An Intoxicating 19thC Mahogany Scent / Perfume Box


Origin: English
Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1850
Height: 2 inches
Width: 4.25 inches
Depth: 3 inches

The beautifully proportioned golden mahogany box having mother of pearl escutcheon and shield to top opening to reveal six silvered small cut glass bottles with handwritten paper labels under a plush scarlet velvet top.

The six bottles contained within the box have small individual stoppers, beautifully crafted, the necks with cut shoulders. Each held a specific fragrance, some here are illegible but those that aren’t include ‘Jockey Club’, ‘Lavender’, ‘Rondeletia’ and ‘Pearl of Perfume’. Jockey Club for example was based on rose-jasmin plus orris/cassie notes and dates from the 1840s. It has a very textured history, from being worn and loved by politicians, actors and musicians to being used in Hoodoo ceremonies for good luck, for prosperity and even as a gambling potion. Based on natural ingredients from the garden, Victorian perfumes were mainly light, floral scents. The most popular ingredients were ultra-feminine florals, including rose, jasmine, violet, and as we see included here, lavender.

Condition is good to very good, some of the bottle tops have small dings to them though in terms of the glass there is only one bottle that has damage to it with the neck being cracked; this could be restored if so desired. The escutcheon is intricately engraved with a ship?, though the top shield remains unmarked so personalisation is still a possibility. The box has a working lock and key.

This delightfully small but charming box provides us with an exhilarating throw back to the stimulating smells of Victorian England, and, as Patrick Süskind so famously wrote; "Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it."

We tend to agree.