Ancient Egyptians first used perfumes as part of their religious rituals. They practiced the burning of incense and the application of perfumed balms and ointments for cosmetic or medicinal purposes. The first glass ever made circa 1400 BC in Egypt was reserved for perfume bottles. Exceedingly expensive and highly treasured, these vessels were often placed in tombs of the aristocracy for use in the hereafter.
The use of perfumes for religious ceremonies gradually led to the personal use of perfume in ancient Greece and Rome. During the Renaissance, it was believed that bathing opened up the skin's pores, facilitating the intrusion of contractible diseases. Washing all but the face was rarely practiced, instead perfumes were used to quell the body?s odor. The spread of Christianity coupled with the fall of the Roman Empire led to a decline in the use of perfumes in Europe until the development of international trade in the twelfth century, which introduced perfumes once again from the east.
The seventeenth century brought huge success in the perfume industry, with Paris becoming the foremost hub of perfume manufacture. Purportedly, Louis XV required a different fragrance daily and the court of Louis XV became known as le cour parfum?e or the perfumed court due to these scents that he and his entourage liberally applied to themselves and surrounding objects. By the middle of the 17th century, scent bottles became popular as part of dresser sets or as small portable containers. Perfume was packaged in beautiful glass bottles which became increasingly popular after the opening of the Baccarat factory in the mid seventeen hundreds.
Eau de Cologne was invented in the eighteenth century and revolutionized the perfume industry. The fragrant blends were applied in many ways such as in bath water, eaten on sugar, mixed with wine, as an enema or for a poultice. The variety of eighteenth-century perfume containers is vast as glass was inexpensive, and perfume manufacturers were struggling for market share. With the quality of their perfume as well as aggressive marketing and exceptional packaging, manufacturers were focusing on the look of the perfume bottle itself. Partnerships between perfumers and glassmakers became commonplace.
Changing tastes and the development of modern chemistry brought profound change to the perfume industry in the nineteenth century, delivering what we know as today?s perfume industry. The French Revolution was unable to quell the peoples desire for perfume, there was even a fragrance called Parfum a la Guillotine. Under the post-revolutionary government, people once again dared to express a penchant for luxury goods, including perfume.
Soon bottling became more important. Perfume maker Francois Coty formed a partnership with Rene Lalique. Lalique then produced bottles for Guerlain, D'Orsay, Lubin, Molinard, Roger & Gallet and others. Baccarat then joined in, producing the bottle for Mitsouko (Guerlain), Shalimar (Guerlain) and others. Brosse glassworks created the memorable bottle for Jeanne Lanvin's Arpege, and the famous Chanel No.5.
Perfume bottle Collecting is a relatively new hobby; when collecting, condition and rarity are of paramount importance, check for scratches and chips. If the bottle has a paper label, it must be pristine. Caps, stoppers and applicators must be in perfect condition as well. The glass manufacturer does not usually mark perfume bottles, exceptions such as Lalique, Baccarat, Gall? and Moser bottles are highly desirable and can get quite expensive.