EARLY 20TH-CENTURY SALES REPRESENTATIVES’ COLOR CATALOGUE FOR THE CALIFORNIA PERFUME COMPANY, NOW KNOWN AS AVON, WITH WONDERFUL FOLIO COLORED PLATES
CALIFORNIA PERFUME COMPANY. California Perfume Company Color Plate Catalog. New York, San Francisco, Luzerne, Montreal and Kansas City: California Perfume Company, circa 1919. Oblong folio, original black printed cloth; pp. 44. $2500.
Vintage sales representative’s catalog of “perfumes, toilet waters, sachet powders, complexion creams” and various other cosmetic items offered by the California Perfume Company, later Avon Products, illustrated by 21 splendid double-sided color plates and a final, single-sided, black-and-white plate celebrating the CPC’s Panama-Pacific Exposition Gold Medal. An extraordinary piece.
Struggling book dealer David McConnell included free perfume samples with every sale, only to realize customers preferred the perfume to the books. According to a 1916 California Perfume Company (CPC) account, the business, beginning in 1886 “in a little office about 20 by 25 feet in size… grew rapidly… This phenomenal growth may all be attributed to the original CPC Idea which is the manufacturing of a complete line of perfumes and toilet articles, as well as household necessities and specialties, each the best possible article of its kind, to be sold direct to the user… From a small beginning the Company has built up an organization of over 20,000 Representatives, constituting the largest and most efficient selling organization of its kind in the world” (William Scheele, The Story of the CPC). In 1939, the entire company was renamed Avon as “a tribute to McConnell’s favorite playwright, William Shakespeare… Avon’s sales Representatives-men and women-now number almost five million, and Avon products are sold in over 100 countries around the world” (Avon Company). In June 1915, the CPC’s products won a Gold Medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition for the “quality of goods, display and artistic design.” The Gold Medal appeared on all packages and catalogs-here, on the verso of the front board and on the recto of the final leaf-until replaced by the Good Housekeeping Seal.
Contemporary pencil marginalia indicating price increases. A bit of light soiling to title page, interior generally fresh and fine. Light edge-wear to binding. A lovely, near-fine copy.