The art of collecting can be fun and inspiring. In this section we will
review the basics of collecting lachrymatories or tear bottles and provide some
tips on getting started. Please keep in mind that these guidelines are meant to
get you started, but be sure to research thoroughly before spending any money.
There are many reasons to begin collecting lachrymatory: a desire to own a
piece of history, a passion for beautiful objects, and some of us are simply
inclined to collect. Whatever your motivation, tear bottles are an intriguing collectable.
The first consideration for your collection will be the type of items you
wish to collect. New or old, handmade or manufactured, rare or affordable. Each
approach to collecting involves different risks and opportunities.
The next challenge is to find actual tear bottles. Most sellers are actually
offering perfume or snuff bottles. The difficulty is made worse by the
uncertainty of how the ancient bottles were really used. There are two
distinctions I’ve found for “true” tear bottles.
- The stopper will be designed for an excellent seal (sometimes
permanent) and won’t have a perfume applicator or snuff spoon (see the
similar artifacts page). Most 19th
century Victorian bottles seem to have a wax or cork seal (wax to preserve
tears and cork to allow evaporation).
- The sizes of bottles in the line will be limited to a reasonable range
for holding tears. For example, the miniature Egyptian perfume bottles
might be passable as lachrymatories, but the line of bottles goes up to
500 ml. A 6 to 8 inch bottle is simply too large for a practical
lachrymatory. Unfortunately, anyone can call any bottle a tear bottle
(from a marketing standpoint). Two to 4 inches tall is typical (depending
on the neck length). One half inch is the shortest and 4 inches is the
tallest I've seen for anything other than a group grieving ceremony at
which the tears of many are combined.
Check out the design of the bottle, what other bottles are made by the same
company or source, and the type of cap or seal.
Where do I start?
I've assembled a few pages to help you through the process of starting
your collection. Start with Pricing,
then use the Next button at the bottom of the page or the navigation button
on the upper left to work through the various pages.
Good Luck and enjoy!