Thursday, April 27, 2017

Repost Vintage & Antique Oil Collecting ~ From the LPR Blog

Vintage & Antique Oil Collecting ~ Repost from LPR Blog


Acquiring vintage and antique raw materials for perfumery is often just a one-click bid away. Many Natural Botanical Perfumers spend a great deal of time and money obtaining rare vintage and antique raw materials through sources such as Ebay, through private collections, at flea markets, auctions and estate sales, and less often at garage and yard sales. A great deal of these vintage and antique bottles sold on Ebay are acquired by the seller through auctions of lots of materials from old turn-of-the-century pharmacies.

The demand for vintage oil collecting has increased as the number of Natural Botanical Perfumers has increased, and bidding for the most rare oils can be extremely competitive. Horror stories pop up on occasion about unethical collectors and sellers making surreptitious deals, bargaining off individual bottles from auction lots without the current bidders of the items being aware. Only when the parcel arrives does the bidder realize that they have been ripped off. One such story in circulation relates this very situation. Several years ago a cooperative of buyers won a large lot of vintage and antique oils for which they paid a premium price, with one oil in the lot of particular interest -- the single bottle of oil for which the cooperative was formed and the reason bidding went so high. When their parcel arrived, the rare bottle was missing, and after a short investigation, it was discovered in the collection of another NBP. In these cases there is often little recourse. Buyer, or rather bidder, beware!

There are also stories of happy fortune as well, as one perfumer recounts her experience with purchasing a lot of antique oils for which she paid a very reasonable price. Excited about the prospect of receiving the oils, her joy was amplified when she discovered a nearly full one ounce bottle of vintage sandalwood tucked in the parcel, a freebie the seller slipped in, clearly unaware of its value. When conducting a search of vintage and antique oils, a few of the more popular perfumery and essential oil manufacturers and suppliers names to look for are: Fritzsche Brothers, Dodge & Olcott, Magnus, Maybee & Reynard, Givaudan

Less popular are:Field & Company (Aromatics) Archer-Daniels Midland Co., Ltd.,
Plaimar Limited, Schimmel, W.J. Bush &Co., Ltd., Antoine Chiris Ltd., Mallagh &Co., C.W. Field Ltd., Payan & Bertrand, Robertet, Albert & Laloue Camilli, Charabot & Co., C.A. Charpentier, Bruno Court, Pierre Dhumez, Flora Aromatics Co., Ltd., W.H. Hobbs & Co., Ltd., Lautier Fils, Ltd., Victor Mane Fils, Old Strand Chemical & Drug Co., A.W. Munns & Co., Natural & Synthetic Perfumery Essence Company, Stanley Nicholas & Co., Roure Bertrand Fils, P. Samuelson & Co., Schmoller & Bompard, Tombarel Freres, Alfred Paul White,Wilson & Mansfield, Ltd.

Why would anyone wish to collect old oils? Because without a scent history, without a tangible piece of our Natural Botanical Perfume past, we have few points of reference. As important and helpful as Steffan Arctander's book "Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin" is, it is not a replacement for physically smelling a 65-year-old Mysore sandalwood, or a perfectly preserved 40-year-old cassia. Most perfumers who collect these old oils don't use them in formulation. They save the contents in a scent library or in a focused personal museum collection as a form of preservation.

Some perfumers decant the contents into a more appropriate and safe bottle, send a few samples off to friends, and display the empty bottle as a museum piece. Though in rare instances, as with oils of resins, woods, grasses, and patchouli, using these old oils in perfume formulation is an exhilarating experience, and can also be a selling point in marketing a perfume.

Anyone can collect rare and vintage oils. There isn't a trick to it, just a matter of research, investigation and investment.Happy Hunting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Aged Oils

I was just inspired to write about aged oils as they seem to be a topic natural perfumers can be quite excited about. For example, hundreds of vintage and antique oils have been sold on Ebay over the past 15 years with natural perfumers in the forefront as buyers. Aged sandalwood, aged vetiver, aged patchouli, aged rose -- all of these are highly sought after by the natural perfumer who seeks to bolster his or her library with these oils which hearken back to a day when everything was better -- right? Maybe not. Well, I don't know for sure, I wasn't there, but the oils may have been, so let's let them do the talking.

A few years ago I was 'gifted' a full 1 oz bottle of vintage sandalwood oil when I bought a lot of vintage oils from Ebay. Why the seller thought giving away such a valuable commodity was a good idea, I will never know, but I am forever grateful. It was good stuff and I couldn't help myself but to use it, all of it, in a matter of a couple years. All trace of this rare gem are long gone as I sold off most of my vintage bottle collection three years ago to pay an old debt, and that empty sandalwood bottle went too. I still have a few bottles of oldies but goodies, but I have to admit, a few aren't so good anymore, which lays to rest the idea that these old oils never go bad. All oils will go bad -- eventually. If kept cool, in the dark, and as air-free as possible, most oils will survive a little while after their sell-by date. That one-ounce bottle of sandalwood must have been buried deep, and the fact that it had never been opened proved it had very little contact with oxygen. Which is why it was so flippin' good.

I still have in my collection a bottle of vintage sandalwood oil that is gooey and resinous and stinks like sandalwood dancing in a jar of dill pickles. This would be an example of how not to store essential oils. And its existence proves that ALL vintage oils do not improve with age. There's a 50-year-old bottle of patchouli oil in my collection, a one-ounce bottle about 3/4ths full, that is nothing to sing about. It's okay, but not like a smooth, creamy Sri Lankan patchouli, or a honied copper distilled patchouli out of India. I bought this vintage oil with the hopes of sharing it in 1 ml bottles with whoever would like to smell the late 1960's, but it just wasn't up to snuff. Or sniff. It's not adulterated and doesn't smell like the hippie patchouli, it's just pale scented and doesn't have the depth that I'm used to.

So what did those vintage oils tell you?

Honey From the Farm & A Honey Extraction and Exhibition

Yesterday's distillation was put on hold. It was hatefully windy and the still needs to be outdoors as 1) it's huge, and 2) it gets super hot like a furnace and we weren't interested in heating an already 80F degree room. It was so windy that when I set out to water the air dried farm plants, the stream kept blowing off to the left or right and never on the plants being watered! It took some patience to get everything watered, but I finally got it done. By that time, I was finished with being outdoors. Today we're going to begin setting up the little store-in-the-vintage-trailer. At least that work is out of the wind.

Our house is coming along very slowly. What with the spat of dry weather, however windy, there's been a mad rush in the new neighborhood to get these houses done. Ours is one of those houses. They've got the stucco on outside, finally. Last week I saw boxes of tiles in the garage and peeking through the door I see that nothing downstairs has been tiled, so I can only assume that tile was for the upstairs master shower. Those boxes weren't there when I drove past yesterday, but the garage was full of door trim and doors, so . . .

Sold at Curio Apothecary on Etsy or at the Apothecary Farm in Sanger, CA

So, we finally got a farm-grown product for sale! The farm hosts the beekeeper, Francisco's, bees. We find the bees in the white sage, the lavender, they were all over the jasmine and hyacinth when they were in bloom, they're also visiting the neighbor's orange trees, and they've been known to kiss a few calendula and tea rose blossoms. I guess this would be considered 'wildflower honey' as the bees feast on a flower buffet around here! Don't forget, we're hosting an exhibition on May 13th at 1121 N. Nelson Avenue in Sanger, CA (the Apothecary Farm), presented by the beekeeper. The fee for this exhibition is $10.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Distillation Begins

So begins the season of distillation. We, Shannon and I, distilled a fair bit of Myrtus communus, aka sweet myrtle, and got a nice gallon of deliciously aromatic hydrosol with wee droplets of essential oil floating about. Sweet myrtle is great as part of a refreshing skin care regimen. Myrtle oil is known to help with acne and other troublesome skin ailments, but only if highly diluted. Our hydrosol is highly diluted, yet so very fragrant. Next up, if I can get out to the farm today, is the rose geranium. They're in bloom and ready for the picking. That should yield another gallon or so of fresh rose geranium hydrosol. What I REALLY want to get going is tea rose, but I think I will have to gather buds for a few days before I have enough to get a good, fragrant hydrosol out of it. There is the white sage, of course, and the musk sage, which is intoxicating, but it is the rare beauties I'd like to get done while they're blooming and throwing out new growth. We may distill some sweet grass for hydrosol further along in the year. And maybe some spearmint or peppermint, depending on how well they grow and multiply this year.

Monday, April 17, 2017

IPF, Farming & Perfume

It's a teeny bit depressing when you get some major recognition and write-up within your own association and nobody seems to care. I told my daughter about it and she immediately went back to scrolling through her phone. It just makes me want to run out to the shop and dig through the goods for inspiration. I'm sh!t at promoting myself, and when I do I feel like my daughter-in-law's dog Muppy, hopping around on her hind legs begging for attention. In a very cute way, though. Ha!

International Perfume Foundation interview.

 This past Saturday I received some seeds in the mail from India. I had ordered santalum album seeds, Indian sandalwood, and also received osmanthus seeds and palmarosa seeds. I've done some reading on all the seeds and found that the palmarosa will be the easiest to grow, the osmanthus nearly impossible to grow, and the sandalwood a very close second to the osmanthus. Osmanthus requires temp variations from cold to warm in three-month intervals before it will germinate. Sandalwood, if the seeds are fresh enough, will germinate with a host plant/tree to feed on. It's all very complicated, except for the palmarosa, which, honestly, is just grass -- but oh so sweet smelling grass -- that I probably won't do anything with them until I get into the new house. Which won't be ready until early June now due to the drought busting rain we've gotten this past winter and spring.

I've gotten back into the habit of burning resin daily. It helps with the feelings of anxiety and the blues over still not having a place to unpack my suitcase or my studio. Thank heavens for the farm or I'd be a mess. Planting, harvesting, watering, and planning things at the farm have saved my sanity many times over, which is why, despite the setbacks there, I've continued to do it. It just feels good, and I know that something good will be borne of it once things begin to grow in earnest.  We've done a fair bit of harvesting -- that Cecile Brunner tea rose is really throwing off the blossoms -- that soon we're going to be packaging things up for sale. At some point, probably mid-summer, we'll begin saving the tea rose blossoms for a distillation of rose hydrosol. We also planted over 60 tomato plants of differing varieties. Plus squash and cucumber and okra and eggplant and dozens of other things, and that's not getting into what we've started with seeds.

The Four Points Garden, or the witch's garden, is coming along nicely. We've got mugwort, lavender, rosemary, black hollyhock, nasturtium, Christmas holly, honeysuckle, cedar, pine, manzanita, blue sage, lupine, ivy, wisteria, and other things I'm sure I've left out, that are growing beautifully.

I wish I had more to say on the perfumery front. There just isn't space and time now to work out perfumes, but come June, I will be a formulating fool.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

John In The Wall Update

Okay, so, after a thorough examination, it appears that John-in-the-Wall isn't a 'he' but an 'it'. Several its, actually.

I was alone, everyone else was either out of town or working late, I was watching scary stuff on the telly and then just spur of the moment got up with a screw driver in hand and began pulling down vents. The intake vent was painted over, screws and all, so I had to pick the paint out just to find what type of screw driver to use. Turns out, all of them. There was a Phillips head screw, a slot head screw, and an Allen wrench head screw! Whoever put this vent back after removing it years and years and years ago used whatever was in their junk drawer to secure it. The only thing I didn't have was a flashlight when I removed the vent, and it was dark in there. So dark, in fact, that I quickly retreated from the enormous pile of long white fur that lay snuggled against the inside of the vent with the long-dead maggot larvae throughout. I called the sil and told him to bring home a good flashlight -- and a stick. Long story short, it was just a pile of dog hair, and the 'maggot larvae' were old rat poops. Not that that's good! But it's a smidge better than a dead animal and maggots in the vent. And the smell, it turns out, is just old dry rotted wood and drywall as the heater closet used to house a swamp cooler back in the day. A big, cumbersome, leaky swamp cooler. It's a matter of sweeping out the fallen rot, getting out the dog hair and rat poop, and spraying the whole thing with bleach water, but has anyone done it yet? No. Apparently I'm staying in an if-it-ain't-in-yer-face-it-don't-exist house.

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