Avon has been creating collectible perfume bottles for decades, with a range of designs and themes that appeal to collectors of all types. Many people fondly remember the “Avon Ladies”, travelling salespeople who brought samples of Avon’s cosmetics from door-to-door.
Some of these bottles have become highly sought after by collectors and can command high prices at auction. The combination of creative designs, limited availability, practicality, and charitable causes helped to make Avon bottles iconic. While the company no longer produces many collectible bottles, the legacy of these unique and whimsical designs lives on among collectors around the world.
Today, we will explore the background behind the production of Avon bottles and decanters, some of the most valuable bottles, auction records, and a buying and selling guide. Whether you have inherited an Avon bottle or would like to form a collection yourself, you have come to the right place!
Avon Bottles: Background
Avon was founded in 1886 by David H. McConnell in New York City. Before forming the company, McConnell was a traveling book salesman who noticed that many of the female customers he visited were actually more interested in some free perfume samples than the books he was selling. He decided to form a unique company whereby female sales representatives sold perfumes and toiletries door-to-door.
Initially, Avon sold their products in simple bottles with standard utilitarian packaging. But in 1956, they introduced the “Little Dot” cologne bottle which was designed to resemble a hatpin. This adorable bottle was a hit with customers and was the first of many collectible Avon bottles.
Over the decades, Avon released a wide variety of collectible bottles with designs inspired by a great range of subjects including animals, flowers, beauty objects, historical figures, and popular films. Many of these bottles were designed by glass artists such as Fenton Art Glass and the Wheaton Glass Company, and were intentionally made as limited editions to increase their value among collectors.
Why Did Avon Bottles Become So Iconic?
Many Avon bottles were marketed as collectibles from the beginning of production. Avon were very successful at creating a sense of urgency among collectors by releasing bottles in small quantities for a limited time only. They also employed creative marketing strategies, such as offering free gifts to customers who purchased a certain number of bottles, to encourage collectors to buy more. Entrepreneurs take note!
Some Avon bottles were modeled after vintage perfume bottles, which gave them a timeless appeal. Others were designed to resemble objects from popular culture, such as cars, trains, and characters from children’s stories. These designs appeal to collectors who were looking for something fun to add to their collections.
The practicality of Avon bottles also adds to their appeal. For example, many of the bottles were refillable. A number of the limited edition bottles were released in support of specific charities, with a percentage of the proceeds from each sale going to the designated charities. For example, Avon released a “Breast Cancer Crusade” bottle in 1996 to support breast cancer research and awareness. This added a sense of purpose to the act of collecting Avon bottles.
Most Valuable Avon Bottles
We’ve brought together a list of the most valuable Avon bottles around today, their average value and some amazing auction records. Please note that values are accurate at the time of writing but may fluctuate with changes in supply and demand, and popularity.
32 Piece Avon Chess Set
Year of production: 1971-1978
Design: The complete Avon chess set contains 32 decanters and was in high demand between its years of production 1971-1978. The set was produced by the Wheaton Glass Company in Millville, New Jersey.
The glass bottles were the first ever amber Avon bases, while the lids are silver plastic. Avon even created a board to finish the set which was only given to the highest-selling Avon representatives to sell on to customers.
Average value: $50
Auction record: The most recent auction record went to this complete set on eBay which sold in 2023 for $118.45! It was in mint condition and all the original boxes were present.
“Little Miss Muffet” Decanter
Year of production: 1972
Design: One of the most valuable Avon bottles is the “Little Miss Muffet” decanter. The decanter is designed to look like a spider with a girl (Little Miss Muffet) sitting on a tuffet, waving her curds and whey in alarm. The spider’s body is made of frosted glass, while the tuffet is made of porcelain. The decanter contains “Topaze” perfume.
Average value: $20
Auction record: We have not been able to find an original auction record for this bottle, but allegedly a Little Miss Muffet decanter in mint condition sold for $900 at auction around the year 2000.
Year of production: 1990s
Design: During the 90s, Avon produced a great many automobile themed bottles. Most of these are in the style of throw-back cars and most are composed of colored glass. Others are made of clear glass and features just the shape of an iconic automobile.
Average value: $100-$500
Auction record: An entire collection of Avon automobile themed perfume decanters along with a guidebook and display cabinet were sold for $1,450 in 2021!
1979 Avon Anniversary Keepsake Bottle
Year of production: 1979
Design: This iconic bottle is around 5 inches tall and features an elegant, tall, thin shape with a beautiful embossed pattern. The lid is silver plastic with a similar pattern.
Average value: $10-$20
Auction record: In 2022 a 1979 Anniversary Keepsake bottle was sold as a pair along with another perfume bottle for $80.
Avon Beehive Bottle
Year of Production: 1978
Design: The Beehive, or “Honey Bee” bottle features a delicate honey-colored hive with a golden bee atop it. It is around 2 ¼ inches tall and originally it held “Moonwind” perfume.
Average value: $30
Auction record: A mint condition example of the Beehive bottle was sold as part of a small collection for $650 in 2021!
Bulldog Pipe Aftershave Decanter
Year of production: 1972
Design: This milk glass decanter is crafted in the shape of a smoking pipe. The decanting spout imitates a pipe spout while the bowl is in the shape of a bulldog head. It holds around 6 fluid ounces of aftershave.
Average value: $20
Auction record: One example in excellent condition sold for $75 in 2022 on eBay.
Small World Series
Year of production: 1970-1979
Design: The Small World series of lotions and perfumes featured stylised women or girls in bright tones from around the world. Each person bottle has a round head and ten-pin bowl-shaped body, and has been decorated according to their character role. For example, there’s an American cowgirl, a Scottish girl with beautiful red hair, and so many more.
Average Value: $30-$40
Auction record: A small set of Small World figural Avon bottles sold for $49.99 in 2022.
Valuing Collectible Avon Bottles
Valuing a collectible Avon bottle can be tricky, as the value of each bottle depends on a variety of factors, including its rarity, condition, and historical significance.
Some bottles may only be worth a few dollars, while others may be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. To determine the value of a collectible Avon bottle, it’s important to do research and consult with experts in the field. Online auction sites and price guides can also be helpful resources for determining the value of a particular bottle.
Take a careful look at your bottle and try to find any markings on the underside. Depending on the company which Avon commissioned to manufacture the bottle, it may or may not carry a logo and company name underneath. Wheaton Glass Company tended not to mark their bottles. The name “AVON” may also be embossed or printed somewhere on the bottle.
Recognizing an unmarked Avon perfume bottle can be difficult, especially since the bottles were made in such a range of styles and shapes. Figural bottles were produced from around 1965 onwards, so if you find one of these it is easier to date it.
One giveaway feature could be the lid – these were usually made form plastic, and styled and colored in a complimentary way to match the bottle color and design. Cars bottles tend to be from between 1968 and 1970.
You can find out so much by giving the bottle a careful inspection. This handy guide may help you to “read” your bottle.
Buying And Selling Collectible Avon Bottles
When buying collectible Avon bottles, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, it’s important to buy from reputable sources to ensure that the bottle is authentic and in good condition. Go for listings with plenty of details and close-up photographs. Many collectors prefer to buy from dealers or auction houses that specialize in collectible bottles, as these sources are more likely to have a good selection of rare and high-quality bottles.
To get a bit of advice on which bottles are worth collecting or trying to sell, you can try to reach out for advice from experts and enthusiasts. Forums such as the Avon Collector’s Forum are a good place to do this.
When selling a collectible Avon bottle, it’s important to take steps to ensure that the bottle is in good condition and properly documented. This can include taking photos of the bottle from multiple angles, noting any damage or wear, and providing any historical or provenance information that may be relevant. It’s also important to do research to determine a fair price for the bottle, taking into account factors such as rarity, condition, and demand among collectors.
We can recommend these online marketplaces:
- eBay – searching for vintage Avon bottles via eBay is easy. You can also filter the results by color, time period manufactured, material, subject, condition, price, and many more options. Make sure you go for listings from reputable sellers. If selling, make sure you include plenty of details and respond to buyers’ questions quickly.
- Etsy – this is a great site for vintage and collectible items. Etsy is a home for a great range of unique sellers from around the world. Again, make sure you only purchase from sellers with a good reputation. If selling a bottle yourself, it is essential to include lots of information and images.
- Collector’s Weekly – check out Collector’s Weekly for useful background and live listings across different auction sites. Sellers and Avon bottle enthusiasts share their stories and rare finds on this site.