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Sweet smell of an Italian spring morning.

Byline: Jeffery Muse

IN summer, smelling sweetly is even more important than during the cooler days, when there is less competition between aromas. Eau de cologne is a lighter, less oppressive scent used during the day.

To qualify as a cologne, a scent should have no more than 5% of essential oils in its make-up.

The original formulation of fresh-smelling style of scent was shown first in Cologne by an Italian perfumer called Giovanni Maria Farina in 1709. He described the scent as smelling like an Italian spring morning after rain.

However, this first cologne is technically not a cologne as we know it today. Rather it is an eau de toilette because it does, in fact, have more than 5%essential oils in its make-up.

This famous scent is still made in Cologne by the Farina company, and to the same recipe which remains a closely guarded secret.

It is the oldest fragrance company in the world, seen today in shops as 4711 Eau de Cologne named after the firm's address in the city.

Generations of Italians have spread across Europe, settling into their adopted countries and building thriving businesses.

The Farina family was no exception and when a descendant, Jean Maria Joseph Farina, opened an outlet in Paris it grew into the famous Roger & Gallet perfume empire which today owns the rights to sell the Eau de Cologne extra vielle, or extra old.

To complement the wide range of scents produced in the French capital, an equally wide variety of delicately-worked and imaginatively-sculpted bottles emerged form the city's workshops.

One of the largest manufacturers in the early 20th century was the Viard partnership of father and son, working with Viollet le Duc, and if this workshop didn't actually produce each little container in Paris, they often put the finishing touches of gilding, re-touching, polishing to them.

However all of the bottles that passed through their workshop at 25 rue Chevalier- Desire, Montreuil, are all extremely collectable today.

Examples complete with their original box are always in demand, as seen recently in Bonhams when a "Golden Morn" frosted, stained and polished perfume bottle and stopper, circa 1918 and made for Dubarry of London by Julien Viard, just 4in (10cm) high made pounds 2,400.

Many perfume bottles have the same wide, pyramidial outline, but few would have their original paper labels after all these years.

This example still possessed its front and back inscriptions reading "Gold Morn Perfume" and "Dubarry London" respectively.

It came complete with its stopper, fabulously moulded into a maiden in Egyptiancostume, in greens and browns.

Examples of the work produced by Julien Viard and his father Clovis are invariably described as "quality of work - excellent", making them perfect collectors' items, and this bottle is no exception.

For antiques and works of art advice, Jeffery Muse is available on 029 2072 7980.


BOTTLE IT: This 'Golden Morn' frosted, stained and polished perfume bottle and stopper, circa 1918, made by Julien Viard for Dubarry of London, sold for pounds 2,400 at Bonhams
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 21, 2008
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