Question: Last year, I purchased a small old building located on an out-of-the-way street in Atlantic City. For many years, it housed the offices of an elderly accountant and his son. Among some furnishings included in the sale are antiques, and I am curious about a wooden one lined with lead and listed on the sale receipt as a “Late Cellaret.” It is an oval mahogany, tub-style container approximately 26 inches high, 25 inches wide and 18 inches deep that stands on four carved legs. A wide brass band circles the container’s middle, and an elaborate, round brass handle is at each end. I will appreciate anything you can tell me about this unusual item and its purpose. — E.V., Mays Landing
Answer: The piece’s description and receipt identification indicate your cellaret purchase bonus is one of many produced in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Original versions of the furniture, known as “George III” examples, are circa early 1800s and more valuable.
Sometimes called a wine sarcophagus, the interiors of fancy containers like yours were lined with zinc, lead or tin that enabled bottles of wine to be cooled prior to consumption in a home’s formal dining room without the consequences of melted ice.
Although some cellarets were attached to a dining room sideboard, most of the formal wooden ones were mahogany, often mounted on castors, allowing them and their contents to be conveniently moved around a dining room. Smaller cellarets made from silver, glass or porcelain, were known as wine coolers.
A brass-bound late cellaret like yours recently sold for $275, and an authentic George III example fetched $2,963.
Question: Among some old glass perfume bottles bought last year at a thrift shop is a perfect one I paid $5 for. It is shaped like a woman’s torso. At the neck is a bouquet of tiny molded glass flowers, and a fabric tape measure is crossed over the body that rests on a red velvet and gold wood stand, There is an “S” logo over the tape measure, and “SHOCKING” and “SCHIAPARELLI” are on the bottle’s glued label. The bottle is 47/8 inches high, 23/4 inches wide and 21/4 inches deep. I am curious about this strange bottle, its creator and its worth. — D.P., Turnersville
Answer: Your Schiaparelli hourglass-shaped bottle once contained a perfume named “Shocking” created by Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) an innovative, Italian-born fashion designer and leader in haute couture. Her company also produced jewelry, perfume and cosmetics. Schiaparelli was one of the world’s most prominent fashion leaders from World War I until after World War II.
“Shocking,” the name on your bottle, refers to the intense, classic perfume it held and the faux crossed tape measure barely covers the torso that shaped the bottle’s nudity.
Launched in France in 1936 and introduced in the USA during 1937, “Shocking” was offered in four glass figural sizes that ranged from 13/4 to 47/8 inches tall.
A 47/8-inches empty Schiaparelli bottle like yours recently brought $135.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Living section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Email: treasuresby firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.