Vintage Avon Collectibles: Antique Bottles And Plates

A few basic pieces of information to help an Avon collector build a good and valuable collection

It's doubtful that David McConnell ever dreamed his perfume business would become the enduring success that Avon is today. In 1886, when he began selling books door to door, his intention was to avoid becoming part of his father's dairy farming business. When he took note of the joy his female customers expressed at the perfume he gave away with each book purchase, an empire was born. Today, Avon is still enjoyed by generations of women who use the products, but also, by those who enjoy collecting the nostalgic Avon of yesterday. McConnell would certainly be impressed at what has become of his business venture, if not proud as well.

The most important thing to think about, as an Avon collector, is what types of items will be put in the collection. Avon has produced so many different types of things, it's almost necessary to specify a collection. There are collector plates, bottles, jewelry, cosmetics, dinnerware, and more. The most commonly collected items are bottles and decanters, followed closely by collector plates. Not only are collectors interested in Avon marked pieces, which date from 1928 and beyond, they also look for items marked California Perfume Company, Avon's original name.

California Perfume Company, based out of New York City, became Avon in 1928. Apparently the name changed to reference Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, but it remains unclear as to why. Early items, bearing the CPC mark, are the rarest and, of course, are the most sought after by collectors. Though there are other valuable and rare Avon pieces, CPC items, because of age and rarity, tend to be the most costly to acquire. For Avon or CPC items dating from the 1950s or earlier, having a box in decent condition has a lot to do with the value of the piece. Some collectors aren't interested in boxes, since usually bottles and plates are displayed without the box, but the majority sees the box as a must have item. Most Avon collectibles from the 1960s are not rare; the values for these pieces are usually fairly low. These items are still collected by many, but the market is saturated with these items, keeping values lower.

As with most areas of collecting, however, the values of CPC and Avon collectibles will fluctuate with the rest of the market. So, watching for bargains and deals is essential toward getting a good price. The selling price of any item can change daily, in some cases, depending on who is looking for certain pieces and when. Whether selling or buying, it's good to remember...It's possible to buy an Avon bottle for one price, then, sell it from the same place at a higher price the very next day. This is true because different people are looking for different things every day. Buyers change daily, as does seller inventory. Browsing antique and second hand shops, thrift shops and garage sales, or estate sales and auctions on a regular basis, will greatly improve the chances of finding any specific item. Looking at online auctions or stores frequently will also aid in finding desired pieces. Make offers whenever possible, in these selling venues dealers are often willing to take less than the "asked for" price on the tag. If a price seems high, don't be afraid to offer a bit less.

There are many books available for purchase that specifically deal with CPC and Avon collectibles. Having a few books on hand is always a good idea for easy referencing before buying or researching a recent lot purchase. Any bookstore will have a selection of collectibles reference books. If there doesn't happen to be any Avon or CPC books on the shelf, most stores will be happy to order anything. Many book stores have an online inventory list of what's available for order, making it easy to look through the titles right in the store. Important information to consider would be markings, values, and listings of what's out there to find. Having resources on hand makes it easier to be informed if planning to purchase a few items here and there; but, even more so, when looking to purchase lots or collections of Avon and CPC items at a time, or often. Many collectors will purchase a collection that contains one, or maybe even more than one, desired piece. Afterwards, they will turn around and sell off the remainder of the lot, off-setting the cost of the new items acquired. Most lots will sell for a mere $1.00 per item, sometimes less, making it possible to acquire a ready made collection for a decent price. If a seller desires more money from the purchase of a collection, selling it piece by piece makes more sense.

In 1967 Avon and CPC collecting became popular and has remained so to this day. Figural and decorative bottles and decanters are the most collected items to date. Some collectors only purchase certain types of bottles, like cars, girls, or simply fancy. Other people like anything from a certain time period. Whichever way, there are a lot of collectors out there, creating a huge market for these items. Collector plates are another big Avon interest. Most collectors don't watch age as much for these items as they do condition. Avon has pewter, porcelain, and ceramic plates made throughout the decades; yet, the pewter plates don't appear to be at all popular. The porcelain and ceramic plates are highly desirable in the market. The real trick to getting a good item is making sure the piece is marked. After around 1990, many items are unmarked, and replicated pieces will often be unmarked as well. Knowing about marks, and checking before making a purchase, will save a buyer from wasting money on items that aren't authentic.

Collecting can be a fun, rewarding, and, sometimes, profitable pass-time. Avon and CPC bottles and plates can be an interesting and beautiful collection to have and add to. Being armed with a bit of basic knowledge about any area of collecting makes good sense, especially, though, when dealing with a company that's been around for well over a hundred years. With thousands of bottles and plates out there waiting to be bought, knowing something about what fits into the collection and how much to spend can make the whole experience better.

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