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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Treasures in Your Attic: An Avon aftershave decanter is worth little

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  • Dear Helaine and Joe:
    I just need to know if there is any value to this Avon aftershave decanter that is dated 03/21/67.
    Thank you,
    S.G., Estero, Fla.
    Dear S.G.:
    This is a glass decanter, which once contained Avon’s Tai Winds After Shave for men. It is a representation of a racy red 1936 Ford, and if nothing else, it is very cool-looking.
    Avon is a uniquely American company that now sells toiletries, cosmetics, toys and clothing in more than 100 countries. It is the world’s fifth-largest beauty company, with more than 6 million representatives globally.
    It all started with a man named David H. McConnell, who was a door-to-door book salesman in upstate New York. McConnell is said to have concocted (with the aid of a pharmacist) a rose-scented perfume that he gave away to encourage customers to hear his sales pitch and maybe buy his tomes. His perfume was so popular that he decided to ditch the books and switch to making perfume and other toiletries.
    He founded the California Perfume Co. in 1886 because his business partner said that there were lots of flowers in California and this might make for an appropriate name. The first address was 126 Chambers St., and, reportedly, the first use of the name “Avon” was not until 1929.
    It is said that the name “Avon” was chosen because McConnell was living in a small town in New York named “Suffern on the Ramapo,” and the founder liked to think that his village was reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Stratford-on-Avon. The first female “Avon Lady” was a Mrs. P.F.E. Albee of Winchester, N.H., who began ringing doorbells selling the company’s single-note scents in Little Dot Perfume Sets.
    By 1887, Mc Connell had 12 employees — all women — selling a line that is variously reported as between 18 and 20 items. Over the next decades, Avon grew to become a multibillion-dollar industry, and an icon in American business.
    In the 1960s, the company issued its first novelty decanters, and in 1968 began selling glass car decanters. They came in an enormous variety. There were, for example, the 1923 Station Wagon, the ‘33 Pierce Arrow, the “Solid Gold Cadillac,” The 1935 MG, the Jaguar, the ‘26 Checker Cab, the Ferrari, the 1937 Cord, the Stutz Bearcat, the Maxwell, the Model A, the T Touring Car, the Stanley Steamer, the Mustang, the Auburn Bobtail and the Volkswagen, among others.
    We have seen interesting collections of these decanters and they can make nice displays. Unfortunately, these items are not monetarily valuable, and collectors tend to prefer examples that are still complete and mint in the box.
    In the case of the ‘36 Ford item, it is our understanding that it came with a grill and wheel covers (hubcaps) that were applied by the user after the box was opened. It appears that the decals have been applied in the case of S.G.’s example, and the box is not shown, so we assume it is missing.
    Page 2 of 2 - Even in perfect and mint condition, this car does not retail for more than $12 to $13, and we saw one example selling for $5. With no box, the example in today’s question should probably be valued in the $3-$5 range.
    Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of “Price It Yourself” (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, PO Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928. Email them at treasures@knology.net.
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