Avon began in the late 1800s as the California Perfume Company (CPC) in New York City. The company's initial product was perfume. Mrs. P. F. E. Albee was CPC's first sales lady and many CPC and Avon awards have been named after her. CPC products in mint condition are sought after, usually sell quickly and can bring high prices. CPC became Avon in 1939.
There are several categories of collectable vintage CPC/Avon items for collectors to choose from. A beginner may want to focus on one category and learn it well before branching out.
- bottles and decanters
- candles and candle holders
- soaps and soap dishes
- representative awards and gifts
- kids toys
Collecting vintage CPC/Avon items can be fun and rewarding but you can be disappointed if you are not careful when buying them. Collect what you like and don't buy something you don't like just because it seems like a bargain. Serious collectors should have a reference guide so they know what the original items looked like. There are several on the market and sometimes you can find one or more on eBay. If you don't want to invest in a guide, you can check at you local library for a copy or just study what is offered on the Internet.
Bottles are often sold as excellent to mint condition but are missing parts that are not noted. Some examples are:
- labels are not present or are incorrect
- the bird bath does not include the small blue bird
- the owl or cat is missing its pretty blue rhinestone eyes
- "Skip a Rope" is missing her rope
- "Catch a Fish" is missing his pole
- "Viking" is missing its sail
- a car is missing its roof or cap
Other problems include:
- an item is designated "rare" but a search reveals that there are several of that item listed
- some bottles that should be painted are clear (although it is remotely possible to find clear factory test bottles)
- top and bottoms do not match (e.g., "Little Boo Peep's" head is on to top of "Mary, Mary's" bottom
- misidentified (e.g., a bird of paradise is called a peacock)
Not all bottles marketed as "Avon" are in fact Avon. An Old Spice white lighthouse decanter is a good example. Although they appear similar and the quality is usually equivalent, Old Spice bottles are not Avon and should not be identified as such. However, if you like them buy them.
Dirty bottles are one thing, but if you get one that is stained such as with tobacco smoke it can be impossible to remove that stain. Colored glass (unpainted) bottles are usually all right but it is the plastic tops that can be the most problematic when it comes to stains. Check the photos closely. If the top looks very dark, it may not be worth buying at any price. Boxes often protect the item even if the boxes have considerable damage.
Beware when the photos are unclear and a seller offers a large lot with vague descriptions and says there are too many to list individually. You may receive bottles that you wouldn't have bid on if you knew they were included. Quantity does not necessarily mean quality. Check feedback and ask questions!
Even thou you can find vintage Avon bottles sold as "new and unopened", the products contained inside are 35+ years old and could be harmful to your skin or clothing. In addition, because some products are flammable they may be against U S Post Office shipping regulations.
If you sell vintage Avon items, please dispose of any that you wouldn't display in your own home.
Have fun collecting but remember the above when buying.