17 July 2015

The Magic of Perfume Bottles

Would you agree with Christian Dior that, “a woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting?” You might think that this is a rather exaggerated statement, but some believe in the magical powers of perfumes; their ability to evoke memories and to stimulate senses. Such precious liquids required special vessels to match their extraordinary effects. 

Until 1900 perfume was sold in ordinary glass vials from a chemist where you would have it refilled with your chosen fragrance.  The elaborate perfume containers desired by some had to be purchased separately at a much higher cost.  It was Francoise Coty, a Parisian perfume maker who, in the 1900s, launched the commercial perfume bottle that we have today. Inspired by Rene Lalique and his famous glass creations, Coty commissioned Lalique to design attractive labels for his perfume and later the bottles themselves.  This proved a great success in changing the face of the perfume business forever. 

The most exquisite period of perfume bottle design was the 1920s and 1930s. At that time there were 400 manufactures of glass perfume bottles in France. Today there are only three.  The early bottles had hand made stoppers which were hand-ground into the bottle. Each fit was unique, so numbers were engraved on stopper and bottle in order that they could be matched up after filling. This was a very costly process until about the 1970s when plastic stoppers were introduced. This is a viable way to date a bottle. 

Perfume bottles are an excellent choice for those looking to begin a collection. Their style, age, rarity and condition play an important part. They are small to house and are a great choice for any budget.  

Here is a hand picked selection of perfume bottles from Grays’ dealers:

Cour-joie by Nina Ricci, 1946. Glass bottle designed by Rene Lalique.
Offered by Linda Bee

Rare perfume bottle by Schiaparelli. Offered by Linda Bee 
Mitsouko by Guerlain.The bottle reflects oriental influences.
Offered by Linda Bee

Miss Balmain Paris. A miniature perfume bottle. Offered by Gillian Horsup

Red bakelite vintage  perfume container. Offered by Gillian Horsup

Art Deco celluloid perfume container. Offered by Gillian Horsup

Silver overlay glass perfume bottle, USA c.1900. Offered by Evonne Antiques

Pair of glass perfume bottles with silver tops, Birmingham 1897.
Offered by Evonne Antiques

Webb glass perfume bottle silver mounted, London 1889.
Offered by Jack Podlewski

Silver mounted perfume bottle by William Comyns, London 1894.
Offered by Jack Podlewski
Porcelain hand painted egg scent bottle by Sampson Mordan, London 1887.
Offered by AMS Antiques

Silver and pink enamel atomiser with cut crystal bottle, USA c.1920.
Offered by AMS Antiques

Green glass perfume bottle silver mounted by Edward Spencer for The Artificers' Guild, London c.1900. Offered by Van Den Bosch

Silver perfume bottle with enamel lid by Omar Ramsden & Alwyn Carr, 1905.
Offered by Van Den Bosch


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