Travel Atomizers

In this guide I will introduce you to the world of the antique and vintage piston pump type of perfume atomizers. These bottles were meant for travel and had a leakproof design and are cylindrical in shape. The date range for these unique perfume bottles is 1900-1940s. The travel atomizers you will most likely come across date from 1900-1920s.

Opening & Closing

Some buyers may be interested in seeing if your bottle's plunger works, or you may be stumped on how to open it.

To open, place your finger or thumb on top the plunger, press and turn counterclockwise a quarter turn. The plunger should pop right up. On the French marked pieces look for the "F" and the "O". The "F" stands for "Fermé" which mean "close" and "O" which means "Ouvert" or "open". You can use these marks as a guide on where to turn.

Now press down onto the plunger several times and see if air is emitted from the nozzle. You could also fill the bottle with water to see if it will spray.

To close, place your finger or thumb onto the plunger, then the plunger pushes down into the mount head and locks in with a quarter turn clockwise. Do not try to pry the plunger off of the mount head or you will snap it off as some of the metal is soft white metal alloys like pewter. Unfortunately, I have seen the remnants and damage caused by people unaware of how to open or close these properly.


Looking at your bottle , the mount has two parts, the upper part and the lower part, to open the bottle to clean it out or to add perfume, you can place your hand around the top part above the seam and give it a twist. These are usually on pretty tight, try some WD40 or other lubricant in the seam, but don't attempt damage by using pliers or other tools to try to get it open.

When you get the bottle open, look at the very bottom of the plunger mount, sometimes you can find mount manufacturer's markings here on this part of the metal. You may find markings such as TM for Theophilus Martin.

A soaking in vinegar often removes verdigris from brass mountings. You can use a small brush to scrub away any stubborn verdigris.


The bottles have small nozzles from which the perfume was emitted. To guard against leakage, these nozzles had a tiny screw on cap which attached to the mount by a little chain.

The hardware mounts were made of brass, bronze, silver, gold, pewter, or molded lead. They were generally plated with gold or nickel, and in the 1930s, chrome. Most of the atomizer hardware was Made in France, but others were made here in America and in England. French hardware is usually marked "Brevete", "Depose" , "Modele Depose", or "Bte. SGDG".

People often mistake these markings for manufacturer's marks but in reality:
  • Brevete means "Patented" 
  • Depose means "registered" 
  • Marque de Fabrique: this word means "trade mark"
  • Marque déposée: "trademark"
  • Modele Depose: Registered Design
  • Bté. SGDG: means "patented." It is shortened from the phrase Breveté Sans Garantie du Gouvernement which means "Patented without State Guarantee."

The Bottles

The glass for the atomizer bottles were usually French, Bohemian, American or English. Baccarat was responsible for many of the heavy cut glass bottles you may find in your travels. Other companies such as Lalique, Galle, Saint-Louis and Daum Nancy also made bottles for these atomizers. The glass is rarely marked, but sometimes you might find the acid etchings of Lalique, Daum Nancy and Baccarat. Lalique bottles often have atomizer mounts by Marcas et Bardel and Marcel Franck.Extremely rare bottles may have dual, triple or quadruple chambered compartments for different scents, each with its own nozzle.

Marcel Franck

The major company that dominated the scene was the firm of Marcel Franck. Marcel Franck still manufactures atomizer hardware for perfume bottles today. Marcel Franck had French patents for his perfume atomizer hardware, most prolific was "La Provencale", "L'Escale", "Le Kid", and "Le Parisien". Some of these mounts were engraved, molded or tooled with floral designs or other motifs.

The mid 1920s, brought forth the Le Kid atomizers by Marcel Franck were meant for the purse or pocket. They were smaller versions of the piston pump atomizers and came in a variety of finishes in materials such as the extremely popular mother of pearl, lizard skin, enamel, nickel plate, snake skin, brass, shagreen, galalith (French Bakelite), goldplate, tortoiseshell, enamel, eel skin.

Marcel Franck's Le Kid atomizers proved so popular that a rival company, Aromys of Paris decided to create their own version of the little purse atomizer which they called L'Aiglon (the eaglette) in 1929, in three different sizes, and marketed them for "the purse, the pocket or the voyage". L'Aiglon was also available in a variety of finishes such as enamel, mother of pearl, galalith, rhodoid (early plastic), nacrolaque (a plastic similar to Bakelite) and brass.

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