DeVilbiss


1920 DeVilbiss catalog ad:
“The most convenient and satisfactory method of applying Toilet Water and Perfume is the Perfumizer way. The Perfumizer is also attractive for the dressing table and makes an acceptable gift for all occasions. Every user of Toilet Water and Perfume is a possible customers for a Perfumizer. A display of Perfumizers will help to make more sales.“

A Brief History of DeVilbiss

The DeVilbiss Corporation made a less than glamorous entry into the perfume bottle world when they started manufacturing spray nozzles for throat atomizers. In 1887, Dr. Allen DeVilbiss, an ear, nose & throat specialist, had developed an easier and more sanitary way to apply his medicated oil into his patient's throats, this was previously achieved by the use of cotton swabs. This invention proved to be such a success that the physician was able to patent the atomizer and retire from his profession and in 1890, he established the DeVilbiss Manufacturing Company of Toledo, Ohio. These ingenious nose & throat atomizers were dubbed “atomers” by the company and were often sold under the brand name Atlas. Many times, I have seen these mistakenly sold as perfume bottles.

Dr. Allen's son, Thomas, was active in product development and became a full partner in the company in 1905. Thomas had wanted to add perfume atomizers to his company's product line for years, and finally gained his father's approval. This would prove to be a very lucrative business venture for the next 30 years or so. The first DeVilbiss atomizers were simple clear glass salt shakers that were fitted with plain metal atomizer mounts, DeVilbiss marketed these as "perfumizers". You will most likely find these early atomizers stamped DeVilbiss Pat Sept 15, 1908 on the collars. These perfumes were affordably priced to the public for $1.25 each.

Always looking for something new and exciting, the public bought up these new inventions and the "perfumizers" which had outsold the medical atomizers. Thomas modified the design for the medical atomizers and started devoting most of his time to designing and developing new styles of perfumizers. In 1910, Thomas traveled to Europe to obtain glassware for the perfumizers. It was during this time that beauty advisors began to make it known that spraying perfume onto the skin was the best way to enjoy it. For a precious perfume to be encapsulated inside an airtight atomizer, it was safeguarded against evaporation. Shortly after WWI, American soldiers came home from fighting in France bearing gifts of perfume with ornate dispensers for their sweethearts and mothers, it was after this that the atomizer craze began.

c1925



DeVilbiss hired Frederic Vuillemenot, a graduate of the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, as early as 1924 to be their Chief Designer. He made many successful design contributions to the DeVilbiss company. DeVilbiss & Vuillemenot traveled to the Exposition Arts Decoratifs in Paris in and came back with fresh design ideas for their perfumizers. In 1926, the DeVilbiss Manufacturing Company changed it’s name to the DeVilbiss Company. In 1929, the Societe Anonyme DeVilbiss was established in both Brussels and Paris.



Since DeVilbiss did not make the glass for their eccentric perfumizers, DeVilbiss had several suppliers for their perfume bottles starting in 1910, including Steuben, Cambridge, Quezal, Tiffin, Fry, Libbey, Fenton, Lenox, Fostoria and Durand. But their suppliers weren't just centered in the United States, this network circled the globe and included both Daum Nancy and Verreries Brosse of France, Moser of Bohemia, and other companies in Czechoslovakia (who supplied a large portion of bottles from 1925 until 1938),and later, Germany, Murano glass from Italy and porcelain ones from Japan.

DeVilbiss would send the glass houses their designs or models of the bottles and would commission the glass houses to manufacture them on their behalf. It was there that they would then be made in the colors, shapes and types of glass according to their specifications. Some of the bottles were finished products that just needed to be fitted with atomizer mountings at the DeVilbiss plant. The others were known as blanks and were given further decorative elements like hand painting, stenciling or gilt encrustation at the DeVilbiss plant.

The famous glass company Hawkes did the etching and cutting for the Steuben Aurene bottles, these decorated pieces are not commonly found. Later, Fenton started supplying DeVilbiss with bottles in 1940. When the demand for atomizers began to wane, DeVilbiss discontinued the manufacture of perfume bottles in 1969. Regardless of the glass maker, only the name DeVilbiss was used, that is why you won’t see a Steuben, Cambridge, Durand or any other signature on these bottles as you would on other products made by these glass houses.

It has been reported that during the height of their popularity, DeVilbiss sold as many as a million perfumizers per year in America alone, not including their outlets in Europe, Canada, and Cuba. The company grew and by then they had several hundred employees, plus a few hundred part time local ladies who crocheted the bulb nettings as a cottage industry. In addition to their plant in Toledo, Ohio, the DeVilbiss Company opened a plant in Windsor, Ontario to provide their Canadian clients a supply of perfume bottles and vanity accessories. Some items produced there may have been distributed solely for the Canadian market. Two of their bottles had feminine names instead of letters or number series’. The names were: Lucille and Evelyn.

In the years of 1918-1920, DeVilbiss advertised the following:
“ Introducing DeVilbiss Perfume Dropper Bottles. The Perfume Dropper Bottles will be found to embrace the same outstanding features of quality and desirability that have made Perfumizers so popular. The bottles are of the finest grade crystal glass, handsomely cut and engraved. The dropper part is made of metal, specially treated to prevent any action on it by the perfume. The metal feature entirely eliminated the danger of the dropper breaking. Tops and droppers are gold plated. Each in an attractive box.”

DeVilbiss guaranteed every piece that they produced and always displayed this disclaimer along with their catalogs and products: 
“DeVilbiss Products are guaranteed to give complete satisfaction. Should the least irregularity develop at any time, we will be pleased to promptly repair or replace any that are returned to us, or to make any further adjustments to the entire satisfaction of dealer or user.”

Dennison supplied DeVilbiss with all of their boxes and packaging material in which they designed new styles every season. as mentioned in a 1927 edition of Printer's Ink Monthly.


Types of DeVilbiss Bottles


The most commonly seen perfumizers would be in several different shapes: dropper styles, perfume atomizers, ball shapes, and perfume atomizers in the shape of Art Deco inspired zig zags as well as others.

DeVilbiss perfumes were of fine quality and had the DeVilbiss signature in gilt or silver lettering on the base. Sometimes, the signature on the base has worn away with cleaning, but if you hold the base at a certain angle under the light, a "ghost image" of the signature may still be visible. Some even had the company name embossed into the base. You will also find some bottles whose collars are stamped with the DeVilbiss name. The less expensive versions , were also the less expensive quality and were only marked with a paper label. Unfortunately, the paper labels usually fell off or were removed by their new owners throughout the years. Other bottles had hang tags, sometimes you can find these intact.



There are many different types of perfume bottles that appeal to advanced collectors and dealers alike. An early 1920s DeVilbiss catalog includes:

 “A fascinating assembly of toilet requisites, introducing ultra-modern finesse in the use of Perfumes and Toilet waters. The myriad charms of color, form and decoration are subtly suggestive of the exquisite purposes for which they are designed.”

The perfumizers were categorized by the company with a simple letter or as in earlier catalogs, a numbered series system. The atomizers had matching droppers available. The dropper bottles were preceded by a D most catalogs and PD in the earlier catalogs, some examples were stemmed and some were squatty to match their atomizers. Most of the dropper type bottles stood around 6” to 7” tall, and in some cases were the same size as their atomizer counterparts.


“Droppers to match Perfumizers are so much appreciated that we are now furnishing them in the less expensive series, as illustrated on this and the opposite page.”




Perfume Series'

Starting with the "A" and “B” series, these bottles are short and squatty with no decoration other than fired on enamel in solid colors.

“These diminutive, daintily colored bottles have plain gold tops, befitting their simplicity of design.”

“Droppers to match Perfumizers are so much appreciated that we are now furnishing them in the less expensive series, as illustrated on this and the opposite page.”

In a 1921 catalog, the A & B series' were short and squatty shaped. The A & B series' both retailed for $0.75 and $1.00 each in 1926.

"A high grade Perfumizer at a low price; plain white frosted bottles with nickel plated tops and red bulbs; height about three inches.” 

The "C" series were also short and squatty but had a “pebbled” finish in the crystal.

“The first delicate hand decorations appear in this series; a forecast of the elaborate loveliness of the more expensive lines.” “The pebbled crystal is a decoration in itself. The translucent bottles require just a touch of contrasting color.”

The “D” series was a squatty octagonal version, this time, they had some dainty stenciled decoration, in diverse black enameling or the gilded “window panes“ and pebbled crystal textures.

“Perfumizers effect a real economy in the use of Perfumes and Toilet waters, to say nothing of their delightful convenience.”

These four examples in the series came with atomizer bulbs that were plain and did not have net covering or tassels.

“Here we have a pleasing diversity of contour and decoration, with the introduction of the first net covered bulbs.”

DeVilbiss referred to the bulbs as “Oblos”. The C & D series’ sold for $1.50 and $2.00 each in 1926.

The “E” series was another slightly squatty version, they were given fired on enamel, some had the “window pane“ effect and some were simply cut and engraved crystal.

“Careful attention is given to the selection of the nets, that they shall offer pleasing harmony or contrast to the coloring of the bottles.”

These came with hand tied silk nettings over their atomizer bulbs. The squattier versions stood around 4 ¼” to 4 ½” tall.

“Every DeVilbiss Perfumizer is guaranteed to give complete satisfaction. See our guaranty, last page.”

The E series bottles sold for $3.00 each in 1926.

Fry & Cambridge

It wasn’t until the “F” series that we start to see some of the stemmed examples of the atomizers. The stemmed atomizer sizes ranged from 6” to7 ¼” tall, the squattier versions stood around 4 ¼” to 4 ½” tall.

 “The embossed gold tops add a decorative touch to the simplicity of this series, which relies for favor upon grace of line and exquisite coloring.” 

 The “F” series also featured larger bottles which looked like their squattier companions. Some of the stemmed bottles had the opaque enameling or were cut glass and some bottles had gilded ornamentation. Fry’s frosted glass bottles were also featured in the “F” Series. This series was also responsible for the iridized finished pieces by Cambridge.

“This is the series of imprisoned rainbows; a wealth of scintillating color, with topaz, emerald and burgundy predominating.”

All of their atomizer bulbs were netted. The F series bottles sold for $4.00 each in 1926.

Some interesting bottles are cased satin or gloss finished and the inside of the perfume well is painted so that the bottle has a sort of inner glow, these were made by the Fry glass company. The other types of bottles were the solid opaque glass examples, these have a shiny, glossier finish. Most of these bottles were made by Cambridge and can be found in the following colors: 
  • Azurite (opaque robin's egg blue, introduced in 1922)
  • Primrose (opaque yellow, introduced in 1923)
  • Pomona Green/Avocado (opaque green, introduced in 1920s)
  • Ebony (opaque black, introduced in 1922)
  • Ivory (opaque white, introduced in 1924)
  • Helio (opaque lavender, introduced in 1923) 
  • Jade (opaque teal green, introduced in 1924)
  • Crystal (transparent clear)
  • Amber (transparent amber)
  • Light Emerald (transparent green, introduced in 1923)
  • Pink (transparent pink)
  • Topaz (transparent vaseline, introduced in 1923)
  • Aurora (transparent blue, introduced around 1924)
  • Bluebell (transparent electric blue, introduced in 1926)
These can be found plain or etched.The opaque colors are strictly 1920s, the only opaque color that made it into the 1930s was ebony. Many of the pieces are decorated with enamels or gold.

The “G” series had both stemmed and squattier versions. The bottles were enameled, gilded, or engraved crystal.

“The diversity of design and decoration in each series offers a pleasing latitude for selection, at a given price range.”

The stemmed atomizer sizes ranged from 6” to7 ¼” tall and their squatty companions stood around 4 ¼“ to 4 ½“ tall. A favorite design again, was the “window panes” showing clear glass.

“An elaborate use of gold gives distinction to this diminutive series. The bands are shown in both encrusted and embossed effects.”

Some bottles were fitted with metal bases or stems. All had silk nettings on their atomizer bulbs that match their predominant color of the bottle. The G series bottles sold for $5.00 each in 1926.

The “I” and “K” series is where we find the 22kt gold encrusted pieces, Steuben Aurene, Durand, and cased glass examples with gilding.

“We bring artisans from all parts of the world to contribute to the beauty of the DeVilbiss product.”

The “J” series was the exotic “New Reptilian Series” from 1926, the bottles had reptilian style scale designs adapted from museum specimens. The Reptilian series featured both atomizers and droppers. The “K” series included the Aurene bottles by Steuben. The I and K series’ sold for $7.00 and $8.00 each in 1926.

The “L” series had very dainty etching and rich gilding, some of their hardware was noted as “white gold” which was most likely a nickel finish, later a chrome finish was introduced in 1928 and advertised as chromium-plate.

  “The chromium-plate finish is one of the most important of this season‘s innovations.”.

We can also find some of Steuben’s Aurene art glass bottles here too.

“Women of fastidious taste can now use heavy odors with impunity, for the DeVilbiss spray transforms the fragrance to just the delicate consistency desired.”

The “L” series also featured internal enameling on bottles and rich gilt accents. The stemmed atomizer sizes ranged from 6” to 7 ¼” tall. Some of the more statuesque bottles were up to 9 1/2” to 10” tall.

“When Perfumizers and Droppers are sold in pairs, they seem to suggest Perfume and Toilet water of the same odor. The Dropper releases its precious content, a drop at a time, no more.”

All four in this series had atomizer bulbs with silk netting. One of the presentation boxes was made up of “tan suede and gold leaf paper”. The L Series bottles retailed at $10.00 each in 1926.

The remnants of the “L” series as well as the “M” and “N” series all featured the acorn finial hardware, some had the jeweled acorns. The rest of the “L” series had delicate black enameled stenciled and etched designs in the crystal. The “M” series was by far the largest bottles made, these capacious beauties were meant for toilet waters expressly.

“DeVilbiss maintains a large staff of artists who are constantly creating new beauties from nature’s alluring register of color harmony and contrast.”

The “N” series also had finely etched cut crystal designs and combinations of rich 22kt gold encrustation on some examples. These atomizer sizes ranged from 9 1/4” to 10” tall. 

“Here we find a diversified employment of gold in decoration, which would delight a connoisseur of beauty.” 

All three in this series had atomizer bulbs with silk netting and some had extra long cords. The M & N Series bottles retailed for $11.00 & $12.00.

The Imperial Series

The “O” series was the Imperial Series. Some of the dropper bottles had ornate jeweled filigree finials atop double armed hardware, while the atomizers had highly detailed filigree single armatures, and many of the dropper type bottles had ornate filigree stoppers with dangling jewels.

“ Contrasting jewels are also used to accent the loveliness of the antique gold.“

These intricate filigree designs are very reminiscent of the Czech jeweled ormolu perfume bottles that were popular during the same time.

“Reminiscent of the time when artisans to “Her Majesty” fused and wrought precious metals in vials for rare perfumes. DeVilbiss Imperial Perfumizers are wrought by craftsmen who have revived and glorified the art of the Ancients into modern conceptions of ornate beauty. There are eight designs in the Imperial Series, each of which can be had in Jade, Coral or Yellow, shaded to exquisite nuances of color. Droppers to match each Perfumizer are available if desired. Each piece is enclosed in a beautiful, satin lined gift box.”

For the DeVilbiss collectors, this is the most expensive and most coveted of all the series‘. Manufactured in 1928 and 1929 by Fry, both with an atomizer and perfume dropper type bottle, these would have been given a regal space on the vanity by the Flappers and wealthy ladies wishing to feel a little bit like Cleopatra. The glass was opalescent and had an interesting slag glass appearance, and was called Foval by the Fry glass company. The bottles were then given fired on enameling to the inside of the bottle and underneath the foot, this combination of opal glass and enamel made the pieces look as if they were glowing from within. 

The bottles were produced in eight different types, in three different colors. The predominant colors were jade, coral, and yellow. There was a total of 48 different bottles for this line. The bulbs for all of the Imperial Series bottles were covered in netted silk.

In addition to their fantastic color schemes, these luxurious bottles were mounted in ornate metal filigree cage work, some were jeweled and given heavy gilding. A particularly romantic version has an Art Nouveau maiden with flowing hair sitting amongst scrolling motifs, all Series #2004 in yellow glass, 2005 in coral glass & 2006 in jade glass. 

Some of the bottles were further accented with dangling faceted glass jewels hanging from the filigree stoppers, some of the colors for these jewels included, aquamarine, amethyst, and rose, these would be Series # 2501,2502, 2503, 2404,2505, and 2506. There were a series of bottles that had the glass jewels hanging from the cage work on the bottles, these would be numbers 2001, 2002, and 2003.

The Imperial Series didn't make its appearance in the 1930s trade catalogs and was most likely too expensive for those struggling in the Great Depression. The single bottles had a retail value of $25 a piece. Some of these sets of two retailed at $50 in the catalogs and would have been equal to around $500 or so in today's money according to an inflation calculator. 

They are now the rarest of all the DeVilbiss perfume bottles and command extremely high prices in some instances from around $4,000 and up for unique and one of a kind examples. At a recent Rago Arts Auction, an Imperial series bottle sold for a record price of $16,450, more than twice its estimate.

Durand and The Q Series

The luxurious “Q” series featured three different versions of art glass company Durand’s exquisite Heart & Vine decorated atomizers, as well as Aurene type bottles. Also one can find some gilt encrusted flacons plus gorgeous atomizers with stylized floral patterns in contrasting enamels so indicative of the Art Deco age. The bottles in this series stand 9 ¼“ to 10“ tall. They were fitted with acorn finials, extra long cords and netted atomizer bulbs.

“A feast of wonder; shapes and hues of art divine; all of beauty, all of use.”

You will also find the gold encrusted atomizers listed under the “Q“ series. The fancy Q series bottles retailed for $15.00 in 1926, which was a tidy sum at the time.

Concerning the Durand Heart & Vine:
“This one is Durand not Steuben. In his book, A Guide to Colored Steuben Glass 1903 - 1933 copyright 1963, Eric E. Ericson pictures this atomizer next to a Steuben atomizer with the jewel on top and identifies this one as Durand. This one is taller and the base is different than the Steuben. Since he had Frederic Carder himself verify his collection I assume his Durand attribution is correct.” 
Thank you to dealer/collector Bobby Ring for the clarification!

Other Durand bottles resemble Steuben in shape, but they are correctly identified in Larson’s book on Durand glass. The most common bottle by Durand is the orange gold luster which is cased over opal glass. It is similar in shape to Steuben’s Aurene, but the colors are quite different. The pieces again, will not be signed by the glassmaker but should display the DeVilbiss signature.

The “S” series featured the ginger jars with atomizers hidden inside. Many pieces had satin finishes. Series “T” had very tall atomizers with extremely beautiful decoration. These were the second most expensive bottles next to the Imperial Series. The T Series bottles retailed at $18.00 each in 1926.

Numbered Series'

In a 1921 catalog, we see numbered series, starting with “700”, these bottles are octagonal and squatty, these retailed for $0.85 each. This series included:

“Perfumizers of the 700 Series have clear and colored frosted bottles as illustrated with gold plated tops and red bulbs; height about four inches.”

Following the “700 Series” are the following:

 “Perfumizers in the 3000 Series have genuine cut glass bottles with gold plated tops and bulbs covered with handmade nets; height about five inches.” 

These are also squattier versions with no stemmed examples present, they retailed for $3.75 each. It wasn’t until the “Series 3600”, which are Cambridge bottles in clear and colored glass. These retailed for $5.00 each at the time.

“This Series is comprised of colored decorated bottles only. They are very striking and are the newest designs to be added to our line.” 

" Series 1200” 
“is comprised of attractive pressed glass bottles with ball point tops. Gold plated and fancy red bulbs; height about four inches.” 
These are clear glass with pressed patterns and retailed for $1.50 each. 

“Series 2000” was advertised

“as one of our most popular Series. The tops are nicely finished in gold plate and the bulbs are covered with handmade nets; height about four inches.” 
These bottles are very dainty and are clear glass with cut patterns, they retailed for $2.50 each.


The Series’ of “7200“, “6000“, and “4400” advertised as their gold enameled stemmed bottles as:

"Hand decorated bottles of exclusive designs. The very newest thing in toilet atomizer bottles; gold plated tops and bulbs with handmade nets; height about seven inches.” 

These delicate bottles retailed from $5.00 for the 4400 series, $7.50 for the 6000 series, and $9.00 for the 7200 series.

The “Series 4400” 

“ has beautifully designed bottles of genuine cut glass. Tops and bulb fittings are gold plated; the bulbs are covered with handmade nets; height about six inches." 

These came in both stemmed and taller non stemmed examples which retailed for $5.50 each. 

 The “Series 6000” was made up of clear cut and etched glass in dainty tall non stemmed shapes, which retailed at $7.50 each.

"Rich cut glass bottles and finely gold plated tops; bulbs are covered with handmade nets; height about six inches."

Series 7200” with its stemmed and tall non stemmed versions was 

“more elaborate in design and finish is the 7200 Series; the tops are covered with handmade nets, height about seven inches.” 

These retailed for $9.00 each.

Also included is a Victorian style squatty “Series PD2400”, retailing at $3.25, “ a very beautiful Series of Perfume Droppers,. Heavy bottles with glass stoppers and enameled tops which come in an assortment of colors; height about three inches.”

Cameo Glass & Attractive Finishes

In 1927, DeVilbiss introduced their versions of cameo glass in perfume bottles, trays, cigarette boxes and powder jars. This acid etched glass imitated the art glass styles coming out of France and England and was very attractive. The acid etching was further enhanced by rich gilding which contrasted against the color of the glass.

Some of the motifs included birds and stylized floral designs in the Art Deco fashion. Also included in the 1927 catalog was a sumptuous vanity set consisting of two candleholders, an atomizer, dropper bottle, and a powder jar, a tray may have also been included. This vanity set was acid etched with dancing nymphs amongst very tall trees which spanned from the end of the bowl to the top. The bottles and hardware were given an overlay of gilt enamel which has intentional verdigris to look like it was made of aged gilded bronze.

Steuben Aurene

In the 1927 catalog, some of the Steuben Aurene bottles made an appearance as did an unusual Durand bottle with their exotic King Tut pattern.

The second most expensive of the DeVilbiss perfumizers would be those manufactured by Steuben. Steuben made thousands of superb Tiffany style perfume bottles in a gorgeous iridescent peacock blue and in a lustrous gold called Aurene, from 1902-1930. This fabulous finish was created by Frederick Carder of the Steuben Glass works of Corning, New York. 

The Aurene bottles sell in the range of $500-$1200 or so. Please note that these bottles were generally marked only with the DeVilbiss signature and were very rarely ever marked Steuben or Carder, in some instances one might see the Steuben fleur de lis mark and the DeVilbiss signature together. However, these bottles are so distinctive, that a signature is not needed for identification. 

The Steuben Aurene bottles with acorn finials stood a statuesque 9¾” to 10” tall. The smaller Aurene bottles stood 6” to 7” tall. 

 A Steuben piece may or may not have any extraneous decoration other than some wheel cutting along the stem or base, this etching was done by Hawkes. A particularly beautiful blue Aurene bottle featured black enameled foliage picked out in platinum and gold plated double armed acorn finial hardware. At a 2003 James D. Julia Auction, a rare Steuben blue iridescent atomizer in the form of an atomic cloud, signed "DeVilbiss" doubled its estimate to bring $4,255.


The Debutante Series


The third most expensive DeVilbiss bottle would be the unique Art Deco zigzag shape or the spiral tube shapes. These ingenious devices had their metal hardware in the shape of a Z , S or curlicue shape, with the bottom of the Z or S having the bulb being attached to the base and the bullet or egg shaped perfume bottle would have suspended from the top of the Z or S. This striking style was dubbed the “Debutante” series and retails for around $400-$500.



The egg shaped perfume bottles were manufactured by Fry and came in amber, blue, orange, green, lilac, red, and black glass. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing other colors, but I am sure they exist. I was able to locate two 1928 design patents that were granted for two of the Debutante shapes, the S-shape with the octagonal base (D77754), and the S- shape with the square base (D77755).


The New Swingers

One of DeVilbiss’ rarer bottles is the fanciful “swinger” type. This elongated bullet shape bottle is held between two filigree braces that appear wing like and screams Art Deco. The bottle can swing freely on this apparatus. The bottle is the dropper type and is opaque glass.

 “The artist’s conception of a really modernistic gift-this graceful perfume spray which hangs suspended in a golden fretwork. No less attractive and quite in keeping is the box that contains it.”

The Lovely Caryatid

A much harder to find example is the enchanting caryatid perfume bottle. The base is a gilded woman who appears to be holding up the perfume well. This bottle comes in a pale pink glass and was manufactured by Cambridge and is known as a draped lady. The hardware is gilded and makes a perfect accompaniment to the bottle. A bottle was sold in a 2001 Monsen & Baer Perfume Bottle Auction for $1,650. Other unusual stems and bases were made of metal and decorated with embossed designs and filigree, some even had bezel set glass jewels set into the base.


Others

Next we see the perfume dropper bottles of  Series PD1000, retailing for $1.25 each, these inexpensive clear 
‘pressed glass bottles, gold plated tops and droppers; height about four inches”.


Very Rare Automobile Bottles

A rare example of a perfumes is a special type as seen in a 1928 French advertisement for use like a car vase, except this vase held perfume instead of flowers. Car vases were used to fill the air with a lovely fragrance, DeVilbiss took this idea one step further and created the world's first car fresheners. These bottles were footless and could either recline on the vanity or held against the interior of a car or limousine with a specially made bracket with a conical vase which held the perfume bottle securely in place. These holders appear to be marbleized and pearlized celluloid plastic. 

The ad reads 
“Vaporisateur de DeVilbiss- modele appliqué. Grace a lui le charme des parfums les plus suaves est diffuse dans l’atmosphere de la conduit interieure ou de la limousine et s’ajoute aux autres celices du confort. Un voiture raiment chic est munie d’un.”

Demonstrator Bottles

Even rarer still are the store displays, also called dummy bottles or factices. These larger, majestic versions of the atomizer bottles stood around 15” tall and were often accompanied by a label which stated that the bottles were for “demonstration purposes only“. 

These majestic bottles were made of Steuben acid cut glass and usually set into a wooden plinth for display. Because of their scarcity, the value for these type of bottles is around $12,000-$16,000 each. I have seen examples in catalogs and up for auction in mauve cased glass with gilded decoration and also in green cased glass with gilded decoration.


Collecting DeVilbiss

If you are looking to collect DeVilbiss bottles, you may wish to start at the lower end of the spectrum, which would be the tall, slender 1920s-1930s Art Deco style stemmed perfumizers in both the atomizer and the dropper style bottles. These simply elegant perfumizers generally sell in the $50-$250 range. They are solid in color or have the "window-pane" style decoration around the middles. There are also others which raise the price a bit and these would be the ones that have gold encrustation, engraving or enameling.

The simplest of DeVilbiss bottles are the short squatty examples or the tall and slender stemmed examples with little or no extra decoration. These basic bottles have fired on enameling in solid colors such as turquoise, mauve, black, or orange as well as other colors. Some of this glass had a satin or matte finish and was smooth to the touch. And the glossier cased glass examples often had gilt designs hand painted over the perfume well and along the stem or foot.

You will most likely encounter the popular orange and clear glass bottles, the bottle is clear satin finished glass and the inside of the perfume well is painted orange and . I have seen other color variations of these two tone satin glass. This same cased glass is seen in the bullet shaped bottles for the Debutante series, most of these were manufactured by Fry.

Other decorations you will come across frequently are the “window pane” pieces, these bottles have basic fired on enameling with clear “windows” picked out in gilt.

A favorite with collectors are the gilt encrusted bottles. These glamorous bottles are acid etched and then given a thick enameling with 22kt gold, some collectors call this “rotted gold” or “rotted acid”. These bottles often have black enameling highlighting “windows” or reserves in the glass, forming bold Jazz Age patterns. These reserves often have flashed glass, clear glass or etched designs. Other companies often had their own versions of the gilded texture, namely Marcel Franck, Volupte and Czechoslovakian manufacturers, so be sure your piece is DeVilbiss.

Another commonly seen effect was the iridized finish on the Cambridge amber, clear or pink glass bottles. Some dealers often call these “carnival glass” finish due to the resemblance of the popular glassware of that type.

DeVilbiss also introduced their “Rock Crystal Series” around 1928, the line included squatty and stemmed atomizers and matching dropper bottles. Each bottle was beautifully etched with various stylized floral patterns. “Brilliant rock crystal cuttings combined with chromium-plate finish of newly designed metal parts are the distinctive features of the sprays illustrated o this and the opposite page.”

1932 looks to be the last year that the elegant atomizers and dropper bottles we have come to identify with DeVilbiss we being offered in the trade catalogs. The year of 1933 ushered in the simplistic ball shapes and squattier versions of DeVilbiss’s atomizers and the end of the most of the dropper bottles. The remnants of the Art Deco age made their last appearances in the mid 1930s. The new streamlined look of Art Moderne was born and DeVilbiss created many perfumizers to satisfy the public demand for smart styles. Bottles were fitted with atomizers with rhodium, chromium and gold plate. Leak proof travel atomizers featuring the exclusive DeVilbiss Closure Device were very popular during that time as well as the heavy cut crystal atomizer bottles from Czechoslovakia.

DeVilbiss's Later Years

1936 heralded the introduction of the Lenox Belleek porcelain perfume bottles including the very cute Penguin, Fish and Bunny novelty atomizers, dropper bottles has squirrel, cat, dove and Scottie dog finials. The ingenious penguin atomizer was fitted with a black felt tailcoat which conceals a recessed rubber bulb that propels a jet of perfume out of the penguin’s beak.

 Atomizers carefully concealed in glass ginger jars were also offered in 1936. These bottles were available in assorted crackle glass and cased glass examples. Glass Eau de Cologne atomizers holding a capacity of six ounces were offered in 1934, these were available in he Rock Crystal and Cut Crystal series, these retailed in price from $1.00-$4.00 each.

A 1937 catalog advises that “crystal is in vogue- and crystal predominates the DeVilbiss line.” A very beautiful example is a Lalique styled frosted glass atomizer with tiara-like ornamental intaglio top. Also highlighted in that same catalog are crystal atomizers with large filigree tops studded with glass jewels, which no doubt are of Czech manufacture. Several of the fancier perfume atomizers had cords with tasseled bulbs, a feature not seen in the 1920s.

Fenton supplied perfume bottle bases for DeVilbiss starting in 1941. Many of the bottles had opalescent detailing. With the beginning of the United States’ entry into the second World War, production of perfume bottles had ceased at the DeVilbiss plants. Perfume bottles were produced again in 1946, with Fenton's opalescent bottles a popular choice for many ladies.

DeVilbiss filed a patent for a new closure device for their perfume bottles in 1953, they were granted patent number 2775170 in 1955. The 1950’s also were introduced to the Magic Mist perfumizers by DeVilbiss. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s bottles were imported from US Zone Germany, then Western Germany, Italy, Bohemia, France and Japan. 

Many perfumizers had now become bulb-less and were dubbed the “Magic-Mist” and many of them had a variety of ornamental tops ranging from jeweled sprays, porcelain disks, simple plungers and molded plastic flowers. DeVilbiss advertised themselves as “the first name in fine atomizers.“ 

There were an infinite variety of bottles to choose from like the ever popular hand blown crackle glass, gem cut crystal, triple cased glass, Bristol glass, gorgeous Bohemian arc-en-ciel (rainbow) glass models, Limoges and Japanese porcelain, free form crystal, enameled glass, Wedgwood jasperware styles, the fabulous Murano dolphin and swan stems and Venetian latticino styles. A very popular design was the umbrella girls made up of Japanese porcelain. Many of the porcelain bottles are marked DeV.


Presentation Boxes

Some collectors are fortunate to have the original presentation boxes, hang tags or labels still intact. When the hardware was assembled, the bottles were either script signed, stamped, or a gummed label was attached. Some 1920s boxes have the following statement on the lids:

“This box contains an all American made atomizer which is fully guaranteed by the manufacturer. The top is made of brass with engraved design 22kt Gold Plated. Each atomizer has a glass detachable rod.”

After decorating and the hardware fittings, the bottles were then sold in fancy presentation boxes.

“For gift occasions-Holidays, Easter, Birthdays or other anniversaries-the De Vilbiss Gift Box is a happy ending to the quest for “the gift that is different. Some of the loveliest Perfumizers in our line have been selected for these Special Gift Boxes-yet the price range is quite satisfactory. Beautiful satin-lined gift boxes of special design add to the sales possibilities of an interesting series of Perfumizers and Droppers.”

Some of these boxes were lined in lustrous champagne colored satin and were covered in black paper.

“Black and gold here achieve a sort of oriental magnificence suggestive of rare perfumes.”

Others were covered with burgundy and gold trimmed paper ,

“A regal band of heavily etched gold complementing the glowing color of burgundy, adds unusual distinction to these bottles.”

The gift boxes were offered in the DeVilbiss catalogs and were advertised as sales incentives.

“All of our Boxes are of special design, each color combination being carefully developed in relation to the coloring of the bottles. The Boxes are so artistic that they will be used for various purposes after the Perfumizers have been removed.”

A tag found on a presentation box reads:

"Another use for this box: After the contents of this package have been removed the tray may be taken out and the box used to hold handkerchiefs or other articles.”

What Else Did DeVilbiss Make for the Boudoir?

The vanity table, this staple in a ladies boudoir encapsulates the pure essence of femininity. Many accessories would be present to aid the lady during her toilette ritual. Items such as vanity trays would hold the perfume bottles, colognes, powder jars, pin trays, candlesticks, and later the small ashtrays. Also strewn upon the vanity table would be various ointment jars, face powders, cosmetics, toilet waters, rouge pots, manicure implements, powder puffs, compacts, brushes and a hand mirror. Some ladies also had small scented sachets to perfume the drawers.

DeVilbiss also offered powder boxes, ginger jars, cigarette boxes, ashtrays, match holders, candlesticks, trays and perfume lamps in their catalogs, so be on the lookout for pieces that match your perfumes. These matching items make lovely vignettes when grouped together. Perfume lamps were preceded by a PL in catalogs, in earlier catalogs they are simply called Perfume Burners and were preceded by a B with their style numbers following. Vanity jars are noted with VJ, vanity trays with a VT, cigarette boxes with JC. All of these letters were then followed by their style numbers.

Vanity Sets

The most beautiful of these vanity pieces, excluding the perfume lamps, had the gilt encrustation finish, these were further accented with flowers which hand painted with enamels.

“THE DELUXE VANITY NO. 1 consists of Perfumizer, Powder Jar, Hair Receiver and Tray, all heavily encrusted with gold and dainty flower decorations.”

The Deluxe vanity , series number 5001 from 1926, was presented in a gold satin lined box “including Perfumizer, Dropper, matched Jars to be used for powder and Hair Reciever, a large and small tray, all heavily encrusted with gold, and hand decorated. Box and merchandise shown one-fourth size.”

This deluxe vanity set retailed for $50.00. Another Deluxe Vanity set , #2201, also from 1926, was fitted into a “specially designed box, filled with flower decorated loveliness.” This set included a Perfumizer, powder jar and a small pin tray. This set retailed for $22.00.

Other popular motifs are gilded exotic birds of paradise and seahorses that are acid cut onto satin finished clear glass, the inside of the glass is internally enameled in a pale green color, on a gilt finish or a blue or coral color. You may also come across a striking black enameled set with stylized flower petals picked out in gilt or platinum. The single powder jars and hair receivers looked identical, the hair receivers didn’t have central holes in the lids like other types from other companies. These jars were sold in fancy presentation cases and retailed from $10.00 - $12.00 each in 1926. The powder jars often had the gilt encrustation and some were further accented with hand painting or wheel cut designs.

The ginger jars introduced in 1936, had small clear glass atomizers nestled within the base of the jar. Several styles of glass including the popular mercury type of glass and craquellure were featured.

The vanity trays could be found in round, rectangular and oval shapes, in different sizes. In 1934, mirrored perfume trays were introduced in the Art Modern style. Some f these were available in rose and silver, “lyco” and silver, black and silver and green and silver, all very popular color combinations of the 1930s.

In the 1950s, boudoir and bath accessories were offered. Much of these were made up of Japanese porcelain and included lipstick holders, ash tray sets and vanity jars and bottles were offered. Some of the items were a piano shaped lipstick holder, Cherub ashtray, and tumblers, Some of the vanity sets included a matching cotton jar, powder jar, tumbler atomizer, and small & large size vanity bottles. Complete bath sets consisted of a pair of vanity bottles, powder jar, tumbler, cotton jar and soap dish.


Smoking Accessories

With the beginning of the 1920s, lades began to smoke unabashedly. To answer the desires of their feminine consumers, DeVilbiss added lines of simple glass ash trays that retailed around $1.00-$1.25 in a 1926 catalog. As the decade progressed, fancier fired colored glass ash trays were produced featuring a gilded polar bear, a posing nude, cat, fish and other figurals done in the Art Deco style.

Ash trays were advertised as :

"The incense of gratitude arises to the giver of a set of these smartly decorated Ash Trays, which are to be had in blue, old rose, green, flame, yellow and black. There are three styles, including the plain Trays and two types of decoration as illustrated. The decorated Trays are somewhat deeper than the plain style. Each number above, represents a set consisting of four trays, graduated sizes, nested. You will find them all popular sellers for gift purposes.”

Ash trays came in the following colors: coral, black, green, peach bloom, orchid, blue and yellow. Other pieces for smoking sets were frequently sold, items available were cigarette boxes, small trays and mat holders. Cigarette boxes were the normal rectangular shape. The cigarette and match holder was made up of one piece of glass, the small wells would have held 3 cigarettes. A very beautiful smoking set matches the Deluxe Vanity set in that is gold encrusted and hand painted with tiny flowers.


Perfume Lamps

Perfume lamps are perfect for bedrooms, bathrooms or anywhere you would wish to create mood lighting. They cast a warm, soft glow when lit and are very romantic in the right setting. The Cambridge Glass Company and Quezal both supplied DeVilbiss with some shades. I have seen many shades with stenciled designs, and very rare examples with cameo type or hand painted scenes.

“Like the fair afterglow of moonlight, the artistry and beauty of decorations and delicate color tones are revealed by the illumination of the small electric bulb within.”

To use these rarities, you would you put your favorite oils or perfume in the top cup and when the heat from the light bulb warms the fragrance, it fills the air with fragrance. For the Cambridge glass examples, you would place your perfume in the indentation made in the top of the lamp. These generally take a small 4 or 7 watt night light bulb. Some people choose to have them rewired with new cords for safe use. The original bulbs were available in 110, 220, 240 and 250 volts for direct current, for alternating current the following voltages were available: 110, 220, 250, 440.

“The loveliness of the hand decorations and lavish use of gold have developed some particularly beautiful models for use in living room, hall or dining room as decorative pieces.”

A DeVilbiss box for a perfume lamp stated:

 “Gentle light and sweet fragrance! A truly delightful mode of escape from things mundane, into a magic garden of dreams. As practical as they are beautiful, these night lights can be used with or without perfume. They present possibilities for most charming and unusual decorative effects, and are often so used as secondary lights.”

A catalog introduced you to the perfume lamp by the following passage:

“Gentle Light and Sweet Fragrance. Sun, moon, and stars are Nature’s torches with which she ingenuously lights her world. Moonlight and starlight mingle their gentle radiance with the sweet breath of sleeping flowers; night descends and romance is abroad. 
In the design and exquisite utility of 56 Perfume Lights, we have sought to interpret nocturnal beauty as the moon and stars reveal it. Colors softly glow - fairies dance beneath half closed, fragrant petals and ships of contentment sail home. The line this year is so decorative and diversified that there are appropriate Perfume Lights for hall, living room, boudoir or nursery; wherever a secondary light can be used. 
Perfume can be placed in a small, concealed cup where it is slowly volatilized by the warmth of the electric bulb within. The perfume Light illustrated on this page is a beautiful example of an elaborately hand decorated series, only one number of which is shown in this catalog.”

In the DeVilbiss catalogs, the perfume lamps were described as follows:

” Gentle Light and Sweet Fragrance- The gates of one’s imagination open softly before the fragrant, glowing radiance of these exquisitely designed lights. There are decorations especially appropriate for- boudoir or nursery, and the chalice for a favorite perfume is so placed that the fragrance is slowly volatilized by the warmth from the electric bulb within.”

“De Vilbiss Perfume Lights serve a most artistic as well as useful purpose.”

When looking for perfume lamps, be sure it is complete with base, glass insert, perfume well and lid, however do not overlook the incomplete pieces as they would be nice for display or educational purposes. The perfume lamps came with paper labels.

“When Perfume is used, it is placed in a small, concealed cup, and slowly volatilized to a subtle suggestion of one’s favorite fragrance by the warmth from the electric bulb within.”

The DeVilbiss perfume lights varied in decoration from simple Cambridge opaque glass lights to very elaborate cameo glass pieces. Their prices ranged from $3.00 for the Cambridge lights to $75 for a very beautiful hand painted scene of a nude standing against an incense burner, evoking a Grecian or Roman vision, series number 5BQ-1, this particular lamp was available for auction by Monsen & Baer in 2002, it‘s presale estimate was $2,000-$3,000. 

The Durand Heart & Vine art glass lamp retailed for $10.00. The Arts & Crafts style lamp featuring a Quezal art glass shade, numbers BN-11 retailed at $12.00, this too was shown in the same Monsen & Baer auction catalog and valued at $1,500-$2,000. 

A gorgeous Steuben Aurene art glass shade was fitted onto an ormolu base studded with glass jewels, number BL-14, retailed for $10.00 in 1926 .

The lower end of the spectrum featured painted glass shades with great sailing ships, which would have been perfect for usage in a masculine setting. These lamps, of the 5BG series had three shades which could be used either opened or closed and were very decorative even when unlighted and retailed at $5.00 in 1926. Other shades had scenes of gilded parrots set upon their turquoise blue shades, evoking the blue waters of the tropics. These were set into gilded frames also able to be opened as were the lamps with ombre shaded panels stenciled with fairies frolicking under Chinese paper lanterns. The parrots retailed at $15.00 while the fairies danced for you for $20.00.Other elaborately stenciled shades sat in textured gilded frames with Oriental shapes, looking like they came out of a Sultan’s boudoir.

The 1950s saw an infinite variety of Japanese porcelain perfume, nursery and night lights. Many were figural shapes like clowns, flower baskets, Madonnas, Cupids, vases featuring flowers, swans, shoes, sand castles, smiling toadstools, owl, angel, girl, bunny, waterwheel, sailing vessels, poodles, skunks, antique cars and locomotives. Prices ranged from $4.95-$9.95

Around 1957, beautiful imported glass mantle lustres were offered in ruby-frost, rose ice, citron ice and gold bands. These pretty garnitures were fitted with large cut glass prisms and can often be mistaken for Victorian era lustres. They were probably imported from either Bohemia or Western Germany. Other lustres came in colors such as blue flame, ruby flame, rose luster, blue luster, crystal-gold band, and topaz-gold band. Retail prices ranged from $3.50 to $4.00 each.


DeVilbiss Catalogs


The rare DeVilbiss catalogs were works of art themselves and I would imagine they were very expensive to reproduce in their time. The covers were hardbound and covered in leatherette, and lettered in gold script on the cover. These catalogs were hand lettered and artist renderings, you wont find any photographs in these catalogs. Most of the pages are full-color and would have required five different printing plates to reproduce the images seen.

 I believe that these fabulous catalogs were used the by the salesmen to entice the department store buyer or dealer to showcase their bottles in their stores. Original DeVilbiss catalogs are very hard to find and when one has that opportunity, the price can be staggering. I have seen catalogs at a starting price of $1000 and up.

To see many catalog reprints, I recommend Marsha Crafts compilation book entitled "DeVilbiss-Perfume Catalogs".


DeVilbiss Patents for Perfume Bottles & Hardware


DeVilbiss filed for many patents over the years. I have compiled a list of important ones. You can look up the numbers on the US Patent Office's website. Be sure to preface the numbers with a D for design patent.

DeVilbiss was granted a patent for their first atomizer which was the ball point on August 23, 1909.

  • Patent # 46,430 designed by Thomas A. DeVilbiss was filed on July 2, 1914.
  • Patent # 46,430 designed by Thomas A. DeVilbiss was filed on July 2, 1914.
  • Patent # 50,467 for an atomizer base was filed on June 16, 1916.
  • Patent # 50, 466 for an atomizer base was filed June 16, 1916
  • Patent # 59, 624 for their aerodynamic atomizer head was filed Feb 12, 1920.
  • Patent # 60,782 for their acorn finial double armed atomizer head was filed on June 4, 1921.
  • Patent 75,899 was filed for two Debutante styles on April 7, 1928.
  • Patent 75,900 was filed on April 7, 1928 for their Le Moderne Swinger type atomizer.
  • Patent 75,901 was fled for an unusual crescent shaped atomizer head on April 7, 1928
  • Patent 75, 902 for an atomizer head filed on April 7, 1928.
  • Patent 76,463 was filed on April 7, 1928 for another Debutante style.
  • Patent 76,464 for a Debutante style atomizer was filed on April 7,1928.
  • Patent 76,465 was filed on April 7, 1928 for an unusual Debutante style.
  • Patent 77,466 for an unusual dragonfly shaped Debutante bottle on Oct 10, 1928
  • Patent 77,467 was filed for an atomizer head on Oct 10, 1928.
  • Patent 77,468 filed on Oct 10,1928 for an atomizer head.
  • Patent 77,469 for an unusual atomizer head filed on Oct 10, 1928.
  • Patent 77,470 filed on Oct 10, 1928 for a bulbless atomizer
  • Patent 77,471 was filed for an angular shaped atomizer head on Oct 10,1928
  • Patent 77,752 was filed for a disk shaped atomizer head April 7, 1928.
  • Patent 77,753 was filed on April 7,1928 for a disk shaped atomizer head.
  • Patent 77,754 was filed for a Debutante style bottle on April &, 1928.
  • Patent 77,755 filed on April 7, 1928 for a Debutante atomizer.

1 comment:

  1. I have an emerald green glass short bottle. with sticker that says De Vilbiss 600-76. another sticker says made in western Germany.

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