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 crowned by an elaborate tiara stopper, one of Lalique’s most copied designs. Another was an opaque green circular bottle with a bird on one side and the words "LE JADE" at the bottom...

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]

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    

Lalique Coquillage Perfume Bottle. No ReserveAntique Birmingham 1908 Engraved Sterling Silver Cut Glass Scent Perfume BottleLundberg Studios - Salazar Purple Wisteria Paperweight Perfume Bottle | Coa | NrLimoges France Peint Main Painted Porcelain Box Basket W 3 Glass Perfume BottleMatching Pair Antique Victorian Vaseline Uranium Glass Perfume Decanter Bottles Antique Blue Opaline Vinaigrette Perfume Scent Bottle Silver Lid Circa 1880Antique Victorian Enameled Pink Perfume Scent Bottle For A Chatelaine 1840/1850Antique Steuben Art Glass Blue Gold Aurene Atomizer Scent Perfume Bottle Rdr NrDevilbiss Art Deco Gold Encrusted Lavender Art Glass Perfume Bottle Atomizer RdrLovely Estate Lot Sterling Silver Nut Bowls Butter Dish Perfume Bottle & FunnelVery Large Antique Floral Sterling Silver Top Cut Glass Perfume Scent BottleSmall Perfume Bottle And Funnel Set Sterling SilverEstate Lot Silver Gold Filled Cut Moser Glass Perfume Scent Bottles Pill Box40s Fenton Blue Opalescent Hobnail Vanity Set Puff Box Cologne & Perfume BottlesVtg French Opalescent Acid Etched Art Glass Scent Perfume Atomizer Bottle Rdr NrLundberg Studios Etched Blue Art Glass Perfume Atomizer | Steuben Richter BirdsAntique Sterling Silver Perfume Scent Bottle #8Large Antique Bohemian Cranberry Overlay Perfume Scent Cologne Bottle Circa 1880Devilbiss Art Deco Pink Glass W Dragonfly Perfume Bottle Atomizer Music Box RdrRare Antique Guilloche Perfume Bottle Silver Flask Mechanical Dauber VictorianAntique Clear Cut Glass & Champleve Enamel Perfume Scent Bottle With Mirror 1880Rare Enameled Solid Gold Perfume Scent Bottle Dating C. 1810Prada Candy Eau De Parfum Perfume Almost Full Bottle 2.7 Fl. Oz. 80 MlVictorian Pierced Solid Silver Perfume Bottle Holder, 18992 Rare Vintage 1930's Kobako Bourjois Glass Perfume Bottle & Bakelite Box19th Century Emile Galle Cameo Art Glass Perfume Bottle Atomizer Rdr Authentic Vintage Deco Noritake Perfume Bottle - "cleopatra On The Nile" - Sheldon & SayoRare Ruby Red Antique Tear Catcher/lachrymatory Perfume /scent Bottle Cir 1860Antique Sterling Silver Blue Floral Guilloche Enamel Perfume/scent Bottle 19th CAntique Old Vintage Miniature Porcelain Perfume Scent Bottle For Chatelaine VgcAntique 1920's Rene Lalique Palerme Perfume Scent Beaded Bottle & Stopper GlassGorgeous Art Nouveau Cut Glass Decanter Or Large Perfume Cologne Bottle 1900sFine Quality Antique Red Glass Silver Topped Scent BottleArt Nouveau Devilbiss Hand Painted Enamel Etched Art Glass Gold Perfume Bottle NTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Heart Perfume Bottle Vial In Suede Pouch Euc VtgAntique Hallmarked Silver Collared Cut Glass Scent/perfume Bottle – Hp&sFostoria American Round Perfume Bottle !!!!!Vintage Art Deco Caron Nuit De Noel Black Glass French Perfume Bottle & CaseGorgeous Cut Glass Crystal Art Deco Perfume Bottle Czech Bohemian? C1920sAntique Sterling Silver Gold Dove & Bower Lavender Perfume Bottle Flask Enamel Antique Porcelain Drop Form Courting Couple Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle 1880Antique Glass Perfume Scent Bottle #4Antique Webb Mt Washington Pairpoint Enamel Perfume/scent Bottle 19thcAntique Glass Perfume Scent Bottle #6Serge Lutens A La Nuit Eau De Parfum Perfume 50ml 1.7oz Partial BottleVintage Ormolu Gold Perfume Bottles Lot 4 Piece Antique Glass Stopper NrCoty Styx Miniature Perfume BottleAntique Perfume Scent Bottle #12Lalique Crystal No. 1 Large Cactus Perfume Bottle W/ Stopper Mint! 5"Vintage French Guerlain Ode Empty Bottle W/ Original CaseR Blackinton Sterling Silver Vanity Set Perfume Bottles Mirror Brushes Antique Antique Vintage Filigree Gold Gilt Ormolu Footed Glass Perfume Bottle~beautiful!Antique Glass Perfume Scent Bottle #5Antique Double Ended Cut Glassperfume/scent Bottle 1890's Charles MayLundberg Studios Blue Genie Scent Bottle | American Art Glass Perfume | Coa NrVintage L'origan De Coty Perfume Bottle W/ Stopper & Metal Casket Case NiceAttractive Georgian Blue Decorated Scent BottleAntique Glass Perfume Scent Bottle #1C.1890 Bohemian Ruby Cut Glass Gilt Hand Painted Perfume Bottle Atomiser NrAmerican Brilliant Cut Crystal Glass Perfume Bottle Sterling Silver Stopper

Recent News: Perfume Bottles

Source: Google News

Local teen builds one-of-a-kind doll houses
Post-Chronicle, November 25th

That's when her creativity really kicked into overdrive. A bead proved to be just the right thing to become a tiny perfume bottle. A glue stick, whittled down, became a Poland Spring water bottle. Manufacturer's coupons were repurposed to become boxes...Read more

Family heirlooms reveal their hidden value, November 24th

The Coach and Four played host to a team of experts from the Derbyshire based auction house operated by Charles Hanson, a well-known face from several television antiques programmes. Wilmslow resident Lesley Moody ... originally filled with perfume. He...Read more

Surprise family with something new for Thanksgiving: craft cider
The Seattle Times, November 23rd

Some are made not only with apples but with pear and/or quince, which gives a lovely perfume to the cider. Cider makers are famous for tracking down abandoned orchards and searching out rare and heirloom ... For everyone not into sports, open a bottle...Read more

Janice Schlau: Roasting perfect bird is a creative process
Buffalo News, November 21st

Trimmed celery stalks, tart apple slices and robust onions more often than not line the vintage porcelain pan which, covered tightly, helps create a rich pond of au jus. It matters less to me if Thanksgiving ... The waft and weft of a basted bird's...Read more

Going, going, gone: Noble Art Auction has rare pieces, local talent, November 13th

Antique offerings include a malachite vanity set with atomizer, perfume bottle, and mirrored tray from the Schlevogt Studios from around 1930. Antique scenes of Staten Island include a reproduction of the original 1868 oil painting "The Narrows from...Read more

In this week's Time Out magazine…
Time Out London (blog), November 9th

I don't want my cocktails served in a teapot, a dainty old cup and saucer, a bloody jam jar, a metal "prison" mug or served with a "vintage" perfume atomizer! I certainly don't want it served in a F@&£ing hot water bottle in a slipper! What's wrong...Read more

Hints From Heloise: How to thwart the 'silent killer'
Washington Post, November 4th

Violet: If the bronze swan is a real antique, you may not want to clean it yourself before checking with an antiques shop first. They can tell you if it's okay ... Dear Heloise: My friend's daughter dropped a bottle of perfume on her tile floor in the...Read more

Perfume Bottle Auction Brings $533724
Maine Antique Digest, September 7th

The 27th annual convention of the International Perfume Bottle Association (IPBA) was held in Spartanburg, South Carolina, April 30 to May 3. A highlight of the convention was a perfume bottle auction with Nicholas Dawes, an appraiser with Antiques ...Read more