Perfume and the various containers which have stored it has evolved substantially over the span of thousands of years. However, during the course of only a few centuries, a wide ranging assortment of art deco perfume bottles has emerged. With many of these bottles fabricated from cut glass, silver glass overlays, porcelain, crystal and more, the 19th century truly perfected the Art Deco era within a vast array of cultures around the world.
The 1800’s began developing art deco perfume bottles from a variety of materials such as opaline. Opaline is a special form of crystal which was coloured by adding tin oxide and calcified bone in order to provide perfume bottles of the day with a milky quality. Larger bottles were designed with the intent to be placed on dressing tables, while smaller containers were developed for simplified mobility for handbags or even to wear on chains.
Although the beginning of the 19th century reserved fragrances and decorative perfume bottles to the wealthier classes of society, the industrial revolution altered that significantly. Following the First World War, trends became even more influenced by the art deco lifestyle of the roaring twenties which lead to one of the trendiest and most enduring fragrances of our time. Chanel No. 5 has reached worldwide acclaim over the years since its debut and is widely known for its complete simplicity and extremely elegant bottle designs.
The vast majority of perfume bottle collectors focus their efforts on decorative or commercial containers. However, art deco perfume bottles span back further in age and are often more decorative, despite their typical lack of brand names. On the other hand, more modern bottles are generally commercialised. Decorative bottles can include perfume flasks which were even sold empty with the intent to be filled later with the buyer’s personal choice of fragrance.
When it comes to decorative bottles, Ancient Roman or Egyptian bottles are among some of the most popular with collectors. Other favourites of decorative perfume bottle collectors include cut glass bottles which feature gold or silver trim or overlay, figural porcelain bottles of the 1700’s and 1800’s along with those from Germany produced throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. Additionally, double ended fragrance containers, chatelaines, atomiser bottles, matching dresser bottle sets, hand cut Czech bottles produced throughout the 20th century and crystal pressed and etched glass designed perfume bottles are highly sought after as well.
Commercial bottles are much easier to locate. These are typically sold filled with a fragrance and include a label displaying the perfume manufacturer on them. Some of the highest quality commercial perfume bottles which are sought after by seasoned collectors would be those which have yet to be opened. These will also often maintain their original labels and boxes which are perfectly intact. Some specialty collections within the commercial perfume bottle arena include those made of coloured glass, bottles created by a single manufacturer such as Guerlain or Caron, those containers developed by famous fashion designers like Chanel or Dior and figural or novelty perfume bottles.