The Perfume Atomizer: From Classic Collectible To Modern Convenience

By David Faulkner

Perfume atomizers have always been an odd mix of elegance and chemistry lab utilitarianism. The graceful scent bottles of old were produced in a variety of shapes and sizes and a variety of materials including m crystal, cut glass, porcelain and enamel, with delicate filigree, or gold, silver, and jewel accents, paired with Bunsen burner-like tops connected to small rubber turkey baster-like rubber bulbs. When the bulbs were squeezed, they sent a fine mist of perfume through the nozzle of the Bunsen burner-like top.

The De Vilbiss Perfume Atomizer
It all sounds rather cumbersome, but the perfume atomizer has been around in the US for nearly a century, ever since the doughboys of WWII brought exquisitely designed perfume spray bottles back to the US from France. The De Vilbiss Company of Toledo Ohio adapted their medical atomizers to the perfume dispensers, and by the middle of the Roaring Twenties the flappers of America were buying the perfume atomizer to the tune of a million a year.

The earliest De Vilbiss perfume atomizer held its perfume in a glass salt shaker, as they were the only suitable sized containers available in large enough numbers to meet the demand. But as business picked up, De Vilbiss would create a design for each perfume atomizer and send it one of the major glass factories to be turned into miniature glass works of art and delivered back to De Vilbiss for sale.

Perhaps the best known perfume atomizer from De Vilbiss was of Steuben Aurene glass, with its blue or gold iridescent finish. But their cranberry glass perfume atomizer with the rotten acid finish and gold overlays is also highly collectible, and there are many other De Vilbiss atomizers waiting for new homes in the antique shops and auction houses of America.

The Perfume Atomizer Today
While the perfume atomizer of today has sacrificed elegance for convenience, it remains an essential part of a woman’s travel kit. Resembling an extra large tube of lipstick when closed, the modern perfume atomizer, with its top removed has a spray nozzle cap like those on spray mousse cans. The cap can be unscrewed so that perfume can be poured into the base through a small funnel included with the perfume atomizer. Most of these atomizers hold between one and two ounces of perfume, which should be enough to last for two to four weeks of travel.

The perfume atomizer is ideal for storing perfume, because it does not have to be opened once it is filled, and keeps evaporation to a minimum. It also allows the user to spray a fine mist of perfume into the air and simply step through it, achieving an even distribution of perfume over her body instead of having it concentrated at the pulse points. And it’s a great way to turn a signature body scent into a signature air freshener!

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