Perfume bottles

During the late Eighteenth Century and throughout the Nineteenth Century perfume or scent bottles became an established and fashionable accessory or even necessity of the well-dressed person of the day. Filled with sweet smelling salts or perfumes, these attractive bottles made in semi-precious stones, glass, porcelain and gold, were used as an aid to detract the nose from the odorous city streets and the ‘great unwashed’ of the times!

Some of the earlier artistic containers included Rococo designs usually including flowers, leaves, shells and scrolls and were synonymous with Marie Antionette. They were usually made of milk glass and painted with enamels.

As popularity surged in the Nineteenth Century, perfume bottles became more varied. They could be made from cut glass, silver overlay on glass, porcelain or crystal and opaline. Larger bottles were placed on dressing tables containing Eau de Toillette or Eau de Cologne, and smaller ‘throwaways’ (though hardly something anyone would actually want to throw away) that would be carried as a luxury accessory for use throughout the day.

Frequent decorative themes included love, music, dance, comedy, flowers, birds and animals.

The most beautiful scent bottles were decorated in enamel with intricate coloured designs in and around the oval shapes. The decoration also often included the application of tiny beads or half beads. The bottles generally were decorated in full on the tops and bottoms as they lay flat, with a simpler decoration on the two sides.

Rarer examples were spiral twist bottles which would have been even more expensive to produce, and the decoration was of equally high quality.

The Storp family of Germany owns one of the world’s most extensive and important perfume bottle collection, entailing more than 3,000 pieces spanning six thousand years of history.