BACK in the 1980s, on the back of the Lalique boom, there used to be fairly regular offerings of scent bottles at auction in London.
It's less of a feature in the sales calendar these days but in New York and Paris there are still periodic auctions devoted to this collecting genre.
On April 8 at Drouot, for example, étude Neret-Minet Tessier (19/12% buyer's premium plus vat) offered the single-owner collection of Serge Albisetti.
The 280-plus lots covered a wide range of scent and bottle manufacturers but in financial terms there was a clear division: between those bottles by Lalique which commanded four- and five-figure sums and the rest which fell into the three-figure bracket.
That's not a surprising distinction really as Lalique appeals to a broader audience. And, with 150 'first period' Lalique bottles on offer, there was plenty of choice.
Topping the bill, as expected, was the early 1912, 4¾in (11cm) high grey patinated bottle Lézards, initialled RL under the base. Estimated at €10,000- 15,000, it sold at €19,000 (£17,270).
It was followed at €10,500 (£9545) and €10,000 (£9090), by bottles for Fougères and L.T Piver's Scarabée respectively, the latter from 1911, in its gilt-lettered leather case.
Both prices were well in excess of the estimates and overtook what had been predicted, with €7,000-10,000 estimates, to be three other high-flyers.
These were a Bouchon Cassis bottle in clear glass, enamelled with black stripes and an extravagant black stopper moulded as bunches of blackcurrants from 1920 which fetched €8500 (£7730); aTrois Guêpesbottle of 1912, moulded with wasps to the shoulders and stopper at €6300 (£5730) and Eucalyptus,another extravagantly stoppered bottle, that failed to get away.
Overall, around three-quarters of the lots found buyers with most of the casualties coming from the more affordable end of the spectrum.
Another anonymously consigned collection of 20th century scent bottles and perfume-related items appeared in Bailly, Pommery & Voutier's (23.92% buyer's premium inc. VAT) sale at Drouot the following week on April 15.
Again there were quite a few Lalique bottles amongst the 70-odd lots (mostly from the 1920s and '30s) but also a fair number by other makers and prices were accordingly lower. Around two-thirds changed hands overall.
One lot made it to four figures and predictably this was a combination of the talents of Baccarat and Lalique. Selling for €1100 (£1000) was an Orfèvrerie bottle for Ambré d'Orsay of 1913 designed by Baccarat with a metal frieze of vestals designed by Julien Viard, edited by Lalique and stamped with the latter's initials.
Highest non-Lalique price here was €780 (£710) for a Gallé pâte de verre landscape scent bottle with atomiser, 8in (22cm) high overall, from c.1890-1900.
Exchange rate: £1 = €1.1