Vintage Perfume Ingredient Catalogue

Junk shop find

(Extracts from 'Perfumes', a catalogue published by the Societe Chimique des Usines du Rhone, probably in the early 1920s.  From my private collection.)

I love reading the 'Perfumes' catalogue.   It contains a descriptive list of a wide range of synthetic perfumes, their benefits over natural essential oils (usually cost and potency), a few recipes for perfumes and a series of photographs of the factories that produced the chemicals.   It's full of possibilities!

I've been thinking for some time about making my own perfumes.   I am ambivalent about synthetic perfumes like the ones listed in the catalogue.  On the one hand, I would prefer to avoid the use of synthetic chemicals as I generally prefer keeping things as natural as possible.  I certainly stick to natural ingredients in the soaps I make. But I'm also aware of the advantages of using alternatives to natural products, particularly where there might be a dwindling or limited supply (like rosewood essential oil). 

I've tried researching various essential oils to check whether the production of the oils are in any way  detrimental to either the environment or the people who live near the resource.  The more expensive oils seem to be obtained from specifically grown crops.  Otherwise, it might be wise if I'm concerned about a particular oil to at least try to source an organic version, or one that is locally produced.

In any event, I still find the catalogue inspiring; it's like looking in a well illustrated cook book that makes you rush out and buy far too many vegetables.  And here's something else I find inspiring - a Holga pic of begonias in glorious late summer colours:

As a second thought, below is an extract from 'Perfume' of a perfume recipe for 'Bouquet of Moss Rose':

Firstly, you need to make 'rose spirit' as follows;

"Grain spirit of 94% strength without odour or flavour is reduced to 70% strength by adding Rose water, and then dissolving Rhodinol in this alcohol in the following proportions:
Rhodinol I   20gr
Alcohol 70% 1 litre."

This is the 'rose spirit'.  So, the recipe is:

"Rose Spirit.....................660cc
Extract of Orange flowers....240cc
Tincture of Ambergris........30cc
Tincture of Musk..............25cc
Tincture of Vanilla.............45cc
These ingredients are mixed, shaken and left for 15 days in a well closed bottle at a temperature of 25 degrees to 30 degrees C; it is then allowed to cool, filtered and put into bottles for sale."

I am pleased to say that Shanghai Lil and The Scarlet Fez perfumes will be all-natural and vegan!