Antique Perfume Bottles: Identification and Value Guide for Beginners

In the Georgian era, Chatelaines were notable for their dual function as both a decorative clip and a container for perfume.

Lauren Thomann is an antique dealer, freelance writer, and editor with 16 years of experience and a B.A. in English and Linguistics. She specializes in antiques (mainly Victorian through Mid-Century), antique jewelry, old house renovations, and lifestyle and home-related content.
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clear glass perfume bottle on black table

Perfume bottles, with their intricate designs and delicate craftsmanship, have long been considered collectibles. These vintage vessels not only hold some of history’s most beloved fragrances but also look beautiful on a vanity or dresser. In this beginner-friendly guide, we’ll delve into the history, types, value, and identification of antique perfume bottles.


The art of perfumery dates back thousands of years, with ancient civilizations using aromatic oils for religious ceremonies, medicinal purposes, and personal adornment. The vessels that held these precious scents have evolved over time, reflecting the art, culture, and technology of their respective eras.

Design Eras

  • Ancient Egypt (c. 3000 BC): The earliest known perfume bottles were made of alabaster and carved into intricate shapes. These bottles often held scents used in religious rituals.
  • Roman Empire (c. 27 BC – 476 AD): Glassblowing techniques led to the creation of delicate glass perfume bottles. These were often small and designed for personal use.
  • Georgian Era (1714-1837): During the Georgian era, manufacturers made perfume bottles with cut glass and ornate designs. Chatelaines, small bottles attached to a decorative clip, became popular during this period.
  • Victorian Era (1837-1901): The industrial revolution brought about mass production, leading to a wide variety of ornate and decorative bottles. Perfume became a luxury item, and its packaging reflected its opulence.
  • Art Nouveau Era (late 19th to early 20th century): Art Nouveau perfume bottles were characterized by their organic and flowing designs, often inspired by natural forms and structures.
  • Art Deco Era (1920s-1930s): The Art Deco period saw the rise of geometric and streamlined designs in perfume bottles. These bottles often featured bold colors, clear lines, and modern motifs, reflecting the optimism and modernism of the era.
  • Retro Era (1930s-1960s): The Retro era, spanning from the 1930s to the 1960s, saw a mix of styles influenced by the Art Deco movement, the glamour of Hollywood, and post-war modernism. Perfume bottles from this era often featured bold geometric shapes, bright colors, and a mix of materials.

Did you know?

The world’s oldest known perfume factory, dating back to 2000 BC, was discovered on the island of Cyprus.


There are several distinct types of antique perfume bottles, each with its unique characteristics and charm:

Lay-Down Bottles

Antique Victorian Sterling Silver and Cut Crystal Lay Down Scent Bottle
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Era: Victorian
Glass, Silver
Overview: These elongated bottles were designed to lay flat and often had a pressed glass design with a silver or gold embossed cap.


Antique Moser Perfume Chatelaine Bottle Antique Scent Bottle Laydown Bottle Scent Bottle Enameled Birds Antique Vinaigrette Bottle
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Era: Georgian
Glass, Metal
Overview: These small bottles attached are to a clip, meant to be hung from a woman’s belt.

Scent Flasks

Antique French Perfume Bottle, French Perfume Flask, Perfume Flask, Metal Perfume Flask with Stopper, Metal Perfume Flask with Dauber
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Era: Georgian
Overview: Often made of metal, these small flasks were portable and durable.


Antique Hand Painted green blown Glass Perfume bottle atomize
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Era: Victorian
Glass, Rubber
Overview: Introduced in the late 19th century, these bottles had a bulb and tube mechanism (an atomizer) for spraying perfume.

Commercial Bottles

Antique Perfume Bottle, Sandalwood Toilet Water Barber by Richard Hudnut, Gorgeous, Litho Label
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Era: Art Deco
Overview: Manufactured for specific perfume brands, these bottles often had brand logos or specific shapes associated with the fragrance.

Hollywood Regency Bottle

1950s Mid Century Ormolu Gold Gilt Filigree Encased Glass Perfume Vanity Bottle French Metal Cross, Hollywood Regency Boudoir Dresser
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Era: Mid-20th Century (1930s-1950s)
Material: Glass, Gold or Silver
Overview: Hollywood Regency perfume bottles often feature bold geometric shapes, mirrored finishes, and lavish gilded ormoluMid-20th details.


Antique Perfume BottleEstimated Sale Price
Egyptian Alabaster Bottle (c. 3000 BC)$5,000 – $7,000
Roman Glass Bottle (c. 100 AD)$2,000 – $3,500
Victorian Lay-Down Bottle (c. 1850)$350 – $1,200
Georgian Chatelaine (c. 1800)$400 – $1,500
19th Century Atomizer$100 – $800
Commercial Bottle (Chanel, c. 1920)$150 – $300
Art Deco Scent Flask (c. 1930)$100 – $300
Please note that these prices are estimated and can vary based on factors like condition, rarity, and provenance. Always consult with an expert or appraiser for accurate valuations.

The value of antique perfume bottles can vary widely based on several factors:

  • Age: Older bottles, especially those from ancient civilizations, can fetch higher prices.
  • Condition: Bottles in mint condition, without chips or cracks, are more valuable.
  • Rarity: Collectors seek unique designs or limited-edition bottles.
  • Provenance: Bottles with a known history or previous ownership can increase in value.

Collector’s Tip

Always keep the original packaging or any accompanying documentation, as this can significantly increase the bottle’s value.


Identifying antique perfume bottles can be a rewarding challenge. Here are some tips to help you determine the age and authenticity of your bottle:

  • Marks and Signatures: Many manufacturers stamped their logo or signature on the base of the bottle. Familiarize yourself with known marks from reputable makers.
  • Design and Craftsmanship: Study the design elements and craftsmanship. High-quality detailing can indicate a genuine antique.
  • Materials: Older bottles may be made of materials that are no longer commonly used, such as certain metals or types of glass.
  • Documentation: If available, old receipts, certificates, or historical records can provide valuable information.


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