There is something incredible about antique perfume bottles. Each of them carries a story behind the refined shape and glassy elegance. There are thousands of designs out there, but some of the most unique ones can leave you breathless with their beauty. Their appearance and connections with the past are just two of many reasons why collectors are so passionate about these antique items.

Antique perfume bottles are famous for their elegant shapes and creative presentations. Their refined outlines, 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 popular for collectors worldwide.

Today, antique perfume bottles have both practical and sentimental value and can display great artistry and cultural meaning. From floral patterns to ornate glasswork, old-fashioned perfume bottles come in many designs and shapes for all collectors’ preferences.

But which are the most desirable antique perfume bottles? Which designs can be the most valuable in a collection? This guide will take you through the history of perfume bottles, bottle styles and top names in the industry.

The History Of Decorative Perfume Bottles

The History Of Decorative Perfume Bottles
Image Source: @bg.arts

Artists first started to develop perfume bottles during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They served as containers to keep a woman’s perfume as well as vessels for advertisements. Each perfume bottle was an expression of refined elegance and suited for both functional and decorative purposes.

Initially, antique perfume bottles were produced to sell a specific fragrance in a competitive market. Manufacturers added highly decorative elements and shapes that were popular during their era of manufacture to make them pop out. The intention was simple: catching the buyer’s attention and making them want to smell and, of course, buy that perfume.

Today, there is a massive interest in the market of collectible glassware among bottle collectors, and it is easy to understand why…

Antique Perfume Bottles: Features

Antique Perfume Bottles Particularities
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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 works of art in the form of perfume bottles.

Although not all perfume bottles dating back to the early 20th century are pieces of art, they all share a 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 guidelines.

Cut Glass

Cut Glass
Image Source: @eversleybarnantiques

Cut glass is one type of glassware used to create antique perfume bottles. Its particularities are ideal for designing patterns and motifs in the glass. The artists make sharp cuts and then polish the patterned surface. These characteristics appear in fluid or geometric shapes across the bottle’s surface. The cut glass technique was prevalent during the 19th century, and can help to certify the authenticity of an antique perfume bottle.

Bold Colours

Bold Colours
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This is not a strict rule, but most Bohemian perfume bottles 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 which became quite popular promoted softer pastel tones like pale pinks and yellows towards the end of the Art Nouveau age.

Stoppers and Atomizers

Stoppers and Atomizers
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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. Once squeezed, these systems will convert the liquid into an aerosol that will spray the skin and clothes evenly.

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 for antique perfume bottles.

Sculptural Figurines

Sculptural Figurines
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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 perfume bottles.

Antique Perfume Bottle Styles

Now that you know a thing or two about the general features of antique perfume bottles, we can move on and explain a little bit about their range of styles.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau
Image Source: @atozcherishedvintage

Many antique collectors will seek 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. 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 feature. It exemplifies the undulating curves and the romantic lines typical of the Art Nouveau style.

Antique enthusiasts can easily recognize silver elements crafted onto clear glass. Some examples feature colored glass.

Have a look at this beautiful Art Nouveau specimen.

Art Deco Perfume Bottles

Art Deco Perfume Bottles
Image Source: @skyscraper_london

The Art Deco bottles date from the 1920-1939 period, bursting onto the scene with their bold, glamorous style. Perfume bottles from the Art Deco period represent the essence of Art Deco design. It is 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 at that time. Art Deco designers started creating unique shapes and lines due to advancing technology, and modernity was key to their work.

The most famous artist from this age was René Lalique who designed bottles for Coty. Here you can see one of his marvelous works. The perfume bottles signed by Lalique incorporated geometric motifs and highly stylized shapes.

Most Famous Antique Perfume Bottle Designers

During the 19th and 20th centuries, many glass designers faced tight competition between their creations. They wanted to make the most visually attractive perfume bottles by coming up with innovative designs.

While huge fashion names like Schiaparelli and Chanel launched their perfume bottles, other glass artists were becoming more famous and appreciated. If you are a collector, consider these names:

Rene Lalique

Rene Lalique
Image Source: @artdecocafe17

Perhaps the most appreciated glass artisan from the 20th century, René Lalique was a fantastic contributor to the development of the perfume industry.

Born in a small town in France, he spent most of his younger 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

Thomas Webb & Sons
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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 with their distinctive, orignial perfume bottle designs.

One of the particular features of their models was animal-inspired motifs, along with bright colors ranging from blue to red and all kinds of shades in between. The full-sized perfume bottles were mostly covered with round stoppers in unique shapes and colors.

Heinrich Hoffmann

Heinrich Hoffmann
Image Source: @antiqueland.ru

Suppose you are looking for the most atypical perfume bottle designs from the early 20th century. In that case, Heinrich Hoffmann is the glass artist you want to have in your collection. More than perfume bottles with ideal practiality, 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 as colorful as other similar works back in that era.

Other Designers Worth Your Attention

The list of relevant antique perfume bottle artists go on and on with glassware designers from the 19th and 20th century period. For example, these names are worth looking out for:

Where To Buy Genuine Antique Perfume Bottles?

Antique and vintage perfume bottles are the ideal collection pieces for novice collectors. They come in various shapes and styles and are easier to find compared to some antiques. However, how do you know if your desired item is a genuine antique?

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 mainstream online sources, check:

eBay

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

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.

Etsy

This can be an excellent source for buying and selling antique perfume bottles. The offers are varied, and so are the sellers.

You may find antique perfume bottles all over the internet. Online antique stores can offer an excellent selection and experience, but searching for the right piece requires time and patience.

If you can, check for any possible discolorations, crack, or chips and the bottom of the items you want to buy.

How To Value Perfume Bottles?

You can never have too much expertise when it comes to evaluating antique items. So, before you consider making a purchase, you can check some criteria that make perfume bottles genuinely antique:

Rarity

The leading factor that determines the value of perfume bottles is their rarity. Finding a rare piece is like seeking a treasure, as top products from years ago were often produced in limited editions.

Material

Antique perfume bottles are made of glass (but they can have a different metal or plastic elements) and feature a rounded base.

Check for crystal bottles with unique stoppers and exquisite designs. The fewer flaws the glass has, the more expensive it will be.

Stopper

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.

Ornaments

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.

Manufacturers

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 or an antiques forum and see if you can find a bottle with similar features.

Eventual Flaws

Yes, that’s right – chips, tiny cracks, or a faded color can be visible indicators of the age of a perfume bottle. 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:

FAQ

Q: Which antique perfume bottles are the easiest to find?

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 ones with crystal stoppers.

Q: Are antique perfume bottles worth the money?

A: If you are interested in collecting them, then absolutely yes. 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 more expensive they are.

Q: Where is best to sell old perfume bottles?

A: When selling antique perfume bottles, collectors will divide into online platforms 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 collectible content.

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