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How to start a perfume bottle collection

How to start a perfume bottle collection

How to start a perfume bottle collection

Some people love perfume for its smell and the dreams it conveys, others love the beautiful bottles. If you enjoy collecting, perfume bottles not only look good, some of them are quite valuable too.

There is an amazing number of different perfume bottles to choose from. Because of this most collectors specialize in some subcategory.

As a general rule, people tend to collect either decorative or commercial perfume bottles.

Older bottles tend to be more often decorative, without brand names, the newer bottles are more often commercial.


Decorative bottles

Decorative bottles include any bottles sold empty and meant to be filled with your choice of scent. Until about a hundred years ago, it was usual for a woman to bring her bottle to her favorite apothecary to be filled with her chosen fragrance.


Popular specialties among decorative perfume bottle collectors include:


  • ancient Roman or Egyptian bottles;
  • cut glass bottles with or without gold or sterling silver trim or overlay. Many perfume bottle creations in the 1800s and early 1900s were made out of hand-cut glass. These little bottles were often designed to look as pretty as their contents smelled. Many of them were made with glass insides and intricate silver designs on the outer surface.
  • bottles by famous glassmakers such as Moser, Steuben, Webb, Lalique, Galle, Daum, Baccarat, Saint Louis;
  • figural porcelain bottles from the 18th and 19th century or from Germany in the 1920s and 30s;
  • laydown and double-ended scent bottles. Many Victorian bottles were double-ended, one side containing the scent, the other the smelling salts.
  • chatelaines;
  • atomizer bottles;
  • pressed or molded early American glass bottles;
  • matched dresser sets of bottles;
  • hand-cut Czechoslovakian bottles from the early 20th century.
  • Crystal pressed and etched glass designs were and remain very popular.
  • Ceramics: A lot of bottle designs in the 1920s were made with blown glass and ceramics. With hand painted pictures on the outside of the bottles, some of these creations are one-of-a-kind treasures.
  • Today’s top manufacturers for high-quality hand created art glass perfume bottles include Isle of Wight, Okra and Glasform.

Commercial bottles

Commercial bottles are any that were sold filled with scent and usually have the label of a perfume company.

Among collectors of commercial perfumes, some favorite specialty collections are those including:

  • special color of glass;
  • bottles by a single parfumeur, such as Guerlain, Caron, Fragonard; Molinard, etc.
  • bottles by famous fashion designers such as Worth, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Schiaparelli or Jean Patou;
  • bottles by a particular glassmaker or designer, such as Lalique, Baccarat, Viard or Depinoix;
  • giant factice bottles (store display bottles not filled with genuine fragrance);
  • little compacts holding solid (cream) perfume, which are often figural; tester bottles (small bottles with long glass daubers);
  • figural and novelty bottles; and miniature perfumes (usually replicas of regular bottles given as free samples at perfume counters).

What should one look out for when starting a perfume bottle collection:

  • Check carefully for any chips or cracks in the glass, which bring the value down.
  • Stoppers, caps and bottle mouths should be flawless
  • If the bottle has a paper label, check for tears, stains or any other defect, which lowers the value of the bottle
  • Rare perfume bottles are more desirable to collectors, and a newer bottle that is rare can be more valuable than an older, common bottle
  • Bottles from the 1920s and 1930s, the era when some of the most exquisite bottles were produced, are highly prized
  • If the bottle comes with its original box, that’s a plus
  • Avoid perfume bottles with significant chips
  • Bottles with white, milky coatings or stains on the inside may loose some or all of their value to collectors. For very valuable bottles it might pay to have the inside polished, which can however be costly. Truly sick glass has millions of miniature fissures and can’t be repaired. So when in doubt, stay clear.

Preferences vary by regions:

Miniature bottles are very popular with European and full-size ones with American collectors. English collectors seem to prefer Victorian art glass and cut glass with English sterling mounts.

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Date:  27th Apr 09

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