The walls of my small Parisian apartment manage to maintain the weight of fifteen years of perfume bottle collecting and a multitude of books on the same topic. These bottles represent for me some marvelous moments spent at flea markets, and surprisingly enough, I’m pretty much able to recall the place and the price I bought a large number of those bottles at.
Over this time, I’ve made some haphazard purchases and have been influenced into quite a number of collecting phases: by perfume house, by color, with a tassel, baccarat-crystal, from the 1920’s… At times crowned with unique finds, I’ve lucked out more than I can count and have bought some incontestable bloopers. So based on what I consider in-depth experience, I can proudly appoint myself as an ‘expert’ among many others in this collection field.
A sincere gentleman has invited me to share my passion and suggestions for perfume bottle collecting on this blog – and how flattered I am to do so! So allow me to share with you my maturely established position on scent bottles.
The most important suggestion I can provide you, the budding collector, with is to hunt down the type of bottle YOU LIKE. ‘Experts’ will affirm at times in a pushy manner: ‘only collect from such-n-such house’, ‘invest in a one-per-month purchase’, ‘don’t collect such-n-such brand, the market is frowning on it, ‘choose only ground crystal topper bottles’, ‘don’t touch anything after the 50’s’ and so on. I believe some suggestions come from the heart of a collector who has decided to build his collection accordingly and others are simply snobbish.
In an attempt to follow these ‘rules’, I have let some really nice bottles slide by: a Colonie by Jean Patou because the stopper was a plastemeri (mid-evolution between ground and plastic stopper) and an L.T. Piver because that house simply is no longer in the top ten list. Nonsense…
A brief anecdote: till this day, I have a guilt complex due to the fact that I fail to share the opinion that Coty bottles made by Lalique are the epitome of the perfume bottle world. The dense, heavy squareness that is innate to Baccarat gets my humble vote.
You need to choose what you like, what catches your eye, and feel free to let your collection evolve as time goes on. I quickly discovered , for example, there was very limited number of black crystal bottles -I do love black bottles- on the market and in my price range. So yet again, my frustration grew as I couldn’t afford a ‘Liu’ or a ‘Dandy’. I did though corner the market with all the different sizes of ‘Nuit de Noël’ by Caron:
On the point of budget, you do have a choice. You can go to a specialized antique shop to buy your bottles. In doing so you are sure of the authenticity and quality of your purchase. As for me and if you’ve noticed the wording in my title, when I go to a flea market or a garage sale, I am hunting. I want to find the rarity for the cheapest price forgotten at the bottom of a cardboard box.
On, though, one occasion I broke for a high purchase: ‘Devinez’ by Ybry. But even at €96 it was an excellent buy.
In my future posts, I will hit on the delicate in’s and out’s of the ground stopper you need to know, what makes a crystal scent bottle unique or run-of-the-mill (which has nothing to do with its natural beauty), why brushing up on your early 20th century history can be helpful in perfume bottle collecting, and a few other tidbits.