Decades of trying to find a very elusive smell

When I was quite young, I had a small bottle of perfume that I could not get enough of…I loved the scent. I won it in the children’s section of the Calgary Stampede —where kids could play games, win tokens and then spend the tokens in a tent filled with all sorts of items. I acquired this little bottle of joy in the early 70s, so the perfume had to have been made then or prior to the 70s.

I loved the smell. Loved. Sometimes I’d just open the bottle and smell it, not to apply any…just to get a whiff and close the cap. Saving it.

I used it sparingly until I was in my late 20s. I have no idea what the scent was or what delicious aromas comprised its smell. It was very floral, very light and pretty smelling. I have a very good nose for smells (except for the finer intricate ingredients, I guess), so I knew I’d remember it, if I ever smelled it again. Smells can haunt me years later and take me back to a place, a time, certain people…events that have been tattooed into my brain by their smells. I think a lot of people can be jarred by certain smells from their past, perfume or other.

I took the tiny bottle (now mostly just the last few fumes clinging to the sides of the bottle) to perfume counters in department stores, to super, fancy shops and to people who mixed essential oils. I never found out what it was. And by now, I don’t even remember where the bottle ended up. And that pretty much ended my search, as I no longer had the bottle and its precious contents.

Until a month ago, in French-speaking Belgium. I didn’t find the perfume, but I had an ice cream cone with the flavour of  violette. It tasted like the perfume smelled!!! So, since then I have been searching for a violet/violette perfume, so I can reclaim this fragrance from my youth!

I happened upon a website dedicated to the odiferous delights found in eau de parfum, eau de cologne, eau de toilette,etc. In one of their forums, I told a similar story about the bottle, the smell and the ice cream that awakened my nose-senses.I gleaned the names of several perfumes containing violets and even violet candies!:

  • Penhaligon has a very nice, straightforward, satisfying violet perfume called Violetta, which could work as a substitute. In Italy, a traditional violet perfume is called Violetta di Parma Borsari.
    Meanwhile, you can partly satifsy your cravings for violet by eating things like Flavigny violette mints or, even more so, Choward’s mints (which you can find in candy stores or the like). If you leave the Chowards mints in your bag, the bag will soon smell deliciously of violet.
  • Violettes de Toulouse L’Originale Berdoues
  • Second vote for Violettes de Toulouse by Henri Berdoues, smells just like them little violet flavored pastilles they sell in both Netherlands and Belgium. Given a choice, aim for EdP, the one that comes with a cute lavender colored bulb atomizer — and do not forget NOT to use it as it ages the fragrance very fast.
  • It may have been Devon Violets. That one has been around a long time, I urge you to try Annick Goutal La Violette.

“What did the bottle look like?” Me: “Good question! It was in a small, spherical, glass bottle. It was about 5 cm (2in) high and it had a little woven basket about one third of the way up from the bottom. The color of the perfume itself was either a light green or a light purple. Funny how I can’t remember that detail anymore.”

I had a handful of excellent replies and one person sent me a link of images of bottles! I had never even thought of that before! I started to recognize a thing or two, someone else asked another question, there more suggestions and eventually this entry from another great site. And the very bottle itself —in the little wicker basket. Eureka!

Devon Violets by Lownds Pateman Ltd 
Devon Violets by Lownds Pateman LtdDevon Violets by Lownds Pateman Ltd
Year Introduced : 1920’s
Fragrance Type : Perfume
Pictured Size : 12 ml
Dimensions : 4.3 cm h x 3.5 cm w
Bottle Design : Lownds Pateman began manufacturing natural perfumes during the 1920’s and was situated in Torquay Devon, England.’Devon Violets’ is presented in a ball shaped miniature bottle with a white screw on cap. The bottle, from the 1950’s, sits inside a pretty little woven basket. There is a gold paper label on the base with ‘Made in UK‘ printed on in black.Pictured on the right, is a 3 sided rounded miniature with the two sides at the back ‘pinched’. The bottle is 5.8cm high and holds 15ml. There is a curly ‘V’ glass mark at the base and a gold paper label with ‘Made in UK’ printed on. This miniature, that holds a lime green fragrance, is from the 1960’s.

I tracked down an apothecary in the UK still carrying Devon Violets and placed an order. I. can. not. wait.

So, once again, Internet, you have managed to amaze me and help me get in touch with other people who, like me, thrive on having good scents around me. : )

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About soulglue

Canadian living in the Netherlands. View all posts by soulglue

4 responses to “Decades of trying to find a very elusive smell

  • Niki

    Good job on the sleuthing!

  • eener

    *curtsy* Although all of the real ~finding~ credit goes to the good people at basenotes.net. :)

  • adoptedthrifts@gmail.com

    I know that this post was written 3 years ago, but as I was “sleuthing” for information on a bottle that I had purchased as a teen {over 2o years ago} I came across your post. I purchased it at an antique store here in Texas. CRAZY! I am selling off bottles in my collection, but now am wondering if I should hold on to this sweet little treasure! Mine is still 1/2 way full! Thanks so much for your post! :)

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