Scents of History: Notes from a presentation at the Chelsea Physic Garden
31st December, 2010
John Bailey: It's an honour and privilege to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Sir Hans Sloane with Will Andrews, a talented young Olfactory Scientist, with our interactive presentation – Scents of History exploring the fascinating story of plants to perfumes within the historic ambience of the Chelsea Physic Garden
Will and I want to share our passion for scents and aromas engaging you all on an aromatic journey through the years - especially during and since the era of Sir Hans Sloane
I trained also trained as a dispenser in a very old fashioned pharmacy – the pictures fully illustrate times of old – which as you will see shortly are a complete contrast to Will’s world as an olfactory scientist, fragrance evaluator and designer involved with a wonderful portfolio of famous brands
The most wonderful kick start to progressing my apprenticeship came with the opportunity to join the UK’s oldest and most renowned company who were growers of aromatic plants and essential oil distillers – a unique experience and credential proving time and again of the benefits of working with talented research scientists – perfumers and flavourists development and application chemists are the building blocks in a fascinating aroma trade industry
Stafford Allen & Son Ltd became world renowned for the quality of its products – galenicals – spices – essences – essential oils
Perfumes have a compelling – intangible attraction – throughout history human beings have shared an instinctive pleasure in them – there have always been perfume makers willing to crush berries , boil petals and seal their essences in bottles.
It was most certainly in the early years of Sloane’s life (1370) of the birth of the first named perfume Hungary Water.
Hungary Water was named after Queen Elizabeth of Hungary - it was based upon oil of rosemary with added oil of lavender – legend has it that the creator who presented the fragrance to the queen assured her that it would preserve her great beauty unimpaired until her death – it was perhaps true for at the age of 72 Queen Elizabeth she was courted for marriage by the King of Poland!
[Smelling strips to audience – Rosemary & Lavender]
I now want to share your sense of smell by giving you a smelling blotter and a little quiz – [distribute scent strips – inform how to use. Ask one member of the audience for a description before showing lemon image on the screen ]
[Smelling blotter – Neroli (key ingredient)]
[Continue with brief history] – named after street number in Cologne, Germany… after a number of takeovers including Will’s company P&G the company is once more German owned.
Coumarin achieved fame in perfumery due to its covert inclusion in the formula of Fougere Royale (1882), by Paul Parquet, chemist-perfumer at Houbigant; Parquet respected the work of the organic chemists at a time when his peers in perfumery simply viewed their work as scientific curiosity. Fougere Royale layed-down the basic structure and character of a Fougere type fragrance for years to come.
Many of the fruit notes in modern perfumery – particularly the soft fruits – are all acquired via synthesis, since there is no existing process to effectively extract an oil from soft fruit. It is these fruit notes which have pushed the boundaries of perfumery in the last decade and it is therefore the emergence of new technology and techniques, which has broken the boundaries of perfumery, taking perfumes to an exciting new place which was simply inaccessible to perfumers of the past. [To illustrate this point, Will shared a very modern, overdosed, fruit driven fragrance which is loved particularly in the US – Escada summer edition ‘Sunset Heat’.]
The perfumer’s inspiration is very much a modern image, and yet, we are sure that all perfumers over the years could relate to the feelings it evokes and scented imagery it conveys:
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