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]

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    

Vintage .925 Sterling Silver & Glass Perfume Bottle & Funnel Ari D Norman - E19Vtg Enameled Guilloche Sterling Silver Perfume Bottle Scent Flask For ChatelaineVintage Sterling Silver Blue Enamel Guilloche Perfume Scent Bottle Pendant BnwAntique Gorham #455 Floral Repousse Sterling Silver Perfume Flask Bottle 54gHm1909 Edwardian Solid Silver Perfume Bottle Scent Phial Walton Antique NrAntique Georgian Lachrymatory Amber Glass Perfume Scent Bottle Gilt DecorationRare Silver Hunting Horn Vinaigrette Perfume Scent Bottle C. 19th Century FranceMordan Miniature Silver Birds Egg Perfume Scent Bottle Superb Victorian AgateAntique Victorian Repousse Sterling Silver Glass Perfume Scent Bottle Flask Bnw" Sterling " & French Enamel Pocket Perfume / VialAntique Silver-lidded Ceramic Scent Bottle - Chester 1889.Antique French Miniature Green Perfume Scent Bottle Silver Lid A/f Circa 1860Antique Victorian Solid Silver & Cranberry Glass Scent Bottle Birmingham C1899 Antique Sampson Mordan Silver Top Porcelain Willow Pattern Perfume/ Scent BottleAntique Porcelain Perfume Scent Bottle Silver Lid Charles May 1889 A/fVictorian Silver Combined Horn Shaped Scent Bottle Vinaigrette By S Mordan 1874Antique Victorian Solid Silver & Cranberry Glass Perfume / Scent Bottle Antique European Porcelain Scent Snuff Bottle With Chinese Style SquirrelAntique Crystal Perfume Scent Bottle Silver Gilt Filigree Lid Circa 1880Signed Authentic Lalique French Art Deco Glass Cactus Perfume Scent Bottle MwbVintage Rare Eau De Toilette Perfume Bottle Jicky Xxl Guerlain Edt 200ml BottleVtg Foster & Bailey Cut Crystal Sterling Silver Mount Perfume Bottle Scent VialAntique Turquoise Glass Enamel & Gilt Perfume Scent Bottle Circa 1880Antique Cornucopia / Horn Shape Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle Silver Lid C1880Vintage Guerlain L'heure Bleue Perfume Bottle Wi Box Unused 1/2 OzRare Abercrombie & Fitch Woods Cologne For Men Authentic Used 3.4 Oz BottleWilliam Goebel German Porcelain - Pierrot Clown Scent Bottle - Art Deco!Vintage Scottish John Deacons Flower Millefiori Perfume Bottle Glass PaperweightOkra Glass 'ayrun' Perfume Bottle Art Nouveau StyleVictorian Silver Scent Bottle Hilliard & Thomason Chester 1898Antique Ruby Red Lozenge Form Miniature Perfume Scent Bottle C1880Silver-lidded Ceramic Scent Bottle, Decorated With An Oriental Girl.Vintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Bamboo Perfume Travel Atomizer GermanySterling Silver Vintage 925 Open Oval Perfume Bottle Dangle Pendant 18.8g 536635Loetz / Pallme Konig Perfume Atomizer Bottle | Decorated Bohemian Art Glass | NrVictorian Silver Scent Bottle By Sampson Mordan London 1887Unger Bros~sterling Silver Chatelaine Perfume Bottle Antique Victorian Nouveau Victorian Silver & Enamel Scent Bottle 'yellow Roses' Saunders & Shepherd 1893Victorian Silver Scent Bottle By George Ward Chester 1889Gold Ormolu Filigree Stand & Three Glass Perfume Bottles W/daubers GermanyAntique Victorian Sterling Silver Purse Perfume Bottle Attached Lid - No StopperAncient Roman Glass Perfume/oil Bottle 1st - 4th Century AdSerge Lutens Niche Perfume La Fille De Berlin Partial BottleOkra Glass Stunning Irridescent Daisy Pattern Scent Bottle.1991.Antique Venetian Millefiori & Aventurine Perfume Scent Bottle C1860Isle Of Wight Glass Perfume BottleVintage Sterling Silver Small Ornate Design Perfume BottleAmazing Anitque Sterling Silver Overlay Glass Perfume Bottle Art Nouveau SolidAntique French Stanhope Pictures Seltzer Syphon Shaped Perfume BottleC1920 Devilbiss Perfume Atomizer~~orange W/black & Gold Art Deco StyleSerge Lutens Niche Perfume Sa Majeste La Rose Partial BottleVintage Irice Czech Perfume Bottle Filigree Cap Dauber Dangl Charms RhinestonesMaderas De Oriente Myrurgia Espana Perfume Vintage Full 2 Inch BottleVintage Bottle Coco Mademoiselle Eau De Parfum Chanel Paris 3.4 Fl Oz 60% FullIsle Of Wight Studio Glass Very Rare Silver Topped''greenberry'' Perfume BottleVintage Guerlain Chant D'aromes Perfume Wi Box Unused 1/4 Oz ?Victorian Silver Mounted Oriental Porcelain Scent Bottle Charles May C1890Original Miniature Metal Corkscrew Perfume Bottle C1880 Spring Assisted 2.75”Steuben Verre De Soie Art Glass Perfume Cologne Bottle No Reserve AuctionVintage Guerlain Shalimar Perfume Bottle Wi Box