Friday, March 14, 2008

Will that be an anthracitic or a bituminous Eau de Parfum you desire?

Click on the photo for enlarged view

Long before the marketers and perfume houses got savvy, a display spilled the coal, er, the beans: the source of many of the synthetic aromachemicals used in perfumery since the 1880's were made from coal or petroleum sources. The lady in the photo seems to be raising a glass lid over a container that holds scent strips of the coal-derived scent, and the glass jars on top hold the natural materials of fragrance. I can identify rose and jasmine in the jars. Not much else to say about this, just that I do prefer the complexity, richness, sustainability and beauty of natural aromatics.


  1. I am a native Chicagoan who has been to the Museum of Science and Industry many times during my life. There used to be an exhibit on coal mining when I was a kid. I imagine this was a side-display for that exhibit. Wish I could say that I saw this display, but it was either gone by the 1960's or I never noticed it. Not very easy to identify the flowers in the 6 vases. From left to right, #1 is blocked by the lady,but must be Rose; #2 are white Carnations; #3 Jasmine; #4 Lilacs; #5 Orange blossoms; #6 picture too dark, but the leaves look familiar?

    David Mark

    1. Hi Mark,
      I think there was still the coal mining exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry when I was a kid too, but I don't remember any scent display either.

  2. Amazing!!
    I too think that there are carnations, jasmine and lilacs in there.
    What a find!

  3. HI David
    Doesn't the woman in the photo on the postcard look like she's maybe from the early part of the 20th century? I'm thinking the 1920's.

  4. Hi Helg:
    I think this postcard is just great! I also got some great postcards from Fragonard in the 1940's - production cards.

  5. Hi Anya,
    Wow! This is great. From the Museum of Science and Industry. When I was in grade school I swear we went there every year for a field trip. I always liked the Museum of Natural History better though, I've never been particularly interested in Science and especially not Industry! I was more fascinated by all sorts of animals and plants, people of other times and cultures and DINOSAURS! LOL! But unfortunately I was pretty much alone in this because we(both my family and my school) always went to the Museum of Science and Industry. I only went to the Natural History museum maybe two or three times.


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