Perfume bottle display at the IPBA convention

The International Perfume Bottle Association came to Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Illinois, for its 2011 convention. For four days I was surrounded by enormous displays of exquisite bottles, many rare and all beautiful. Collectors from around the world came to learn, share, buy and lust.

Some people collect bottles made by a particular glassmaker, such as Lalique, or bottles that originally were sold with fragrance, such as Evening in Paris. My collection, which I started about 25 years ago, is an eclectic assortment. I have art glass and dressing-table bottles. I have bottles by Irice, Mikasa, Lenox and Waterford, and three DeVilbiss umbrella-girl atomizers. I’m especially partial to Prince Matchabelli crown bottles. Wind Song was a popular fragrance during my teen years.

At the IPBA convention, members and other experts gave presentations on Art Deco design, filigree jewel-top bottles, Julien-Henri Viard and DeVilbiss. The keynote speaker was Simon Brooke, a British real estate developer, who discovered his great-great grandfather had been a perfumer to Queen Victoria. He tracked down the formula book and bottle molds and has revived the Grossmith empire.

The perfume bottle auction offered for bid and sale about 250 extraordinary pieces. The most expensive was the 1913 d’Heraud “La Phalene,” a Lalique bottle with butterfly design and lacquered box. It sold for $31,000. Antiques Roadshow celebrity Nicholas Dawes served as the auctioneer.

I bought a bell-shaped Evyan bottle from one of the dealers for $20.

The highlight of the convention was the reception and tour at the Place de la Musique, the private home and magnificent music-machine collection of Marian and Jasper SanFilippo. Their son, Jeffrey, is an IPBA member and Art Deco enthusiast. The evening agenda included rides on the fully restored 1892 Eden Palais carousel and a concert on the 8,000-pipe theater organ.

The 2012 IPBA convention will be May 3-6 in Jacksonville, Florida.