Perfumes

The essence of ROSEMARY was used for scenting; it smelt, according to Rimmel, very like camphor, but one perfume became extremely well known. In 1709, an Italian chemist named Farina concocted a mixture of orange, alcohol, bergamot, lemon oil and rosemary. This proved very popular with the Germans, and Farina marketed it under the name Kölnisches Wasser - later known as eau de Cologne (Wykes-Joyce).

The distilled oil from the leaves of LEMON VERBENA are used commercially in the scent industry. It is blended with citrus oils, orris, rose and heliotrope (Whittle & Cook). BEE BALM is another plant with a lemon fragrance, used as a strewing herb, and even as an ingredient in furniture polish, to give the wood a sweet perfume. The leaves of SWEET FLAG can produce by distillation a volatile oil, used as an ingredient in perfumery (Genders. 1972). CLARY is cultivated these days for its oil, which is used in the cosmetics industry as a perfume fixer. It is a highly aromatic oil, with a scent resembling ambergris (Clair). CASSIA oil was one of the precious perfumes, an ingredient of the holy oil of the Old Testament. It was also used as part of the incense burnt in the Temple (Zohary).

However disagreeable to modern taste, the smell of VALERIAN used to be held in quite high esteem, for the root was put among clothes as a perfume in the 16th century (Fluckiger & Hanbury), hence perhaps the name English Orris, and it is still used as a perfume in the East (Lloyd). According to legend, an Italian called Frangipani in the 12th century created an exquisite perfume. European settlers in the Caribbean 400 years later discovered a plant whose flower had a similar perfume, so it was naturally called FRAN-GIPANI. PATCHOULI is a famous Eastern perfume, obtained from the leaves of the Indian plant of the same name. Unadulterated, the plant smells strongly and unpleasantly of goats. But when the oil is diluted with attar of roses, all traces of the unpleasant quality disappear completely. Patchouli perfume, not the same as the oil, is made from the leaves - it has a reputation of being aphrodisiac. Powdered leaves are sometimes put into incense (Schery). The perfume first became known in Britain about 1820, when it was used to impregnate Indian shawls which became so fashionable that the designs were copied by Paisley weavers for export to many other parts of the world. But they could not sell them if they did not smell of patchouli (Genders. 1972). SANDALWOOD is another Eastern perfume, A fragrant oil, known as Oil of Santal, is distilled from the heartwood for use in perfumery and cosmetics. It is a good fixative for other perfumes. The Chinese make joss sticks from the wood (Usher), and incense from the sawdust, mixed with swine's dung(!) (Moldenke & Moldenke).

ORRIS-ROOT was largely used in ancient Greece and Rome in perfumery, and Macedonia, Elis and Corinth were famous for their unguents of iris. Mixed with anise, it was used in England as a perfume for linen as early as 1480. It smells like violets (and in fact is sometimes called violet powder (Hemphill)). It was also crushed and used as a substitute for dried violet in sachets and powder. It was once used for scenting tooth powders (Rimmel).

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