How do vintage perfume bottles lead to an historic Lumiere Brothers factory in Burlington Vermont? Follow me.
Yesterday I stopped by to chat with my friend Mary Heinrich Aloi at her wonderful antique store, Vintage Inspired Antiques/Whistle Stop Antiques, on Flynn Avenue in Burlington. I went to discuss business but I cant help looking around her packed- to- the- gills shop whenever I stop by. I spied some antique vintage perfume bottles. Not only were they beautiful, but I'm kind of a perfume nut.
I bought a few bottles and carried them back to my store, not to sell but to photograph, and to delight in the lingering scent of Bandit by the infamous perfumer Germaine Cellier, and whatever delightful aromas might be waiting in the other bottles.
In addition to Bandit I found Tabu, Geoffrey Beene and the alluring Private Collection 1973 by Estee Lauder.
I set up the bottles in many different configurations, with the sunlight changing as I went. The next one, along with the one at the top, are my favorites. The bottles have a strange sensuality, evoking not just their scent, but a presence bestowed by the somewhat anthropomorpic shape of the glass itself.
Two Perfume Bottles,Estee Lauder Private Collection and unknown, photo @Liza Cowan 2010.Available online at small equals store
These photographs reminded me of the work of a photo secessionist artist, but I couldn't remember who, so I went on a little cyber hunt to see what might be lurking in the back of my visual memory.
Heinrich Kuhn, Austrian photographer. 1866-1944. Worked initially with the multi-gum bichromate process, and platinum and oil transfer prints, In 1907 he met up with Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen, and they began experimenting with the new process developed by the Lumiere Bros, the Autochrome.
Here's a Kuhn Autochrome.
How does this lead to Burlington Vermont? It's a little known fact that the Lumiere Bros. set up a factory to make autochrome plates in Burlington Vermont. The factory was here in Burlington for about ten years, starting around 1902. And where was the plant? In the very building, or at least on the very spot - because the original factory building burned down - on Flynn Avenue where I bought my perfume bottles at Vintage Inspired Antiques/Whistle Stop Antiques.
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From The Photo Miniature Vol 3, 1902