Given the nature of perfume, from the confidence it gives its wearer to the indescribable effect it sometimes has on its very targeted audience, it’s not surprising that perfume has long been kept in bottles whose shapes seem to echo the mysterious properties of the fluids inside them. Whether it’s a slender phial, a tiny tear-shaped lachrymatory, or a round, flat-sided ampullae, perfume bottles are designed to contain magic, which is only unleashed when the bottle is opened and a drop or two of the precious liquid is discreetly applied.

Glassblowers in Britain, Bohemia, Germany, and France made perfume bottles throughout the 19th century. U.S. glass manufacturers such as the New England Glass Company and the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company also made perfume bottles during the 1800s. Some of these were hexagonal and opaque (white, blue, and green were common colors), with knobby, pineapple-shaped stoppers. Others were known gemel bottles, in which two flattened oval bottles were joined in the furnace, their necks pointing in opposite directions. Gemel bottles, especially standing ones in bright colors, are especially sought after.

For collectors, a sweet spot for antique perfume bottles is Art Nouveau. Beginning around 1890, artisans and glass factories alike produced elaborate cut or blown glass perfume bottles with ornate caps, some of which had hinged silver stoppers and collars. Purse-sized conical bottles with very short necks and round stoppers were often decorated with gilt flower-and-leaf patterns; manufacturers included Thomas Webb & Sons and Stevens & Williams Glass Company, both from Staffordshire, England.

The same companies also produced perfume bottles in cameo glass. Again, leaves and flowers were popular motifs, in colors that ranged from pink to purple to green, all of which were encased in white. In the United States, Steuben manufactured bulb-shaped perfume bottles using the company’s Verre de Soie technique, with glass threads wrapping the piece and matching the color of its iridescent base. Tiffany’s bottles included short, stumpy crystal cylinders with hob-nail bottoms and ornately engraved silver caps that covered the bottle’s crystal stopper.

In France, René Lalique was a giant when it came to small perfume bottles, which he produced in a series of ever-larger factories outside of Paris for François Coty and other perfume makers. Lalique brought his jeweler’s eye to perfume bottles—he even used a jewelry-casting process called cire perdue, also known as lost wax.

Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, Lalique did not add lead to his crystal. Instead, he preferred a demi-crystal because it was inexpensive, easy to work with, and imbued his perfume bottles with what became his trademark milky opalescence.

During Lalique’s collaboration with Coty, which lasted through the 1930s, he also made perfume bottles for d’Orsay and Roger et Gallet. One such bottle for Roger et Gallet was cr...

Later, as Lalique’s name became as synonymous with perfume bottles as Coty’s, he would make empty vessels so that customers could transfer their perfumes into Lalique’s more elegant containers. Tantot and Amphitrite are just two examples of unfilled Lalique perfume bottles.

During the 1920s and ’30s, glass perfume bottles inspired by the Art Deco movement were all the rage. Natural forms and motifs gave way to geometric shapes and bold, streamlined designs. In Czechoslovakia, perfume bottles from this era are routinely made of blown and meticulously cut crystal. For some of these bottles, the diameters of the stoppers were a great as those of the bottles beneath them, giving these otherwise simple containers the look of a Vegas showgirl wearing an impossibly top-heavy headdress.

But between the wars, Paris was the place for perfume and perfume bottles. Signature shapes for Chanel No. 5 and Shalimar by Guerlain were codified, and beautiful collaborations took place between Baccarat, the legendary maker of fine crystal, and everyone from Guerlain to fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. For Guerlain, Baccarat created the Japanese-influenced Liu bottle, with its square-sided black body adorned gold labels. For Schiaparelli, Baccarat produced a bottle in the shape of a candle in a candlestick, with a gilt-metal flame for a stopper.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Museu Del Perfum

Museu Del Perfum

This site, from the Museu Del Perfum (Perfume Museum) in Barcelona, hosts a fantastic collection of almost 300 beau… [read review or visit site]

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Bill Lindsey's fantastic bottle identification and information site. Loaded with detailed descriptions and diagrams… [read review or visit site]

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

There's a ton of information here, but as with bottles, you have to dig to find the best stuff. Start with the famo… [read review or visit site]

Bottle Cap Index

Bottle Cap Index

Assembled by Gunther Rademacher with the help of several other contributors, this collection of over half a million… [read review or visit site]

Plopsite.de

Plopsite.de

Norbert Lamping's collection of 600+ ceramic bottle stoppers, Hutter stoppers, swingtops, swivel stoppers, and ligh… [read review or visit site]

Old Spice Collectibles

Old Spice Collectibles

Lather up with Creighton Fricek's complete chronology of collectible Old Spice shaving products. Start with the bot… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Guilloche Enamel Art Deco German Sterling Silver Perfume Scent X4 Bottle Set 20sAntique Sterling Silver Pink Guilloche Enamel Cut Glass Perfume Scent Bottle Ysart Glass Paperweight Scent Ink Bottle Millefiori Briefbeschwerer ScottishLe Tabac Blond By Caron, Sealed Perfume In Presentation Box Antique Solid Sterling Silver & Guilloche Enamel Glass Scent Perfume Bottle 1914Antique Ruby Red Double Ended Perfume Scent Bottle Silver Lids Charles May 1891Antique Silver Topped Blue Glass Perfume Bottle, C1900.Multicoloured Victorian Venetian Glass Scent/perfume Bottle (s155Superb Antique Moser Cut Glass Large Cobalt & Gilt Perfume Bottle - CabochonVintage Lalique Coty Styx 2.25" Crystal Perfume Bottle Label Partial Contents Antique Perfume Scent Crown Top Cork Stoppers X4 For Silver Or Porcelain BottleLimoges Trinket Box Rochard France Peint Main Parfums Perfume Shop With BottlesBeautiful Old Antique Victorian Decorative Glass Scent Bottle Pendant Af (a14)Perthshire John Deacons "end Of Day Millefiori" Paperweight Perfume Scent BottleVintage Lalique Perfume Bottle - Muse De Coty Toilet Water 2 Ounce SealedNina Ricci L'air Du Temps Lalique Crystal Green Doves Perfume Bottle Sealed BoxVigny Paris France Golli Wogg Miniature Perfume Bottle Original Label Circa 1920Vintage Black Glass Flower Perfume Scent Bottle Art Deco Caron NarcisseOrnate Sterling Silver Scent Bottle / Box With Dropper In Lid.Wonderful Tiny Antique Schuco Teddy Bear With Scent Perfume Bottle Nr!Vintage St Clair Art Glass Pink & White Floral Perfume Bottle Paperweight Nr YqzEdwardian Silver And Spherical Cut Glass Perfume Bottle Birmingham 1901Vintage Czechoslovakian Blue Cut Art Glass Floral Perfume BottleLe Narcisse Bleu By Mury, Fancy Perfume Bottle & Presentation Box Nuit De Noel By Caron Sealed Perfume & Shagreen Presentation Box Signed Marcel Franck French Studio Art Glass Purple Bubble Perfume Bottle Nr CspC1925, Antique Art Deco Cut Glass Silver Gilt Mounted Scent Bottle And Rouge PotSterling Silver Victorian Glass Scent Bottle With Original Stopper Damaged CrackVntg 4 Pc Matson Vanity Set K825 Perfume Bottle, Mirror Tray, Hand Mirror, BrushVintage Jean Patou Paris Cocktail Dry Parfum Perfume Bottle & Box3d Vintage Wells Sterling Etched Rhinestone Perfume Caddy Bottle Dauber FlaskElizabeth Taylor Giant Size Factice Perfume BottleVintage Devilbiss Perfume Bottle Atomizer Yellow Vaseline GlassAntique Sterling Silver & Cut Crystal Perfume Bottle Vial Bottle ChatelaineVintage Rare Prince Matchabelli Added Attraction Perfume Red Crown BottleVintage Devilbiss Perfume Bottle Atomizer Etched GlassEdwardian Hallmarked Silver Topped Ceramic Scent Bottle Birm 1903Vintage Iridescent Studio Glass Oil Spot & Trail Decorated Scent Bottle - Nice!Lovely Quality Pair Of Antique English Sterling Silver Mounted Perfume Bottles1893 Columbian Exposition Chicago ~ Glass Perfume Bottle Hand Blown Mini Lockport Green Cologne Bottle - C 1880-1890Rare Antique Butterfly Perfume Embossed Glass BottleVintage St Clair Paperweight Perfume Colone BottleThomas Webb Scent BottleNo Chips - Royal Blue Guilloche Enamel Sterling Silver Cq&r Perfume Scent BottleNo Chips - Lavender Guilloche Enamel Sterling Silver Cq&r Perfume BottleThomas Webb Cameo Scent Bottle16 Bottles Of Avon Perfume 1st Edition From 1934-1980Antique Venetian Aventurine Glass & Cane Pictures Perfume Scent Bottle C1880Lalique France No.1 Large 4 3/4"crystal Cactus Perfume Bottle SignedAntique Rene Lalique Ambre Indien Perfume Bottle France 1925French Vintage Guerlaine Sealed Sample Fleur De Feu Some Content BottleRare Vintage Panthere De Cartier Perfume Full Unopened Bottle In Box 3.3oz SprayFine Jewels Perfume SetCollection 3 Baccarat Perfume Bottles Shagreen Boxes +tassels C1925 Nuit De NoelChanel Perfume Mini 5 Bottle Set Box No. 5 Coco Mademoiselle Allure SensuelleArt Deco Crystal Sterling Guilloche Enamel Birmingham C. 1928 Perfume Bottle11 Vintage Fenton Silhouette Pitcher,caramel Bunny Box,perfume Bottle,animalsMarc Jacobs 4.2oz Men's Eau De Toilette Cologne Unboxed Barely Used-full Bottle.Himalaya By Creed Perfume Cologne For Men Women Unisex 4.0 Oz Open Bottle