Antique perfume bottle auction breaks $500K in sales

BLOOMINGDALE, Ill. – The International Perfume Bottle Association’s annual auction once again surpassed all previous year’s results by grossing an astounding $522,120 on an 83 percent sell through rate. The April 29, 2011 auction featured more than 250 items in addition to powder boxes and novelty items. Prices for some lots were as low as $120, demonstrating a wide range of price points appealing to many potential bidders.

Gallery bidding was brisk as more than 300 people in the sale room battled against phone and Internet bidders from 21 countries. Celebrity auctioneer Nicholas Dawes, famed Antiques Roadshow Appraiser and Lalique expert, charmed and entertained the room yet kept the bidding lively and at an even pace.

The April 29 event featured a broad range of items and price points within the perfume and vanity categories and an early lot reflected continued interest in pre-20th century scent containers.  This lot consisted of an 1850’s Froment-Meurice bottle of clear crystal embellished with silver grapevine enameled leaves, ruby and amethyst grapes and puti and birds. Froment-Meurice was a jeweler to Napoleon III. This bottle brought $30,000 against a pre-auction estimate of $15,000-20,000.  In addition, a beautiful Baccarat scent bottle, circa 1860, featuring a frosted crystal bottle in an Egyptian motif with an 18 karat gold hinged stopper depicting Isis, Goddess of Nature, brought $21,600. All prices include a  20 percent buyer’s premium.

Commercial perfumes by various noted designers accounted for half of the evening’s offerings. Examples include a 1930 Jean Desprez Escharmouche bottle in the form of a dagger. The blade bottle is clear glass and the stopper handle is made of Sevres porcelain with gilt and color detail. This bottle was in its original packaging and had never been opened. It realized $9,600 against a pre-auction estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. The most expensive lot of the auction featured a 1955 Lancome presentation for Magie and Tresor. The fragrances are in arrow shaped bottles of frosted glass and were presented in a cardboard quiver with ribbon handle. This is exceptionally rare and was originally a gift souvenir at a French charity ball. This lot brought $37,200.

There was renewed interest in early Rene Lalique bottles. A Maison Lalique bottle from 1911, “Oreilles Lizards”, brought $22,800 and a 1923 Lalique bottle for D’Heraud, La Phalene, realized $36,000. The latter bottle, shaped as a butterfly with extended wings, has clear frosted glass with black patina. The surface is molded with the extended butterfly wings and with the body of a woman. The stopper is floral and this entire presentation is one of Lalique’s best artistic efforts involving commercial perfumes. This lot also included the rare original packaging featuring faux Japanese lacquer paper replicating butterfly wings.
Czech collectors had the opportunity to bid on a colorful range of recognized designs hand picked. All Czechoslovakian glass bottles were vetted by director Ken Leach who will not accept a bottle without having information from the owner of who it was purchased from and where it has been for at least twenty years. This is done to avoid the admission of reproduction bottles and parts that have entered the markets in recent years.

One outstanding Czech bottle was a 1925 jeweled Hoffman bottle with a nude dauber, made of black crystal with gilt silver mounts and adorned with marcosites and jade crystal. This bottle brought $9,000. Another Hoffman in opaque orange and red with a bird stopper also realized $9,000.

Auction director, Ken Leach has already accepted some remarkable items for next year’s auction to be held in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 4, and is eager to consult with anyone interested in consigning perfume and vanity related pieces.  Ken can be reached via email or 800-942-0550.

The International Perfume Bottle Association is a not-for-profit organization and the largest worldwide association of individuals collecting and dealing in perfume bottles.

Next year’s convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront, Jacksonville, Florida, May 3-6, 2012.   For membership information or more information about the convention, visit or call 732-492-2003.    

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