- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - The International Perfume Bottle Association’s convention in Spartanburg was winding down earlier this month at the Marriott, with hugs and lots and lots of bubble wrap to protect the precious baubles.

About 225 of the association’s 1,000 members attended the five-day gathering, and reported great interest in the event. Many said highlights included seeing new faces and experiencing Southern hospitality. Collectors came from across the United States and countries such as Australia, Portugal, France, Switzerland and Canada.

“It’s about the attitude - the hotel, the people,” said Connie Williams of New York, who packed her precious cargo into suitcases for her flight to the Upstate. “Everyone has been very nice, very respectful. I would love to come back. The Southern hospitality has been the best by far.”

Williams was one of the first members of the association, joining in 1988. Her collection contains many pristine examples of perfume bottles and other vanity items from the Victorian period. Her love of antiques began she when was 7 years old, when she bought a German silver purse for 10 cents.

“It was my first antique,” Williams said. “I’m totally addicted to what I sell, and everyone in this room has the same addiction.”

It begins with that first purchase, then grows as the collector reads and researches more, she said.

“The more you learn, the more you want the best stuff,” Williams said.

Andra Behrendt of Chicago she enjoys the convention because her fellow collectors share the same zeal for vintage perfume bottles - they just “get it,” she said.

The owner of Lady A Antiques, Behrendt collects mostly compacts in a variety of colors, finishes and shapes. In her display cases were powder cases with bathing beauty tops, a compact shaped like a piano and tiny compacts designed to fit discreetly inside a woman’s glove. Another compact that stood out in the display case was the Dodgers collectible given to women when they attended ladies night at the ballpark in the 1950s.

“They’re very collectible in compact land because not every team did it,” she said.

Irene Levine of Boca Raton, Fla., and Mark Glover of Atlanta shared a booth in the showroom for the convention. Levine had large, more contemporary bottles on display, including a rare three-piece bottle containing Chloe Narcisse. Among the more unusual bottles was a Paloma Picasso, signed and numbered, made about 15 years ago.

Glover showed off a 1920 Baccarat crystal bottle valued at $5,000. Shelley Bechtold stopped by the booth to talk with Glover about her latest obsession - Prince Matchabelli. Even noncollectors may recognize the brand’s crown-shaped bottles, and Glover has rare black-and-red opaque glass bottles dating back to 1920 when the prince was still alive.

Like many at the convention, Bechtold is a longtime member of the collectors’ association, and enjoys the convention as much for the camaraderie as for the buying, selling and treasure hunting. Collectors stopped by each other’s booths to say goodbye with a hug.

“I come back for the friendships - the bottles are a bonus,” Bechtold said.

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Information from: Herald-Journal, https://www.goupstate.com/

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