Thursday, 15 April 2010

Random acts of kindness: a salute to Jacqueline Johnson.

There is something pure and honest about perfume. Not only does it possess the capacity to transform the wearer, but it manages to succeed in bringing together all those that love and adore it. I don't need to tell you that entire communities exist in praise of the perfuming arts; each one representing a cross-section of bottle collectors and perfume historians to spray-card collectors and amateur noses. Whatever one's individual predilection, a sense of citizenry exists between scent-lovers the world over. It is a fellowship that reaches beyond borders, from one home directly into another. It is a bond that is achieved without words... but rather, a keen sense of smell.

Robert Johnson of Becker Street Antiques in Portland, Oregon very generously sent me the charming bottles pictured above. Why? Simply because he knew I'd treasure them. A connection that materialised practically out of nowhere, and one that is proof positive that a feeling of camaraderie is alive and well in perfume circles. Whilst I've never met Rob in person, I feel we share the common understanding that perfume and their individual presentations are something to be enjoyed and appreciated. That's precisely what Robert's wife Jacqueline might have believed too, before her passing not so long ago. Jacqueline Johnson was a passionate perfumista and member of the IPBA (International Perfume Bottle Association) where she penned regular columns for their quarterly magazine, and offered valuable advice to collectors on ebay. Jacqueline also presided over the impressive online vintage perfume inventory on the Becker Street Antiques website. Perhaps her most dedicated efforts though, culminated with the publication of her very own 190-page book titled Classic Perfume Advertising 1920 - 1970, a book that was sadly launched at the same time as her passing. I see much effort and care has gone into compiling this beautifully illustrated compendium of advertising material, and urge anyone interested in purchasing direct from the publisher to visit in the US, or in Europe.

ISBN: 978-0-7643-2741-4
190 pages / 370 illustrations

I am always amazed at how perfume touches so many lives in so many ways. I will always cherish this Baccarat L'Heure Bleue bottle and lovely Shalimar flacon, not just because they are Jacqueline's anonymous gift to me by way of her husband; but also for her lasting contribution to the preservation and appreciation of the art.

If you would like to peruse the wares at Becker Street Antiques, visit

1 comment:

Flora said...

What a lovely gesture! That is one gorgeous book, it almost makes me wish I were a bottle collector instead of a scent hound. Those bottles are exquisite.

I am in Portland too, I must find out more about this store. I see that they even have some perfume bottles for sale that have perfume in them!