There is something incredible about antique perfume bottles. Each of them carries a story behind the refined shapes and glass elegance. There are thousands of designs out in this world, but some unique ones that can steal your breath with their beauty. Their appearance and rare connections with the past are just a few reasons why collectors are so passionate about these antique beauty items.
Antique perfume bottles are famous for their elegant shapes and creative presentations. Their refined outlines, elegant colors, and glamour are the legacy of a bohemian past. However, it is only within the last few decades that old perfume bottles have become an interest for collectors worldwide. Once items that had sentimental and practical value, now these beauties are valuable pieces for a passionate’s collection.
Today, antique perfume bottles have both practical and sentimental value and have artistry and cultural meaning. From floral patterns to ornate glasswork, old-fashioned perfume bottles come in many designs and shapes for all collector’s preferences.
But which are the most desirable antique perfume bottles? Which designs can indeed be an investment in a collection? This guide will take you through the history of perfume bottles to bottle styles and top names in the industry. The value of antique perfume bottles continuously increases, so look at the information below if you are a collector.
The History Of Decorative Perfume Bottles
Artists first started to develop perfume bottles during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These recipients had advertising and merchandising purposes, and later on, they served as containers to keep a woman’s perfume. Each vintage and antique perfume bottle was an expression of refined elegance and suited for both functional and decorative reasons.
Initially, antique perfume bottles were produced to sell a specific fragrance in a competitive market. Manufacturers added highly decorative elements and shapes that were first meant to decorate glass bottles in that era to make them pop out. The intention was simple and intuitive: catching the buyer’s attention and making them want to smell and, of course, buy that perfume.
Ages ago, people recognized only their practicability; nowadays, these bottles are collectible objects with beauty and historical significance.
Even so, today, there is a massive interest in the market of collectible glassware among bottle collectors. And you will understand why. Keep on reading about these art objects, their designs, particularities of glass, and the most valuable names in the industry.
Antique Perfume Bottles Particularities
Humans have been using their creative minds in making perfumes for thousands of years. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that packaging changed from an ordinary bottle to a marketing tool. Hence the perfume packaging became as important as the scent itself.
This shift was mainly caused by the increase in mass-market manufacturing, the “new woman” ideal, and the department culture during the 19th century. Creative artisans of the period took an interest in the glassware trade and began using their creative skills to achieve insane works of art out of perfume bottles.
Although not all perfume bottles dating back to the early 20th century are pieces of art, they all share the sense of art within their design.
If you are not sure about the authenticity of your old perfume bottles and how much they are worth, then take a quick look at their surface using these guiding characteristics. This is an excellent tip for uncovering the actual value of the perfume bottles in your care.
Cut glass is specific glassware used to create antique perfume bottles. Its particularities are ideal for designing patterns and motifs in the glass. Therefore, the artists make sharp cuts and then polish them out. These characteristics appear in fluid or geometric shapes across the bottle’s surface. The cut glass technique was prevalent in this period and can certify the genuineness of an antique perfume bottle.
This is not a strict rule, but most Bohemian perfume bottles and antique ones from this era were manufactured out of a beautiful array of bold colors. Expect to find deep reds, rich greens, or bright teals in antique perfume bottle designs.
Similarly, another trend became quite popular and promoted softer tones like pastels, pale pinks, and yellows towards the end of the Art Nouveau age.
Stoppers and Atomizers
Liquid perfumes need the proper environment to keep their potency; therefore, every old perfume bottle will come with a stopper or an atomizer. Atomizers were more frequently used during the mid-century perfume styles, and they come in the shape of detached puffs.
Once squeezed, these systems will convert the liquid into an aerosol that, eventually, will touch the skin and clothes. On the other hand, stoppers were more likely to seal the bottle during the 20th century. These details were carefully designed with the same attention to detail as the bottles themselves.
Stoppers were by far the preferred sealing style. Their details were as beautiful as the bottles themselves.
The premiere glassware designers of that period applied their skills to create whimsical patterns and figures out of the glass. The results are true masterpieces anyone would wish to have in their collection.
You can find full blooming flowers, ballet dancers, or birds sculpted into the perfume bottles.
Antique Perfume Bottle Styles
Now that you know a thing or two about the general particularities of the antique perfume bottles, we can move on and explain a little bit about the items’ styles.
Most antique collectors will seek little treasures dating back to the Art Nouveau period (1890-1914). This era represents the peak of perfume bottle creation. Their style was a mix of romantic femininity and pure art.
The most popular Art-Nouveau techniques are pliqué-à-jour enameling, making these pieces unique in styles and value matters. These peculiar shapes and features make the Art Nouveau bottles a valuable item for collectors.
The inclusion of sterling silver overlay, like in the example above, is an appealing particularity. Take a look at the undulating curves and the romantic lines typical of the Art Nouveau style.
Therefore, antique passionates can easily recognize the silver elements crafted from clear glass. Some examples feature color glass but are most sought after in this genre.
Have a look at this beautiful Art Nouveau specimen:
Art Deco Perfume Bottles
The Art Deco bottles date from the 1920-1939 period and burst on the scene with their bold, glamorous style. Perfume bottles from the Art Deco period represent the essence of Art Deco design. It is pretty easy to appreciate this particular style of sleek, simple, and sexy bottles.
Perfume bottle collectors appreciate the Art Deco style and consider them a microcosm of the culture. Art Deco designers started creating unique shapes and lines due to technology, and modernity was the key and promotor of their work.
The most famous artist from this age was René Lalique for Coty. Look at one of his marvelous works. The perfume bottles signed by Lalique incorporated geometric motifs and stylized shapes.
Both Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods represented the beneficial change brought to commercial perfume presentations.
Most Famous Antique Perfume Bottle Designers
During the 19th and 20th centuries, many glass designers focused on the tight competition between their creations. They wanted to make the most visually attractive perfume bottles by coming with innovative designs and lines.
While huge fashion names like Schiaparelli and Chanel launched their perfume bottles, other glass artists were more famous and appreciated. If you are a collector, consider these names:
Perhaps the most appreciated glass artisan from the 20th century and a fantastic contributor to the development of the perfume industry was Rene Lalique.
Born in a small town in France, he spent most of his young years in a Parisian suburb, where he gained a lot of experience in glass craftsmanship. Quickly he became a huge name in the Art Nouveau perfume bottle industry under Francois Coty’s line in 1908.
His outstanding glass sculptures incorporate impressive lines and proportions nobody dared to use before. Nevertheless, he never sacrificed the femininity and delicacy of his works. Therefore, he quickly became one of the most appreciated bottle designers in the early 20th century.
Thomas Webb & Sons
Led by Thomas Webb himself, Thomas Webb & Sons was a group of engravers and glass artists from the 19th to early 20th century. The team used to dominate the market back in those days, as their perfume bottle designs have pretty distinct features from the usual ones.
One of the particular features of their models was the feature of animal-inspired motifs, along with bright colors, ranging from blue to red and shapes in between. The full-sized perfume bottles were mostly covered with round stoppers in unique shapes and colors.
Suppose you are looking for the most atypical perfume bottle designs from the early 20th century. In that case, Bohemian Heinrich Hoffmann is the glass artist you want to have in your collection. More than perfume bottles with ideal practicability, the artist focused on creating exciting shapes women could display in their boudoir.
Hoffman’s works represented Art Deco designs with particular geometric shapes. The artist designed perfume bottles with stoppers that weren’t so colorful as other similar works back in that era.
Other Designers Worth Your Attention
The list of relevant antique perfume bottle artists can continue with glassware designers from the 19th and 20th century period and later on. These names are worth looking for:
Where To Buy Genuine Antique Perfume Bottles?
Antique and vintage perfume bottles are the ideal collection pieces for novice passionate. They come in various shapes and styles, but they are also easier to find. However, how do you know the source of your collection is a genuine one?
You can go to reputable dealers regarding their pieces’ authenticity, origins, and quality. Stores selling high-quality antique pieces are what you should look for. If you don’t mind using the mainstream online sources, check:
On eBay, antique perfume bottle sellers come in ample supply, and their selection is quite varied. However, you should always check their reviews and selling history to know the products they sell are genuine.
Take a look at the product pictures and check if any numbers are placed on the bottom. They can give you a clue about where, when, and for what purpose the bottle was made.
Amazon is an online selling platform for new and used products rather than vintage and antique pieces. You must double-check every offer; otherwise, you may receive a fake antique item or a replica.
This can be an excellent source for buying and selling antique perfume bottles. The offers are varied, and so are the sellers. Give a chance to Etsy, and you may discover inalienable deals.
You may find antique perfume bottles all over the internet, and the websites above are the sources to start with. Online antique stores can offer an excellent selection and experience, but it needs time and patience.
If you can, check any possible discolorations, crack, or chips and the bottom of the items you want to buy. You want to spend your money on worthy things, so check if the price is not too high.
How To Value Perfume Bottles?
Truth be told, there is no such thing as having too much expertise when it comes to evaluating antique items. So, before you consider making a purchase, you can check by yourself some criteria that make perfume bottles genuinely antique:
The leading factor that determines the value of perfume bottles is their rarity. Finding a rare piece is sometimes like seeking a treasure, as top products from thousands of years ago were in limited editions.
Check for crystal bottles with unique stoppers and exquisite designs. The fewer flaws the glass has, the more expensive it will be.
Antique perfume bottles are made of glass (but they can have a different metal or plastic elements) and feature a rounded base.
All antique perfumes have a stopper usually made of the same material as the bottle itself. Bottles are filled with scented liquid, then tipped to deposit the scent onto the stopper. Once the stopper is removed, the perfume can be applied to the skin.
Newer perfume bottles come with atomizers, which allow the liquid content to be sprayed on clothes, hair, or skin.
Antique perfume bottles were not only meant to keep the fragrance as fresh as possible, but they were actual pieces of decor. Many women displayed these containers in their boudoir to show their wealth or passion for this type of collection.
The most collectible perfume bottles have peculiar shapes, rich colors, and ornate designs. The stoppers are also art pieces with elaborate designs, usually made of crystal.
Sometimes, you may be lucky enough to find an antique perfume bottle with numbers or a signature on its bottom. If not, you can upload a picture with your item on Google Images and see if you can find a bottle with similar features.
Yes, that’s right – chips, tiny cracks, or a faded color can be visible indicators of the age of a perfume bottle has. Check every small detail that may give you insights into your perfume bottle’s origins and history.
Some videos from professional collectors may also be helpful in learning more about the authenticity of your antique objects:
More questions on the matter? Don’t worry, as you can find some of the most frequently asked ones below. Of course, with their suitable answers.
Q: What are the easiest to find antique perfume bottles?
A: Antique perfume bottles with atomizers are the most accessible on the market. Many were produced during the 1920s, but they became more and more popular into the sixties.
Be aware that some of them might not be antique but vintage, so if you want a genuine vintage item, you should go for the one with crystal stoppers.
Q: Are antique perfume bottles worth the money?
A: If you are interested in collecting them, then absolutely yes. For instance, an antique sterling silver perfume bottle can go up to $500, while a pair of crystal perfume bottles may be set at $400. Remember that the rarer the pieces are, the most expensive they are.
Q: Where is best to sell old perfume bottles?
A: When selling antique perfume bottles, collectors will divide into online passionate and offline ones (prefer to go to antique markets and affairs). If you don’t mind selling on mainstream online platforms, eBay and Etsy are simple options with great content around collectibles.
Many antique and vintage pieces may have been mass-produced, like perfume bottles. Therefore, finding a unique design is not always an easy task. Check all the details that make perfume bottles worthy, like their designer, age, style particularities, or rarity, to have the genuine experience of an antique bottle collector.