Saturday, March 12, 2011

Frequent Questions: How to Date Caron Nuit de Noel bottles

Nuit de Noël by Caron is definitely among the legends that made the name of Caron. Conceived and launched in 1922 by Ernest Daltroff, the founder of the French house and a self-taught perfumer, it includes to great aplomb that famous base (a ready made mix of ingredients that produce a specific effect) Mousse de Saxe, composed by Marie Thérèse de Laire, flanked by amber, moss, vetiver, rose, sandalwood and jasmine.[If you don't know how it smellsor its story, I suggesting first reading this Nuit de Noel review. ]
Getting a vintage bottle of this precious fragrance is akin to savouring a well-aged liqueur, full of nuance and dark corners. Trying to date bottles is a bit less of a nonchalant exercise, but here's a small guide with photos to help you through.

The original extrait de parfum of Nuit de Noël came in opaque black bottle designed by Felicie Vanpouille /Francoise Bergaud with a faceted boule cap and a box shaped like a purse in green shagreen (i.e. rawhide with a rough, granular surface, made from the skin of a shark or seal). The little golden "band" around the shoulders is meant to echo the headbands of the flappers to which it was addressed originally. There is also a green tassel hanging from the cap of the box (not depicted), further reminding of a cute clutch. There was also an outer white cardboard box, to protect the green shagreen. The interior of cardboard cap reads CARON 10 rue de la Paix Paris FRANCE. The dimensions are 4.5" high with box around 4-5/8" and tassell 5".
The presentation persisted well into the 1940s and 1950s, making it hard to discern specific vintages. Obviously older specimens bear more worn "bands" and shagreen boxes, even if totally sealed (a highly unlikely proposition anyway).

The modern presentation of Nuit de Noël since several years eschews the green shagreen and encases the art deco black bottle in the white fold-down box with the polka dots that all Caron extraits come into nowadays. Previous presentations in the intermediary years -without the shagreen box- have the white cardboard box in wider-spaced polka dots with a darker circumference.

Vintage Eau de Toilette (as well as the superb and lasting Eau de Cologne) circulated in square shouldered bottles, like the one above, with a bakelite cap. The jus was blended in the USA for the American branch of Caron Corp New York N.Y. Typically they circulated in 2oz/60ml or bigger.

In the 1980s the whole Caron line gained a more rectangular presentation with black cap in plastic and the labels took on a decorative motif for the Eau de Toilette concentration. The one for Nuit de Noël bears the design depicted above.

The modern Eau de Toilette comes in a purplish-maroon box with gold polka dots, while the flacons take on the familiar and legendary studded peppercorns design with the gold cap. The label reprises the colour scheme of the outer box.
The above is an edition that appeals to the collector spirit, although it's standard merchandise. It's the 30ml of Eau de Toilette with the outer of the bottle reprising the vintage shagreen scales (although it's not shagreen this time)
Another intermediary Eau de Toilette version circulates in the white box with the gold polka dots, but the label of the peppercorn flacon imitates the motif of the previous 1980s label, as you can see comparing the two pics.

pics via perfumeporjects, & ebay


  1. Anonymous18:48

    Your chronology posts on vintage bottles are awesome and very helpful, thank you so much!!
    Will you do some on Chanel as well?


  2. JulienFromDijon23:19

    I'm a juice collector above all. But I register photos of nice packaging when I come across some on ebay.
    Caron surprised me more than once.
    The older package give much more sense to the bottle shapes, the boxes are like sheath, they mirror the bottle. The pea pattern, afterwards, failed to give a luxury rendering. (even "Vol de nuit" bottle would be less alluring into such package)
    Maybe I'm easily surprised by Caron because I don't await anything surprising from them.
    Gilded inlay in white leather (actually paperboard), carved stopper, felt setting.
    Such speech about wrapping reminds me how a friend of mine reacted to my perfume gift. It was a Nicolai (rather economic) perfume, in paperbox, and leather like wrapping and a ribbon. She was so impress that she opened cautiously, played with the finger, and carefully redo the wrapping and the ribbon knot ; as if the wrapping was precious to. Adorable. She's from east Asia. At her place, I would have kept the precious glass bottle and threw the rest away... :D

  3. JulienFromDijon23:30

    Maybe because Caron does not play as Guerlain with crystal. Guerlain use the transparent, pure, glittering aspects of crystal. And imitate a carved crystal rendering. Caron are less conventional.

  4. Annemarie,

    thank you, very glad they're helpful.
    I will certainly do some on Chanel as requested too. Thanks for the idea.

  5. Julien,

    Caron has surprising juice but not the playful attitude that other brands display with their crystal vessels. Apart from those samovars, the "urns" bien sur!

    Your friend was certainly one to savour the experience of unwrapping: I feel it makes for so much fun in the end. I can "get" what she was doing. What did you get her form De Nicolai, really??

  6. Julien,

    what a wealth of gorgeous images! I hadn't seen the Infini in that bottle before: it's quite lovely (and expressed the theme of the fragrance well)

  7. This is the one vintage perfume I really hope to buy this year. Thank you for this very helpful guide.

  8. JulienFromDijon20:16

    To my friend I offered "eau turquoise", because her name means turquoise in her langage. (and the perfume is nice, apricoty-mango-jasmine light summer perfume)

  9. K,

    you're most welcome. I think it's worth persevering to find a good vintage specimen. Good luck!

  10. Julien,

    I can see how it would suit then! I know well Eau Turquoise, in fact I had a big decant of it.
    Nice gesture on your part!

  11. Lovely article, thank you!

    I have two vintage black Caron Nuit de Noel bottles. I suspect they are from different time periods and was hoping to get your opinion. The one I suspect is older is engraved "g6" on the bottom of the flacon, and is more sharply cut. The one I suspect is newer, is ever so slightly more rounded has no such engraving. Have you ever seen such engraving on other bottles?

    Thank you much!

  12. Hi Jennifer!

    My own Baccarat bottle has an engraving if I recall correctly. I haven't seen all bottles having one though, but there is no hard & fast rule on date codes on Carons, I'm afraid; they don't have the consistency of Chanels or Guerlains in that regard. I suspect you're right that the rounder shape is newer. The wear on the band might also be an indication, as this is a part of the flacon which wears out fastest.

  13. Anonymous16:42

    How do I find the value of Caron Poivre bottle?

  14. Anonymous16:44

    how do I find out the value of an empty Caron Poivre perfume bottle?

  15. Anonymous09:18

    Even though this article is 11 years old, I stumbled on it while researching a Caron perfume in my father-in-law’s estate. It is that beautiful little black bottle in the green shagreen case with a tassel from the 20s and includes the cardboard box it came in. And it is unopened! While the estate is looking to sell it, I am in love and desperately want to offer the estate $$ and keep it lol. You don’t run across these lovelies anymore.

  16. Anonymous17:24

    So I run across this article while researching my cardboard box holding a small case with tassel that holds a black perfume bottle (filled) and is marked Nuit De Noel. Imagine my delight 11 years later in finding this article and discovering this perfume is possibly 100 years old!! I’d love to try and open the bottle to get a whiff of the perfume but am wondering whether that would be a bad idea for some reason?
    Anyway, I am in love with this little find!!


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