeo Drive? This 1987 V.I.P. Special Reserve for Men, an Eau de Toilette by Giorgio Beverly Hills, is an amber woody fragrance. The beautiful black glass bottle with silver colored cap was made in France.
Road trips are still the most popular way to travel and of course souvenirs are still purchased to remember the adventure. Vanity items were a special type of souvenir, as they were not only supposed to be used, they were also a remembrance of a special time.

So the fact that so many vanity souvenirs survived indicates how carefully the item was chosen to purchase! Wonder how many ladies purchased a 1920s steering wheel souvenir compact to powder their nose during their road trip?!
On to Europe...

Travel agencies were created in the mid-1800s and one of the pioneers was Englishman Thomas Cook. Together with his son, Cook's business was one of the first that offered organized group trips, complete with transportation, meals and accommodations.

At the turn of the century, any trans-Atlantic trip could only be completed by boat and leisure travel from the US to Europe was experienced mostly by the wealthy.
If you took a Moore-McCormack Lines ship to Europe in the 1950s, you might have received the Dorothy Gray 2" yellow and green lipsticks as a souvenir (above). The box is signed Moore McCormack Lines on the inside lid. They were a series of companies operating as shipping lines, founded in 1913 in New York City.

Regional airlines began offering passenger travel in the 1920s and it wasn't until after WWII that the airline business boom began. By 1960 airports expanded to accommodate international flights and traveling to Europe became a reality for many.
Some of our favorite European vanity souvenirs are from England and France. They would have been a treasured purchase from a travelers first trip "across the pond!"
Souvenirs have been available throughout many of the reigns of British monarchies and according to Buckingham Palace, have been popular since the 1600s. Compacts were a fun souvenir item to commemorate significant events such as coronations and weddings.
The compacts were made by several English compact companies. From left to right: souvenir from the 1937 coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I; Stratton compact with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip from the 1950s; Kigu compact souvenir from the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and a 1986 Stratton compact from Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's wedding.

Royal Briar Eau de Cologne by England's J & E Atkinson company from 1952 would have been an appropriate souvenir scent to purchase.
Prince Philip Cologne for Men by Ritornelle from 1964 has a royal theme but was actually imported to the US from France. A fun Royal souvenir fragrance to wear!
Wonderful European souvenir items can be found on the walls throughout Perfume Passage and the posters could have been easily rolled up into a tube for travel!
This "Parfumerie aux Fleurs du Bosphore" poster from the 1900 Paris Exposition was commissioned by the Lorenzy-Palanca company in Marseilles.

Although the business primarily sold soaps around the turn of the century, they also sold perfumes, razors, toiletries and cosmetics with beautiful paper graphics and stunning label designs. The poster measures 21" x 16" and was an advertisement for Flowers from the Bosphore. .
Les Parfums de Femme poster by Jean de Paleologue. An artist, "Pal" was instrumental in defining the feminine aesthetic of France through his art between 1895 and 1898.

The poster is from 1896 and measures 47" x 31." The text reads "Oh! what an exquisite perfume, this Violet Queen!"
Les Parfums de J. Daver poster from 1903. The Paris company continued to create exotic scents into the 1920s, including d' Autrefois, de Dentelles and de Leonard. This large 54" x 38" poster hangs on the wall in the lower level at Perfume Passage.
A Parfumerie Edea Vachon Bavoux poster by artist Georges Meunier. It shows a beautiful woman holding a mirror in one hand and a powder puff in the other. This 49" x 34" poster was a souvenir from the 1889 Paris Exposition.
New Perfume Passage Journal...
Ephemera Journal
Published three times a year, our Journal magazines include articles and information about the known history of specific companies and items in our galleries. Our sixth Journal features a favorite Perfume Passage collecting category--Ephemera!

Ephemera are paper items meant to be destroyed. The sought after vanity related collectibles featured in our latest Journal include postcards, trade cards, Valentines, fans, ads, booklets and a myriad of paper items that miraculously survived for decades. These items are on display throughout the galleries and also placed in binders for hours of page-turning pleasure!
The new publication, along with past Journals -- Rudy Profumi, Robj, American Beauty, Made in Chicago and Rene Gruau, can be purchased on our website or while visiting Perfume Passage!
Perfume Passage is open for tours! Please visit our website at Perfumepassage.org to view the tour schedules. If you have a group or your club/association would like to plan a visit, please contact us at [email protected]

Types of tours include:

  • Private docent-guided tours
  • Group tours
  • Symphony of Scents and Sounds
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.