So I just finished my project late on Friday night, and yesterday I was a whirling - well, maybe more of a slowly twirling - dervish of activity: dishes washed and tumble drier emptied from Tuesday, plants watered, a load of washing on, prescription collected and....Xmas tree and decorations finally taken down(!). Not the one in the living room window facing the street, I hasten to add, which Mr Bonkers had already consigned to the garage in a timely manner. No, I mean the less conspicuous one in the conservatory at the back of the house, which hopefully only a handful of neighbours will have noticed after its due date for removal...
"That's shockingly slack of you!" I hear you cry, and it's fair comment. I may even have just heaped a year's worth of bad luck on my head by this failure to follow the tradition of taking down the tree and its trappings on Twelfth rather than Twentieth Night. But orderly routine and compliance with social convention (on any front!) - while not exactly strangers to Bonkers Towers - are certainly not seen there on more than an occasional pop-in basis.
And given that the paraphernalia of Christmas is still fresh in my mind, I will take this opportunity to post some pictures of my presents from Mr Bonkers this year: a corporate Christmas card from Chanel (sent to one of its staff, who - as we learnt in post-purchase correspondence - has since left and had the foresight to stick it on Ebay!), and a Christmas tree-shaped perfume card, also from Chanel.
Following a brisk bidding war, the Christmas card - with its pretty dangly gold charms of snowflakes, perfume bottles and the intertwined "C"s of the Chanel logo - ended up costing Mr Bonkers as much as a bottle of Coco Mademoiselle. However, it is a much more desirable object in my eyes, not least because I am of course already sorted on the Coco Mademoiselle front with a couple of bottles of Lidl Suddenly Madame Glamour. : - )
So yes, the card will come out every year and take pride of place on the mantlepiece, and I shall continue to puzzle over who the signatory may be...If anyone can make out that name and knows who they are, I would be most curious to know!
Then the second card - shaped like a Christmas tree, and fashioned out of a collage of bottles of No 5, No 19, Coco and Allure - is very small by comparison at 4.25 inches tall. This is because it is in fact a rather elaborate fragrance blotter. I am so used to the ubiquitous long white blank ones, that I forget that there are also these more colourful preprinted ones in assorted shapes and sizes.
A quick scurry through the Interwebs has revealed that perfume cards date from the late 1800s and were originally impregnated with the fragrance, though this one is not very old. Well, not older than Allure at least, which places it in the mid-90s onwards.
Funnily enough, I recently came across the Versace Yellow Diamond blotter pictured below, and kept it because it struck me as rather impressive - more so than the fragrance, certainly - but by and large I don't tend to encounter anything more patterned than the normal white strips, with at most the name of the perfume house or the store printed on them.
Now it turns out that the seller of the perfume card is a journalist and published author called Kathy Flood, who has another book coming out shortly on the subject of faces in jewellery*. Kathy lives in the mid-West, but has also spent time in Europe, where she studied French like me. Her Ebay store is also mostly devoted to vintage jewellery. So she sounds an all-round interesting character, and we have got into a bit of an email exchange since the tree card arrived, which is a nice spin off of the gift itself. Kathy reckons it is quite rare, and I have certainly not managed to google anything similar on collectors' sites.
For yes, there seems to be a thriving special interest based around collecting these speciality blotters, as well as perfume-themed postcards and other promotional bits and bobs.
And in terms of actual samples of perfume, as opposed to unfragranced blotters or other printed matter, I have now learnt that "liquitouch" is the correct term for those credit card-sized plasticky samples, which include a small amount of perfume encased by a thin film. Then of course there are the peel-back fragrance strips you get in magazine ads, while somehow I have also managed to acquire a "blister pack" of DKNY Delicious Night (which looks for all the world like one of those plastic bubbles disposable contact lens come in). So when you think about it, there is a whole host of promotional perfume delivery systems of which I am only vaguely aware, being so focused on getting my mitts on a proper sample vial!
Hmm...I do hope I haven't suddenly uncovered another rabbit hole down which to fall, having so far largely managed to tune out to the twin allure of vintage and extrait versions of scents. I note that one of the books Kathy has written is about the whole business of collecting. Called Things, it features a chapter on fragrance! As for our perfume cards, there is even a name for people who collect such things - or there is in French at least - and I daresay the English is the same word:
I tried googling it, mind, and all I got was "olfactophilia", a type of fetish into which I shall leave you to make your own inquiries... : - )
UPDATE: Following a suggestion from Cymbaline in the oomments below, I contacted noted wordsmith Pyramus via his blog, Cephalogenic, about the origins of the word "olfcartophile", and on Monday (16.1) he kindly devoted a whole post entitled "Card Games" to his reply!
So, I have to ask - and I know I am rather backward in coming forward when it comes to asking readers questions...
Are you already - or do you reckon you have you the potential to become - an olfcartophile?
What promotional perfume delivery systems have you encountered, and what are their relative merits?
Do you come across many of these fancier perfume blotters, and if so, did any of them smell?
Could a more striking style of perfume blotter ever boost sales of a given scent, or is it just a bit of harmless point of sale fun?
PS The other three cards pictured were extras that came with my Chanel tree!
**The Jewelry Face Book of Pins & Pendants: Vintage Visages