I woke up this morning with a message from an eBay seller: "misscellanies thought you might like this item on eBay." I click over, and it is a freaking VINTAGE PERFUME VENDING MACHINE. Yes, I would indeed like this item on eBay! A little too much in fact.
It dispenses 20s-era perfumes like Arpege and Evening in Paris via "nips" (thin plastene tubes filled with perfume) that you break open to apply. It's crazy to think that perfume was sold the way they now sell Doritos or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!
It's not the first time I've seen a vintage beauty product vending machine, though. A long time ago when I was a kid, my family and I took a road trip and stopped off at an Oklahoma Stucky's (diner, purveyor of tchotkes and gew-gaws). On my way to the bathroom I noticed an odd vending machine that sold lipstick. I put a quarter in, and out came a gold-plated, salmon-colored lipstick that smelled perfumey. This time-machine was just sitting there dispensing 40-year-old lipstick. Well, now I see that memory was not a figment of my imagination.
Although I've read about modern perfume vending machines, I've yet to run across one. (This company is hawking the idea and Zoom Systems, the folks that brought you the iPod vending machines, have collaborated with Coty.) I would love to see this catch on! Who couldn't use a little Carnal Flower or Muscs Kublai Khan pickup in the middle of the day?
As extravagant as this perfume vending machine is, I sat there for a long time after I clicked over on eBay, eyes wide as saucers, trying to tell myself that $395 to hit the "Buy It Now" button would be money well spent that I would never regret. Alas — it would also be money I don't have! But, I can revel in what an incredibly fun and glamorous relic this is.
I'm trying to picture an American woman in the 1930s in her tailored suit getting coffee somewhere and realizing, "Gosh darn it, I forgot to put on perfume!" But no worries, Evening in Paris is right over there for 25 cents!
Whoever wins this is going to have a hard time not breaking open those "bottlettes" of Silhouette, Arpege, Evening in Paris and Silent Night. Lucky devil. (You can bid here.)
If this catches your fancy, check out my post on the history of vintage perfume nips.