After many years in the antique business, it took a friend to turn me from a seller of perfume bottles into an avid collector.
About four years ago, my freind asked me to sell her perfume collection for her. She had worked at the perfume counter of Fredrick & Nelson during the '30s and early '40s and had kept may wonderful commercial perfume bottles. The more I handled them and cleaned them, the more I fell in love with their style and charm. After I had (regrettably) sold about a third of the collection, I told her I wanted to buy the rest- and that's what started me off on the road to collecting commercial perfumes.
About that time Jacqueline North came out with her book on perfumes, Commercial Perfume Bottles. Shortly afterward she came out with her second book, which dealt with commercial perfumes only. There was no holding me back from then on.
Some people only collect the Lalique and Baccarat signed perfume bottles. Others collect perfumes from certain well known companies, such as Lucien LeLong, Coty, Caron, Guerlain, Ciro, D'Orsay, Hudnut, the ever popular Schiaparelli, and the best known commercial, the cobalt blue Bourjois's Evening in Paris. I can't resist any of them.
I am entranced by the design and the elegant packaging of both oldand new perfumes and collect all sizes, from miniature to large Factices (the store display bottles).
The very best commercial bottles to collect are thos which are still unopened, with perfect labels and intact boxes. The sweet little miniatures are currently very popular; these were generally a giveaway product but now have gained so much in collectability that they are now being manufactured for sale.
The large Factice or dummy bottles are made for store display only, and contain a colored alcohol mixture. They are an exact blown up size of the perfume bottle and a few in a collection makes a big statement.
It's also fun to collect other items to complement your perfume display- powder boxes, talc cans, powder compacts, advertising items, and the small solid perfume containers that were generally available for Christmas sales. Nowadays there is also a very limited amount of costume jewelry, usually issued to the sales representative.
Commercial perfume bottles are readily available and make a lovely display on a dresser or bathroom counter. Once you start, you may find it as hard to stop as I do. -Ida Campbell
Ida Campbell is a local antiques dealer- her space 104 in Star Center Mall often has a number of perfumes for sale.
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