Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Eugene Rimmel's The Book of Perfumes has been the resident reading material in the bathroom these last two months. Yes, it's official, it takes two months of 'going' to finish up Rimmel.

It's not a particularly useful book in terms of teaching perfumery. It is, however, a very nice book for beginners to wet their toes in the idea of creating perfumes. It provides a time capsule of information with regard to beauty practices throughout history. Poetry abounds within its pages. So does racism, sexism (in a genteel manner) and other inaccuracies.

The most useful part of the book, in my opinion, is the very end. Chapter XII, Materials Used in Perfumery is the most applicable bit of information in the entire book. It lists contemporary (1865 contemporary, not 2007 contemporary) perfume classifications, which are extremely interesting. I made a rough sketch of all the things used in 1865 and earlier against what is available today to natural & botanical perfumers, and it doesn't compare. Our modern palette is flush with aromatics and botanicals that hadn't been used in earlier times. Although, I would love to get my hands on a bit of their violet essence. Or narcissus and jonquil.

It's a good book for reference and history. Don't run out and buy a first edition unless you're a collector of antique books as well as a perfumer. The reprinted version from Elibron will suffice. And, as I mentioned earlier, it makes a great bathroom read.

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