Sunday, July 21, 2013

Selling Vintage Guerlain Perfumes

Are you a seller who wants to list vintage perfumes but don't know where to start?

Then you have come to the right place! I have been collecting vintage perfumes for many years and have also sold them on ebay for several years. I will discuss several things people look for when buying vintage perfumes and things a seller should add to their item descriptions.

If you are a seller, please read the following tips:

Dating your bottle:

Please bear in mind that your buyer is interested in how old the perfume is. If it dates to the 1920s, 1960s or even the 1990s or is newer, please make mention of it in your description. Many perfume bottles have been redeveloped throughout the years and knowing which year your bottle dates from may help in someone's quest for a particular bottle. If you have no idea on the age of your bottle, you can ask me thru my appraisal service or look thru any of my Guerlain flacon list guide : http://guerlainperfumes.blogspot.com/p/guerlain-flacon-list.html

If you estimate the date of a bottle or set, be careful. The debut date for a fragrance only dates its first bottle or when the perfume was first launched. A perfume may have been reformulated and relaunched several times in its history. After that, magazine ads are one good way to estimate the decade. Bottle style, zip code (started in 1963), packaging styles, box shapes, label shapes, stopper shapes, and other clues will help you to date your bottle.

Manufacturer:

Who was the manufacturer? For instance, if Guerlain made your bottle of Shalimar tell your buyer. Sometimes, perfumes can have the same names, but different makers. Du Barry of England also sold products under the Shalimar name. Your buyer may be looking up that particular maker in a search. Some collectors only want to buy certain perfume bottles from particular perfume houses. Also, some counterfeit bottles and boxes have the maker or perfume name misspelt such as Gerlin or Shalima.


What type of bottle are you selling?

Is your perfume bottle an atomizer? An atomizer is a perfume that has the squeeze ball or has a spray mechanism. If your perfume has one, be sure to mention if your perfume is an atomizer/vaporizer/spray, because some people are looking for these. If your bottle does not spray then it is known as a splash bottle. Many of men's older eau de toilettes and older unisex colognes are splash type bottles. These were meant to be splashed on the skin liberally. Some famous splash bottles are the Shalimar parfum bottles known as the Chauve Souris, the quadrilobe bottles used for parfums, the Louis XVI bottles also used for parfums and others, the eau de toilette bottles known as the Flacon Goutte and the eau de cologne bottles known as the Flacon Montre.

Does your bottle have a dauber? The long stick thing at the end of a stopper that dips into the perfume is properly called a dauber (also known as a tigella--a rod, usually of glass and sometimes sculptured , attached to the underneath of a perfume bottle stopper for use as a dipper). It isnt called a dobber, dabber or wand.

If you are selling a tester...please say so in your listing! They are the same as the boxed versions. Why are they unboxed? Sometimes boxes can be damaged in transit, torn, stained or in less than perfect condition.

Some perfume bottles may be testers and must be pointed out when listing. Testers are even more discounted than the fancy boxed versions and are great if you don't have a need for the fancy packaging. Testers are 100% authentic, fresh and completely full just like the original, however they are meant for the usage at the counter at a department store. They ship in a plain brown or white box and sometimes don't have a cap on them.


Bottle Manufacturers:

Was the perfume bottle manufactured by a famous company? Companies like Lalique, Baccarat? Collectors are looking for these. Some of Guerlain's perfume bottles were manufactured by Lalique, Baccarat and Cristal Romesnil, so be sure to look for their marks on the bottom of your bottle. Be sure to mention if your piece is acid-stamped, specially if it says Made in France, Guerlain, Cristal Romesnil or Cristal Nancy, Baccarat, or Lalique. If the bottle is molded with SGD (Saint Gobain-Desjonqueres) or an entwined HP (Pochet et du Courval) please mention it. If your bottle is marked on the bottom, either acid stamped or molded, please include a picture of it for your buyers.


Overall Condition:

What is the overall condition? Are there any chips, scratches, fleabites, stains, or cracks? Chips along the mouth of the bottle or on the base of the stopper? If your bottle has been gilded, is there any wear to the gilding? Is dauber end snapped off the stopper? If your stopper is frozen in place, be sure to mention that when listing. Some buyers prefer if you do not disturb it, plus it will help when it comes time to ship the bottle. Describe defects honestly. Descriptions of defects on eBay are usually quite good - full disclosure seems to be the rule. Fleabites on stoppers, tears in labels, broken corners on set boxes, missing box tops, dings on bottle bottoms, and chips out of lips always need to be mentioned. How visible the defect is when the bottle is displayed is also helpful to mention.


Bottle Measurements & Glass Color:

What is the size of the bottle? Please make mention how tall the bottle is and the width. Some bottles may look big/small on the computer, but a buyer may be disappointed in how big/small it may be in person. Mention if the bottle is a mini perfume, a perfume sample vial or if it is a large factice (display bottle). A factice is a dummy/display bottle filled with colored water or colored alcohol. It does not contain any fragrance. Some of Guerlain's larger factices such as the ones for Shalimar might have colored glass instead of liquid inside. A factice will often have the word "dummy", "display" or "factice" engraved in the glass itself or printed, written or marked on the label.

Try to give the height of the bottle, or the dimensions of the box holding a set. The term "mini" is not very precise - it is used for a wide variety of sizes. Also, some collectors prefer not to buy very large bottles. By the way - I prefer not to see a ruler in the picture: it detracts from the beauty of the bottle or set and the numbers can be hard to see for someone who has vision problems or if the picture is too small or far away. 

Also be sure to mention what the amont of the fragrance is, in milliters or ounces, it should be stated on the box, the bottom or back of the bottle or label. If it is not, be sure to include measurements of the bottle.

How many milliliters are in an ounce?

Here is a quick conversion chart:
  • 1000 ml = 1 liter
  • 900 ml = 30 oz
  • 800 ml = 26 oz 
  • 700 ml = 23.6 oz
  • 600 ml = 20 oz
  • 500 ml = 18 oz
  • 450 ml = 16 oz
  • 400 ml = 14 oz
  • 350 ml = 12.3 oz
  • 300 ml = 10.5 oz
  • 250 ml = 8.8 oz
  • 200 ml = 7 oz
  • 150 ml = 5.2 oz
  • 100 ml = 3.3 or 3.4 oz
  • 90 ml = 3.2 oz
  • 80 ml = 2.9 oz
  • 75 ml = 2.5 oz
  • 60 ml = 2 oz
  • 50 ml = 1.6 or 1.7 oz
  • 30 ml = 1 oz
  • 15 ml = 1/2 oz
  • 10 ml = 1/3 oz
  • 7.5 ml = 1/4 oz
  • 5 ml = 1/6 oz
  • 3.7 ml = 1/8 oz = 1 dram
Note that all of these are approximate; strictly speaking, 1/2 oz is 14.787 ml. A standard perfume sample is in a 1/32 oz (1 ml) vial.


Describe important colors of the glass, label, or box, if they look wrong in your photo. Color rendering in photos is often hard to control; your description can explain away colors that are strange looking.


Labels:

What condition is the label in? This is very important as this adds or decreases the value of your bottle. For instance, is there any wear, fading, smudges, chipping? Is it a gold or silver foil label? Is it a metal label? Is the label missing or on the base? Is there enameled lettering on the bottle instead of a label? Does this have wear? Try to get close-ups so that a potential buyer can read the label and judge its condition. (Some digital cameras have separate settings for close-ups, look for a flower or tulip motif.) If you have glare on your label, or if the label is not readable in your photo, try to describe the quality of the label in your words. Tell buyers if the label is mint, smudged, rubbed off on certain letters, peeling, torn, etc.


Photos:

Make sure you have a photo of the item you are trying to sell. Do not use other people's photos of a similar bottle or stock photos unless the perfume is brand new. Names for specific bottle shapes, and exact dates for different styles of even well known brands and fragrances are not yet standardized.

Take good pictures! When taking pictures of commercial or colored glass perfume bottles, it is best to have a plain white background, this will show the true color of the glass, the juice, and any other important aspects. If you have a plain, clear glass bottle, shoot it with a black background and convert the photo to grayscale or black and white. It will show all the details in the glass beautifully! Do not use pictures that are blurry, too dark or if the item is too far away to make out details. 


Stoppers:

Does your bottle have a stopper or cap? If you have a ground glass stopper, make sure the stopper and the base go together. On fine French crystal bottles, numbers will be incised onto the base and the bottom of the stopper, this was done at the factory to show that the stopper was specifically ground to fit the base. The numbers should match! 

If your glass stopper has a plastic base, be sure to mention this in your listing as this helps to determine the age of the bottle.  Plastic (plastimeri) caps were put on the end of glass daubers starting in the early 1960s.

If your stopper isnt glass, mention if your cap is metal, plastic, Bakelite, celluloid, cork, etc. Mention if you have a screwcap. 

If your stopper is stuck, be sure to mention this in the listing. Don't attempt to use force to remove it, as you can snap the stopper right in half or crack the bottle. 

Try to use precise terms for the closure: "stoppers" insert into the mouth of the bottle; "caps" cover the mouth and are usually threaded. Even with a photo, describe the type of stopper. It's often impossible to tell from a photo if it is all glass ( = ground glass), glass in cork, glass covered in plastic (plastemeri), or glass with dauber, etc. Also, for older bottles, say if you judge a ground glass stopper to be the original by a tight fit with no obvious wobbling, also some bottles and stoppers will have matching numbers on the base.


Original Contents:

Are there any original contents in the bottle? If so,how much? The contents, or what we call the "juice". Do not under any circumstances pour out perfume, unless your buyer instructs you to do so. Many people wish to own bottles that still contain their original scents and haven't been opened. Perfumes generally sell higher if they are sealed.

 If your perfume is sealed, but looks like it has some missing, its most likely due to evaporation which can happen over the years due to storage conditions. Even if there is just a little amount, please let your buyers know. I usually give a percentage, like there is 20% of perfume left in the bottle. If your bottle is 7-10 years old or older, please tell your buyers, as the perfume will no longer be fresh in most cases. Is there perfume residue inside? Most bottles look beautiful with their juice inside, and I feel it completes the presentation. 

As a rule, you must be aware that all perfumes will start to degrade after around 3-5 years and this in turn causes the perfumes to "turn". They will develop a very strong alcohol odor or may turn a sour smell. Sometimes the top notes of a perfume may disappear or will be altered. This smell generally dissipates after a while and the heart and base notes of the original perfume will come out. If a perfume has been stored correctly, there is a chance it may still smell nice, though not as fresh as it one was.

How can I tell if a perfume has gone off? When its colour has changed, when it seems thicker or when the initial notes seem sour, almost ‘off’. As to when a perfume is "off," a change in color, especially a darkening, might signal deterioration. But not always. So trust your nose. If your perfume develops a bitter or sour note, it's time for a fresh bottle.

Each perfumes has a shelf life. Typically a perfume can last up to 18 months. If kept stored in a dark, cool place, it can prolong the life of a perfume. Perfume deteriorates from two factors: light and heat.

Oriental perfumes tends to have a longer shelf life than aldehydic, green, citrus perfumes. Orientals tend to be warm, ambery, vanillic and woody. 


If it is a parfum/extrait, your chances of it retaining its original scent are far greater than with a cologne or eau de toilette. However, some women have expressed that some vintage perfumes still smell wonderful. I myself have a perfume that is over 100 years old, and it smells fresh and spicy!


Can't I tell if I like a fragrance by sniffing the opened bottle or the spray nozzle? Not exactly. When you sniff an open bottle, your nose inhales the sharp bite of alcohol and the volatile top notes. A fragrance needs your skin to come alive. It blooms as it reacts with the warmth of your body to create a fragrance that is unique to you.

I don't want to try the fragrance on my skin, what other ways can I test it? Test on blotting paper or a tissue. It’s not as good as testing on your skin but it is the next best thing.


Presentation Boxes:

Is the original box present? If so, what condition is it in? Boxes are a definite help in selling vintage perfumes. Collectors like to display them together, be sure to include it in your pictures. Also, if there are any papers or other items included, please mention them.If selling a boxed set, be sure to show a photo of the front of the box, even if it has damage.


References:

Is this perfume bottle shown in any books you may have on perfume? If so, quote the book, author, page its on, and the book value. Remember, book values are only a guide, but many collectors would like to know if the bottle has any value, or they can look it up in their own books. A book reference can also help to identify a bottle that has lost its label or other identifying marks. Also reference websites, such as mine can often help as people refer to these often.


Packing & Shipping:

What is the best way to pack and ship your bottle? Packing and shipping perfume bottles is easy, be sure to wrap the stopper separate from the bottle to avoid breakage. I use styrofoam packing peanuts and small bubble-wrap to pack bottles. Please do not use newspaper as it is not a good cushion for the glass. I have recieved plenty of broken bottles in the mail because the seller used newspaper. Some buyers want their perfumes double boxed. 

 If the perfume bottle has juice in it, I usually put the stopper in place and then melt some beeswax around the edges of the stopper and mouth of the bottle (while it is in place) so that it will stay in place the juice will not escape during shipment. Just be careful you do not get any excess wax on the rest of the bottle or on the label! You can do this trick if your stopper is frozen too, just in case.Your buyer can scrape away any beeswax and wipe away any residue off with a soft cloth. I would email the buyer before shipment to see if they want the bottle sealed with the wax. 

Some might want just tape over the stopper. Do not get any tape on the label or gilding. I usually get a piece of paper big enough to cover the label, then put a piece of tape over that paper so that it does not touch the label. 

Or you could get a medicine dropper and decant the perfume into a small glass vial with a screw cap to ship inside the box, so that the perfume won't soil the label or box. ou should invest in some displosable plastic pipettes and some small glass vials if you plan on selling numerous perfumes. Do not use the same dropper for each perfume, these can mix and ruin the aroma of the perfume.

 Always insure the package and get delivery confirmation. If the bottle is over $100 you might want to get signature confirmation. You never know what will happen when the box leaves your hands at the post office--because YOU are responsible for getting the item in as described condition to the buyer, not the post office--so get insurance, its cheap enough for some piece of mind. I insure bottles no matter what the price.


How to List Your Perfume:

Use the word "perfume" in your title; colognes get fewer bids because fewer buyers search for that word. But try to be accurate in your descriptive text, especially if your bottle is really an Eau de Cologne, Cologne, Eau de Toilette, Toilet Water, Parfum/Extrait, etc. Do not continue to call it a perfume in the descriptive text if it is not, especially if the label is not readable in your photo unless you are unsure what the actual concentration is. Most fragrance bottle collectors consider the distinction to be quite important. True perfume bottles command higher prices.



What is the Difference between Perfume, EDC, EDP, EDT & Cologne? The differences are simply a matter of the amount or concentration of oils in the fragrance.

The highest concentration is in pure perfume (or parfum/extrait). Next would be Eau de Parfum, then Eau de Toilette, and finally Eau de Cologne. Some manufacturers make a solid perfume, solid perfume is as strong as a pure perfume however it is in a gel or wax-like consistency. Eau De Toilette and Eau De Cologne are generally interchangeable, especially in Men's fragrances. After Shave has the least amount of oils. The higher the concentration the longer your fragrance will last, and the less you need to apply.

You may also see the term Parfum de Toilette, this is rarely seen in the industry, but Guerlain did make them in the 1980s. This variation on perfume contains 90% strength. Most companies use this term to describe a concentration that is either the same as Eau De Parfum, or between Eau De Parfum and Parfum. Other companies use the term to describe an Eau De Toilette concentration.

Perfumers use different types of alcohols in their perfumes. Why? Alcohol makes the fragrance emanate from your skin. Without alcohol, you would be the only person who knew you were wearing any fragrance at all. Perfumer's alcohol is the professional diluent used to make fine perfumes, colognes, after shaves, eau de toilette and other alcohol-based fragrance products.

Parfum: also called extrait, is the highest concentration of perfume. A perfume may contain 22-30 percent oils and high grade alcohol, and a slight amount of water. Parfum is the most expensive type of perfume. Any mixture lower in oils is known as an eau.

Eau de Parfum: is composed of 15-18 percent of essential oils with a slightly weaker alcohol and water. Also known as parfum de toilette, eau de perfume or millésime (10 - 15% perfume oil) more than toilet water but a notch below parfum was created in the 1970's to circumvent taxation taxing extracts to 33% VAT.

Eau de Toilette: also called toilet water, is a much thinner dilution of the same materials, containing approximately only 4-8 percent of essential oils, in an even weaker alcohol and water mixture.

Eau de Cologne: for men or women, or aftershave, is further diluted, about 3-5 percent of essential oils, in an even still weaker alcohol and water mix.

Eau Fraiche: a cologne or splash with a purer alcohol.

Natural Spray: is a fragrance that uses a non-aerosol pump to emit a fine mist.

After Shaves: have a lighter scent, usually around 2 to 4 per cent, less alcohol (30 to 65 per cent) and  incorporate soothing emollients and calming antiseptics.

Moisturizing Skin Spray: a fragrance that is alcohol free and contains moisturizers to keep skin feeling soft and silky.

Creams and lotions: most creams contain a fragrance content that is same as that of the eau de toilette, five percent essential oils. The rest of the formula is a blend of lanolin, beeswax, mineral oil,lard, shea butter, cocoa butter, petroleum jelly, or other fats and oils.

Stick perfumes, pomades and solid perfume: an essential oil dissolved in wax, sometimes some other fats are blended in to make it easier to apply to the skin.

Soaps and soap products: composed of fatty acids and a small amount of essential oils.

Bath Oils: a combination of fifteen percent essential oils blended with mineral oil, lanolin, or other fatty oils of plant origin.

Bath salts: essential oils added to sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium carbotage.

Bath powder: essential oils mixed with talc or cornstarch. The talc is ground very fine and is purified , sometimes supplemented with china clay and starches. It is then sifted through silk screens.


Use this easy chart
  • Splash or Aftershave (usually 1-3% perfume oil)
  • Eau de Cologne (2 - 5% perfume oil)
  • Eau Fraiche (Usually 3% or less perfume oil)
  • Eau de Toilette (4 - 10% perfume oil)
  • Eau de parfum, also called parfum de toilette, eau de perfume or millésime (10 - 15% perfume oil) more than toilet water but a notch below parfum was created in the 1970s to circumvent taxation taxing extracts to 33% VAT.
  • Soie de Parfum (15 - 18% perfume oil)
  • Parfum or Pure Perfume (15 - 25% -- also sometimes referred to as extract, absolue, intense, elixir or extrait) Perfume oil (15-30% perfume oil in an oil rather than alcohol base)


The intensity and longevity of a perfume is based on the concentration, intensity and longevity of the aromatic compounds (natural essential oils / perfume oils) used: As the percentage of aromatic compounds increases, so does the intensity and longevity of the scent created. Different perfumeries or perfume houses assign different amounts of oils to each of their perfumes. Therefore, although the oil concentration of a perfume in Eau de Parfum (EdP) dilution will necessarily be higher than the same perfume in Eau de Toilette (EdT) from within the same range, the actual amounts can vary between perfume houses. An EdT from one house may be stronger than an EdP from another.

Men's fragrances are generally colognes or eau de toilettes and are rarely as EdP or perfume extracts. As well, women's fragrances are rarely sold in EdC concentrations except for Guerlain, Coty, Dana, etc). Although this gender specific naming trend is common for assigning fragrance concentrations, it does not directly have anything to do with whether a fragrance was intended for men or women.

Furthermore, some fragrances with the same product name but having a different concentration name may not only differ in their dilutions, but actually use different perfume oil mixtures altogether. For instance, in order to make the EdT version of a fragrance brighter and fresher than its EdP, the EdT oil may be "tweaked" to contain slightly more top notes or fewer base notes. In some cases, words such as "extrême", "intense" or "concentrée", that might indicate aromatic concentration are sometimes completely different fragrances that relates only because of a similar perfume accord. An example of this would be Chanel‘s Pour Monsieur and Pour Monsieur Concentrée.