Set your alarms right now, because on Friday April 28, starting at 4pm Eastern Time in America, the 35th annual Perfume Bottles Auction will conduct its live online auction – with bidders around the world logging in to try their luck at owning some of the world’s most exceptional perfume bottles.
Here, we take a sneak peek at the fabulous catalogue ahead of the sale, to show you some of our favourites, and we’ll be catching up with how the sale went in the next issue of The Scented Letter magazine, so stay tuned…
Since 1979, organiser and founder of The Perfume Bottles Auction, Ken Leach, has been working ‘to create public and corporate awareness of the artistry to be found in vintage perfume presentation.’ His antique shop’s show-stopping merchandise ‘has served as a source of inspiration for glass companies, package designers, and celebrity perfumers, before ultimately entering the collections of perfume bottle enthusiasts around the globe.’
With unparalleled access to private collections and never before seen pieces, the yearly auction garners huge excitement in the fragrance world. Some truly rare and exquisite items will doubtless only be in the reach of serious collectors, but other pieces can be obtainable prices – it all depends how many other people are lusting after the same bottle, of course!
Each year, we look forward to our friends at the Perfume Bottles Auction their catalogue with us (which is a feast for the eyes in itself, as well as encompassing a huge amount of important history behind the bottles and fragrances); and we swear each year’s collection is even better than the last!
So, what does the 2023 Perfume Bottles Auction stash have in store for us? Let’s take a look at just some of our personal highlights…
This ‘Extraordinary 1934 Parfums de Burmann Pleine Lune sur le Nil (Full Moon on the Nile) black crystal Egyptian Revival perfume bottle’, was presented ‘in conjunction with the launching of the newly established Burmann perfume company and shop on the Champs Elysees. However, both the perfume and the bottle proved to be too expensive to produce, and this ambitious project was not pursued.’ Estimated to achieve $30,000–$40,000, and being so rare; no wonder it’s the catalogue’s cover-star.
This dazzling piece is a 1946 Salvador Dali design, produced by Baccarat (no 798) for Elsa Schiaparelli Le Roy Soleil (The Sun King), and ‘The Duchess of Windsor having been one of the first to receive one, wrote to Schiaparelli: “It is really the most beautiful bottle ever made, and the Roy Soleil is a very lasting and sweet gentleman. I cannot tell you how I appreciate your giving me such a handsome present which has displaced the Duke’s photograph on the coiffeuse!” Schiaparelli wrote in her autobiography that it was “…too expensive and too sophisticated for the general public, but…not destined to die.”‘ (Estimate $10,000–$12,000)
We’ve seen photos of this extraordinary bottle circulating online previously, those versions often in less than pristine condition, while this piece is immaculate and has so much for information to go with it. It’s a ‘1925 De Marcy L’Orange trompe l’oeil presentation, simulates a halved orange, glazed ceramic bowl holding eight orange segments in a metal frame, blown glass perfume bottles in perfect condition.’ Which of the fragrances would you have loved to smell first? Each segment held one Chypre, Ambre, Rose, Héliotrope, Jasmin, Muguet, Mimosa and Violette. (Personally, we’d have been at the Chypre and Ambre.) Estimate $800–$1,000, it’s sure to prove a-peeling [sorry!]
We’re loving the side-eye this cheeky minx is serving in the ‘1925 Favoly’s La Poupee Parisienne presentation for Chypre hand painted blown glass perfume bottle, metallic thread bow.’ Estimated $200–$400, she could be coming home to party with your perfume collection if you’re lucky. (And obvs she was a Chypre gal – with that expression, what else?)
This French ‘1920s Hetra for Elesbe Le Papillon Embaume butterfly‘ bottle was made for a presentation of Oeillet (Carnation) scent. Completely darling, and we don’t know if we’d rather display it or run around giddily playing with while whooping with joy [don’t worry Perfume Bottles Auction pals, we wouldn’t really play with it. Much.] Estimated $600–$800, enthusiasts should get their nets at the ready.
The work on this ‘Sea Weeds’ model bottle is quite breathtaking, and it’s a ‘1925 Andre Jollivet design, produced by La Verrerie de la Nesle Normandeuse for Volnay Yapana clear glass perfume bottle, deeply molded front and reverse, blue patina, inner stopper, silvered metal cap, embossed label on side. Some of the bottles truly are art pieces in their own right, and this one certainly belongs in that category. $2,000–$4,000
Well now, this is irresistible, isn’t it? A ‘1944 Elizabeth Arden music box presentation for On dit (They say) clear/ frost glass bottle and cover, with inner stopper, sealed with perfume, as two ladies, their heads touching, one whispering a secret to the other…’ And what is the gossip, we wonder?! With panels of the box showing various high society social scenes, where no doubt the cause of the chin-wagging occurred, this is a delightful, whimsical piece we could stare at for hours.
There are SO many more we love, but to show them all would be to basically reproduce the entire catalogue, so why not go and have a browse (and gasp) for yourself? If something particularly takes your fancy, you can register for the 2023 Perfume Bottles Auction online: the instructions for bidding are all there, and if you have questions you can ask those via their website, too. Now then, which one(s) would you most like to own…?
[Our feature image for this article is the ‘1924 Julien Viard design, manufactured by Depinoix Glassworks for Bonwit Teller & Co, Paris Venez avec Moi (Come with Me). Estimated $4,000–$6,000. Utterly beguiling, non?]
Written by Suzy Nightingale