Friday, April 29, 2011
The Scent Box
Scent boxes, also known as vinaigrettes, were tiny boxes made of silver or sometimes wood, in which a tiny perfume or oil-scented sponge lay in repose under a hinged grill or screen. They were universally used by men and women alike in the 19th century and earlier, this being before the advent of the atomizer spray bottle (invented in 1887 for medical purposes but not popularized for perfume and cologne until after the turn of the century.)
Then, as now, a gentlemen needed a lot of pockets to hold all his stuff. In addition to a scent box, you would also have your snuff box, your silver cigarette case, your silver cigar tube, a spare stickpin for your cravat, several cloth monogrammed handkerchiefs, keys, a pocket watch, a small flask of brandy or bourbon, boxed vestas (matches), Maybe a deck of cards, some hand-carved bone dice, and a condom made of cloth linen or animal bladder.
I'd love to bring the concept of the scent box back, but I frankly already have way too much stuff to lug around in my coat pockets as it is.