What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


I’ve been waiting all day for a shipment that is “out for delivery” and requires a signature. I really want to go out and run errands, but I know that as soon as I do, the van will pull up and I won’t be there to sign for the item. If I miss the delivery, I will have to sit around all day tomorrow waiting. The same principles apply to workers who are supposed to show up on a given day and say that they are “on their way”, arriving hours after the original appointment.

Obviously I can do other things while I wait (I’m doing something else right now), but there are things I really need to go outside and do – “outside” meaning various places around town, not puttering in the rain in my garden. With all the technology we have,  you would think it should be possible to communicate with van drivers and get an approximate delivery time, or else sign virtually so that they can drop the item off without a signature. Most things do, in fact, just get dropped off, but others require a signature. Perfumer’s alcohol is one such item. I buy it in 5-gallon drums (easier to lift, store, and pour than the 55-gallon size!) but go through it pretty fast, so occasionally find myself waiting to sign the form saying that I am the licensed recipient, presumably keeping all of those notorious front-door package thieves from stealing and drinking it.

What is it with those people who randomly steal packages from front porches without knowing the contents? Do they re-sell the items on e-bay or a garage sale? Do they try to return them for a refund? Do they try to figure out what to do with a $1.50 replacement part for a 20-year old washing machine or a 6-pack of dog de-worming meds? Do they just throw away all those things that they don’t want? I’ve read that people have started baiting their porches with Amazon packages filled with animal feces and other unpleasant things, or booby-trapping the packages in some way. Good old vigilante justice – it probably works on a local level.

At least I’m glad to report that my delivery came while I was writing this and was duly signed for and put away, so now I still have time to drop off packages at UPS and buy dinner at Trader Joe’s. At this time in the history of the world I’m happy for small things that go right.

[Painting by Carl Muecke, 19th century; FedEx van photo from Wikimedia; other photos from a general Google search] 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Given the amount of information that’s floating around the internet, you would think that every perfume that’s ever existed would be fully documented. However, every so often I encounter one that seems to have been lost without a trace. I recently came across one when the mother of an acquaintance was downsizing and I agreed to sell a few vintage perfumes that belonged to her. In fact, today I opened an Etsy shop for that purpose, rationalizing it as an opportunity to sell off some of my own hoarded stash of perfumes, too.

There were some common perfumes like Joy and Ecusson from the 1970s, but the real head-scratcher was something called “Startling” by Eisenberg. I Googled and Googled it to try to find information and comparables, but nothing turned up. The only lead was an entry on Profumo saying that it was first released in 1949, was made by Eisenberg and Sons, and that “production was apparently discontinued”. Yeah, it must have been given that no one else seems to know anything about it.

Doing research on the company itself, I found that it is completely unrelated to the Paris company Eisenberg Perfumes, which currently has a line of mass-market fragrances and cosmetics. Eisenberg and Sons was an American company, founded in 1914 as a clothing and perfume retailer and wholesaler in Chicago. Legend has it that they started putting sparkly jewelry on the clothing to make it sell better, but the pins kept getting stolen, so they went into rhinestone and crystal jewelry in a big way. Eventually costume jewelry became their main business, and their pieces are now sought-after collector’s items. The perfumes have sunk into total oblivion – except for the bottle that I now have in my hands.

It’s not a very attractive bottle, just plain and cylindrical like the one in the vintage ad, with the name in big gold letters and an enormous gold “E” on the back (or maybe it’s the front?). The perfume itself is not bad, a typical vintage chypre-type floral. Based on the little I have to go on, it probably dates to the 1960s, or possibly 1970s, if they were still making perfume then.

I’m trying to decide whether to try to sell it and, if so, for how much given that there’s nothing like it listed anywhere. The alternative would be to buy it myself and keep it as an oddity.

If anyone reading this knows anything about this perfume, please leave a comment and let me know.