A major part of the allure of a fragrance is actually found in the perfume bottles, not only in the scent. The marketing gurus and the collectors know that true scent pleasure arrives in a highly attractive container.
The History of Perfume Bottles
It all started as far back as 1500 BC when glass perfume bottles adorned the homes of the noble and wealthy. While early scents were designed to ward off bad spirits, grace the gods and disguise body odors, the bottles were a true symbol of luxury. In Greek and Roman times, scent bottle designs became increasingly more sophisticated, even imitating the shapes of birds, humans and other animals.
In 50 BC, glass blowing techniques were developed in Syria. This was a huge advancement in bottle construction. Expensive Roman scent bottles created from transparent glass adorned with colored glass decorations were widely acclaimed. Even though glass dominated as the material for perfume bottles, in the Middle Ages some metal and enamelware did appear in the perfume marketplace.
Then arrived the 18th century when the Chinese secret of manufacturing porcelain was revealed. A new fashion had been delivered; with little porcelain perfume bottles the rage all over Europe. The large variety of bottle production was due in part to the process of how perfume was sold. Until the end of the 19th Century, perfume was bought in plain containers and then transferred into these beautiful scent bottles at home. For these early times, there was a vast market of delicate bottles to match every personal taste.
Modern Day Bottles
Unfortunately, while these varieties of materials created beautiful works of bottle art, they did not function as a container of perfume as nicely as glass. Glass ultimately became the main perfume bottle material because of its ability to resist reacting with the fragrance oils and ensuring a tight stopper seal. In addition, modern perfumery eventually led to factory production where the fragrance was packaged on site. Perfume manufactures were well aware of the attachment customers had to a desirable bottle; therefore, the factory-produced perfume containers still had to be attractive enough to enchant a purchaser.
These factories hired some of the most talented craftsman of the time to design and create the ideal bottles to match their highly crafted scents. Even today, these original bottles demand the highest prices at auctions. Perfume manufacturers of the new millennium still appreciate the bottle as a vital factor in selling a perfume, so top bottle designers remain in high demand.
Collecting perfume bottles has fast become a big business. With collectors clubs all over the globe and an amble supply of specialist dealer and auctions, buying and selling perfume bottles is an easy game. Even the current perfume market recognizes this new demand by releasing "limited-edition" bottles of their perfume to target the collector audience.
In collecting, rarity tends to equate to the higher prices - even more important than the age of the bottle. Perfume boxes are also savored, especially when combined with the matching perfume bottle.
Collectors look for two general types of bottles:
- Non-commercial - bottles created during the time when the consumer would buy them empty and fill with their favorite scent.
- Commercial - bottles created specifically for a certain perfume and sold together.
There are also some standard types of bottles collected:
- Ancient Bottles - even as far back as the Egyptian tombs
- Glass - including clear and colored
- Novelties - such as miniatures, jewelry, pomanders and vinaigrettes
If you are interested in perfume bottles take a visit to International Perfume Bottle Association. The IPBA is the world's largest association for those interested in collecting and dealing in perfume bottles and related merchandise. A not-for-profit organization that is run entirely by volunteers, they offer a quarterly newsletter, events and an annual convention for their members. If you are serious about collecting bottles, this is a necessary stop.Another option is to savor the bottle with or without the fragrance. There are still a variety of producers of the fill-able fragrance bottles either as a functional art or home décor. Discover a nice assortment at the following websites:
You will also find great selections at local craft markets or hand blown glass studios.