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The Romance and History of Perfume

Condensed from The Mentor
Frederic S. Mason, B.Sc., Ph.G.

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ПODAY, when perfume is garded as purely a feminine accessory, is is surprising to learn that the Emperor Napoleon bathed his head and shoul ders in eau de cologne, in preparation for the rigors of campaigning. Yet Napoleon's toilette occasioned little surprise in his day; it was simple compared with that of some other kings. The Roman rulers, for instance, were prodigal in their perfuming. Since the beginning of history man has known that odor exerts a powerful influence upon his nervous system, and with the first craving for luxury has turned instinctively to perfume. Men have a keener sense of smell than women. This may explain, in part, why today men do not like the stronge perfumes preferred by most women. At any rate, women have always perfumed themselves, and centuries before the Christian era even the barbarous Scythian women were making a paste of cypress, cedar, and incensetree wood, which they coated themselves with one day and removed the next, leaving the body clean and fragrant.

The earliest perfumes were the dry, resinous gums of fragrant trees -myrrh and frankincense. These

were generally used as incense; the very word "perfume" comes from per (meaning "by" or "through") and fumare (meaning to smoke). To this day the desert women of Arabia perfume themselves in the ancient manner, by sitting near, or actually in, the smoke of a pan or slow fire of burning aromatic spices. Two thousand years before Christ the ancestors of these women were carrying on a brisk trade in perfumes with Egypt, then the mistress of the world.

2. By the time Greece had assumed control of the known world, flower fragrances had been added to men's store of perfumes. The iris, rose, crocus, and violet became popular. The Greeks also drew on aromatic plants. Thyme and marjoram were favorites. With the Roman conquest came a greater knowledge of perfumery, and the nobles had a different scent for the different parts of the body: mint for the arms, palm oil for the jaws and heart, marjoram for the eyebrows and hair, ground ivy essence for the knees and back. A guild of perfumers arose, and a whole street in Capua, one of the most important seaports, was given over to them. Caligula, the builder of baths, drenched himself in perfume. Nero spent the equivalent of $200,000 on roses for one festival. Shakespeare has Cleopatra sailing down the River Cydnus to meet Mark Anthony in a barge with sails "so perfumed that the winds were lovesick with them."

The Dark Ages of history were the dark ages of perfume. The pampered Roman noble, rosy and glistening from the bath, fragrant with a dozen perfumes, gave way to the shaggy medieval warrior, who

bathed but accidentally. Scented tapers and incense were used in the churches, but perfuming flourished only among the Orientals. Fragrance and happiness became closely associated in the Mohammedan mind.

3. The Crusades brought perfume back to Europe. Thousands of knights returned from the Holy Land with rare Eastern gifts for their ladies, among them perfumes. But experiments had to be made in secret; a discoverer in those days stood in danger of being burned as a witch.

Perfuming had its rebirth in the Renaissance. When 14-year-old Catherine de Medici went to France to marry the Duke of Orleans, a Florentine perfumer was in her train. He established a shop in Paris, the pioneer in what has grown to be a huge industry. For years Italy led in perfuming. The kings of France, however, drew the Italian masters to Paris with concessions and patronage, and soon France was started on its way to supremacy. Flower farms were established in regions of favorable climate.


4. At Grasse, France, two score parfumeries concentrate the scent of countless flowers. From December until March the parfumeries work on East Indian herbs, sandalwood, rosewood, and other non-floral raw materials. In March, work begins on the fresh flowers. Flowers for perfume are picked at the hour when their scent is strongest. rose is gathered as soon as opened; the carnation after three hours' exposure to the sun; jasmine immediately after sunrise. In one parfumerie alone, in one year, the following flowers were used: 2,400 tons of roses, 1,750 tons of orange blossoms, 132 tons of violets, 280 tons of jasmine, 70 tons of tuberoses, 15 tons of jonquils. Eleven tons of roses-— about 3,000,000 blossoms-are required to make one pound of attar of roses.

Most flowers will not yield their fragrance to the distiller, so pro cesses of maceration and inflowering

have been developed. Housewives are familiar with butter's tendency to pick up every stray odor in the icebox. In maceration, the fragrant parts of the flowers are slowly mixed in huge vats of melted fat. When exhausted of odor, the flowers are drained off, and fresh ones added. In inflowering, plates of fat-coated glass are covered with petals. The flowers are renewed twice a day, sometimes for months, until the fat has reached the desired strength. The fat is melted from the glass and treated with alcohol.

Much is written on the subject of perfume and "personality," and in the larger cities there are specialists that undertake to fit their clients with fragrance as a costumer fits them with clothes. In this age, type, complexion, and other characteristics are the determining factors. But nature seldom makes mistakes, and women had best rely upon instinct to guide them in their choice.

5. The nerves governing the sense of smell are not situated in the nasal passages, but in a sensitive membrane, about the size of a dime, high over each nostril. Olfactory nerves terminating in this membrane receive the sense impression and con.. duct it to the brain. So far as physiologists have been able to determine, smells are pigeonholed in the brain as visual impressions. Each smell carries associations good or bad, and these associated images are brought forth by the brain when particular nerves are excited.

Few realize that the lure of affinity is intimately connected with odor; yet man has inherited from remote and uncultured ancestors olfactory memories of experiences that react on him in much the same manner as what we call instinct in animals. Were we familiar with the early history of mankind, we should be shocked probably to find to what an incredible extent perception and reasoning were influenced by the sense of smell, which still occupies so largely the mental processes of the lower animals.


Ideas Suggesting Interesting Possibilities of Wider Development

1. Simplified practice, and what it means to consumer and manufacturer.

2. One method of instilling respect for law.

3. Steinach's results in rejuvenating animals and human beings.


NCE there were 150 different styles of electric-lamp sockets. In buying a new bulb it was almost necessary to take your socket and carry it to the store, to be fitted with a bulb. Today a lamp bought anywhere fits a socket bought anywhere else. Not alone has the consumer been vastly convenienced by the elimination of useless variation; a heavy saving in manufacturing costs and a huge reduction of capital tied up in dead stock has meant a substantial saving, as well-for the consumer and for the nation as a whole.

Manufacturers of paving brick felt that they had to have 66 varieties. This presented a problem for the highway engineer when writing his specifications for brick pavement. By agreement this variety was reduced to 7, and the possibilities are good for getting it down to one standard size.. Beds have been made in hundreds of styles, and it is often a real problem to find springs and mattresses to fit. By a unanimous agreement of all concerned, we have now one standard length, and four standard widths for beds, thus permitting the spring and mattress makers to produce their goods in sizes that will fit. The blanket manufacturers, in turn, have been able to cut down their losses from too many different sizes.

Have you ever noticed the tremendous variety of things for sale

in a hardware store? Consider for a moment that three manufacturers show in their catalogs 34 different types of single-bit axes. Each type is offered in 1 to 4 grades, 5 to 19 sizes, 1 to 11 finishes, and 1 to 35 brands. It is an easy problem in arithmetic to deduce that the maximum available variety in this article is 34x4x19x11x35=994,840. Nearly a million different models, grades, sizes, finishes, and brands!

Men like to talk about the absurdity of styles in women's clothes, and hats, and shoes. But, if the women knew the truth about the styles or varieties existing in many of the articles used by their husbands, there would be fewer cartoons drawn depicting husbands fainting at the sight of the milliner's bill. The cost of tools, lumber, paint, refrigerators, groceries, and numerous other items are much higher than necessary because of the great diversity of kind, model, and size in which each is offered for sale.

This unnecessary duplication is an economic waste. Any retailer can tell you what goods sell best, what size package is most popular. The slow-moving lines represent a handicap which must be absorbed on the prices charged for the goods that move more rapidly. Jobbers and manufacturers have identically the same problem, and their losses are passed along in the prices they charge their customers. The final purchaser being at the end of the line pays these "waste-premiums," and then wonders why the cost of living is so high.

Standardized goods sell the year round-manufacturers produce them during dull seasons for stock, knowing they will be sold eventually. The Division of Simplified Practice of the

Department of Commerce is organ ized to help American industries re. duce the wastes of over-diversification.

Scientific American, Jan. '23.

2. Detroit has a judge by the name of Charles L. Bartlett, who appears to have some common sense and knowledge of human nature. Some motorcar drivers were before him, recently, convicted of speeding. Before passing sentence, he bundled them all into a patrol wagon, took them to a hospipital, and made them view casualties caused by recklessness and fast driving. Again, when another


batch of seven came before him, he took them to the county morgue and exhibited to them the bodies of three persons who had been killed by motcr-cars. Judge Bartlett seems to have some idea of the nature of law; he seems to know that the law can do little unless in co-operation with the reason and conscience of mankind, and he goes very sensibly about securing that co-operation. We feel pretty sure that those speeders paid the fines and served their sentences with an entirely different conscience than if he had not put them through that enlightening experience. Respect for law will revive as soon as Judge Bartlett's method is made general. People are apt to respect any law that can be made to engage their reason and conscience. The Freeman, Dec. 6, '22.

3. Scientists are the greatest of all skeptics. And when a scientist hits upon an idea that has been baffling the world since Adam's birthday, and maintains that he has discovered a way to restore vitality to old and prematurely old persons, the entire scientific world ridicules a man whose decades of research work ought to enjoy at least a scientific reception, No modern scientist has been so ridiculed and punned against in the press as Professor Steinach. However, his experiments on rats and guinea pigs,

which resulted in making old animals of both sexes fertile, are authentic.

Fortified with innumerable successes in this field, he has applied his operations to human beings who have become old before their time. At the present time, the Steinach operation is being performed in many parts of Europe and America. Certainly, the operation has restored the power of work to many men who had never hoped to work again. Many men who have become prematurely old have been restored to a vigorous middle age. The discovery does not mean that we shall never have to grow old; but it does mean that unnatural old age can be alleviated. It is a disease, and Steinach believes he has found a way to cure it.

The effect of the Steinach operation on human beings is not as rapid or as most pronounced, in cases, as upon animals. In the case of persons, it is too soon to measure the value of the operation. Man is so much more complex a psychic creature than the smaller animals that causes other than merely chemical ones exercise greater influence upon him. In the field of larger animals, several operations have been performed, the success of which suggests an economic application of the Steinach operation. Several famous horses, used only for breeding purposes, have undergone the Steinach treatment and have had their reproductive function restored. The operation has also been used by sheep breeders with success.


Professor Steinach's researches are based on the idea that old age and premature old age are nothing more than a change in the chemical secretions of the ductless glands. It has been that firmly established glands and their secretions affect the growth and vigor of the body and of the mind. These glands weaken with age. Professor Steinach sought some way to utilize the life-giving fluid of the reproductive organs to stimulate the other ductless glands. His first discovery was that it was possible to segregate the two functions of the reproductive glands, that of producing seed and that of supplying vital fluid. His now famous operation on a rat consists merely of cutting the seminal cord on one side and binding the loose ends firmly. The testicle, thus separated from the testes, remains in its normal position. What happens is that on one side, the little seminal canals shrink and leave interstitial spaces. These are now filled out by a rapid enlargement of the cells that create the invigorating fluid and which begin to produce fluid at the youthful rate. This is absorbed in the blood stream, and eventually invigorates the other glands in the body, and finally the remaining reproductive gland.

Scientific American, Jan. '23.

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5. A significant fact regarding our Jewish population.


T is most astounding with what seriousness many people believe that it is the ambition of the Jewish race to "dominate" the United States-that this is the ultimate chapter in a widespread Jewish plot to conquer modern civilization, to destroy its Christian quality, to heap up its accumulated riches all to the glory of Israel. For such a quality involves a quality which the anti-Semitic writers themselves have always denied the Jews. If there is one thing that the Jews have proved in their age-long wandering over the face of the earth, it is that they lack the power of cooperation. They occupy their present isolated position, not because they have been persecuted by the Christians, but because they lack that aptitude for coherence and organization whose ultimate expression is nationality. This fact explains why the Jews lost their standing as a nation and why they have never regained it. Why did Jerusalem succumb? Because the Jews themselves were divided. While the siege was going on, and all the resources of the Jews were needed to resist the forces of Titus, three factions within the

city were engaged in riots, massacring one another in most terrible fashion. And to this day the more conspicuous trait of the Jew is an intense individualism. Each man is an entity in himself; the faculty of association, even in matters that concern his own race and religion, does not appear to be a Hebraic quality.


This complaint constantly runs through the Jewish literature. difficulty of making their people cooperate for Jewish ends is the perpetual despair of the leaders of the race. Each of the 700 or 800 synagogues in Greater New York has absolutely no relation with the others. The Jewish religion is the only one in the United States which exists without an organization; there are no Jewish bishops, or presbyters, or conferences. All attempts to create a functionary who would have a kind of supervision over all the Jewish congregations have failed. In politics the same condition prevails. There is no such thing as the "Jewish vote"; Jews notoriously vote independently-be it said to their credit; a Jewish district that goes Republican this year may go Democratic the next. If the Jews of New York acted as a political unit, they could easily control the city. Though they are far more numerous than the Irish, there are only 5 or 6 Jewish district leaders out of 32 in Tammany Hall; the Irish still control this organization. The Jews cannot be depended on to vote even for members of their own race; they could easily have elected Morris Hillquit mayor in 1917; instead, the masses supported John F. Hylan.

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