Monday, July 30, 2012

Trifles at Tiffany's

Last week, a friend took me to an outdoor film series where we watched Breakfast at Tiffany's. Heaven knows how many times I've seen that movie, and yet, I never tire of it. I covet Hepburn's Givenchy wardrobe (who doesn't?), not to mention Hepburn's perfect shade of pink lipstick that she wears throughout the movie. I've been looking for a similar shade for twenty years and have yet to find it.

Of course, one of my favorite scenes is when Holly and "Fred" are at Tiffany in hopes of finding a trifle that costs under $10. The salesman shows them the now famous sterling silver telephone dialer that Fred/Paul declines in hopes of finding something more romantic. Granted, a telephone dialer might not be romantic, but it sure was snazzy looking.

I remember when Tiffany used to have all kinds of trifles, ones that could elicit a snide "How could I have lived this long without it?" from some unimaginative wiseacre. Trifles like a sterling silver toothpaste key which one placed at the end of the tube so as to help dispense the paste with stylish ease. (My parents actually own one of these, and I've always thought it was the most fabulous thing ever.) There was also the sterling noisemaker that you could spin around to add a little noisy merriment to one's New Year's Eve celebration. And what about the sterling whisk-like stirrer that helped to get rid of bubbles in champagne?

The now famous telephone dialer.

A vintage Tiffany & Co. Toothpaste Key

Elsa Peretti Padova Bubble Blower which is currently sold at Tiffany

A Tiffany & Co. Sterling Noise Maker

The now discontinued Tiffany & Co. yo-yo

Tiffany & Co. champagne stirrer

Tiffany paper cutter

Tiffany & Co. sealer

Tiffany stamp holder


  1. A silver telephone dialer was oddly practical. A woman wearing gloves could easily soil them on telephone dials. I don't think that too many phones, especially public ones, could pass the white-glove test. Also, we had an old dial phone in our basement. It had a metal dial with a strong spring, and could hurt your finger when dialing.

    1. That makes perfect sense to me. I have a 1970s era rotary phone in my home; I should track down an old telephone dialer and give it a whirl!

    2. Clint9:20 AM

      I want the paper cutter—would actually get a lot of use out of it. Like the bubble blower, too.

  2. And don't forget the silver case tape measure. Jackie Kennedy's, monogrammed "JBK", sold at auction in 1996 for $48,875 (including the buyer's premium). But perhaps that knocks it out of the Trifles category? (The buyer was decorator Juan Pablo Molyneux, reportedly acting on behalf of a San Francisco client).

  3. What wonderful pieces. My favorite ...the champagne stirrer!

  4. I agree with you 100% regarding the toothpaste key, although I had no idea Tiffany made these at one time. My tube of Crest is sporting an unglamorous binder clip from the office to manage the flow of paste. Maybe I'll look for a Tiffany key on eBay, just for fun.

  5. Jennifer I love all of these little trifles!
    Somehow someone must know that shade of lipstick Audrey favored!

    Art by Karena

  6. It is true, those useful little trifles that had grace and gentle humour to boot are things that have passed from the world, to its detriment... Tiffany is now at once so commercial and so serious, that it is no longer a joy to browse the store or its catalog. My faves are the engine turned belt buckle (still available), a classic for gentlemen, and a wonderful money clip (no longer made) which had the tower of the Brooklyn Bridge on its face. My grandmother had a pillbox in the shape of a nautilus shell (no longer made) that fascinated us as children. Seems that now, if Tiffany has any such thing, it is sleek and without interest - I guess easier to manufacture.

  7. I want the Elsa Piretti bubble blower. That is truly practical as I love blowing bubbles. Have a great week. Mary

  8. Pamela12:30 PM

    Champagne stirrer. This would sure come in handy. To mark the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death (Sunday 5th), my partner and I are going to be drinking champagne, eating potato crisps whilst watching The Seven Year Itch.

    Quatorze, you are absolutely right. Nor do they make films like they used to. I want the bubble blower too!

    Thank you for such a magical post.

  9. Why would one want to get rid of bubbles in champagne?! I have a sterling tape measure that was a graduation gift (fitting for an architect) and I love using it nearly daily!

    1. Thomas11:41 AM

      It keeps one from belching- it doesn't get rid of all the bubbles, it just calms it down- Faberge' made little silver brooms for the same purpose !

  10. Anonymous1:53 PM

    I have 2 Tiffany money clips: a traditional, simple silver one with my monogram and my new favorite, an Elsa Peretti Bean.

    Don't tell but I got mine on ebay for much less than retail.

  11. Oh, I am bummed to read that the yoyo is no longer in production. Doesn't that just say everything about everything?

  12. Audrey's lipstick shade is very similar to "Pink Vibrations" by Elizabeth Arden. A dear friend wears it and it is always gorgeois.

    As for the sterling trifles, I loved the whistle (when you can't hail a cab like Holly), and my favourite is the sterling clip for your trousers when your ride your bicycle.

  13. I adore the little trifles! Of course, even a small item from Tiffany's lends a touch of glamour. Loving the bubble blower!

  14. Jennifer,
    Wow! What a fantastic post! I always loved it when I would get gifts from Tiffany, back in the 70's, when all my little friends would shop there, for the inexpensive things, like water glasses etched with pineapples, collar stays, and Peretti items. Your post took me right back to Phipps Plaza, circa 1975...! Dean

  15. These are so fun! I think I will need to do a post about the Tiffany & Co. Toothpaste Key for my blog (it`s about bathrooms) so now I will have to hunt down some more photos. Your parents are very chic! Brushing my teeth would feel so very elegant using one of those keys on my toothpaste!
    Great post, was fun to read and to read all the comments too.


  16. this is really cool! :D

  17. Michael8:15 PM

    I too have one of the toothpaste keys, It works very well, if the toothpaste is in the correct size of tube. No jumbo bargain size Crest for the Tiffany Key.