How to Identify & Value Antique Perfume Bottles (Guide 2022)

Did you know that vintage perfume bottles are among the most desired and precious items? Highly ornamented and luxurious, their unique scent bottles keep the collectors coming for more. So, if you have some old perfume bottles, you are in luck!

Today, we’ll sort the ‘antique perfume bottles’ from your collection and create a price guide to help you value them! So, jump into the guide, and know it all!

Key Takeaways

  • Old perfume bottles are precious and yield good returns, up to $15,000. Generally, transparent or limited-edition ambush bottles are the most valuable.
  • Old perfume bottles with paper labels and cork or viscose seals are high-valued. And branded, metal-capped bottles are equally precious!
  • Old perfume bottles are transparent, silver cased, and animal-shaped. And different batch codes and trademarks will help you age the bottle correctly.
  • Half-filled vials, smaller sprays, and metal bottles are cheaper. But even misplaced corks and torn labels can devalue your old perfume bottle. So, jump to the article and learn all the tricks to value a vintage perfume bottle correctly!

What Do Antique Perfume Bottles Look Like?

Different Antique Perfume Bottles on the Shelf

Most vintage cologne bottles are clear or tinted and have labels that help the user track them. They also have shiny metal embellishments that uplift the glam quotient and valuation.

But that’s not all! Here are some more features to identify better:

  • Transparent or lightly tinted green, red, and yellow glass surfaces
  • Gold-enameled, squeeze-bulb atomizers or corks
  • Comical animal, figurine, or ambush shapes 
  • 2 – 3 ounce bottles with tags, labels, and stamped letters
  • Bubbled surface finish and hand-cut crystal or glass molded edges
  • Shorter side seams and uneven lips

The History & Evolution

European artisans manufactured the first scent bottles during the Renaissance. But since people used these bottles to store the scent for future use, they were not that fancy and had rough edges. They were also elongated and had shorter lips with cork lids.

Art-nouveau styling surfaced in the 19th century. Thus manufacturers started creating smaller bottles for day-to-day use. They also stamped them with gold letters and crystals to make them more attractive. And these old perfume bottles fetch good returns!

However, America experienced a ‘new woman’ movement in the 20th Century. So, perfume bottles turned more feminine and pink. They were also thin and lightweight and added embossed seals and metal caps. And such bottles are even more precious today!

Types of Antique Cologne Bottles

Old perfume bottles have different shapes and scents that affect their value. But they also have three main types that alter their price broadly. So, let’s discuss those types and figure out their valuation!

1. Rococo Perfume Bottles

Rococo perfume bottles are porcelain or glass bottles with smaller openings and seams. They are more nature-themed and have animal or floral inscriptions along the edges. Generally, old bottles are white but newer ones can be transparent, tinted, or green.

Old Rococo perfume bottles also have golden or silver embellishments and crystal-cut sidings. So this makes them highly precious and increases their valuation to $100 – 200.

2. Gemel Bottles

Gemel bottles are curved European bottles with a fish shape and pineapple caps. They are small and have white or green sidings with an opaque finish. But older, 18th-century bottles might have two different necks, costing $100 – 150 each.

Gemel bottles are quite new but expensive due to their bold colors and unique shapes. So you can either buy them for $500 as a set or get a unique bottle at $60 – 100.

3. Art Nouveau Cologne Bottles

Art Nouveau bottles are short, conical bottles with hinged stoppers and caps. They are mostly silver, pink, or brown and might have flower-leaf patterns and webs at the sides. And since they don’t have any labels, you must check their base for logos before valuation.

Art Nouveau bottles also vary with the metal and type of overlay used. For example, crystal bottles are grooved, whereas silver ones are thin and pointed. So, each has a different valuation, between $30 – 150.

These Art Nouveau bottles are further classified as:

  • Silver Overlay: These are thick, silver-coated bottles with a short neck and round base. They have a rough valuation of $45 – 90.
  • Crystal Overlay: These are chamfered glass bottles with crystal motifs and caps, valuing $40 – 60.
  • Pewter or Chrome Overlay: These are bright-colored, onion-shaped bottles with a bottom casing and gold speckles, valuing $30 – 50.
  • Glass Overlay: These are brown ceramic bottles with designer glass and floral embellishments. But since they are mass-manufactured, they have a low valuation of $20 – 30.

How Do You Identify an Antique Perfume Bottle & Value It Correctly?

Old perfume bottles have distinct labels and shapes that help track their age and value. So, just get a notepad and pen, and we’ll tell you how to do that quickly.

1. Bottle Age

Aged Perfume Bottles

Scent bottle costs vary with age, but old 17th-century bottles are the most precious. And their valuation goes higher if they contain old sandalwood perfumes or colognes. Similarly, 18th-century floral or crystal bottles are valuable and fetch good returns.

In contrast, mass-produced bottles from the late 1960s and 70s are pretty common and don’t have a high demand. So, they have a lower valuation of $5 – 6.

Here’s a checklist to help you identify the bottle and track its age:

  • Bottles from the Early 1800s: These are clear or tinted bottles with a hexagonal base and stopper. They are silver-cased but might have etched batch numbers or trademarks at the bottom. So, their valuation is relatively high at $10,000 – 12,000.
  • Bottles from the Late 1850s: These thin, figurine-shaped bottles are small and portable. They do not have an atomizer but have a hinged cap that controls the spraying. And their unique shape makes them highly valued at $6000 – 9000.
  • Bottles from the Early 1900s: They are flask-shaped, cut, or blown bottles with short necks. Depending on the brand, they may have some floral or figurine patterns, but they cost $500 – 1000.
  • Bottles from the Late 1950s: These flat, 3 – 4 ounce bottles have a cubical shape and dark glass. They are not hand-blown but have simple embossed batch numbers that track their age. But, they have low demand and a valuation of $200 – 300.

Here are some common batch numbers for quick reference:

YearBottle AgeBatch NumberLocationManufacturerValuation
198141 yearsDI – 690FranceHermes Equipage$150 – 200
197052 yearsMF 1056 CE1ParisGuerlain$260 – 300
199725 yearsUS-xxxItalyGiorgio Armani$100 – 150

Analyze the surface colors and bottle capacities properly. Usually transparent, 5 – 6 ounce bottles are older and precious.

2. Bottle Shape

Old 18th-century scent bottles are vial or shell-shaped with needle-like tops. They have thin transparent or brown walls and a lattice finish to reduce evaporation. Or they can also be fish-shaped with a spray at eye level.

In contrast, bottles from the 1850s are ambush-shaped and might have figure decorations. They have a wider bottom and a tapering top with simple squeeze-bulb atomizers. So, they are easier to spray and might cost $100 – 150 at the auction.

19th-century glass bottles are machine-blown and new-classical. So, they are spherical and have a webbed finish for better shelf life. Or, they might have a conical shape with a narrow neck for easy pouring. Thus, they are more functional and value from $90 – 120.

Lastly, 20th-century perfume bottles are rectangular and have angled edges and pineapple caps. But, they are low-valued because of the abundant machine production and easy availability.

Shape of the Perfume BottleAverage Auction Cost
Vial – Shaped (Limited Edition)$200 – 250
Shell – Shaped $100 – 150
Fish – Shaped (Limited Edition)$100 – 120
Ambush or Conical$60 – 80
Spherical or Cylindrical$40 – 50
Rectangular (Machine – made)$5 – 15

Figurine or Seamed shapes state newer manufacturing of a lower valuation.

3. Bottle Color

Vintage cologne bottles from the 17th – 18th century are clear and transparent. They may have a slight brown or green tint, but they aren’t opaque and display the contents clearly. So, they have a high valuation from $40 – 50, depending on the level of the scent inside.

Similarly, deluxe colors like blue and teal cost more due to their low availability. In contrast, black, white, and brown bottles are more common and affordable. Lastly, modern bare metal or galvanized bottles are the least valued at $1-2.

Check the table below for more information on the use and value of different colors:

ColorPurposeAverage Value
Clear or TransparentDisplay the contents and quantity clearly.$40 – 50
Emerald Green or Peacock BlueAdd more class and an ‘Art-Deco’ feel$25 – 30
Black, White, or Beige Hide the contents and reduce evaporation$15 – 20
Pastel Green or PinkAdd a feminine charm during the ‘new woman’ movement$10 – 12
Cobalt Blue or TealReduce heat and increase the shelf-life$40 – 50
Bare Metal or SilverReduce purchasing costs and hide the contents$1 – 2

Never buy opaque, translucent, or frosted perfume bottles as they are new and low-valued.

4. Branding

Old Branded Perfume Bottles
Image: Foto made by Farina, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons

Branded or company-manufactured bottles from the late 1850s and 19th century fetch good returns. They are highly regarded and have an intricately-carved banjo or falcon-style design. And they might have gold or silver filaments that increase their value further.

Generally, these bottles are internationally manufactured and might feature regional culture, birds, and flowers. So, they are exclusive and pricey due to their limited availability.

Perfume bottles with a clear paper label and manufacturer’s logo cost $200 – 300, whereas embossed ones fetch up to $100 at the auction.

Here’s a list of some vintage perfume brands and their valuation for reference:

Perfume NameManufacturerYearShapeValuation
Cameo Perfume BottleGalle French1900Banjo or Inflated Cylinder$17,000 – 18,000
Cased Cameo Glass PerfumeThomas Webb1880Elongated fish with golden gills$15,000 – 16,000
Cameo Glass Dresser ScentThomas Webb1885Tear-shaped with Owl painting$10,000 – 10,500
Glass Citron CologneThomas Webb1880Bulb-shaped or Spherical$11,000 – 11,500
Crystal Butterfly CollectionR. Lalique1925Butterfly$9000 – 9500

Look out for international or European brands or signature colognes for better valuation and limited-edition shapes.

5. Rarity

Limited-edition or exclusive royal perfume bottles are valuable, despite their age and branding. These small bottles come in portable cases that save them from damage. And they are further classified as follows:

  • Rarely Available: These are bird or shell bottles with less than 500 bottles worldwide. They might have crystal corks or golden embellishments that raise their valuation.
  • Rare: These bottles have about 500 – 1000 pieces in circulation. They are new but might have shiny jewel-cut siding that increases their valuation.
  • Common: These are modern amber or brown bottles with metal caps and gold lettering. They are commonly available and have more than 2000 pieces in circulation. So, they have low demand and a lower valuation of $30 – 40.

Here’s a list of some rare cologne bottles for better appraisal:

Fougeres Perfume BottleRene Lalique1912$33,600Oval with a woman’s carving at the centerTeal and Yellow
Tresor Cache Perfume BottleBaccarat1926$54,000DiamondBlack and Purple
Bacarrat OsirisVinolia1914$102,000Heart-shapedTransparent
Cameo Perfume BottleGalle French1900$17,500CuboidalFrosted Black

Look out for silver and metal embellishments, animal or floral designs and chiseled crystal caps to identify rare, limited-edition bottles.

6. Labels

Old perfume bottles with paper labels are more precious than embossed ones. These labels have logos and warnings that help track the age and manufacturer. So, bottles with a clear patent or trademark are more valuable.

Here’s a list of some sample warnings and their production years for reference:

Label Matter or WarningYear of Manufacture
‘ Sample, Not to be sold’ ‘Dummy, not for sale’1950
‘ Returning this bottle to the perfumer is national duty’1940 – 45 (World War 2)
‘ Created, Compounded or Assembled’1940
Zip code or Production label1960 and beyond

Old bottles with the initials TDSP etched on them are more valuable and internationally manufactured. But embossed or stamped lettering may indicate newer 20th Century bottles.

7. Bottle Condition

Old Perfume bottle
Image: Émile Gallé, CC BY-SA 4.0

Old perfume bottles with leftover perfume stains, oiled corks, and bubbles are precious. But those with torn labels, missing corks, and chipped surfaces have a lower valuation. Similarly, bottles with fading citrus or vinegar are relatively cheaper.

Here’s a table to understand some common cost deductions:

DeformityOriginal ValueExpected Cost Deduction
Misplaced corks and stoppers$20 – 3020 – 25%
Torn or Yellowed labels $10 – 1510 – 12%
Stuck dust or debris$10 – 12 (if clean)5 – 6%
Faded cologne smell$50 – 60 (for strong sandalwood smells)5 – 6%
Chips or cracked edges and seams$100 – 12015 – 20%

Do not rinse the perfume bottles with soap as you might scrub off all the scents and devalue them.

8. Spray Size

Perfume bottles with larger sprays and bulbous atomizers are old and high-valued. In contrast, newer perfumes with vial sprays and smaller atomizers are affordable. And refillable or cap-free atomizers are more modern and not valued much.

Onion-skin, Viscose, or thin celluloid atomizers are old, precious, and might fetch a valuation of $100 – 120.

9. Perfume Quantity

Full or half-filled bottles with strong scents are precious. But empty, leaky, or adulterated colognes are cheaper and might fetch only $3 – 4 at the auction.

Similarly, citrus or floral smells are cheaper. But, wooden aromas like Sandalwood or Guiac wood scents are valuable.

Never buy vintage perfume vials as they have low demand and won’t fetch returns at any auction.

Tips to Identify & Value Old Perfume Bottles

  • Pick smaller, 2 – 5 inch old perfume bottles for better valuation and high pricing.
  • Look out for crystal, glass, or wood corks to increase the valuation by 3 – 4%. Plastic, Bakelite, or Metal caps are newer and won’t affect the appraisal.
  • Check the bottle’s base and look for some warnings or trademarks to track the bottle easily.
  • Choose free-blown or hand-molded scent bottles with a pontil mark for a better valuation. Machine-made bottles with transparent surfaces have a low valuation.
  • Pick international or European brands for high returns. Local American bottles will have a narrower lip and a smaller atomizer.
  • Store the bottle in a cool, shady place to maintain its smell and increase the shelf-life.
  • Never place a rare perfume bottle in moist places, bathrooms, and shelves, as it might catch fungus and lose its value.

Are Old Perfume Bottles Valuable?

Yes, old perfume bottles are valuable and fetch about $100 – 1,000, depending on their age, color, shape and brand. Generally, international, transparent, or blue bottles are valuable. But even hand-molded, filled, or sandalwood scent bottles yield good returns.

Do People Buy Old Perfume Bottles?

Yes, people buy old perfume bottles for their own collection, use or for the unique scents and side paintings that they possess. Or, they even resale them at a higher value to museums or antique shops. Old medicine bottles are equally precious too!

Where Can I Sell My Rare Perfume Bottles?

You can sell rare scent bottles on e-commerce websites like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, or your own website. Or, you can visit local antique stores or auction houses and put your item for a bid.

Antique perfume bottles are a great collectible for your wardrobe. And you can even receive a fortune on it if you learn to value and age it correctly. So, you must know all the vintage colors, brands, shapes, and labels for better understanding and valuation.

Now, we know that opaque black or metal-capped perfume bottles are much cheaper and common. But do black liquor bottles have a lower valuation too? Jump to our guide on ‘ How to identify & value antique liquor bottles’ to know it all!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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