Although most people today picture a woman at the door selling lipstick and mascara when they think of Avon, the company began in the late 1800’s as the California Perfume Company. They started with one door to door sales representative who today is recognized as being the very first “Avon Lady”. She sold the company’s perfumes, and was so successful that more representatives were hired and the company grew by leaps and bounds.
The History of Avon
By the early 1900’s, Avon had a large product line of cosmetics, perfume, and other toiletries. Their thousands of representatives were highly successful, and the company soon expanded to Canada. The product line continued to grow, and eventually Avon Ladies across North America were selling all kinds of cosmetics, bubble baths, lotions, and of course perfumes.
In the 60’s Avon introduced the first of what would become a line of novelty decanters, starting with a glass car. Soon the line grew and the decanters grew popular, and all kinds of different versions were produced. These Avon antiques were considered collectibles almost from day one, and many buyers held on to theirs, and started to buy each new one as it was released. New collectibles soon joined the decanters as Avon released special edition plates, lamps, tea sets and eventually ornaments as well. As each item was discontinued from the Avon catalog, its value started to rise on the collector’s market.
Types of Avon Antiques
Today all sorts of Avon antiques are considered highly collectible, including original perfume bottles from the California Perfume Company’s early days – which are quite rare and valuable today. The better the condition of the Avon item, the more valuable it will be. Of course, the older the Avon antiques in your collection, the more prized they will be by Avon collectors around the world.
Today there are many Avon collecting clubs that both newcomers to collecting Avon antiques and those who have been collecting for some time can join. These clubs are helpful for beginners because they can give valuable insight into which Avon antiques are the most valuable, which are the most rare, and what condition they should be in.
How to Identify Avon Antiques
Avon antiques are relatively easy to identify. There are two possible marks to look for on any Avon item. The earliest pieces will be marked with the CPC name, and these are by far the most valuable Avon collectibles on the market. Items marked with the Avon brand are also valuable, especially if they are pre-1950 and include the original box. In fact, the box in good condition can greatly increase the value of any Avon collectible item.
There are several books on the market that can help you to identify the most valuable Avon antiques. It takes some practice and a good eye to quickly identify an old CPC or Avon item in an antique shop or estate sale, so bringing a book along makes it a lot easier.
Generally, although they remain quite collectible, Avon items created after the 1960’s are somewhat less valuable due to the fact that there are more of them available and they tend to be in good condition since they were assumed to be collectibles right from the beginning. Older items are harder to come by since many people merely threw them away, which makes them truly valuable and rare, especially in good condition.
Because of the relatively easy-to-find nature of the later collectibles, they are actually a good starting off point when beginning an Avon collection. Picking up a few of the less rare and less costly pieces will get you into collecting quickly. Joining one of the many Avon Collector’s Clubs around the world is also a good way to get started.
Although Avon has gone global, most of the truly rare antiques are found in the US and Canada, as these are the locations where Avon was first sold. Estate sales, especially places home to older women, are a great place to search for old Avon antiques. In many cases, those selling the items in an estate sale have no idea what they have on hand – take a look through your old items to see if there might some great Avon antiques already in your home!