August 24, 2023
A Note From The Founders...S
Planes, Trains and Automobiles was a 1987 comedy film that starred actors Steve Martin and John Candy. While we don't remember watching the movie, the title is catchy and sums up the most popular modes of transportation.

We've shared many of the travel souvenir vanity items on display at Perfume Passage, along with our recent European adventures in the June and July PassageWAYs. So it makes sense that we end the summer months sharing the fun and unusual planes, trains and automobile vanity items we also have on display!

And of course we have other transportation themed items, who knew there could be so many!


Jeffrey and Rusty, Co-founders
Planes, Trains & Automobiles...

The Planes, Trains and Automobile movie received critical acclaim and it's initial 12-week theater run in the US made over $49 million dollars. For many, watching the film that tells the story of Martin, a marketing executive and Candy, a somewhat annoying shower curtain ring salesman, become holiday travel companions, is a Thanksgiving tradition.

Their misadventures as they traveled from New York to Chicago led them to hop on planes, trains and automobiles in order to get back to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

During their three days together they encounter almost every possible travel setback--delayed flights, over crowded trains, poor car rental services and buses with engine trouble. We've all experienced some of these travel delays, hopefully not during the same trip and so of course we can relate to this timeless movie!

We know that the movie has absolutely nothing to do with perfumes, compacts or vanity items. However, when collectors think of the many themed categories we like to search for, "transportation" is in the top five!
Transportation is defined as the intentional movement of humans, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, land, water and space.

When searching for transportation themed vanity items, it's surprising how many items that can be found, not only in the popular travel methods, but in travel themes that are a bit more obscure. The more unusual, the more collectible!
Let's Go For A Ride...
Estee Lauder solid perfumes can be found in just about every transportation-related mode and are part of the Estee Lauder display at Perfume Passage. They also made the solids in the popular London methods of getting around town.
Red Wagon, 1999
Golden Rickshaw, 2009
Gilded Stagecoach, 2003
Double Decker Bus, 2006
London Taxi, 2003
Tube to Harrods, 2007
Did You Know

  • The first wheels were used over 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia.

  • Wheels were originally carved out of solid chunks of wood.

  • Eventually wheels were made with spokes and axles.

  • Animal fat or grease was used between the hubs so the wheels wouldn't squeak as much.
Big Wheel is a men's fragrance by Stanley Home Products, released in 1967.
Of course prior to the invention of all forms of transportation, walking was the only choice. Eventually horses, donkeys and camels were used for early travel and canoe-like structures were used for water transportation. Around 3000 BC the sail boat was invented by the Egyptians.

In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, several new methods of transportation were invented including bicycles, trains and airplanes. At the same time roadways and train tracks were expanded in countries around the world.

Of course none of the compacts and perfumes at Perfume Passage actually transported anything, but the "juice" and "powder" they carried were meant to be used!
The three leading automobile companies in the US in the 1920s were General Motors, Chrysler and Ford.

The competition between manufacturers to sell cars has always existed. And in the 1930-50s ladies compacts became popular promotional items for car dealerships.

When a husband and wife were looking for a car in the 1950s, the salesman knew that if he presented the wife with a usable powder compact such as this 1950s Zell blue enamel compact with a car motif, she might influence her husband to purchase a car from the salesman?!
Automobile themed perfumes don't have that "new car" scent but have been popular fragrances to give as gifts to the car buff in your life.
Rolls Royce is a fragrance issued in 1926 by Marcel Guerlain. The 3-1/4" bottle has a frosted stopper and sits in a Bakelite and wooden stand. Another Rolls Royce titled cologne was released between 1965 and 1975 by Bergel. The bottle and box has a detailed image of a Rolls Royce automobile, perhaps to entice the driver to purchase the luxury car?
Another luxury car manufacturer whose name appears on mens cologne is Lamborghini. They are an Italian manufacturer of luxury sports cars and SUVs based in northern Italy. The Volkswagen Group through its subsidiary Audi owns Lamborghini.

Lamborghini Convertible cologne for Men came in a 4 oz. bottle with a protective felt sleeve. It was a fragrance from Paris, distributed by Parfums Lamborghini New York.

Automobile racing was a very popular transportation theme for mens colognes. As an international professional and amateur sport practiced throughout the world on roads, tracks or closed circuits, racing probably began soon after the invention of the gasoline engine in the late 1800s. And of course racing themed perfume bottles have been popular gifts for decades for the race lover in your life.
NASCAR cologne was issued by Wilshire Fragrance of Merrimack, New Hampshire in 1995. The NASCAR racing flag was featured on the bottle and box. The box included a pop up car on the top and read "inspired by the power, speed, and excitement of NASCAR racing."
Grand Prix Cologne For The Man was issued in 1968 by Marcelle Cosmetics of New York. The bottle is shaped like a car's gear shift and both the label and box have an image of a racing flag.
Barcelona's Segura company issued a Motor Racing Eau de Toilette in 1971.

Train travel in the US began around 1815 when the first charter to build the New Jersey Railroad Company was given to Colonel John Stevens. However, it was the Granite Railway that actually put train travel into service in 1826.

Initially powered by steam, electricity or diesel, the first trains were used mostly to move coal from mines to the river for travel. The "Golden Age" of train travel lasted from the 1880s until the 1920s, when planes and automobiles slowly took over the railroads popularity.

Avon made so many figural shaped bottles including this 1970-80s silver colored glass train shaped bottle that held their Leather cologne. The plastic back part of the 7" train lifts off to access the fragrance.
Our Estee Lauder solid perfume collection includes "Locomotive" from 2002 (left) and "Antique Train" from 2008.

In December 1903 brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made history with the first controlled airplane ride in a heavier-than-air aircraft, making four test flights in their "Wright Flyer." The first and shortest flight lasted 12 seconds and went 120 feet. The longest lasted 59 seconds and was damaged on the landing and it never flew again. The aircraft was restored by Orville and was eventually displayed at the London Science Museum until 1948. It is now on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Several of the rarest transportation themed items are those that are airplane related and can be found within the displays at Perfume Passage.
This 1920s celluloid airplane shaped powder holder included a hinged section on the top with a pilot. It opened to reveal the powder area and down puff with a passenger as the handle. Amazing that this survived, as one bad landing and it was history!
Another unusual plane shaped item for a ladies vanity was the 1930s beauty box made by Weidlich Bros. Their beauty boxes were made in a variety of themes and the hinged plane opens and includes rouge, powder and two lipsticks. It sold for $4.50 in the 1930s and recently sold for over $2,000 at an auction!
Distributed by Aeronautique Enterprises Inc., this bottle has an image of a plane on the bottle and box. 

As a way to market the Pilot cologne, a 1992 "Wing it Over to Wings Over Houston" event had daredevil stuntmen taking to the air with aeromatic aerobatics, atomizing the scent into the atmosphere with their aircraft's smoke system!
One of the rarest airplane themed perfume bottle is the "Spirit of St. Louis" designed by French couturier Paul Poiret. Two days after Charles Lindbergh became the first pilot to fly solo from New York to Paris in 1927, Poiret registered the name of Lindbergh's plane for use on his perfume bottle.

The presentation and box was originally created for Rosine's "La Rose de Rosine" in 1912 and the design was reused for the "Spirit of Saint Louis" bottle and was sold as a limited edition of around 1000 bottles.

While traveling over land in a variety of transportation methods is the most popular form of travel, it's hard to imagine that before air travel, ocean liners, sailboats and canoes were once the only way to visit another continent. Crossing the Atlantic from New York to London takes about seven days, covering 3,150 nautical miles.

So it comes as no surprise that souvenir items aboard a cruise ship, such as compacts, were one of the most popular remembrances to purchase on board.

Many of the ocean liner compacts were made by Stratton, an English compact company including both the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary powder compacts.
Voyageur by Jean Patou is a woody aromatic fragrance for men, launched in 1995 and released in several sized bottles. Many were in an ocean liner presentation and they can be found on display in the Deco gallery.
Motorcycles and bicycles have also been represented by our vanity items with this 5" metal wire tricycle that holds a 3" clear glass perfume bottle in the shape of a man's torso. It was made for Tappan Cycle Perfume and was advertised in this 1892 Boston Catalogue of Fancy Dry Goods, selling for $2.25 a dozen!
Johnny Hallyday Parfums released Biker Legends Eau de Toilette for Men in 1994. The bottle is in the shape of a motorcycle headlight!
Jean-Pierre Sand's Wind of Freedom Highway to Sun Night, an amber spicy scent was released in 2021 and is contained in a detailed motorcycle shaped bottle.
Harley Davidson Destiny Man was released in 1999 and is a spicy fragrance.
Rudy Profumi Rides...
Rudy Profumi was founded in 1920 in Milan by Spiridione Calabrese. Figural shaped perfume bottles became a popular item for the company and they began to market perfumes as gift items. The presentations were attractive objects that could be displayed around the house once the fragrance was gone. The company made several transportation themed presentations that are part of the Rudy Profumi display in the Deco gallery.

Rudy Profumi was also the subject of the first Journal magazine published by Perfume Passage in 2020!

A complete company history, along with a variety of their perfumes and cosmetics are featured in the Journal.
A clear glass perfume bottle shaped like a carriage was suspended on a metal frame and had plastic wheels. It was pulled by a pair of horses and the glass carriage. The perfume inside the carriage was the well known Rudy scent
Texas Rudy included a perfume bottle in the shape of the top of a wagon bonnet that fit nicely into the wagon bed that was pulled by horses

The Venetian Gondola consisted of half of the gondola as the glass perfume bottle and it included an ashtray and basket for matches.
The Pirate ship had tall sails with a perfume bottle sailor. The presentation included an ashtray and cigarette holder.
Pretty In Pink...
When car collectors think of the iconic pink Cadillac, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Elvis often come to mind. Mary Kay Ash began driving one and began rewarding her top sales people with their own pink Cadillac annually. These cars represented "success, recognition and the rewards of entrepreneurship" within the Mary Kay Cosmetic company. When she ordered her first pink Cadillac Coupe DeVille she supposedly asked the dealership to match the pink color of one of her lipsticks and eye shadows.

And who can forget Elvis' fleet of pink Cadillacs! After he signed his first record deal, he purchased a 1955 Cadillac that he had custom painted in pink to honor his mother Gladys. He toured the country in the car and eventually presented it to his mother. It's now on display at the Automobile Museum at Graceland in Memphis.

His 1959 song Baby, Let’s Play House included the lyrics: "Well, you may go to college. You may go to school. You may have a pink Cadillac. But don’t you be nobody’s fool."
The pink Cadillac theme has shown up in vanity items including Estee Lauder's "Pink Lady" solid perfume from 2005 (above).
Parfums de Coeur from Darien, Connecticut made a 7" long cardboard car in the shape of a 1950s pink convertible Cadillac! This 1995 novelty item comes with a half ounce bottle of their Malibu Musk that sits into a holder inside the car. The car has a cardboard surfboard in the backseat and the wheels are marked Instant California Sunshine.
While Perfume Passage has a variety of 1950s carryalls on display, it's hard to determine which particular one came with this Chrysler Dodge LaFemme pink car! In the mid 1950s the manufacturer produced the first car marketed toward women.

The LaFemme was pink inside and out and came with several ladies accessory items--umbrella, carryall and lipstick holder! The carryalls were made by the Attleboro, Massachusetts Evans company and they included a compact, cigarette area, comb, lighter and lipstick. Click here for a wonderful history on the car.
Other well-known singers who considered themselves Pink Cadillac fans include Bruce Springsteen whose 1984 song Pink Cadillac including several lines about his love for the iconic ride.

And Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, includes the lyrics "We're going riding on the freeway of love in my pink Cadillac" in her Freeway to Love song. It was a hit song for her, climbing to number three on the charts in 1985.

When she passed away in 2018 over 100 pink Cadillacs lined the streets of her Detroit hometown and were part of the funeral procession.

In 2017 JusBox Perfumes from Italy released Feather Supreme as an homage to Aretha's strength and femininity. They describe the scent as a refined and timeless floral harmony with top notes of Mandarin and bergamot, middle notes of jasmine, ylang-ylang and tuberose and base notes that include patchouli and musk.

The fragrance was created by French perfumer Dominique Ropion and the stopper of the beautiful bottle is in the shape of a record!
Perfume Passage Is On Social Media...
Perfume Passage has recently increased our presence on several social media platforms.

IPBA member and recent convention keynote speaker Erin Parsons visited Perfume Passage with her film crew. They spent a fun few days with Jeffrey and Rusty filming the galleries and sharing perfume stories.

Several of her Perfume Passage videos have already been posted on her social media platforms. Her YouTube video, "You've Never Seen Fragrance Like This" about Perfume Passage had garnered over 220,000 views in less than three weeks! Can we say we went viral?!

Click on the following links to access Perfume Passage on each platform.
New Perfume Passage Book...
The Galleries at Perfume Passage
Perfume Passage Foundation has published a souvenir book about the collections within the galleries!

It started with a vision to capture the history and beauty of perfume. It soon became a labor of love to create the ideal environment to inspire others about the world of perfume, ephemera and vanity items through the ages.

The souvenir book, The Galleries at Perfume Passage Foundation, includes the journey of Perfume Passage Foundation from its inception to the grand opening in May 2019.
Photos and descriptions of the galleries and items in the collection are featured throughout the pages. In addition, some never before seen photos of the galleries as they were under construction are shown in the book!!
Please visit the Perfume Passage website at to purchase the souvenir book. In addition, information on our Journal magazines and tour schedules are available on the website.

The Journals -- Rudy Profumi, Robj, American Beauty, Made in Chicago, Rene Gruau and the latest on Ephemra, can be purchased on our website or while visiting Perfume Passage!

Perfume Passage is open for tours! Please visit our website at 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.