A Guide To Collecting Perfume Bottles: Preservation, Finding And Other Tips

A perfume bottle collection can be a beautiful addition to any home. Learn what to look for, where to find them and how to care for them.

Perfume bottles have long been a form of artistry, and a display of interesting bottles can be a beautiful addition to any collector's home. From the outrageous to the sublime, perfume bottles can be found to match almost any tastes.

Even in the days when the great pharaohs of Egypt walked the earth, people used perfume and perfume bottles. The idea of the perfume bottle as art began in the late 1600s, however these early bottles were not associated with any particular brand of scent. The perfume was purchased and transferred to the buyer's own perfume bottle. It was not until the late 1800s that perfume prepackaged in decorative bottles gained popularity. Since then, the bottle has become part of the image and package of the perfume. A perfume attempting to appeal to a younger audience might feature a bottle decorated with bright colors and geometric patterns, while a scent designed for a more mature client might seek to entice with a sleek and sophisticated bottle.

By following only a few guidelines, one can begin a collection of stunning perfume bottles. When considering perfume bottles to begin or add to a collection, check carefully for any chips or cracks in the glass, which bring the value down. Stoppers or caps should be flawless. If the bottle has a paper label, check for tears, stains or any other defect, which lowers the value of the bottle. Naturally, rare perfume bottles are more desirable to collectors, and a newer bottle that is rare can be more valuable than an older, common bottle. Bottles from the 1920s and 1930s, the era when some of the most exquisite bottles were produced, are highly prized. If the bottle comes with its original box, that's a plus.

Perfume bottles are plentiful and can be found in a variety of locales.

- Garage sales and flea markets - Many people have held on to old perfume bottles for a long time because of their beauty, then decide to sell.

- Antique stores and malls - Antique dealers recognize the value of antique and vintage bottles and offer many for purchase.

- Thrift stores - Perfume bottles often wind up at thrift stores and can be had for bargain prices.

- Estate sales - Check your local newspaper for estate sale announcements.

- Auctions - Antique auctions can be fun, but try not to get carried away while bidding. Decide beforehand on a top bid for an item, and don't go over it. Bidders are usually permitted to look over the merchandise prior to the auction and should take advantage of this opportunity. The auctioneer will not necessarily mention any cracks or flaws in the bottle.

- Online - Check out online shops and auction sites for unique perfume bottles.

Once the collection is begun, it can be kept looking its best with proper care. Take off rings and bracelets before washing the bottles, since they could cause damage. Use a damp cloth to clean a bottle with a paper label, being very careful not to wet the paper. If the bottle does not have a label it should be cleaned by hand. Never wash bottles in the dishwasher, which is too harsh an environment for fragile glass. Line a sink or bowl with a soft cloth to keep the glass from knocking against the hard surfaces. Do not use water that is too hot or cold, which can cause cracks, and use distilled water if in a hard water area. Only wash one bottle at a time, using a soft-bristled bottle brush to clean the inside. If unsure how to care for a valuable piece, consult a conservator.

Collecting perfume bottles can not only be an engaging hobby, but lucrative as well. Above all, the collector will be rewarded with the pleasure of enjoying these items of beauty.

© High Speed Ventures 2011