Our company was founded in 1981 and offers for products and services for collectors.
Jean-Michel COURSET, is the author or co-author of three books of reference
These books are now rares and exhausted.
What to collect ? How to classify these bottles ? Which samples to buy ?
These questions are frequently asked by beginners and there is only one answer ; be guided by ones own tastes. Everyone organises a collection according to his own wishes, needs, means or restraints.
However there are several basic directions to follow and some pitfalls to be avoided.
A beginner frequently sets off in several directions at once. Starting with a few bottles given by perfumeries or friends, the decision is made to develop a coherent collection which will be a pleasure to put together, to manage and to look at. The advantage of this method is that the novice collector rapidly discovers the enormous variety of miniatures available, the colours, the fragrances, the prices and the rarer examples. It is a required basic step which leads to a diverse and substantial collection.
Secondly, it rapidly becomes obvious that to make a full collection of all available miniatures would be extremely difficult (at a rough estimate there are between 20 & 30,000 different miniatures worldwide).
Therefore most collectors choose to specialise, for example :
- The great French makes
- bottles of a precise colour (ex : "Bourjois blue")
- a particular perfume house
- old bottles
- rare bottles
- bottles connected with celebrities
- bottles connected with couture houses
- Italian bottles - bottles of unusual shape
- bottles evoking a theme (e.g; animals, women, ect...).
Obviously, the list is not exhaustive. Frequently, alongside this specialisation, the collector will acquire and keep certain bottles that do not enter into his chosen category.
Later a second category or a more general collection may be started.
How and where bottles can be obtained ?
The golden rule is to ask ones friends, family, and colleagues, a surprising number may have a few of these charming small bottles. Some may already be collectors and will propose exchanges, others probably throw away their used samples and will be delighted to give you their bottles, (a discrete reminder from time to time would be useful). Arrange the bottles in a display case, not only for esthetic pleasure but to ensure a subject of conversation.
In this way a small collection can be started quickly at almost no cost.
Later when you wish to acquire the more sought after, older or rarer items, then the choice is either purchase or exchange.
You can then follow different ways:
Nowadays miniatures are frequently given away for free when a product is bought in a perfume shop. However the systematic purchase of a perfume to obtain the corresponding miniature is to be discouraged, as, unless the perfume is used, the collection will become expensive and the bathroom will be full of unused perfumes and cosmetics. On the contrary never leave a perfumery without a miniature when a purchase has been made, even if a miniature does not exist for the product bought, a little gentle persuation should result in the offer of one or perhaps several others. It is useless to visit all the perfumery shops in the region as miniatures are rarely given without a purchase being made. Many perfumeries now sell miniatures and occasionally bargains are to be found, but before buying it is useful to compare prices with those of the second-hand market. Visit our on-line store to find great bargains
Bottles can equally well be obtained from the professionals, antique and second-hand goods dealers, sale rooms, specialised dealers or mail order houses. In these cases the law of the jungle rules and one must compare, from one dealer to another, from one sale room to another, from one month to another, as prices can vary by a factor of three. Another error to avoid is to rush out to purchase a new product. They are often excessively expensive during the first weeks and 95 % of the time the price will be reduced quite quickly and will only increase with age and rarity.
Lastly purchases can be made directly from other collectors, either met through sales or advertisements. Any articles for sale must be carefully examined and for larger purchases a bill of sale requested. Payment by cheque is recommended. Unfortunately some collections have been stolen and it would be possible to be accused of receiving. If any doubt subsists abandon the transaction. Any purchase from a minor should be accompanied by a written parental authorisation.
Compare, avoid speculation, move around, collect information, refuse doubtful goods and the collection will have been started at little risk.
One of the great pleasures of exchanging, apart from the acquisition of new items, is the opportunity to meet other collectors, to learn from them and to share ones own knowledge. For a collector the ultimate pleasure is to talk about his own collection. It is wise to be careful when exchanging by correspondance, the first bottle should be one of relatively small value. It is also a good idea to contact the other party by telephone, as frequently a short conversation can be very instructive.
Usually the exchange is made on a one to one basis, with bottles of a similar value, or old for old, recent for recent, or one in a box for another boxed one, but there is no reason why several easily found bottles should not be offered for one rarer example, provided both parties in the exchange are satisfied. But do not accept to swap an old Nina Ricci bottle with a Givenchy or Yves Rocher.
When dealing with professionals, at an antique fair for example, it is preferable to choose a quiet moment (opening or closing tiome, meal times) as the transaction can be lengthy. A dealer is generally interested in any bottle not already in stock and will readily exchange it for another of which he has several examples. Often these dealers have a private collection and will naturally be interested for themselves. Consideration must be given to the fact that frequently the professional dealer will ask for two bottles for one, this is not surprising, as they have their overheads and profit lmargin to protect. Addresses can be found on the Minitel system (e.g. 3615 COLL or 3615 ABC), in the samll ads section of specialised magazines ( La Vie du Collectionneur, Le Collectionneur Français, Aladin or Club reviews). See the section "Useful addresses". Of course you can also look on internet especially on www.miniparfum.com where you can buy on line and get a lot of informations and links to many others sites. You can also change free all over the world by using the free classified.
How to manage a collection ?
In the beginning it is easy to remember which bottles are in the collection, but the passage of time, the number of variants for certain bottles, the condition of older bottles, and the possession or lack of box incerases the risk of either buying a bottle already in the collection or in the worse case not buying one. Therefore, from the start it is advisable to keep a list. This list should include the name of the perfume, the makers name ; a note on the type of the bottle (e.g. empty, with box, damaged...) and also the price paid as it is always interesting to see the evolution of the value of the bottle.
This book can also be of great help in preparing a list of items missing and needed to complete your collection, as next to each reference number and photograph there are numerous details and information about each bottle, and next to each reference a box to tick. For example, the bottles already in your collection. Also at the back of the book there is a place for notes.
So do not hesitate to catalogue the bottles from the start as it becomes a more tedious task once there are a large number. A computer is an excellent way of classifying this information.
Samples or miniatures?
There is an ongoing debate over the terms sample and miniature. A sample is a small amount (but sometimes as much as 25 ml e.g. Shalimar by Guerlain) given away to promote a perfume. The sample can be a small tube, a standart bottle or a more or less exact copy of the actual perfume bottle.
A miniature is a small size bottle, destined to be a sample or for sale.
Which should be collected ? It is a personal choice and our advice is to follow this rather than be influenced by this or that trend. Why should the replacement of the label "Not for sale" by "Sold in exclusivity" change ones interest in the bottle, especially in the case where the two bottles are identical. Why be deprived if a "first size" bottle is more attractive than the sample and the price is right ?
In the collectors market are found many miniatures of perfumes little known to the general public, and rarely distributed in France. Contrary to a widespread idea these are not bottles designed exclusively for collectors (a few do exist and are sometimes attractive enough to be included in a collection). They are either French products designed for foreign markets (Middle east, Asia, Eastern europe, USA, or South America), or foreign products designed for the local market, a few of which have reached the French market. This last category includes a large number of Italian examples which, whilst they should not be ignored, should not be too expensive as they are often widely available.
With or without box ?
It is encouraging to see that, nowadays, most collectors prefer bottles with their boxes. Not only does the box protect the bottle, but as an integral part of the product enhances the whole. It also is an important source of information concerning the prefume and the maker. Do not throw the boxes away. Even if the bottles are displayed in a show case the boxes can be kept elsewhere, as in the event of a resale or exchange the lack of box will consideraly reduce the value of the article.
Three remarks :
- If your budget is modest, start a collection with boxless bottles, on the condition these are bought cheaply. The price of commonly found modern bottles should be at least 50 % less.
- some bottles have never had any individual box and it would be a shame to deprive oneself of, for example, the three Lalique miniatures which came out in 1995 on the pretext that they are not strictly samples and that they are not presented in individual boxes.
- it is often difficult to find older bottles complete with a box (sometimes these have defects). Therefore do not overlook a reasonably priced interesting bottle simply because there is no box.
The beauty of the object and common sense should be your guide.
Presentation box ?
A presentation box is a compilation of bottles without their boxes so, a priori, they are less interesting than those in their individual packaging.
However there are two different types of presentation box. Those create by a perfume house and containing several of their products. (e.g. three toilet water by Guerlain). These are often linked with a promotional offer over a short period of time and contain bottles which when found individually are more expensive. These are not to be ignored.
Those presentation boxes containing bottles of various makes should be treated with some reserve. These are frequently artificial groupings of secondary makes whose bottles, complete with box, can easily be found elsewhere. Often intented for the tourist trade (sold in duty-free shops at airports, or in souvenir shops) the presentation case does not increase the value of the individual bottles and often cost almost as much as a miniature with box. We leave you to do the arithmetic!