Saturday, October 10, 2009

Offer the Enjoyment


A hybrid of Midwestern, homesteading, tea-totaling stock with inventor, Roaring Twenties, Poiret gowns, bathtub gin stock ...

In our
highly stimulating home the air cleared for a new chapter each time we changed sheets. Yardley English Lavender Sachet (1873) was sprinkled the air uplifted and caught the wings of change.

Especially welcome after any sickness, a crispness of sheets crackled, no longer limp from fever sweat, now soaring with the elevation of the lavender.

W.A. Poucher, at one time Chief Perfumer of Yardley, beginning at age 35, also known for his perfume Bond Street and written contributions, wrote in the 1920's that,".... it was unfair that perfumes were only available to royalty, actresses and prostitutes".

Poucher introduced less expensive perfumes for purchase by women working in offices and shops, simultaneously developing new ways for perfuming cosmetics.

In 1923 Poucher, a pharmacist, wrote and published Perfumes and Cosmetics, emphasizing reference to Synthetics. This was a time when specialist books on cosmetics had not been printed and cosmetic chemistry was closely allied with pharmacy. In later editions Soap was added to the title.

On my wishlist today is Poucher's Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps, edited by Hilda Butler, ISBN 0-7514-0479-9.

According to the book, "In the 19th century perfumery was considered to be an art, totally.

.... The study of perfumes has a fascination unsurpassed by any other branch of chemistry. The researches of many distinguished scientists have gradually raised it from one of the minor arts to almost the level of a science."

The book became three volumes

Dictionary of Raw Materials and Miscellaneous Bodies

'including pigments and dyestuffs of interest to the chemist-perfumer'

Perfumes emphasizing the production of natural perfumes, his belief that one must study raw materials, and counterbalancing his interest in synthetics.

Cosmetics at a time, post World War One, before make-up was used by most women and some men, beginning popular life as theatrical products, in court and on stage, later and still, popularized by stars of the movies.

When raw materials were more scarce during World War Two Poucher's work was found to be valuable for creation of replacement formulations.

Until 1974, Poucher wrote all books and volume upgrades. Then, G.M. Howard revised volumes one and three, and Poucher revised volume two, Perfume.


I cannot impress on chemists too strongly the importance of simplicity of formulation in their experiments. Almost always a few well-chosen raw materials properly combined will give a more elegant and stable product than a long formulas in which one ingredient may upset another and so spoil the balance of the finished product - the unsatisfactory result not always being apparent until after packing and despatch (sic) for sale.

Jean-Claude Ellena:

I do not cultivate mystery, complication.

I prefer the clarity, the understanding.
To give to understand it is to offer of the enjoyment.

click to read a brief and lovely post on Poucher by Octavian Sever Coifan


a perfumer can be the

Magician of Multiple Meaning

Illustration: Klimtfume Lura Astor

top of post painting: Bouquet et Coquillages Rene Genis (1922-2004)