Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Antique Tonquin Musk bottle win

This delicate and lovely bottle arrived in the mail yesterday, and yes, there is some scent in it and some grains and residue. The grains and residue coat the inside about 1.5 inches up the sides, roughly the same height as the label. The overall bottle is 6.25 inches tall. I have never seen a Fritzsche bottle with this design. The label reads: FRITZSCHE BROTHERS, Inc. Essences and Essential Oils ~ Fine Drugs and Chemical Preparations ~ Tonquin in Grains. Moisture More Than 15%. The next part really caught my attention: The bottle is clear at the top with heavy dark brown residue on the bottom. There is a little brown string around the top.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this on Ebay, and further surprise I won it with a rather low bid, and there were only two other bidders. I got it for $11 and change and with shipping, it was under $20.

Musk is now illegal because the collection of the pods required the killing of the musk deer. These small lovely animals were slaughtered by the thousands for the perfumery and Chinese medicine trade. Nowadays there are farms for the collection of the pods for Chinese medicine and the pods are harvested by laparoscopic surgery, and the deers are of course, not killed, and survive to produce more pods.

The scent of musk was added to perfumes lavishly for centuries, but wiht the CITES agreement, disappeared from commercial perfumes in the 1970's. Some musk is making its way into the market from the Chinese. I have small samples of some recent Tonquin musk and I can compare it to the Kashmiri musk that someone collected about 20 years ago. They are different in scent, quite different.

Here's another view of my new bottle. Both photos are from the Ebay seller. I'm going to pour some 190 proof organic grain alcohol into the bottle today, filling just up to where the residue stops. I hope to get a weak tincture and enjoy the look into the past, while yes, feeling very sad of the unnecessary slaughter of the deers that took place to make this odorant/fixative possible in those days.

Perhaps sometime in the near future the humane harvest of the pods by the Chinese can provide a small amount of this prized and fragrant material be made available.

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