Perfume Story: March 2012 Archives

March 2012 Archives

The charm of miniature perfume

At the perfume lovers' club in Hamburg

On Saturday, November 12th of 2011, I got out of the subway at St. Pouli station in Hamburg, and walked to the Handwerkskammer (The Hamburg Chamber of Crafts) on 12th street in Holsten. The front of the building is made of great bricks, and the inside also had a imposing atmosphere. The Parfum Flacon exhibition was held in Room 303 on the third floor. The fee was 5 euros at the entrance. I walked inside and noticed notes that explained the schedule of the next exhibitions, including ones in Berlin on December 4th, Hamburg next January, and Berlin again next February.

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This event had been sponsored by the Flacon-Collectors-Club for twenty years. I had the chance to talk to a female manager. She estimated that about seventy people would participate today, and about two hundred people at the next Berlin exhibit. She added that the real collectors were those who have collected passionately for a long time. I agreed. She gave me a pamphlet that had been published regularly for fifteen years. It was twenty-three pages long, and was superbly bound. I became interested in two particular articles. The first article was about the purpose of the club, which was to create a culture of gifting perfume. The second article, Miniaturen, was four pages long which was written about miniature perfumes, and contained some culture background.

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I interviewed a lady from Denmark. Her first encounter with perfume was when, as a young girl, she played with them with her Barbie dolls. Afterwards, while studying in the States, she started collecting perfumes more seriously. She even traveled to France for that purpose. Asked why she purchased those particular perfumes, she just said, "because I don't own them." It made sense that collectors should collect the perfumes they don't own.
Though she owned 3,500 perfumes, she was not satisfied. So, she came to Hamburg for the first time in 12 years. She showed me some of her miniature perfumes, which were purchased via internet. Someone told her, "You forgot your cell phone; " she was so busy looking for perfumes that she even forgot her cell phone! Her bag was filled with miniature perfumes. Her budget today was 400 euros. Because one perfume usually costs five euros, she would buy eighty of them. She said with a smile that not only she did not mind carrying a heavy bag of perfumes, but that she would enjoy it.

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Always carrying miniature perfumes in the bag

I met with an opera singer from the Baden-W├╝rttemberg State Opera House. According to her, jobs for opera singers are very competitive, and the job market was very severe. Luckily, she was reviewed positively in a newspaper, and she obtained a stable job. However, she is more worried than hopeful about her future. She thinks the only way to be successful in this field is to be original. She is working hard to express this originality. This singer uses perfume whenever she is happy. When she is not happy, she wears it anyway to make herself feel happier. She does not wear perfume on stage since some singers are allergic. She always tries samples first, and usually buys scents that last longer. She became interested in perfume in her childhood. Her father, who was a doctor, loved perfume so much that he kept them inside of locked shelves. She used to steal some by using a syringe, and transferred some to her little bottles. She mentioned that she had read a novel, titled Perfume: the Story of a Murderer, and agreed that perfume was the devil. She enjoyed mixing perfumes and trying to create new scents. When her cousin visited her, she was surprised to find a big Chanel bottle in her heavy purse. She always carries small bottles of perfume. She is a beautiful and good-postured lady with a soft but clear voice.

Coming across a book of miniature perfume bottles in Germany

I also met a fashionable lady at a beer house in Karlsruhe in the state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg in Germany. She was dressed in black shoes and a black dress that had a large flower print on it. She is another perfume lover who owns 1,000-1,300 miniature perfumes, some of which were not even opened yet. Considering there are 13,000 kinds of miniature perfumes on the market, one thousand is not enough for her. One of her friends owns 8,000 of them. She recommends her friend to contact Guinness World Records, but her friend does not care for it. image120325_12.pngThe friend says she only collects them for her own pleasure. She usually collects perfumes at flea markets, and receives some through gifts including for birthdays. There are standards prices set for miniature perfumes on the market. The following books show these prices. There are five books in total. Four books describe each miniature perfume product, while one book has only the pricing. Below are two books' front pages.

Inside, descriptions of each product


The price of each product is shown as follows.


Miniature perfume is very common among ordinary people here as part of everyday life and culture. I think the market for miniature perfume will grow in the future since perfume lovers across the world seem to cherish miniature perfume very much.

Wet Plate Photography Collodion Process -part2

image120220_07.pngThe 2012 workshop spots have already been completely filled. Four students are accepted at a time and the workshops are held from May through September. These workshops are his greatest source of income. The cost is $800 per person. There have been a lot of middle-aged eccentrics and Civil War buffs who have participated, but more recently half of the participants consist of aspiring artists and women. Long ago, women did not come, but it's human psychology, that the more expensive something is, the more it is valued by customers. One more reason that wet plate photography is becoming popular is because each image is unique and there is only one plate per image. It is not possible to copy it. That is a significant characteristic. The number of works up to this point is several thousand. In the past, they were often portraits, but now the photographs are often landscapes, too.
As he said this, he showed me the photograph studio tent. There was a darkroom and all the materials necessary for taking photographs stored in this tent.

On the left is one picture that he took of me. Is this a Native American? Or is it an aging samurai?

Now his afternoons are spent in farming and dairy work and his evenings are spent writing letters. He doesn't use e-mail, so all contact is through the postal service. Our appointment was also made through the mail. Japanese-made solar panels are the power source for the light and computer on the desk.
The interview ended just after 1 p.m. and we went to the gate, at which point he proffered his shoulder again when I had to remove the boots.

It was a relaxed gesture and we talked leisurely. He is not rushed in anything he does. He either buys his cameras at antique shops or uses ones that he finds thrown out by the side of the road.
Preparation for wet plate photography requires time and effort, and so does taking and processing each image, but he likes that.
With cameras these days, you can take good pictures without effort, but his lifestyle is the complete opposite of that principle and it is the people with whom that philosophy resonates that visit his land. He states that that is the reason that he is happy now.

When asked about his future, he responded, "I will be doing the same things as I do now," adding "I will continue to live according to my beliefs while continuing to farm and raise livestock." He laughingly said that the only other thing is that he will die when he gets old.

Thinking that it was the antithesis of the too-fast modern lifestyle, I asked him once again whether he was pioneering a move to return once again to an older lifestyle through the wet plate photography that he discovered from the past and he answered, "I am living a lifestyle that contrasts a 19th-Century lifestyle with a modern lifestyle."

I visited this inconvenient, remote location, viewed and heard about wet plate photographers, and confirmed that the number of wet plate photography enthusiasts is increasing and that a new demand is being created as those people are creating wet plate photography equipment in their home studios and workshops.

In a competitive global environment, being different from others is linked to an increase in demand for compensation paid, so the lifestyle that John pursues and which differs from others' lifestyles has created a demand not seen before and has been the start of a business, although the followers are small in number.

This is the strength of America. The U.S. 2011 venture capital investment was 21.9 billion dollars. It is low compared with the IT bubble days, but more than four times of that in Europe and 15 times of that in Japan, and of the adult U.S. population, the percentage of people involved in starting businesses is 7.6%, the highest of the major industrialized countries. There is no doubt that there is an underlying lack of fear, whether of failure or in accessing unusual technologies.
John's way of life is a display of the indestructible American entrepreneurial spirit and it seems to be the basis for the creation of a new art and a new business.


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