September 20, 2022
A Note From The Founders...S

In previous PassageWays we've shared specific items in our collections and highlighted the galleries.

In addition to collecting and preserving the perfumes and vanity items that we love, our mission has always been to inspire collectors, art lovers, archivists and curators through the books, magazines and catalogs that are housed in the Perfume Passage library.

At last count there were over 3,000 items in the library and the materials are available to anyone by appointment.
We'd like to share some of our favorite materials in the library in this issue and hope it encourages you to consider using the library for your reading, research and reveling!

So contact us at if you'd like to plan a visit to use the library.

Jeffrey and Rusty 

Read All About It...
Libraries have a story to tell.

We know that libraries are spaces that hold a collection of books. They protect books, celebrate books and make the books available to anyone who wants to read them.

The library at Perfume Passage does all that and more! Located on the lower level, the entry to the library is through the outside courtyard or through the hallway near the elevator.

Once inside, the shelves and shelves of books, magazines and catalogs will invite you in to spend time researching and learning. For perfume and vanity aficionados, the library is like no other, as the majority of materials relate to the items that we collect and can be found throughout the galleries!
Technically, a specific room or building isn't needed to develop a library. As a voracious reader, French general Napoleon Bonaparte had a personal librarian and traveled with a portable library of books on his military battles. Although our library doesn't include any of Napoleon's preferred books on the shelves, we do have a cologne bottle (right) from one of his necessaire travel boxes on display in the Vault.

On the Shelves...
The library books are arranged on the shelves by categories that include: Lalique, Tiffany, Art Glass, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Fine Art, Jewelry, Vanity Items, Fashion, Artists, Perfume Houses and Perfume Bottles among others. A wonderful array of international perfume-related exhibition catalogs, auction catalogs, magazines and miscellaneous publications provide a treasure trove of information for pleasure reading or research.
Along one wall in the library are a variety of books relating to travel and museums around the world, as well as a section on photography, decorative arts and world's fairs.

Lalique collectors will catch their breath when they realize that practically everything produced, photographed and written about Rene Lalique can be found in the books and auction catalogs on the shelves. With over 200 publications on Lalique, it could take months to read them all!

The Felix Marcilhac books on Lalique weigh almost 15 pounds each and all four editions are included in the library. The books were released in 1989, 1994, 2004 and 2011 and each edition includes over 1,000 pages with thousands of photographs.
The books are considered the complete works on Lalique and newly discovered information and items are featured in each publication.
Located next to the Lalique publications are books and materials relating to Tiffany and subjects include lighting, windows, jewelry, art glass and fancy goods.

Alastair Duncan, the world-renowned authority on Louis C. Tiffany wrote the definitive book in 2004 on this premier artist/designer. The 671 page book is based on the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum Collection of Takeo Horiuchi. It includes items in all of Tiffany's artistic disciplines, a must read for Tiffany collectors!
Many perfume collectors have related vanity items in their collections such as compacts, purses, jewelry and fashion items. A variety of books have been written on these collectibles and several library shelves are devoted to these topics.

Several new displays with purses, compacts, lipsticks and vanity items are located outside the lower level foyer.

The history of auctions can be traced back to 16th century England, but not much is known about them. The London Gazette often included auction information from auctions held throughout London restaurants and pubs in the 17th century. Early auction houses began in the 18th century with Sotheby's created in 1744 and Christie's in 1766.
Many early auctions were used to liquidate property and it was not unusual for the owner of the auctioned items to remain anonymous as society didn't look favorably on auctions.

We know many collectors love auctions and the catalogs from Christie's, Sotheby's, Phillips and other auction houses from around the world fill the shelves in the library. The catalogs document the sales of well-known perfume collections and perfume related items.
In addition, the complete collection of the International Perfume Bottle Association auction catalogs, beginning with the initial Monsen and Baer event in 1991 are in the library.

Speaking of Monsen and Baer auctions, the first auction attended by Rusty and Jeffrey was at the 1997 Reston IPBA convention.
"We remember it like it was yesterday and had fun bidding on several bottles. The first item we purchased was a Paglieri Fantasia set of four frosted perfume bottles in the shape of books with cute terrier dogs as bookends. It comes in a book shaped box and was made by an Italian manufacturer. It sits appropriately in the Perfume Passage library!"

A fun aspect of collecting is when you learn where your items were originally sold along with their original costs. Vintage catalogs are a gold mine of information and certainly make us wish we could make purchases at those prices today!

The library includes over 200 catalogs from department stores, jewelers, wholesalers, perfumers and compact companies. A favorite catalog on the shelf is a Marshall Field's 1890-91 catalog of "Notions & Fancy Goods."
A notion and fancy good includes just about every type of accessory you can imagine from shoe laces to spectacles, combs to curling irons, buttons to banks and stationary to scissors. The catalog includes 39 pages of toiletries, perfumes and soaps, from not only Chicago companies, but many east coast companies as well. The colorful pages below can be found in the 405 page Marshall Field catalog. Thumbing through the book is a wonderful way to spend hours in the library!
Edouard Pinaud (1810-1868) was a French businessman who founded the Ed. Pinaud perfume house and cosmetics company in 1830. Pinaud's bottles with their colorful labels are on display in the Drugstore.
The James. S. Kirk & Co. began as a soap manufacturing company and by 1880 their Chicago facility was one of the world's largest soap factories. They also produced a variety of toiletries and perfumes and many can be found in our Made in Chicago display.
The products included in the Marshall Field catalog could be purchased directly in the store or through the mail. As a precursor to online purchasing, mail order catalogs were a vital part of shopping when Benjamin Franklin invented the mail order business in 1744 by publishing a catalog offering books for sale.

Franklin made it possible for his customers to purchase his books without visiting his shop, paving the way for many other mail order catalog businesses. By the 1830s the mail order business was commonly accepted and one such catalog, Tiffany & Co. Blue Book, first published in 1845, is still available today.

Perfume Passage is in love with catalogs, and we celebrated August 18th as it was National Mail Order Catalog Day!
The first Montgomery Ward catalog was produced on August 18, 1872 and while other businesses were already publishing mail order catalogs, it was Aaron Montgomery Ward that is credited for producing the first mail order catalog that was meant for the general public. By 1904, there were over three million customers on the company's catalog mailing list. Because of Ward's success, the mail order concept spread rapidly and Richard Sears published the first Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog in 1894. The cover on one of their early catalogs stated that Sears was the “cheapest supply house on earth.”

Exhibition catalogs are an important type of catalog, documenting items relating to all the items that are displayed in a show, art gallery or museum.

Over the years, exhibition catalogs have grown from small publications that documented the title, size and manufacture/creator of an item to notable books that often include complete details on the history of the items, colored photographs and much more.
An exhibit of Paul Poiret, a visionary who revolutionized 20th century perfumery by associating fashion with perfume, is one of the newest displays at Perfume Passage, located in the Vault gallery. A 2013 exhibition of Poiret and his Parfums de Rosine company was held at the International Perfume Museum in Grasse, France. The exhibition catalog above is one of many that can be found in the library and they're an invaluable tool in documenting perfumes and related items.

Another wonderful exhibition catalog in the library showcases the collection of Italian IPBA collector Monica Magnani. Over 225 bottles from her large collection were on display at the Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice, including rare examples from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The 157 page catalog was published in conjunction with the exhibition, held from October 2018 through March 2019, featuring color photographs, descriptions and history of perfumes through the centuries.
Treasures of the Collection...
The year 1555 was 170,455 days ago, before vaccinations, sanitation systems, telephones, radios, electricity and commercial perfumes!

Fragrances did exist at the time and Venice Italy was a flourishing city for trading and selling spices, oils and resins from the Orient. These new ingredients were the raw materials brought back by explorers returning from their voyages around the world, and were necessary in the development of the first Italian perfumes.

In 1535, the first perfumer’s boutiques opened in Venice and after the invention of the printing press, the first publishing houses for the perfume trade was established in the city.

One of the first books about the Italian perfume industry was a 6" x 4" book titled Notandissimi Secreti de l’Arte Profumatoria (loosely translated "The Most Notable Secrets of Perfumes). It was written by Giovanventura Rosetti and published in 1555. It's 156 pages, written in Italian and is one of five known copies to exist today. It's in remarkably good condition and is the oldest book in the Perfume Passage library!
Did You Know...
  • The first public library in the US is considered to be the Library Company of Philadelphia founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin.

  • The Darby Free Library in Darby, Pennsylvania, is America's oldest public library, in continuous service since 1743.

  • The largest public library in the US—and the second largest library in the world—is the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., which is considered the national library of the US.

  • At the last count, New York had 756 public libraries, making it the state with the largest number of public libraries in the US.

  • The largest geographic public library district in Illinois is the Barrington Public Library District. It's located about 11 miles from Perfume Passage!
Share all the great Perfume Passage news with your friends and encourage them to sign up on our website!

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.