I was recently given a box of vintage perfume bottles to sell by a client. While they smelled nice and reminded me of my grandma, I didn’t think they would be particularly valuable. However, by the time all of the bottles had sold, much to my surprise (and my client’s delight), that small box of perfume bottles ended-up selling for several thousand dollars!
So, where do the most valuable perfume bottles come from? Primarily France, which also produces many of the world’s best (and most expensive) perfumes. Two French manufacturers in particular – Lalique and Baccarat – are responsible for some of the most artistic and desirable bottles sought by collectors.
Lalique was originally founded by Rene Lalique in 1885. Lalique was a brilliant designer who expressed his artistic talents in numerous forms, ranging from perfume bottles and vases to chandeliers and car hood ornaments. Some modern Lalique bottles can be purchased for less than $100. However, it’s the vintage bottles, mostly from the 1920s and earlier, that routinely sell for hundred or thousands of dollars. Original Lalique pieces are often hand-signed on the base, but can be imprinted as well.
Baccarat was named after the town in France that started producing glassware at the bequest of King Louis XV in the early 18th century. Originally producing items such as windows and mirrors, the company later expanded their production line to include items such fine barware, chandeliers, and perfume bottles. Modern miniature Baccarat bottles can be found for under $20. Yet the prices can shoot up quickly, depending upon the age and intricacy of the bottle. Baccarat pieces can usually be identified by their circular acid-etched logo on the base.
In addition to glass and crystal, highly collectible perfume bottles can be made from porcelain as well. Many of these bottles were made to resemble figurines of people or animals and were produced by highly skilled French or German porcelain manufacturers.
Identifying the manufacturer of your bottle is the first step towards evaluating its value. The bottle’s label or mark can be very helpful in this process. After you have narrowed down the origin, determining condition is extremely important. Are there any chips or cracks? Is the original box available? Is there any of the original perfume left and is it still fragrant? Collectors will want to know as much detail as possible, so it’s important to describe both bottle and contents carefully. Doing so will help bring you the best prices for those old perfume bottles – and you may be surprised as what they are worth!
The original article can be found in the June 2013 issue of Southern Neighbor available here: www.southernneighbor.com.