IPBA offering help on perfume bottle identification, valuation

In an effort to help out the many people who contact them with questions about perfume bottles

Pendant bottle

Art Nouveau pendant is a scent bottle. c1900. (Photo courtesy of Ken Leach)

and vanity items, the International Perfume Bottle Association (IPBA) has implemented a new enhancement to its website called “What is it? What is it worth?” “This is a free service to anyone, even non-members of the IPBA,” says Susan Arthur, Immediate Past President and current Webmaster for the IPBA website [www.perfumebottles.org].

“Over the years the most common inquiries we’ve received are people wanting to know what they have and its value. One of our goals as an association is to not only encourage collecting but to help educate the public, and this new website feature is bringing us one step closer to this goal. The IPBA website already has a Virtual Museum. It has a huge variety of perfume bottles and vanity items at your finger tips. You can research all day long on it without even leaving your chair.”

Since IPBA’s membership includes many experts in the field of perfume bottles and vanity items, Susan states “it was a natural step to use our resources to address questions regarding inherited collections of perfume bottles and the need to sell, or times when individuals have found something they aren’t sure what it is.”

The “What is it?” feature puts visitors in contact with Perfume Bottle Historian Helen Farnsworth. Helen says, “I have answered questions about archeological dig discoveries of perfume, a plane crash discovery of perfume, a bottle found in the wall of a ghost town out west and one found off the coast of a Caribbean island near the brothels there, and a bottle found down a well that was used to date the site (by that the well couldn’t be earlier than the bottle).”

Most recently Helen has helped a “gentleman who had found a bottle as a child in a ‘farmers dump’ to quote him. It turned out to be a Baccarat bottle from 1917 and was quite rare and valuable.” Most of the questions she answers are about something left to someone by a family member or found while antiquing. Helen does not give values on anything, but she has an incredible amount of knowledge and she shares it freely. The “What is it worth?” feature puts visitors in contact with a group of appraisers, each with a different perfume bottle and vanity specialty such as Victorian or Commercial.


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Perfume bottles are one of the most popular chapters of Antique Trader Bottles, 7th Ed. This perennial favorite of bottle collectors of all interests is a good addition to your personal library, and a reference you can turn to with confidence. The perfume bottle section of this top-selling price guide feature a nice variety of pieces commonly seen at auctions and shows. The following examples are featured:Antique Trader Bottles, 7th Ed.

  • Pair of seahorse scent bottles, American made, 1820-1840, Cobalt blue color, tooled top, is valued at $350-$400.
  • Czechoslovakian clear perfume bottle, with pale blue nude figure dauber, with blue jewels, circa 1920s, realized $6,200.
  • Elsa Schiaparelli Shocking set of three torsos in jack-in-box with flowers perfume bottles, circa 1936, commanded $920.

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“The cost for appraisals at this point is between the appraiser and the person wanting the appraisal. What the site offers is the connection to the most qualified and certified group of appraisers for perfume bottles and vanity items you will be able to find just about anywhere,” Susan states.

Also within the “What is it worth?” section is a group of dealers who specialize in selling perfume bottles and vanity, for those who may be looking to sell. This gives people an opportunity to connect with dealers looking for new stock for their businesses.

“What is it? What is it worth? is easy to use. It is on our home page in the lower left-hand corner in green. Just click on it and it brings you to a list of three choices – Perfume Bottle Historian, Appraisers and Dealers. Click on the one you want and send an email. Pictures do help out the process,” Susan states.

For more information on “What is it? What is it worth?” or perfume bottle collecting visit the IPBA website at www.perfumebottles.org.

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