Lightyears Collection

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DeVilbiss Perfumizer

Around 1880, Dr. Allen DeVilbiss, a nose and throat specialist, developed a medicated oil which could be sprayed into the throat and an atomizer to spray his solution. This was an improvement over the less sanitary method of applying medications to the throat by means of cotton swabs. In 1890 Dr. DeVilbiss established the DeVilbiss Manufacturing Company to produce medical atomizers in a building on the north side of Toledo, Ohio, that had once been home to the Leak Winery.

In 1897, Dr. DeVilbiss's son, Allen DeVilbiss, Jr., invented a springless, automatic, scale and established the DeVilbiss Scale Company a few blocks from his father's factory. Within a couple of years he sold the business. The company was renamed Toledo Scale. The company is now Mettler-Toledo International Inc.

Dr. DeVilbiss's son Thomas became a full partner in the company in 1905 and is credited with developing new uses for DeVilbiss spray technology. In 1907 —perfumizers were introduced — the DeVilbiss perfume atomizer — and this soon became an important part of the business.

In the 1920's, DeVilbiss expanded into the furniture and automobile industries. Applying DeVilbiss spray technology to paint guns, drying time for a lacquer could be reduced from several weeks to several hours. This had major implications for both of these industries in which previous "state of the art" technology consisted of workmen painting automobiles and furniture with paint brushes. By 1928 DeVilbiss had also developed a line of air compressors to go with their paint spray guns.

DeVilbiss was merged with Champion Spark Company in 1970. In 1990 the merged company was acquired by Illinois Tool Works.

DeVilbiss Perfume Atomizers — the "Perfumizer"

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DeVilbiss Perfumizer

The first DeVilbiss perfumizers are said to have been salt cellers with atomizer mounts. Thomas DeVilbiss was the major force behind the perfumizer and was responsible for many of the unusual designs. A number of his designs were unique enough to be patentable.

Unusual designs became the hallmark of the DeVilbiss atomizer. Then, in addition to developing glassware designs of their own, DeVilbiss sought out relationships with Imperial, Steuben, Cambridge, and Vineland in the U.S., Brosse in France and Moser of Bohemia. Czechoslovakia, Germany, Italy and Japan also provided glassware for DeVilbiss atomizers. In some cases, the glassware arrived at the DeVilbiss factory ready for the "mount" (the spray mechanism) to be installed. In other cases, further decoration was added to the bottles before the mount was attached. In 1929, Societe Anonyme de Vilbiss was established in Paris and Brussels.

DeVilbiss discontinued perfume atomizers in 1969.

Examples of DeVilbiss Spray Devices

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Photo of Phil Goutell
Philip Goutell's Signature

Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.