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”)

California Perfume Company

California Perfume Company

The California Perfume Company, as well as the famous brand it became, Avon, is the focus of Rusty Mills’ compreh… [read review or visit site]

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    

Isle Of Wight Glass Large 'seascape' Perfume Bottle - Made C.1986 - Must See!!!!Antique Moser Chatelaine Blue Glass Enamel Painted Scent Perfume BottleVintage R Lalique Perfume Bottle Roger De Gallet Pavots D'argent FrenchRare Vintage Christian Dior Mini Perfume Bottle Set In Box~miss Dior~dioramaLimited Edition Chanel Perfume Bottle Clutch Bag Purse AuthenticIsle Of Wight Glass 'satin' Perfume Bottle - Rare Design - Made In 1988 Only!!!!Nr Opaline Palais Royale French Perfume Scent Bottle Casket Porcelain PortraitsRare Antique Porcelain Japanese Geisha Chatelaine Scent Perfume Bottle PendantAntique Signed Czech Art Deco Molded Pink Glass Jeweled Enamel Perfume Bottle 1920's Art Deco Czech Black Glass & Malacite Jeweled Filigree Perfume Bottle-Antique Moser Painted Enamel Gilt Glass Perfume Bottle Chatelaine Finger RingVictorian Cobalt Faceted Repousse Vinaigrette Scent Bottle Sterling Silver LidsBeautiful Vintage Czech Amethyst Perfume Bottle Jeweled Filigree Made In AustriaLot Of 25 Vintage Designers Miniature Mini Perfume Cologne Bottles Polo, Krizia1800's Victorian Moser Perfume Bottle Chatelaine Snuff Glass Enamel Vinaigrette~Darling Htf Vintage Schuco Teddy Bear Perfume Bottle Mohair 3 1/2" Antique Marked~cut Lalique Paris France Perfume~scent Bottle~flowersRare Antique Chelsea Porcelain Pug Dog Scent Perfume Bottle & Stopper - C1755Vtg Estate Lot 32 Miniature Mini Perfume France Imports Estee Chanel Bottles ++ Victorian Cobalt Faceted Vinaigrette Double End Scent Bottle Sterling Silver LidSteuben Aurene Blue Glass Iridescent Perfume Bottle Numbered Arts & Crafts 3 Piece 1940's Fenton Blue Overlay Melon Perfume Bottles & Powder Jar W/stickers Vintage Designer Miniature Mini Perfume Parfum Bottles Chanel Set Of 5 In CaseAntique Gorham Petite Sterling .990 Silver Overlay Glass Perfume Bottle, 3/4"Three Color, Ruby To Vaseline To Clear Perfume Bottle, Bohemian?Isle Of Wight Glass 'bon Bon Allsorts' Perfume Bottle - Quite Scarce - Must SeeBeautiful Sterling Silver Heart Shaped Scent Perfume Bottle Chatelaine / PendantHermes Silk Twill Scarf "qu'importe Le Flacon…" Perfume Bottles, 35" Square Vintage Czech Bohemian Jewelled Filigree Ormolu Pink Scent Perfume Bottle1pc Imp. Murano Glass Skull Bottle Witch Skeleton Oil Perfume Bottle PendantVintage Perfume Bottle La Fete Des Roses De Caron Gold Bottle+original Perfume CLe Dix Balenciaga Paris France 1 Oz Glass Vanity Dresser Perfume Bottle 85% FullVintage Sterling Guilloche Turquoise Enamel Lay Down Perfume Bottle GermanyVintage Les Parfums De Paris - Made In France Miniature Perfume Bottle Set OperaEstate $1200 200ct Genuine Blue Lapis Perfume Bottle RareVintage Guerlain "mitsouko" Perfume Bottle/box-unopened-made In France-vg-nrArt Glass Hand Blown Scent Perfume Bottle Signed Base MulticolouredVintage Perfume Bottles Glass Ceramic Collection Silvestri Spellbound Musk ParisArt Deco German Porcelain Crown Top Figural Perfume Bottle Of Old Fashioned GalAntique Sterling Silver Top & Cut Glass Scent Or Perfume Bottle Dated 1920Fenton Cranberry Opelescent Corn Dot Perfume BottleR Lalique Frosted 6 Nudes Atomizer Perfume Bottle Raised Letters Art Deco BeautyVintage Guerlain L'heure Bleue Perfume In Crystal Bottle 15 Ml RosebudVintage Pasadena Jewelry Lucien Lelong Paris Perfume Bottle Parfum B Bottle/boxEstate $1500 300ct Natural Purple Green Fluorite Gem Perfume BottleScarce Iow Summer Fruits Honeyberry Studio Art Glass Perfume Bottle Boxed A1Estate $1000 Genuine Green Fluorite Gem Perfume Bottle RareVintage Stuart Abelman Pulled Feather Iridescent Art Glass Perfume Bottle No ResVintage Stylebuilt Matson Gold Ormolu Perfume Bottle Set Tray Atomizer DauberAntique 19th C English Repousse Sterling Silver & Crystal Perfume Scent BottleVintage 1930s Richard Hudnut Gemey Perfume Bottle NrAntique 19th C. Solid Silver Top Imari Porcelain Perfume Viniagrette Bottle 2351830 Old Georgian Sterling Silver Cut Glass Perfume Bottle Box London Heavy Lid1940s Lancome Perfume Bottle Set In BoxNew Robert Held Art Glass Peacock Perfume Bottle - SignedOld 1960s Shalimar Sealed Perfume Bottle With Presentation Case & Box, New-likeBlue Facetted Art Deco Smoking Flapper Lady Intaglio Etched Czech Perfume BottleGuerlain " Apres L'ondee "bottle Pure Perfume 11 Cm Rest Approximately 30ml 1 Oz1950-51 Vtge. French Pressed Glass €Disney Tangled Princess Rapunzel Perfume Bottle Eau De Magique Le Pin & Card

Recent News: Perfume Bottles

Source: Google News

Horse brasses spring saleroom surprise
Nafferton Today, July 12th

Old metalware can be difficult to sell in the current market but a large collection of horse brasses and harness mounts provided further surprises with 12 lots totalling nearly £3,500 – the railway related ones performing particularly well. Also in...Read more

Public invited to sniff fragrance of a bygone era
Royal Gazette, July 2nd

The 150-year-old perfume, still in its original bottle, was under glass as Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, the director of The Bermuda Perfumery, and Dr Philippe Rouja, custodian of historic wrecks, unveiled the scent of antique perfume in a separate...Read more