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 Miniature Latticino Stripe Perfume Scent Bottle Silver Lid C1880Two (2) Antique Victorian Era Cut Glass Crystal Perfume Bottles Isle Of Wight Glass Scent Bottle Boxed.Coty Paris Vintage Figural Perfume Bottle With Original BoxVintage Ultra Rare Perfume Nahema Guerlain Huge Xl 15 Ml Pure Sealed Bottle MibA Wonderful Antique Mother Of Pearl Gilt Metal Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle Vintage Asprey & Co Silver Top Scent Bottle/phialThomas Webb & Sons Blue Cameo Glass Perfume Scent Bottle Gorham Sterling Top Pair Of Green Glass With Metal Overlay Perfume BottlesAntique Solid Silver Conical Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle Birmingham 1884Vintage Empty Perfume Black Bottle Vougay Paris Art Deco Miniature 2 3/8" FranceAntique Solid Silver Perfume Scent Bottle Initials "ml". Charles MappinVintage Perfume BottlesNorthwood Carnival Grape & Cable Amethyst Cologne BottleVintage Rare Xxl Dioressence Dior Esprit De Parfum Perfume 50 Ml Bottle Edp19thc Antique Victorian Era Push Button Ruby Red Old Double Sided Glass PerfumeAntq Art Nouveau Silver Metal Overlay Green Glass Perfume Bottle Dragonfly LilyVintage Ultra Rare Pure Perfume Bottle J'ai OsÉ Guy Laroche Jai Ose 70s MibFantastic Victorian Silver Scent Bottle Holder - Birm 1898 - A & J Zimmerman Cupid Silverplate Vinaigrette Perfume Snuff Bottle~antique Victorian Nouveau Vintage Bourjois Kobako Perfume Bottle With Stopper 3" - Excellent ConditionVintage Ultra Rare Huge Xxl Lubin Idole Pure L Baccarat Perfume Bottle 59 Ml MibLalique Scent Bottle Lalique GlassAntique Silver Top Cut Glass Perfume Bottle Birmingham 1911Deco Silver Guilloche Enamel Aftershave Bottle - Goldsmiths + Silversmiths 1934Murano Italy Green Gold Copper Dust Controlled Bubble Scent Perfume Bottle Mld 1Vintage 1920's Devilbiss Art Deco Perfume BottleVintage Houbigant Eau De Toilette Le Parfum Ideal Lid On Tight 5.5" Tall BottleRare Fostoria American Perfume Bottle Gilt Filigree Holder Guilloche Enamel RoseCrown Top Dog Vintage Figural Perfume BottleVintage Lalique France Clairefontaine Lili Of The Valley Perfume Bottle SignedVintage Jungle Gardenia Tuvache Cologne Spray Concentrate .75 Fl Oz Full BottleAntique French Rare Apple Green Opaline Perfume Scent Bottle Circa 1880Large Victorian Cut Crystal Silver Topped Repousse Perfume Bottle. 1899Sealed 1930 Antique Early American Old Spice Perfume By Shulton Black AmericanaFenton White Opalescent Perfume/cologne Bottle W/stopper, Crimped Edge, Coin DotVintage Sealed Guerlain ‘shalimar’ Full Perfume Bottle 1/2 Fl Oz Baccarat DesignBeautiful Vandermark Pulled Feather Blown Art Deco Glass Perfume Bottle SignedUranium Vaseline Glass Perfume Bottle Cut Vaseline Crown 1920s Cubism Art DecoVintage Nina Ricci Miniature Perfume Bottle And Plastic Case 1 1/4" PerfumeVintage Sterling Silver Scent/perfume Bottle, Fatto A Mano Italy, 30gMurano Italy Green Gold Copper Dust Controlled Bubble Scent Perfume Bottle Mld 2Vintage Chypre De Vonna Perfume Paris France With BoxAntique 1902 Perfume Bottle 'phul-nana' By J. Grossmith & Son3 Old Irice Hand Painted Pink Roses Porcelain Perfume Bottles & Powder Bowl YqzDouce France By Lubin, Vintage Perfume Bottle Signed Lalique France Art Glass Frosted Crystal Perfume Bottle Grand Pomme 5"x6Signed Lalique France Art Glass Frstd Crystal Perfume Bottle Deux Anemones 6.5"Vtg. Lalique Crystal Perfume Bottle 'coeur Joie' By Nina Ricci, Open Heart W/Zellique Studio Art Glass Scent Bottle | Heart & Vine Decorated Perfume | NrTwo Vintage Molinard Perfume Bottles In Original BoxesSigned R. Lalique France Art Glass Crystal Perfume Bottle Deux Anemones 6.5"Fenton Perfume Bottle Signed L Everson Charleton Collection 2002 Lynn FentonVintage Decorative Perfume Bottle Enamel Rhinestone C1887 Miniature Solid Silver Scent Perfume Bottle Too BeeAntique Victorian Lachrymatory Tear Catcher Painted Mourning Vial Perfume BottleVintage Le Golli Wogg Perfume Vigny Paris Bottle Made In France Must See !!Antique Vintage Perfume Flask Bottle Victorian Scent Enamel Chatelaine PaintedMy Sin Mon Peche Extrait De Lanvin Vintage Perfume 2" Bottle Women Paris FrancePair Beautiful Matson Gold Roses Perfume Bottles K825 Vintage ~ Great Deal~