According to Susan Berberet, Assistant Curator of Collections at the Oklahooma History Center, the prevalent in the 50s and 60s coin-operated perfume spraying machine (the Perfumatic) found in ladies' rooms of posh hotels and restaurants was emitting such classics as Chanel No.5 and My Sin by Lanvin (Can you hear my jaw hitting the floor in amazement at the mention of the latter?).
Or as the recollection of those who have actually used some of them goes, perhaps copies of those two popular scents. It doesn't really matter for our purposes here. The machine used a thin dime coin and for just that price sprayed you with a healthy dose of perfume, in order to freshen up or just in case you neglected that height of grooming before going out. Sounds like a great idea, didn't it?
Older generations fondly remember the ritual in the States while these pastel machines, alongside others with actual vials attached existed for scenting your handkerchief; useful when those were the cotton & linen variety and not the disposable kind.
The even more impressive info is that actually this goes far, far back; much further than imagined: "The first group to demand such on the spot purchases were the Greeks. The first mention of a coin-operated dispenser was in 215 B.C., by a mathematician and engineer named Heron (or Hero) of Alexandria [The one who also invented ύδραυλις/hydraulis, the precursor of the Organ]. His machine would accept a coin and then dispense a set amount of “holy water” in the Egyptian temples!" But Susan Berbet goes on to explain that it would only resurface in the Industrial Revolution age, when the technology to make this cheap and functional finally emerged.
But the idea isn't only an antiquated one. There are modern, aluminum-shiny examples with "perfume" and "cologne" in them to be sold still!
Perfumaniac, a New Orleans-based blogger blogging at Yesterday’s Perfume first published a photo of a perfume vending machine which sold perfume "nips" (small plastic "packets" like samples for perfume applying), in which she mentioned how such 20s popularities as Soir de Paris (Evening in Paris) by Bourjois or Arpege by Lanvin (again) were sold at the literal drop of a coin. Then Dr.Avery Gilbert took it over on his own blog, where he discussed about the idea of an olfactory museum. Can I just say I think there's good money to be made if this idea is ever materialised.
And to revert to the initial point of interest which made an impression on me, it does make you wonder which would fragrances would be chosen for today's market to be put in the ladies' room, if such a thing existed still. What do you think?
Read Berberet's article on this link ("Found in Collections" blog, Oklahoma History Center)
Thanks to Sillage for bringing this to my attention