100+ Year Old Jicky by Guerlain

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Greg Young

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Hi there APJ,

A couple of years ago my wife dropped her bottle of Joy Parfum on the bathroom tiles and smashed it smithereens. As you do. For about a week we had an ensuite that smelled like an overdose of heaven, even after leaving the windows open and the fan on for long periods.

Hence, I was on the outlook for another little bundle of Joy and, being the bargain hound that I am, was keenly scanning op shops and markets for a vintage bottle. For a long time there was no luck but then, one Sunday, I was very excited to spot a bottle on a table in a flea market.

Of course, I bought it instantly, and then the lady said “Oh, I have something else in my bag. Would you like a look?”. I thought it couldn’t hurt, although I figured it wouldn’t be much, since it wasn’t already on the table. Imagine my shock when she pulled this out!

100+ Year Old Jicky by Guerlain

Yes, that’s right, a very vintage 125 ml bottle of Guerlain Jicky, still in its box. I didn’t even need to ask the price; I knew I was buying this one too.

As you can see in the photo, the front label is pretty much perfect, and the back label is in the same condition. The stopper works; very often glass stoppers are irretrievably jammed on these older bottles. The box is in good condition; it’s structurally intact, but a little pushed-in and has some slight staining. The juice is an attractive honey colour. I don’t know if that’s the original colour, but it’s sure better than the murky black juice I’ve seen in some vintage bottles.

Dating this bottle required a bit of hunting around. The bottle is the apothecary style introduced in 1879, but Jicky was released in 1889, so it’s no older than that. The famous Jicky “champagne cork” bottle design was introduced in 1908, so bottle design suggests a date between 1899 and 1908. Note, however, that the address on the front label is 68, Champs Elysees, an address that Guerlain moved into in 1914. The blue cardboard box was also introduced in 1914, which supports that date. Since the new bottle design was already coming in by then, my best guess is that this bottle dates to somewhere between 1914-1918.

So, what does this smell like? Well, it is still an absolute bomb. When take it out of the box I smell it instantly. It goes onto my skin long and strong; just a few dabs go a very long way. When I wear it, I get a big hit of lavender and some aniseed. That lasts for hours before some cinnamon and woods kick in, and the pungent note of civet musk; the real thing in a bottle of this age. Given this perfume is about a hundred years old, it sure packs a wallop in terms of longevity and projection. Les belle dames de Paris circa 1889 must have been sniffable from a mile away when they wore this.

It is certainly a thrill to find a treasure like this, and I doubt that I’ll ever part with this rare and beautiful piece. Imagine my delight a year or so later when I found this in another market.

This one has the Rue de la Paix 15 address on the label, which dates it to pre-1914, even older. The juice still looks good but sadly the glass stopper is stuck fast, so I guess I may never get to wear this one. Wouldn’t it be nice to wander around with a couple of hundred-year-old fragrances on, to compare how well each has survived?

Surrender To Chance has Vintage Jicky Extrait samples

What is your oldest frag?
Greg

35 thoughts on “100+ Year Old Jicky by Guerlain

  1. Hi Greg!!!! so nice to see you as a contributor!

    wow, what a find!

    I don’t really save my perfumes so nothing I have is substantially old. And I don’t seek out vintage. I guess my oldest would be Caron’s Nocturnes de Caron circa 1982, which isn’t very old.

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    • I actually fell into collecting vintage perfume by accident. I was looking for some Art Deco stuff and ended up buying an Art Deco-era perfume, and it all started from there.

      I’ve never actually finished a bottle of perfume, so I still have loads of stuff from years back. I think my Armani Code probably dates to the mid-80s. Maybe out collections will become vintage by osmosis.

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    • It’s that planet where time warps so you that have endless times to trawl through op shops and markets and find nothing nearly every time then, one day, your eyes bug out and you can’t believe your luck.

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  2. Pretty amazing that you found TWO very old bottles. I’d love to smell the civet musk part.
    My vintages are from the eighties, nineties. That was the time when I became a perfume lover and I wore only contemporary fragrances back then. Nothing comes close to your Jicky.

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  3. Wow Greg! So exciting to this vintage fragrance lover to read your story and dating of your spectacular Jicky bottles! Where were you with markets that have vintage Guerlain???
    My oldest fragrance is a little bottle of Coty Emeraude from the 1930s; it is spectacular! I have a larger 1950s bottle of Emeraude, as well as Coty L’Aimant from the 1950s.

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  4. Please take me with you on your nosing about/ buying expeditions!
    This is not one but two astonishing finds , and the fact that the juice has held up, and maybe even improved is such a bonus. Wear the hell out of it.
    My own vintage finds are not as old but my best one is Magie Noire Huile Parfum which also has a glass stopper. It took a little gentle persuasion to open but it wasn’t difficult. But the contents, like your first bottle, are astounding. It’s all down to storage, obviously. I don’t know how old it is but it is very rare. And to me it’s priceless. Can you tell that I 😍 it?

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  5. What a find, Greg! I hope you’ll open the second bottle 😉 Did you try putting it in the freezer for a couple minutes and then wrapping the neck with a warmed towel or using a hairdryer (this is not for the faint of heart but you’re REALLY want to find out). I also read somewhere people use WD-40 to unscrew stoppers.

    My oldest bottles are my Guerlain colognes which were made in the late sixties, and my Jicky edt is almost 34.

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      • You know, last year a fellow perfumista sent me a handful of vials with vintage perfumes in them (Guerlain, Caron, Lancome, Patou, that Coty I’ve already mentioned, et al.), and honestly, 0.5 ml of vintage Kypre Lancome is more valuable to me than a full bottle of something modern.

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      • I have a shelf of real treasures now, and I really do struggle with whether to wear them or not, particularly the unopened ones. To me, the bottle and packaging designs and the history are just as interesting as what they smell like.

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        • I read somewhere that at least some part of our vintage bottles stayed unopened because people thought they didn’t deserve to wear such grand perfumes. Unless you think of them as investment, open them up and enjoy wearing them. Sorry for the unsolicited advice.

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          • For me the issue is as much that I probably wouldn’t wear them much once opened. I’m not likely to rock Miss Dior, Narcisse Noir or Rochas Femme on a daily basis, so it seems almost like vandalism to open them up and wear them maybe once or twice. For me it’s just as nice to have the historical thing to look at.

            That said, I have one bottle that I bought unopened that is evaporating fast, so I’d better either sell that or wear it.

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          • I get your dilemma. While I love Miss Dior, – it’s one of my most treasured perfumes, – I haven’t been wearing it as often as I should, and I’ve got about 300 ml combined. The more frags I buy, the less love my vintage friends get 😦 Yet I can’t stand the thought of selling them…

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    • I’ve read lots of ideas, including the freezer one; one was to use an electric razor to bang the sides of the neck to vibrate the stopper loose. Nothing seems to work, but I will occasionally have a go at it. Maybe one day I will reach a tipping point and it will come free.

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  6. To find that not once but TWICE? Truly, the vintage perfume gods are smiling on you. Wow. it sounds amazing.

    I have a small bottle of 1950s Chanel Cuir de Russie extrait which is absolute *heaven*. When i first got it… the stopper was jammed. Absolutely not budging. Tried hot, cold, wrapping with alcohol-soaked cotton to try and dissolve the dried perfume on the ground glass. Nope. Nothing. Thought I had bought an expensive ornament at this point, but kept trying. Three days later, sitting at my desk reading for an hour or so… while constantly rocking-moving-around-a-few degrees-rocking-pushing with a the flats of scissor blades between the wings of the stopper and the lip and POP!! Out it came. Startled me so much I almost dropped it.

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  7. I think my oldest perfumes (still wearable and at least one is sealed, are probably from 1940s at least). I do have an even older (maybe from 1910s or 1920s) but it is unwearable because the alcohol and the essence have almost completed separated. I don’t remember which brand since the bottle is in storage but it is not guerlain or caron but I think it is a brand we perfumistas are certainly aware of.

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    • I have the odd Hermès with a bit of age on them; little sample bottles of the colognes which probably go back a few decades. I found a very vintage bottle of Equipage in an op shop, which was nice.

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  8. Just a note; the photos are reversed. The second photo is the first find, with the blue box. The first one is the second find, with the Rue de la Paix address. (Sorry to be picky Portia).

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