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    

Antique C1850 Boston & Sandwich Cut Ruby Glass Perfume BottleAntique Silver Top Scent/perfume Glass Bottle Antique French Ormolu & Pearl Nautilus Shell Perfume Bottle Spinning Caddy 1800sLiu By Guerlain Vintage Baccarat Perfume Bottle Nores C1890 Victorian Opaline Milk Glass Scent Perfume Bottle Salts. Chatelaine1889 Perfume Bottle Scent Flask Solid Silver Top Ceramic Cornelius SaundersSilver Scent/perfume Bottle Sampson Mordan & Co London 1887Lot 38 Old / Antique Glass Bottle Stoppers - Cut Crystal & Molded & ColoredNoresrv Art Deco Triple Cut Glass & Enamel Scent Perfume Bottle Cologne Vintage Antique Silver Top Scent/perfume Glass Bottle PairSmall Antique Alvin Victorian Sterling Silver Overlay Glass Perfume Bottle,cleanNores C1890 Victorian Cobalt Blue Overlay Silver Scent Glass Bottle PerfumeHigh Art Deco Half Doll Related Pin Cushion Crown Top Perfume Scent BottleVintage Bottle Of Le Debut Richard Hudnut Paris In Box!Antique Miniature Uranium / Vaseline Glass Heart Shape Perfume Scent Bottle 1880Antique Moser Enamel & Gilt Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle Circa 1880Nores C1890 Victorian Ruby Red Silver Scent Perfume Bottle Glass Salts.Antique Solid Silver Scent Bottle Bristol Blue Glass Body Antique Silver Topped Scent Bottle, Tear Drop, London 1899.Victorian Silver Gilt Turquoise & Crystal Double Perfume / Scent Bottle C.1860Antique C1840 Boston & Sandwich Alabaster Opaline Glass Perfume BottleRare Vintage Art Deco Perfume Bottle Czech Black Glass Hoffmann Intaglio BirdTiny Antique Sterling Silver Perfume Bottle * English * Circa 1870Nores Hm 1901 Victorian Silver & Cut Glass Globe Scent Perfume Bottle CologneLalique Clairefontaine Antique Vintage Perfume Bottle Signed Perfect ConditionAntique Glass Sterling Engraved Iris Flower Overlay Perfume Dresser Bottle As IsFine Vintage Art Deco Perfume Bottle Czech Glass Schmidt Gilt Filigree JewelledVintage "dioressence" By Dior Perfume Bottle 15 MlBeautiful Solid Silver Elephant Rose Water Perfume Sprinkler Bottle India C1900s1980 Peter Holmes/selkirk Scent Bottle W/bouquet In Base & Flower Stopper L/eBeautiful Clean English Antique Victorian 1897 Solid Silver Scent Bottle & CaseAntique Double Ended Blue Overlay Double Ended Perfume Scent Bottle Silver LidsAntique Silver Top Scent /perfume Glass Bottle Antique Paris Porcelain Scent Bottle Vintage 50s In Box French Coeur Joie Nina Ricci Perfume Crystal Bottle LaliqueLalique Nina Ricci L'air Du Temps Crystal Double Dove Glass Perfume Scent BottleVintage Tre-jur Perfume Bottle - Nyc Paris France - Lady With Hat - FullPerthshire Art Glass Perfume Bottle Paperweight Millefiori 5-1/2" TallRare Chester Hallmark Antique Silver Top Scent Perfume Bottle18th Century Georgian C1780 Silver & Gold Shagreen Perfume / Scent Bottle & CaseFine Large Vintage Art Deco Perfume Bottle Czech Glass Hoffmann Jade JewelledVintage Vol De Nuit Guerlain Parfum / Perfume Extrait, Sealed Bottle In Box...nrSigned Czechoslovakia Enameled Art Glass Perfume Atomizer, Devilbiss?, NrVintage Rare French Perfume Parfum Guerlain "ode" Miniature Paris Glass BottleRare Circa.100 A.d Finest British Found Roman Period Green Glass Perfume Bottle Christian Dior Vintage Perfume Bottles W/ Glass Stopper Diorling + DiorissimoVintage Chanel Miniature Sampler Box With 4 Bottles!Devilbiss Antique Perfume BottleSilver Topped Moorcroft Style Perfume / Scent Bottle 1905Rare 11" Art Deco Czech 3 Nude Ladies Blue Malachite Perfume Bottle - SignedBeautiful Solid Sliver & Cranberry Glass Scent Bottle Birmingham C1888Nores C1890 Victorian Ruby Red Silver Scent Perfume Bottle Glass Salts.4 Sterling Chatelaine & Pendant Perfume Vinaigrette Bottle Pendants 1870 - 1980Vintage Caron Nuit De Noel Perfume Sealed Bottle In Box Paris France 2 Oz Sampson Mordan Solid Silver Blue Opaline Perfume/scent Bottle Circa1888Antique Vtg Crystal Glass Gold Filigree Perfume Bottle IriceLot Of 45 Miniature Perfume Bottles, Including Vintage!Antique Red & White Spatter Venetian Perfume Scent Bottle Silver Lid C1880Rare Stueben Gold Aurene Over Pink Lobed Glass Perfume Bottle WowLot Of 36 Vintage Perfume Bottles Stoppers Brass Dabber Glass Decanters Atomizer

Recent News: Perfume Bottles

Source: Google News

Weekend: 99 bottles of pop
The Courier, October 3rd

There will be more than 75 sales tables full of antique bottles of all kinds: milk, beer, soda pop, ink, perfume, medicine, poison, whiskey and more. There will also be fruit jars, insulators, advertising and other antiques. Admission is $2 for adults...Read more

Just in time for tea
The Nation, October 3rd

TEA IS HARDLY new to Thailand, but lounging about with an Earl Grey or Darjeeling and some scones never quite caught on until the recent arrival in Bangkok of trendy tearooms. We already have Twinings tea boutique and Harrods tearoom from Britain as ...Read more

The estate of the late Julian and Agatha Bennett will be sold on-site, Oct ...
ArtfixDaily, September 18th

Collectible items will feature ladies' fans (one from 1939, framed), perfume bottles (to include commercial and dresser, plus atomizers and a Shannon crystal bottle with a floral stopper), sculptures and figures (to include a thumbs-up, a stork with...Read more

Prized Possessions: Perfume bottle collection makes scents
Roanoke Times, September 7th

Nobody wanted the perfume bottle that started Helen Farnsworth's collection. It “belonged to my husband's grandmother. My father-in-law gave it to me. Nobody in the family, which were all men, thought very highly of it,” said the 71-year-old retired...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

Vintage view: perfume bottles
Irish Examiner, June 13th

Beyond looks, the most arousing element of a woman's physical arsenal is her scent. Where the mysterious work of natural pheromones end, the subtle addition of a man-made elixir of love takes over. Since ancient times, perfume of quality has always...Read more

Perfume bottle collectors praise Southern hospitality
Spartanburg Herald Journal, May 3rd

Her collection contains many pristine examples of perfume bottles and other vanity items from the Victorian period. Her love of antiques began she when was 7 years old, when she bought a German silver purse for 10 cents. "It was my first antique...Read more

Perfume bottle collectors ready for convention in Spartanburg
Spartanburg Herald Journal, April 29th

Jay Kaplan shows off some of his collection of perfume bottles on display at the Spartanburg Art Museum in the Chapman Cultural Center. The display is in conjunction with the International Perfume Bottle Association holding its 27th annual convention...Read more