Perfume Bottles
Conrad Biernacki

   Our evolving fascination with small, decorative and affordable vintage items is leading many collectors to perfume bottles. Much appreciated when brand-new, not only for the scents contained within them but for the beauty of their design, these bottles have the added bonus of still being functional today.

   Historical Notes

The first glass ever made (about 1400 BCE in Egypt) was reserved for perfume bottles. Exceedingly expensive and highly treasured, these vessels were routinely placed in tombs for use in the afterlife. During the Renaissance, it was believed that bathing opened up the skin's pores to easily contractible diseases, so washing all but your face was kept to an absolute minimum - perfume did the rest. By the middle of the 17th century, scent bottles became popular as part of dresser sets or as small portable containers. During the 1800s, gladd was cheap and perfume makers fought for market share, not only with the quality of their perfume but also with aggressive advertising campaigns and the look of the perfume bottle itself.

   What To Look For

   Condition and rarity are everything when it comes to perfume bottles. Check for scratches and chips. If the bottle has a paper label, it must be pristine. Caps, stoppers and applicators must be in perfect condition.

   Price Tag

Perfume bottles are not usually marked by the glass manufacturer. Exceptions such as Lalique, Baccarat, Gallé and Moser bottles are highly desirable and can range from several hundred dollars to more that $1000. But you don't have to spend that much money to thoroughly enjoy collecting - garage-sale and flea-market finds usually start at only a few dollars. Look for novelty designs and bottles that strongly reflect the period in which they were made. And don't forget about contemporary examples - celebrity-endorsed brands, and unusual bottle designs and perfume names are destined to become highly collectible.

   For More Information

  • Fragrance Bottle Masterpieces (Schiffer, Atglen) by Joanne Dubbs Ball and Dorothy Hehl Torem
  • Perfume, Cologne and Scent Bottles (Schiffer, Atglen) by Jacquelyne Y. Jones North
  • Perfumes: The Essences and Their Bottles (Rizzoli) by Jean-Yves Gaborit
  • Scent & Scent Bottles (Barrie & Jenkins) by Edmund Launert
  • International Perfume Bottle Association, P.O. Box 529, Vienna, VA 22180-0529; (703) 938-2129
  • Parfum Plus Collections, 1590 Lous-Carrier, Suite 502, Montreal, Quebec H4N 2Z1
  • Perfume & Scent Bottle Quarterly, P.O. Box 187, Galena, OH 43021-0187

   Where To Find It

   Claude Provost, Decol'age, Montreal, (514) 528-5540


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