Antique perfume bottles sweet smell of success

An antique perfume bottleThe second sale of the Paretti antique perfume bottle collection took place at Surrey auction house John Nichoson’s recently, with the total for the two-part sale achieving almost £50,000.

Bristol perfume bottles leads sale

The leading lot in the recent sale was a Bristol opaque white perfume bottle, which achieved over ten times its lower estimate, selling for £5,500. Just 4cm (1½in) high, it was made in c.1770, had fine gilding, a cap with gold and enamel, and came in a fitted shagreen case with silver mount. The estimate for the bottle was £500-750.

Derby perfume bottle leads first sale

The successful sale followed the first instalment in December, and together the two offerings have yielded more than £47,000 from the 80 or so lots sold.

The top lot in the earlier sale was the £3,400 paid for a 7cm (2¾in) long derby porcelain perfume bottle and stopper, decorated with a striped cat pursuing two turtledoves up a tree, the base with a seal of a prancing horse and angel. In a shaped leather case, it came undated but is similar to other bottles from Derby dating to the mid-18th century. The bottle’s estimate was £250-500.

Sale highlights

Other highlights from the two sales included an 18th-century gold perfume bottle with stopper, chain and ring. Decorated with scrolls, shells and lyre, the A Derby porcelain antique perfume bottlebase inset with a green hardstone, the ring with a turquoise, the bottle fetched £2800 against an estimate of £250-500.

Elsewhere, A Louis XVI period gold and enamel oval perfume bottle trebled its estimate to make £1,700, while an 18th-century Chelsea porcelain perfume bottle was hammered at £1,600.

Other top sellers were:

  • A 4½in (11.5cm) long, 18th-century South Staffordshire pear-shaped enamel perfume bottle, with topper and chain was also pitched at £250-500, but made £1500.
  • An 18th-century Indian gold filigree 22ct cased clear glass scent bottle. At 2¾in (7cm) long the estimate was £250-500, the hammer £1500.
  • Another example guided at £250-500 was a 3in (7.5cm) long, 18th-century rock crystal and gold scent bottle and stopper with chain that sold for £1200.
  • A c.1850 three-colour glass perfume bottle on a gold chain with enamel fastener.  Estimate £250-500, hammer £1200.
  • Thomas Webb & Sons, the 19th-century makers, are celebrated for their swan head Cameo perfume bottles, with examples in museums such as The Met. Here a conical cameo glass perfume bottle by Webb with a silver band and top, made in Birmingham in 1885, is decorated with a narcissus on yellow ground. At 4¾in (12cm) long, it was expected to fetch £250-500, but in the end made £850.

A significant number of the lots from both instalments feature in Edouard Launert’s 1999 book Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages.

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