J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Perfume bottles by Avon, short for All Very Odorous Nothing

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Perfume bottles by Avon, short for All Very Odorous Nothing
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They are trinket-like creatures, disguising their true and hellish nature within cutesy forms, such as cowboy boots, classic cars, historical busts, vintage radios, antique guns, and fluffy animals. Their scents are overpowering, for within their bodies lies not blood, but an eau de cologne sprung from the very depths of Hades. They lurk in attics, in basements, huddled together in cardboard boxes in which their loathsome aromas amass like an army of doom that will charge upon any unsuspecting victim who happens to open their long-forgotten crypt.

And when that poor, hapless person is attacked by the horrible ether of these miniature monsters, delusions abound. Indeed, he who opens that innocent-looking box to discover its contents is overtaken by an idea that is ludicrous… impossible… but the smell is so dizzying, so mind-numbing… “These gotta be worth a ton of money,” he thinks. So he picks up his phone and calls me…

I answer the phone with my normal salutations. The man on the other end of the receiver seems like a zombie. His speech is slow. His words come at an effort. Finally, I understand the source of his delirium when he says, “I found some vintage Avon aftershave and perfume bottles and I was wondering if you’d be interested.”

I shriek like a B-movie scream queen and cry, “No! NO! Stay away! Stay away from me!” And then I pass out.

OK, so maybe I don’t scream and faint, but I try to explain in a calm manner that Avon bottles are worthless and that I wouldn’t be interested in them. Yes, they are virtually unsaleable – virtually because, on a lucky day, with the moon and stars aligned properly, one might be able to get a dollar for 2-3,000 of them.

Certainly, Avon is best described by the backronym All Very Odorous Nothing.

Photo by m kasahara

There’s far more to being a professional auctioneer than merely marketing merchandise. Each Wednesday, Behind the Block explores the precise methods, the elemental madness, and the intrinsic humanity of the auction industry.