On July 11th, “live” from New York, the Perfume Bottles Auction held its annual event remotely, with a stunning $634,061 result, and sell-thru rate of 94%. Museum and private interests drove the catalog cover lot – a highly desired presentation of the 1926 Baccarat black crystal “diamond” bottle for Isabey’s “Lys” – to a sparkling $54,000 finish.
With the original May 2020 auction date cancelled due to the global pandemic, a virtual auction was conducted live in real time, with no in-person audience. Over 500 bidders registered on two online bidding sites, 8 phone lines stayed continuously active, and due to competing order bids, many lots had soared above high estimate, even before the live bidding started. The normal 3 hour event stretched to 8 1/2 hours, underlining the strength of this particular collecting niche. In addition to returning advanced collectors, many enthusiastic new collectors went after very rare or unique items.
A fine group of early English figural scent bottles included 1760’s Chelsea figures of a pug dog sold for $1,375 and a Shakespeare likeness for $3,000; a Bow figure as Columbine brought $875; and a later Derby scent of a baby on dolphin sold for $1,200. A striking 1885 Stevens and Williams “Ivory Mask” bottle realized $6,250; a brilliant 1760’s Bilston enamel flacon with cupid stopper fetched $3,125; and a reticulated 1870’s Royal Worcester scent in leather case brought $2,875. Webb, Steuben, and Daum art glass sold well, as did Palais Royal items, atomizers, and vanity pieces.
With the majority of cataloged items dating from the 1920’s, stylized Art Deco themes of Orientalism, geometrics and colorful florals are seen recurring throughout, including a figural Goebel powder bowl formed as a flapper sitting in a chair, sold for $4,500. A superior grouping of Czechoslovakian bottles of various shapes and colors, many with elaborate enameled and jeweled mountings crossed the block with highlights including a 1920’s Egyptian inspired bottle by Johann Umann realizing $12,000; a c 1930 black crystal bottle with clear stopper mounted with a silvered metal spider web by Josef Schmidt sold for $13,200; a Heinrich Hoffmann black crystal bottle with pink stopper as a nude figure floating over cascading roses which brought $43,750; and a lot of two c 1930 Josef Vater bottles with Neiger Brothers decoration sold for $30,000. Many of these highly decorative bottles were consigned to the auction by the original owners’ families.
Celebrated Art Nouveau jewelry artists Rene Lalique and Lucien Gaillard turned their attention to perfume bottle design in the early 1900’s. In this auction, Lalique bottles inspired strong interest with a 1912 “Lepage” of two nudes motif selling for $12,000; a 1919 “Nenuphar” of Egyptian leaf pattern that fetched $19,200; a 1914 D’Orsay “Panier De Roses” in leather box that reached $11,400; and a 1929 Lucien Lelong “skyscraper” bottle with enameled metal case in unusually perfect condition sold for $21,250 – more than double it’s pre-sale estimate. Two rare Gaillard bottles offered were a 1911 design of insect-winged maidens for Violet’s “Furness” sold for $7,200; and the 1928 Clamy “Dans les Airs” molded with dragonflies in flight, which brought $27,000. This Art Nouveau masterpiece is highly sought after by collectors and very few are documented. One exists in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Other commercial highlights include a rare hand made wooden Mosque housing a four-handled ceramic bottle for the 1927 Bryenne “Mabrouka” sold for $9,000; a 1929 Julian Viard bottle in box sealed with original perfume for Delettrez “IX” which brought $27,000; a highly sought after artifact by perfume historians – the 1899 “Royal Emilia” bottle from Parfumerie Emilia and ancestor of the Caron brand, sold for $6,000; and what passionate film buffs vied for – the 1933 Gabilla “Mae West” that brought $5,100, and the 1939 “Gone With the Wind” themed presentations by Pinaud for “Bittersweet” & “Flirt” which went out at $10,200.
The auction directors were overwhelmed by the gratitude expressed by the International Perfume Bottle Association members who logged in for a few hours of excitement and diversion. In return, the auction is pleased to report that they will be writing the largest donation check ever written to the IPBA.
People have come to expect the Perfume Bottles Auction to deliver unimagined objects of desire in original and best possible condition. It is the only dedicated auction of its kind in the US, and a portion of the sales proceeds benefit the IPBA.
For more information: 917-881-8747 or [email protected]
For a complete list of auction results by lot number, see 2020 Auction Results.