Are you a collector of antique & vintage perfumes or want to get started? Are you a seller who wants to list vintage perfumes but don't know where to start?
I have been collecting vintage perfumes for many years and have also sold them on ebay for several years. I will discuss several things people look for when buying vintage perfumes and things a seller should add to their item descriptions.
If you are a seller, please read the following tips:
Please bear in mind that your buyer is interested in how old the perfume is. If it dates to the 1920s, 1960s or even the 1990s, please make mention of it in your description. Many perfume bottles have been redeveloped throughout the years and knowing which year your bottle dates from may help in someone's quest for a particular bottle.If it is Victorian, please be sure it is an antique and not a reproduction, or those newly made light weight, thin glass perfume bottles from Egypt. If you have no idea on the age of your bottle, you can ask me thru my appraisal service or look thru any of my guides on vintage perfumes (most are listed by the perfume company's name).Or you can go directly to my guide on Dating Vintage Commercial Perfume Bottles here
Victorian era perfume with Mary Gregory type enamel.
- Who was the manufacturer? For instance, if Coty manufactured your perfume Emeraude, then make mention of it. Or if Guerlain made your bottle of Shalimar tell your buyer. Sometimes, perfumes can have the same names, but different makers. Your buyer may be looking up that particular maker in a search.Some collectors only want to buy certain perfume bottles from particular perfume houses.
- Is your perfume bottle an atomizer? An atomizer is a perfume that has the squeeze ball! If your perfume has one, be sure to mention if your perfume is an atomizer, because some people are looking for these. Look at the base of your atomizer for any manufacturer's signatures or labels. Some atomizer manufacturers are highly collectible like Devilbiss,Volupte, Aristo, Irice, Apollo, Marcel Franck. Be sure to mention if your piece is acid-stamped, specially if it says Czecho-Slovakia, Baccarat, Lalique or France.
c1910-1920 French cameo glass atomizer base
Czechoslovakian atomizer circa 1920s
- The overall condition, is there any chips, scratches, fleabites, stains, or cracks? Chips along the mouth of the bottle or on the base of the stopper? If your bottle has been gilded, is there any wear to the gilding? Is dauber end snapped off the stopper? If your stopper is frozen in place, be sure to mention that when listing. Some buyers prefer if you do not disturb it, plus it will help when it comes time to ship the bottle.
- The size of the bottle, please make mention how tall the bottle is and the width. Some bottles may look big/small on the computer, but a buyer may be disappointed in how big/small it may be in person. Mention if the bottle is a mini perfume or if it is a large factice (display bottle)
- The condition of the label is important as this adds or decreases the value of your bottle. For instance, is there any wear, fading, smudges, chipping? Is it a gold or silver foil label? Is it a metal label? Is the label missing or on the base? Is there enameled lettering on the bottle instead of a label? Does this have wear?
- When taking pictures of commercial or colored glass perfume bottles, it is best to have a plain white background, this will show the true color of the glass, the juice, and any other important aspects. If you have a plain, clear glass bottle, shoot it with a black background and convert the photo to grayscale or black and white. It will show all the details in the glass beautifully!
- Stoppers and caps. If you have a ground glass stopper, make sure the stopper and the base go together. On fine French crystal bottles, numbers will be incised onto the base and the bottom of the stopper, this was done at the factory to show that the stopper was specifically ground to fit the base. The numbers should match! If your glass stopper has a plastic base, be sure to mention this in your listing as this helps to determine the age of the bottle. If your stopper isnt glass, mention if your cap is metal, plastic, Bakelite, celluloid, cork, etc. If your stopper is stuck, be sure to mention this in the listing. Don't attempt to use force to remove it, as you can snap the stopper right in half or crack the bottle.
- The contents, or what we call the "juice". Many people wish to own bottles that still contain their original scents and haven t been opened. Perfumes generally sell higher if they are sealed. If you perfume is sealed, but looks like it has some missing, its most likely due to evaporation. Even if there is just a little amount, please let your buyers know. I usually give a percentage, like there is 20% of perfume left in the bottle. If your bottle is 7-10 years old or older, please tell your buyers, as the perfume will no longer be fresh in most cases. Is there perfume residue inside? Most bottles look beautiful with their juice inside, and I feel it completes the presentation.
Shalimar by Guerlain, a good example of " juice".
- Is the original box present? If so, what condition is it in? Boxes are a definite help in selling vintage perfumes. Collectors like to display them together, be sure to include it in your pictures.
Bolero by Coty,circa 1930s with original box.
L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain,c1912, with original box.
- Was the perfume bottle manufactured by a famous company like Lalique, Baccarat, Julian Viard, St. Louis, Val St. Lambert, Steuben, Tiffany, Daum Nancy, Galle, or DeVilbiss, or Czecho-Slovakia? Collectors are looking for these. Some commercial perfume bottles were manufactured by Lalique, Baccarat and Cristal Romesnil, so be sure to look for their marks on the bottom of your bottle.If your bottle is marked on the bottom, include a picture of it for your buyers.
- To look for Czech markings that may no longer be legible, take the base of the perfume bottle and rub it briskly against a piece of solf cotton like an old towel or denim, for several seconds, then immediately breathe hot air upon it, a mark such as Czecho-Slovakia may show up for a few seconds. If it didnt work the first time, try it again.
Rare Czechoslovakian crystal bottle circa 1920s.
Czechoslovakian crystal bottle circa 1920s.
- Is this perfume bottle shown in any books you may have on perfume? If so, quote the book, author, page its on, and the book value. Remember, book values are only a guide, but many collectors would like to know if the bottle has any value, or they can look it up in their own books.
- Packing and shipping perfume bottles is easy, be sure to wrap the stopper separate from the bottle to avoid breakage. I use styrofoam packing peanuts and small bubble-wrap to pack bottles. If the perfume bottle has juice in it, I usually put the stopper in place and then melt some beeswax around the edges of the stopper and mouth of the bottle (while it is in place) so that it will stay in place the juice will not escape during shipment. Just be careful you do not get any excess wax on the rest of the bottle or on the label! You can do this trick if your stopper is frozen too, just in case.Your buyer can scrape away any beeswax and wipe away any residue off with a soft cloth. I would email the buyer before shipment to see if they want the bottle sealed with the wax. Some might want just tape over the stopper. Do not get any tape on the label or gilding. I usually get a piece of paper big enough to cover the label, then put a piece of tape over that paper so that it does not touch the label. Please do not use newspaper as it is not a good cushion for the glass. I have recieved some broken bottles in the mail because the seller used newspaper. Some buyers want their perfumes double boxed. Always insure the package and get delivery confirmation. If the bottle is over $150 you might want to get signature confirmation. You never know what will happen when the box leaves your hands at the post office--because YOU are responsible for getting the item in as described condition to the buyer, not the post office--so get insurance, its cheap enough for some piece of mind.
If you are a buyer or new collector of vintage perfume bottles, please read the following tips:
- Be sure to pick up some of the great books devoted to vintage perfumes. My favorites are Commercial Perfume Bottles by Jacquelyne Jones-North. The Monsen & BaerPerfume Bottle Auction Catalogs, and others. You can find many of them on ebay.
- Decide on what types of perfume bottles you would want in your collection. Would you like to collect atomizers, how about a collection of only DeVilbiss examples, or you can add the fabulous Czech atomizers, or other fine examples by Volupte, Apollo, Irice, Marcel Franck, Pyramid and Aristo. I wrote up a guide on DeVilbiss atomizers
- Do you like the pretty Czech crystal perfumes? In my opinion the most elegant pieces have jewels and filigree accents that look stunning when grouped together on a vanity or in a curio cabinet. There are many types of Czech perfume bottles such as mini purse flacons, jeweled and filigree examples, cut crystal with large intaglio stoppers, tiara style bottles, Irice minis with jeweled dangles as well as atomizers. Start your search for Czech perfumes
- Are you interested in collection commercial perfumes? Do you prefer a certain perfume house such as Guerlain or Coty? Do you wish to collect the bottles with the fanciest labels? Do you like the Art Nouveau labels the best?
- Want to collect Lalique, Baccarat perfumes or other art glass pieces? Some of the finest perfume bottles were manufactured from 1900-1930s.Satin glass perfumes have a certain ethereal quality about them. Cameo glass pieces are scarce and highly collectible as are the iridescent pieces by Loetz, Steuben and Tiffany. Look above to read about other manufacturer's of art glass perfumes.
- If you are looking to collect perfume bottles but don't have much space to store them or display them, then perhaps you should collect the miniatures! They don't take up too much space and they are easily displayed on shelves, in curio cabinets, and other places. There are so many different brands of perfumes, that you could have hundreds of minis to choose from for your collection. It is also nice to collect the different sizes of bottles and include the mini as well!
- Condition. Try to buy bottles in the best of condition. Bottles in the best shape retain their value.If you find a rare bottle, such a Lalique one, a minor chip or nick shouldn't be too devaluing. Are the labels present? Is their gilding on the bottle? Is it worn? Sometimes crystal perfumes have little fleabites and nicks along the mouth of the bottle, this was most likely caused from the stoppers being taken out and put back in over time, and is usual wear. Some collectors prefer to buy sealed bottles full of juice. I find that it completes the presentation, shows off the bottles nicely, and looks gorgeous.
- Make sure the stopper and the base go together. Every now and then, I see a base paired with a stopper for a different perfume. Another good tip is if the base of the perfume bottle has a incised number, chances are your stopper should have this same number, if it does, you know your stopper was specifically ground to fit your base at the factory. This was a frequent occurence with older French bottles.
- Does the perfume have its original box? Boxes add to the perfume bottles value.
- Contents. If you are searching for that long lost or discontinued perfume of your memory such as Styx by Coty. Please remember that perfumes over 7-10 years start to lose their freshness and may start to smell like alcohol. The older the perfume, the less it may smell like what you may remember. I have had some buyers purchase vintage perfume and say that it stinks, I politely mention that the perfume is blah blah blah years old and is no longer fresh. I make a point of putting this in my description. If you are looking to buy fresh smelling perfume, don't buy vintage or antique!
- Try to buy perfume bottles that you enjoy looking at or you find beautiful. These will give you the most pleasure as they would no doubt be in your display cases, vanity, or wherever you choose to display them. I wouldn't advise in following trends. If you like Lalique perfume bottles, by all means, collect them, they are gorgeous! They can be expensive though, so if you have a budget, you may want to buy some less expensive ones.Lalique perfume bottles
- If you are unsure about the age of a perfume bottle, always ask the seller. Always ask your seller any questions you may have about the perfume bottle. You should also do some research on your own in case you have any doubts. Or, you can ask me through my appraisal service or check thru any of my guides on vintage perfumes.
- Always inspect the pictures carefully as in most cases, they tell the true condition of the bottle. If you need a better picture, ask your seller, they will most likely send you one.If you are unsure about condition based on a poor or blurry photo, always ask about condition before bidding!
- By all means, purchase insurance if you buy a perfume on ebay. Just in case the bottle get damaged or lost in the mail, you can at least file a claim with the post office. The perfume bottle is your investment so protect it! Be sure to contact your seller right away if anything should happen to your perfume bottle. Insurance costs are cheap enough, I always get insurance on everything I buy on ebay. If you have special instructions on shipping your perfume, as a courtesy please email the seller first to make sure they will do this for you, so there are no surprises at the end of the auction.
- When all is said and done have fun bidding!
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. Please see my site at www .freewebs. com/cleopatrasboudoir
Check out the 200+ guides & reviews I have written on perfumes on ebay.
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I have been informed that a so-called "expert author" by the name of Eddy Lam has been stealing my original content of this guide for usage in his own EZARTICLE. This is something that really upsets me and I have notified both ebay and the webmaster on the EZARTICLE website about this problem. If you would like to use my info, please ask permission or credit me! Update: I have contacted the webmaster of the website and the article has been promptly removed. I have noticed that this Eddy Lam person has stolen other eBay guide info. Please check your own guides and see if this "author" has stolen your info too!
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