Some people love wearing perfume, others just like to look at the bottles themselves. For those who enjoy creating collections, a perfume bottle can be the start of not only a lovely looking display, but also a valuable one.
An antique perfume bottle can range in price from a few dollars to thousands. To get started on one of these collections, it's a good idea for a want-to-be collector on a budget to make a few rules of the game first.
Looks. When a perfume bottle collection is desired, those looking for great buys will find the prices run the gamut. To ensure a collection that's affordable and enjoyable, it's a good idea for a collector on a budget to make sure to buy only those bottles he or she really loves.
If this is the biggest rule of thumb, there really isn't a bad purchase to be made. Buying just for price and value is okay, but to truly create a collection that's prized, looks should come into play in a very big way.
Pricing. As it's been said, a perfume bottle collection can have a much higher price tag than many might think. Set a price limit on individual buys and try to stick with it as possible.
Always shop around. Perhaps one of the best things about creating an antique perfume bottle collection is the fact a person never knows where a great bottle will turn up. From online auction sites and estate sales to antique shops and barn sales, these bottles can be found all over the place. The pricing will depend on the bottle in question and the location it's found. Sometimes some great buys can be had at regular garage sales.
The types of perfume bottle choices collectors can come across are pretty amazing. Older bottles tend to be a lot more decorative and ornate than those on the market today. Plus, often tines, these older bottles didn't have brand names on them, as they were seen as works of art on their own. This little fact lends to the beauty of the bottles, because they often are not encumbered with word or visible trademark.
Some of the types include:
Antique cut glass: Many perfume bottle creations in the 1800s and early 1900s were made out of hand-cut glass. These little bottles were often designed to look as pretty as their contents smelled. These bottles can range from a few dollars to thousands, depending.
Silver designs: Many antique bottles were made with glass insides and intricate silver designs on the outer surface. These bottles are mini works of art on their own.
Crystal: Crystal pressed and etch glass designs were and remain very popular. The pricing depends on the quality of the crystal and often the period it was made.
Ceramics: A lot of bottle designs in the 1920s were made with blown glass and ceramics. With hand painted pictures on the outside of the bottles, some of these creations are one-of-a-kind treasures.
A perfume bottle collection can be a great way to get into collecting items that are small and quite attractive. Whether it's antique silver, crystal, cut glass or all of the above, these bottles are considered by many to be individual works of art.
Whether you like delicate 18th or 19th century objects or prefer the more geometric forms of Art Deco, there are perfume bottles for you.
The urge to anoint our bodies with perfume goes back thousands of years. The Egyptians, Ancient Greeks and Romans all used perfume and so made containers to hold it. Because perfume is volatile, the best perfume bottles have very tight fitting lids or stoppers to prevent evaporation and are in coloured or faceted glass or other opaque containers to prevent damage to perfume from sunlight.
In Renaissance Venice, small highly decorated glass scent bottles were made, although few survive. By the 16th and 17th centuries manufacture had extended to England, France, Bohemia and Silesia. Production continued in Italy - for example, the famous Murano glassmakers produced bottles in coloured glass decorated with millefiori and latticino (strands of contrasting coloured glass used as a trellis work effect) while in Germany they were using white glass, decorated with gilding and enamels.
By the 18th and 19th centuries, perfume containers of great value and beauty were being made in England using a wide variety of materials including enamel, porcelain and silver. One example, made in silver in 1810, is in the shape of a heart and is engraved with an initial. It is for sale for just £90.The same dealer has another bottle made about fifteen years earlier in clear, faceted glass with a central silver mounted enamel plaque containing two lovebirds and is priced at £600. Both were probably given as love tokens, perhaps by a man to his betrothed or wife.
Enamel perfume bottles were popular during the 18th and 19th centuries. They were made by the Battersea, Bilston and Wednesbury factories, amongst others. The enamel bottles contained glass phials with stoppers to hold the perfume and were decorated with delicately painted flowers, landscapes and classical scenes. Bilston was the biggest and most famous of the factories and Dovey Hawksford probably its best known artist.
Porcelain was another widely used material and many of the famous factories, like Chelsea, Derby and Wedgwood, produced perfume bottles. Collectors can find many traditional shapes and styles but there were novelty items made too. They were made to look like nuts, golf balls and shells. Both porcelain and enamel bottles were faked by Samsom in the late 19th century which, ironically, are now very collectable too.
English glass making is particularly associated with Stourbridge and Nailsea in Bristol, the latter being known for its famous Bristol blue glass. A dealer in Bath has an example in Bristol blue glass dating from the 1870s that is made in the shape of a cornucopia. It has a silver gilt flip top with embossed decoration and an inner stopper.
As traditional Victorian style gave way to Art Nouveau and Art Deco, perfume bottles reflected the change. Art Deco bottles were geometric in form, many with elaborate stoppers so moving away from the earlier more feminine and delicate designs.
René Lalique is the best-known of the Art Deco glass designers and, of course, his perfume bottles are very collectable but other makers are also popular. The French glassmaking company Baccarat produced perfume bottles for parfumiers like Jean Patou, Elizabeth Arden, Guerlain and Lenthéric. Of the other French designers of the period, Marius-Ernest Sabino is amongst the best-known. Much of his work was an imitation of the great Lalique but of inferior quality. However, some of his work stands the test of time and is collectable. The poorer work tends to be ill-proportioned and clumsy so, if buying a piece by Sabino, look for elegance of design. Other notable designers of the period include Maurice Marinot, André Thuret and Gabriel Argy Rousseau. Czech glass-making factories also made perfume bottles. These are increasingly collectable and, whilst not as expensive as many French makers, prices are rising.
New collectors can find perfume bottles for as little as $5 at garage sales or on eBay but, unless you are very lucky, these are unlikely to appreciate greatly in value. The more collectable ones are probably going to start at around $50 and may cost many hundreds of dollars for particularly fine examples.
|HOW TO EVALUATE PERFUME
A perfume's scent depends upon its combination and type of 'notes'. Each note is categorized into a scent family. Just like the individual notes of a song make up the melody, the notes in a perfume produce the final, blended scent. These notes must blend in a satisfying way to produce a final product.
Just as there are different types of note family categories, perfume notes are also classified according to their lasting power. In the perfume world, there are three notes of this type.
The top note in a perfume is its first impression. The top notes are sometimes called head notes or "notes de tete". This is the scent that you smell when a perfume is first sprayed or applied. The top note scent is the first scent, but it also lasts the least amount of time. Top notes usually last less than fifteen minutes. Citrus type scents are most commonly used for top notes.
Middle notes are the scents in a perfume after the top note has evaporated. Middle notes are also called heart notes, central notes, and "notes de coeur". Middle notes in some perfumes may take an hour or longer to develop, but usually start to emanate in just a few minutes. Most middle notes last an hour or longer. Middle notes are usually floral scents.
Base notes, or "notes de fond", are the last notes in a perfume to become apparent. Middle notes and base notes comprise the 'essence' of the perfume. After the top notes have disappeared and the middle notes have started to fade, the base notes become more prominent. Base notes last longer than other perfume notes, usually several hours. Base notes tend to be more rich than other perfume notes. Base notes tend to be from woodsy or earthy fragrance families.