How Do I Choose the Best Vintage Perfume Bottles?

Judith Smith Sullivan

Vintage perfume bottles are beautiful pieces of functional art. Categorized into perfume bottles or atomizers, many different types are available, made from a variety of materials. They are highly collectible, so the price range varies considerably, from under $100 US Dollars (USD) to thousands of dollars. The best vintage perfume bottles for you will appeal to your aesthetic preferences and be in good condition.

Vintage perfume bottles are often made of brightly colored glass.
Vintage perfume bottles are often made of brightly colored glass.

Hundreds of styles of vintage perfume bottles are available. Brightly colored glass, ornate lead crystal, gilded gold and silver filigree casings, and thousands of shapes provide a seemingly endless variety. When collecting any type of item, remember to purchase only pieces that appeal to you. Unless you collect for the thrill of having rare, expensive things, you will only be pleased with vintage perfume bottles that you find beautiful and appealing.

Atomizers transform liquid into a fine mist.
Atomizers transform liquid into a fine mist.

There are a few basic things you should know about vintage perfume bottles before you begin collecting. First, there are two basic types: the perfume bottle and the atomizer. A perfume bottle may or may not have a glass stick attached the the inside of the stopper or lid. An atomizer usually has a bulb which acts a pump to mist the perfume.

Perfume bottles are valuable regardless of whether any actual perfume remains in the bottle. Typically, perfume that is older than a decade has lost its freshness and simply smells of alcohol, so it has no practical value. Even so, some collectors prefer unopened bottles for the visual appeal of a bottle full of perfume.

The condition of the bottle, label, and stopper is critical to determining the worth of a piece. Only very rare bottles will be valuable if they have visible damage such as cracks and nicks. Typically, bottles are damaged at the brim where the stopper has been removed and replaced many times. This is considered normal wear and tear, but it still effects the value of the piece.

A bottle with an intact label is usually more valuable than one without. Labels are usually paper or gilded lettering. Naturally, the paper labels do not withstand the test of time, but the gilded labels are often made of silver or gold, increasing the worth of the bottle. Similarly, a bottle that is encased in the original box and wrapping is more valuable than one without.

Although bulbs and pipes for atomizers can be replaced, many collectors prefer the original parts. This means that the best vintage perfume bottles have the original pieces and are in excellent condition. When choosing vintage perfume bottles, inspect the stopper or lid thoroughly. A stopper that does not match precisely is often a replacement and not the bottle's original lid.

Vintage perfume bottles are available in antique stores an online, but it is best to shop for perfume bottles in person because you cannot inspect the item for damage thoroughly from only a picture or description. If you must shop online, be sure to have the bottle insured against damage when it is shipped and choose a seller with a good return policy.

Vintage perfume bottles are valuable regardless of whether any actual perfume remains in the bottle.
Vintage perfume bottles are valuable regardless of whether any actual perfume remains in the bottle.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I collect glass bottles, and have found several vintage perfume bottles that are in beautiful condition. If you are thinking about looking for these types of bottles, make sure that you always check the atomizer mechanisms to make sure they work before you make a purchase. These mechanisms are often broken and are difficult to fix or replace.

Another tip is to look for antique perfume bottles that are made of colored glass. Though more difficult to find, they are often worth more money than plain, clear glass bottles.


Some other good places to look for vintage perfume bottles are flea markets, yard sales, and swamp meets. People often gather these bottles from estate sales to resale them in these types of markets. You may have to look through items at several sales to find good buys on vintage perfume bottles, but you will likely be surprised by the treasures you find.

Post your comments
Forgot password?