This bottle is really cool, and it makes a nice addition to your silver overlay collection since it is not “just another” perfume bottle. It is a barber bottle, with the opening in the top for sprinkling water or whatever it is that barbers sprinkle. ;-) If you look up “silver overlay barber bottle” on Google, all kinds of vessels will appear, including vases (no tops) and decanters with solid stoppers, but precious few actual barber bottles!

I can’t tell you a lot about the bottle, since it is not marked (at least no mark that I could find). It tests for sterling, but I can’t tell you the maker. My guess is that was made sometime during the first few decades of the last century, and that it is probably American.

There are two issues to tell you about; one probably happened during manufacture, and the other happened later—and gradually.

I will start with the later one. It is not damage in the sense we would ordinarily think of it; it is not something, say, that a careless owner did—as dropping it would be. The cork has shrunk with age, and although it sat reasonably well in the bottle, I wanted to make the fit closer to what it once was. I have wrapped medical adhesive tape around the cork to approximate its original diameter and circumference. You can see two views of this in my fifth composite image. Note, by the way, that there is a manufacturing error, for lack of another word. The tube through which the liquid was shaken out was not mounted in the precise center of the cover. I don’t think that would have had any effect on its use, but, if you have hang-ups about symmetry, you may not like the fact that the hole in the cork through which the tube extends is off center. Neither that nor the fact that the fit of the cork has been improved is evident when the bottle is on display (or if you will actually be using it), so I don’t think either thing is a big deal.

A slightly bigger deal is the missing silver on the rim. I really don’t know how this may have happened, but I am almost certain the missing half of the silver on the rim is somehow a result of something that went wrong during manufacture. Since there is no chasing along the edge of the rim, it is not as if the chasing tool cut too deep and cut OFF the piece of silver as opposed to engraving it. You see that type of problem every once in a while, when, for example, there is a flower with lots of slim petals, one of which accidentally gets cut way altogether instead of being “drawn” and defined by the silversmith’s tool.

As I said, this little booboo is slightly more serious than the two that are hidden under the cap, but it, too, while noticeable if you are looking for it (and you probably wouldn’t readily see it unless you were looking down at the top from above) is not a major aesthetic flaw.

Otherwise, the bottle is in very good condition. It has some cloudiness on the very bottom, but the sides are relatively clear—with a touch here and there of some slight mineral deposits and some tiny imperfections in the glass itself. I believe my images are large enough and clear enough (focuswise) for you to see this directly. The silver has the typical scratches, dents and dings you see on an item like this, with no egregious flaws. The design is simple with some chasing—most visible around the cartouche, but this is not an ornate Art Nouveau perfume bottle meant to sit on milady’s vanity table; rather it is a utilitarian—but handsome—vessel.

I should just state it affirmatively, so you will know that I checked. All the silver is firmly attached, and there are no cracks in the glass.

The bottle is 4 3/4 inches high, and the diameter of the base is 1 5/8 inches.

I can’t think of anything else to tell you, but please write if you have a question.

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Early 20th Century

Rosalie's Steiff & More

Not Often Seen Sterling Silver Overlay Barber Bottle


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