Research on IRICE
By Helen Farnsworth, Archivist
Reviewed by Frank and Elizabeth Creech
Over the years Helen Farnsworth, IPBA Archivist, has answered many questions about perfume bottles, but the most frequently asked questions have been about IRICE. She has decided to write up a report on what is known about this company which we are pleased to publish on this website.
The company started as a jobber or importer of various vanity items in the 1920's in New York. The head of the company was named Irving W. Rice and he gave an abbrievation of his name to the company which appears on the distinctive silver and blue foil labels ever since - IRICE. The company still exists today in New York and every Christmas if you go to a drug store and look on the counter there will be a display of Irice atomizers. The company never made the items. They were importers and jobbers. So the perfume atomizers and bottles spanned a wide variety of qualities and countries. Irice brought in boxcar loads of Czechslovakian crystal before World War II. During the war, Irice used American companies and then after hostilities were over, the company began importing again, but this time from West Germany and the labels reflect this. Today most of the sources are in the Far East in Japan and later in Taiwan.
Irice is located in New York City at 15 West 34th St. and continues to supply vanity items and perfume bottles to America.
For a brief period in the 1930's Irice dabbled in commercial perfumes (that is, perfumes that came in the bottle) and had a very small line of these fragrances like Grape Cologne and Pineapple and a more high end bottle that is often today called a Victorian antique when found. This bottle held a perfume called Renaissance that was in a Irice bottle for the Scherk company. The bottle was in heavy pressed glass with a gilt frame and marble-like jewel on each corner of the frame. The portrait of a Renaissance lady completed the antique look, but the bottle is from about 1935.
Any collection of Irice items can be dated by the information on the labels or by carefully examining the parts of the atomizer. A glass tube in the atomizer means 1930's roughly, while by the time of the 1950's plastic tubing was found in the atomizer. Most of the porcelain flower decorated atomizers date to the 1950's. Time line on the labels can be determined by the country cited under the name "Irice." So it goes: Czech, American, West Germany, Japan, and finally Taiwan.
Most heavily collected and sought today are the Irice series called Little Drams or sometimes Stubby series. These were tiny perfume bottle made in Czechoslovakia with charms or dangles hanging from chains from the top of the stopper. A wide variety of animals and dolls have been seen. A cross-over collectible here is the 1939 World's Fair Irice bottle with the peristyle and hemisphere charms. Most other Irice perfumes are still in the category of inexpensive collectibles. To date very little has appeared in print about these perfume bottles and atomizers.
[Thank you Helen for this comprehensive report.]