However, I went up into the loft and recovered one of the many nick nacks which I had wrapped up when sorting out my Mother's belongings after her death. They were three miniature glass perfume bottles with their original stoppers.
I had never really looked at them before or given any thought as to where they might have come from or how they got into my mothers possession. The only clue as to their identity is on their bottom. They are all marked "Bottle made in France", one with "JP 0" after and the other two with "JP 1". Not much to go on !
It was my wife who made the connection to a well known French designer, Jean Patou. This was confirmed when we found an identical bottle which had been sold on ebay described as a "Jean Patou perfume bottle, vintage mini miniature size, hobnail style, all glass stopper dauber, retro 1930's era, vanity boudoir decor".
He became known for eradicating the 1920s flapper look by lengthening the skirt and designing sportswear for women. He is considered the inventor of knitted swimwear and the tennis skirt. Notably he designed the then daring sleeveless and knee length tennis dress worn by Suzanne Lenglen.
He was also the first designer to popularize the cardigan and helped move fashion towards the more natural and comfortable.
The Yorkshire Evening Post in 1930 said of his designs that he "hurled upon the dress world that bomb of the long skirt. It burst so suddenly that the whole fashionable world was convulsed. Finally, after being cautiously approached - like the mouse approaching the piece of cheese - it was graciously accepted. We submitted to the entanglement of its added folds".
Like most men, I hate walking around clothes shops with my wife. Jean had a novel approach to keeping his clients' husbands and men friends on board which might have even got me into his shop. He put a bar in his showrooms "to quench the thirst of bored husbands and other men during clients fittings, an amenity which was much appreciated, and helped to curb the impatience which experience had taught him often led to the loss of sales". He also introduced a perfume bar at which a woman could mix their own perfume in a shaker.
It was during the Great Depression that Jean Patou created a fragrance "designed as a work of art and as a gift for his good customers to chase the Depression blues away. No expense was to be spared and the finest raw materials were to be used. The costliest fragrance in the world was named 'JOY' in defiance of grim headlines and hard times with a mission to spread a message of JOY around the world" (source : current Jean Patou website).
'Joy' has a heavy floral scent, based on the rose and jasmine and remained the costliest perfume in the world until 1972. It remains the world's second best selling scent after Chanel No 5.
It was this fact which made me wonder whether the fact my mother worked as a children's hairdresser in Selfridges (for Mr Selfridge !) might have been the cause and source of her having these miniature bottles. Perhaps they were gifts from Mr Selfridge, sample bottles given to the staff or a Christmas gift Dad bought Mum ?
As I said earlier, one of these bottles was sold on ebay. Am I in possession of a valuable antique ? Sadly not. It was sold for £15 which means the bottle is only of scentimental value !