In this guide I will introduce you to the world of Venetian foiled glass scent bottles. These beautiful works of art were produced in Venice and were manufactured for the tourist market during the mid 19th century.
Franchini scent bottle
The foiled glass was flecked throughout with glittering metallic particles and is known as aventurine glass. This glass was named for the type of quartz that is similar in appearance to this type of glass. The Murano glassmakers say that the term aventurine is derived for the Italian word for chance and according to legend, the process was discovered by accident.
Venetian glass with portrait canes
The bottles were made by pressing globs of glass mixed with foil onto the bottles. Millefiori canes with tiny portraits in them decorate some of the most rare of all examples. Another interesting technique is the usage of goldstone threading to create patterns or stripes in the glass. This was sparkling goldstone effect was achieved by adding minute particles of copper into the colored molten glass threads then inlaid onto the hot surface of the bottle.
Venetian glass scent bottle with jeweled cap.
The scent bottles typically have ornate gilded brass flip top caps crowned with a glass or semi precious faceted jewel, the caps are usually suspended from chains attached to a ring to hang on a chatelaine or finger. A tiny cut glass stopper should be inside, under the cap, however these aren’t always intact.
Venetian glass scent bottle with filigree cap.
Your bottle may be black (amethyst) glass or a very deep cranberry shade inside. If your cap is loosened from the bottle, hold up the small neck of the bottle to a strong light and you can see the color of the bottle. Caps can be easily re-affixed with dental plaster.
Venetian glass with portrait canes
At times, some bottles will show damage in the form of cracks or chipped areas. If your bottle is the rare style with portrait canes, damage may be acceptable to some collectors. Though be sure to note any damage in your listing.
Venetian glass scent bottle
Most of the bottles date around the 1860s during the height of the Grand Tours. Some souvenir bottles can be found with “Venice” written on the side in glass. The two most well known makers of these bottles were the highly talented Italian glass artists, Giovanni Battista Franchini and Antonio Salviati.
Venetian foiled glass scent bottles usually sell anywhere from $150-$350 range, and as high as $750 and higher for portrait examples.
Venetian glass bottle with jeweled cap
Later, the English & Americans began imitating the popular Venetian foiled glass, by blowing glass bottles and rolling them into gold, silver or mica flakes to achieve a spangled effect. The bottles were finished by then casing the bottles with clear glass to protect the sparkling treatment. The English & American made bottles are easily identified as almost every one has a silver or silver gilt cap, so check for hallmarks. These later bottles came about around 1880s and lasted until around 1900 or so.
To see some exquisite examples of antique Venetian foiled glass scent bottles, check out these books:
Millers Perfume Bottles by Madeleine Marsh.
Perfume, Cologne & Scent Bottles by Jacquelyne Jones North
Perfume & Scent Bottle Collecting by Jean Sloan
Some pictures in this guide are provided by the following eBay sellers:
Other pictures are provided from the following web sites:
Passion For Perfume
Pitt River Museum
Murano Antique Glass
Please take a moment to view their current auctions and sites.
Feel free to email me for details or any questions. I also have a perfume identification and appraisal service here on ebay, click on my Me page for info. Check out the 200+ guides & reviews I have written on perfumes on ebay
Note: I sometimes see dealers calling these scent bottles “Vasa Murrhina”. According to Kovels; “Vasa Murrhina is the name of a glassware made by the Vasa Murrhina Art Glass Company of Sandwich, Massachusetts, about 1884. The glassware was transparent and was embedded with small pieces of colored glass and metallic flakes. The mica flakes were coated with silver, gold, copper, or nickel. Some of the pieces were cased. The same type of glass was made in England. Collectors often confuse Vasa Murrhina glass with aventurine, spatter, or spangle glass. There is uncertainty about what actually was made by the Vasa Murrhina factory. Related pieces may be listed under Spangle Glass.”
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