The price of vintage scents (One Man Show in particular) and shill bidders.

Recently I noticed a bottle of what I think is vintage One Man Show up for auction on ebay. It was a bit over eight ounces and full (splash bottle). It had been bid up to about $115 total at that point, and I posted about it at One response on that thread I started pointed out that it appeared there was a shill bidder, meaning that someone the seller presumably knew (or the seller himself, using a different username) was bidding the price up to a certain amount. If you don’t know, you can list an item on ebay for what you want, but if that amount is too high it may not receive any bids and end unsold.

Of course, even if shill bidding had occurred, there would be a point at which real bidders would no longer be interested, so I’m not sure if this makes much sense. Moreover, a real bidder who wins can always refuse to pay. He or she may not be allowed to bid in future auctions, but the point is that nothing is guaranteed for buyer or seller in that sense. And if the buyer does go through with the purchase, he or she could claim that the bottle was filled with something else or had “gone bad” and ask for a refund. In my experience, ebay customer service would likely send a label and pay for the return shipping. What would happen if the seller said the liquid had been replaced with a cheap scent is unclear, to me at least, but I hope I am never involved in something along those lines.

The One Man Show auction ended with a total of just under $215, while one can buy a 100 ml bottle for around $10 new. The obvious question is, are there a bunch of people out there who think it’s wroth that much, or were there just two shill bidders bidding against each other? Someone might want to get his friends to do something like that in order to make it look like vintage OMS is something special, for instance if he or she had a bunch of old bottles and was looking to create a false sales history and drive the price of future real auctions up significantly. In the case of OMS, which a large number of really cheap 100 ml bottles on ebay, it seems rather unlikely. I have seen a vintage OMS gift set sell for quite a bit once (perhaps $45), however, though other times vintage OMS is listed as such and doesn’t sell (with high starting prices).

After acquiring some vintage OMS I would never want to wear the new formulation again, but I honestly don’t think more than a few people would detect any difference other than a smoother opening with vintage. For those who don’t know, I believe vintage Eau de Toilette bottles should say 85 on the label (on the front) whereas the new ones say either 85 Vol or 87 Vol. I also have some of the vintage aftershave and that’s like a milder version of the vintage, so if you see that selling for a low price you might want to try it, though it is a splash bottle and you need to keep in mind that someone could have replaced it with something else. I’ve purchased a lot of vintage splash bottles on ebay and have had no problems, but I never bought any of the commonly faked ones in that form (such as Chanel No. 5).

On ebay, one can do a completed auction search if one is a member. Doing that for vintage one man show, I see that there are several one ounce bottles that sold for under $35, though not all were full. Some say 85 Vol and one says 90 with no Vol on the label. The sellers claim these are vintage but of course I have no other way to tell (beyond what I have tried for myself, which were all 100 ml bottles). There was an auction for a vintage bottle that looked exactly like mine, which sold for $49.99. Six sold and four did not (all but one of those four were aftershaves, not EdTs), not including the one that sold for nearly $215, so it does seem like there is some sort of market for the vintage version of this scent (there were four different sellers so shill bidding on all of them would appear highly unlikely).

This post is certainly not intended to sway you to think a certain way about OMS, different possible formulations of it, or vintage versus reformulations. I think that if I woke up one days and discovered that there were no other vintage scents available to me, beyond what I already possess, I would not be especially disappointed. Many smell similar to others, and I am now more hesitant to take chances because of the strong likelihood that the scent in question would be so similar to one I already have I’d wish I hadn’t won the auction, even if the price was “good.” I am surprised, however, that no “brick & mortar” auction house has put together an annual “perfume auction,” considering how many items some of them sell for low prices. I asked a local auction house about this but they said they didn’t know or have interest in “antique perfumes,” other than the bottles that have established auctions records. In these cases the bidders want the bottles, not the liquid inside (and in some cases there is no liquid remaining). If the “mystery” of “vintage OMS” is ever solved, at least to my satisfaction, I’ll certainly post back here with an update.

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