Given the amount of information that’s floating around the internet, you would think that every perfume that’s ever existed would be fully documented. However, every so often I encounter one that seems to have been lost without a trace. I recently came across one when the mother of an acquaintance was downsizing and I agreed to sell a few vintage perfumes that belonged to her. In fact, today I opened an Etsy shop for that purpose, rationalizing it as an opportunity to sell off some of my own hoarded stash of perfumes, too.
There were some common perfumes like Joy and Ecusson from the 1970s, but the real head-scratcher was something called “Startling” by Eisenberg. I Googled and Googled it to try to find information and comparables, but nothing turned up. The only lead was an entry on Profumo saying that it was first released in 1949, was made by Eisenberg and Sons, and that “production was apparently discontinued”. Yeah, it must have been given that no one else seems to know anything about it.
Doing research on the company itself, I found that it is completely unrelated to the Paris company Eisenberg Perfumes, which currently has a line of mass-market fragrances and cosmetics. Eisenberg and Sons was an American company, founded in 1914 as a clothing and perfume retailer and wholesaler in Chicago. Legend has it that they started putting sparkly jewelry on the clothing to make it sell better, but the pins kept getting stolen, so they went into rhinestone and crystal jewelry in a big way. Eventually costume jewelry became their main business, and their pieces are now sought-after collector’s items. The perfumes have sunk into total oblivion – except for the bottle that I now have in my hands.
It’s not a very attractive bottle, just plain and cylindrical like the one in the vintage ad, with the name in big gold letters and an enormous gold “E” on the back (or maybe it’s the front?). The perfume itself is not bad, a typical vintage chypre-type floral. Based on the little I have to go on, it probably dates to the 1960s, or possibly 1970s, if they were still making perfume then.
I’m trying to decide whether to try to sell it and, if so, for how much given that there’s nothing like it listed anywhere. The alternative would be to buy it myself and keep it as an oddity.