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History of Avon Products
The Avon business was established in 1886 by David H. McConnell. At the time, David was working for the Union Publishing House of Chicago and the Avon business was nothing more than a home kitchen-laboratory making 5 perfumes.

Union Publishing House was a company David H. McConnell purchased in 1887, with the financial assistance of Mr. C. L. Snyder, his friend and prior employer. It was a book selling business, using a network of traveling agents and local canvassers to distribute books to end customers. David had worked there since 1877, beginning in a canvassing position and gradually working his way upward in the company.

In his 1903 autobiography, David claims the perfume idea was the result of careful and thorough investigation, guided by his experience in the book business, to provide a product direct from the manufacturer to the consumer, which would be consumed (used up). It is also said that the perfumes were initially used as gifts and door-openers to get to talk to potential customers about the books.

In 1892 the perfume business was named The California Perfume Company. Although located in New York, the name was the idea of C. L. Snyder, who had recently visited California and thought the abundance of flowers in California made the name a good fit for the floral fragrances of the business.

The perfumes proved to be popular and the range and quantities of perfumes were increased until, in the mid-1890s, the Union Publishing House was fully transitioned over to the California Perfume Company.

Much of the success of the Avon company should be credited to Persis Foster Eames Albee. Mrs Albee was appointed by David McConnell as the first sales representative for the California Perfume Company. David saw what a great job she was doing with book sales and he gave her the responsibility for the operation of the perfume sales. She developed the business plan and network of local agents, who would sell within their neighborhoods. David referred to her as the Mother of the California Perfume Company and she is generally recognized as the original Avon Lady.

In 1928, the company began to use the name Avon for select household products, including a toothbrush cleanser and talc. The Avon name was chosen by David; a reference to Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1939, the California Perfume Company was officially renamed to Avon Products, Inc.

More and more cosmetic and toiletries products were added to the perfumes and in 1971 Avon also began to sell jewelry. Through the late 1970s and early 1980s several other collectible lines were introduced, including nativity figurines, Christmas ornaments, decorative plates, porcelain dolls and bells. Some of the collectibles were produced directly by Avon and some were commissioned through other companies as Avon exclusives.

As well as producing goods for sale, the Avon company produced some items specifically for agents, either as items to identify the agent as an official representative of the company or as awards for successful sales. One of the most collectible lines of Avon products is the Mrs Albee Figurine Awards. This is a collection of porcelain figurines awarded to agents for highest sales or meeting some other defined sales target.

Prestigious collectibles companies, like Wedgwood, Lladro, Goebel and Precious Moments have produced exclusive pieces for Avon, either to distribute directly to customers or as agent awards.

Avon is still going strong today, as a multinational corporation, publicly traded on the S&P500, with almost $11 billion in annual revenue and close to 40,000 employees.

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