This book traces the history of the scent bottle from the alabaster
containers of ancient Egypt to mass-produced commercial bottles. Perfume has
been used in religious ceremony and also in medicine, for it was believed to
have the power to ward off illness. Elaborately chased silver pomanders were
carried during times of plague. The frivolity and luxury of scent were reflected
in eighteenth-century ‘toys’, bottles in the form of fruit and figures in
porcelain or enamel. The Victorian lady had a wide choice of scent bottles,
including dual-purpose bottles which also held smelling salts or sal volatile.
In the twentieth century, after Lalique’s successful collaboration with Coty,
commercial bottles were made in a wide variety of forms ranging from the highly
luxurious to the amusing bakelite containers of the 1920s and 1930s.
Alexandra Walker has worked at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston since 1975. Her interest in scent bottles developed from working with the collection of over 2700 examples in the Mrs French bequest to the Harris Museum.
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