Antique Perfume Bottle Identification and Value Guide for Beginners

How old is that perfume bottle sitting on your dresser? The answer could determine the value.

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clear glass perfume bottle on black table

Perfume bottles have long been considered collectibles, so much so that people keep them even after the original perfume is gone. These vintage bottles held some of history’s most beloved fragrances and look beautiful on a vanity or dresser. In this beginner-friendly guide, we’ll explain how to identify an antique perfume bottle and determine its worth.

Identification

Perfume bottles date back thousands of years, with ancient civilizations using aromatic oils for religious ceremonies, medicinal purposes, and personal adornment. The world’s oldest known perfume factory, dating back to 2000 BC, was discovered on the island of Cyprus.

Here are some simple steps to help you determine the approximate age of your perfume bottle:

  1. Look for marks and signatures. Many manufacturers stamped their logo or signature on the base of the bottle. Familiarize yourself with known marks from reputable makers, which can be found in the sources at the bottom of this article.
  2. Determine the era. Look at the following eras to determine which characteristics match which period. Once you know the general design, the next step is to figure out if the bottle is a reproduction.
  3. Identify the type. Below, you’ll find several common types of perfume bottles and when they would have been used. This information can help you better determine value.
  4. Evaluate any documentation. If available, old receipts, certificates, or historical records can help date a perfume bottle. Always keep the original packaging or any accompanying documentation because this can significantly increase the perfume bottle’s value.
  5. Consult an expert. If you’re still unsure about the age or authenticity of a perfume bottle, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of an appraiser in the field.

Eras

Perfume bottles have certain identifying characteristics depending on the era they were crafted.

  • 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 (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 (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 (1895-1925): Art Nouveau perfume bottles were characterized by their organic and flowing designs, often inspired by natural forms and structures.
  • Art Deco (1920-1940): 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 (1930-1960): 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.

Types

There are several distinct types of antique perfume bottles, each associated with a specific era. Knowing the type can help you research your perfume bottle more easily. For example, you could use these keywords to search sold results on eBay to assess value.

Lay Down Bottles

Antique Victorian Sterling Silver and Cut Crystal Lay Down Scent Bottle
View on Etsy

Era: Victorian
Material:
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.

Chatelaines

Antique Moser Perfume Chatelaine Bottle Antique Scent Bottle Laydown Bottle Scent Bottle Enameled Birds Antique Vinaigrette Bottle
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Era: Georgian
Material:
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
Material:
Metal
Overview: Often made of metal, these small flasks were portable and durable.

Atomizers

Antique Hand Painted green blown Glass Perfume bottle atomize
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Era: Victorian
Material:
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
View on Etsy

Era: Art Deco
Material:
Glass
Overview: Manufactured for specific perfume brands, these bottles often had brand logos or specific shapes associated with the fragrance.

Hollywood Regency Bottles

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 ormolu.

Value

Antique perfume bottles can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Even vintage perfume bottles from designers like Chanel can be worth several hundred dollars when in good condition.

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.
  • Brand: Certain manufacturers like Lalique or Baccarat are renowned for their distinctive styles and quality, which can be a significant factor in identification and valuation.
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
These prices are estimated and can vary based on condition, rarity, and provenance. Always consult with an appraiser for accurate valuations.

Sources

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