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Perfumery

Perfumery

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Perfumery, process, and industry of making perfumes. Natural perfumes—substances that give off agreeable odours—are of animal or vegetable origin. Artificial perfumes are of two types: (1) the chemical compounds of natural perfumes are reproduced synthetically, as with vanillin; or (2) only the odour of the natural perfume is imitated; the artificial substance is itself chemically unlike the natural one.

The four principal animal perfumes are musk, civet, ambergris, and castor. Musk is the dried secretion of the preputial follicles of the musk deer. A similar substance is secreted by the musk ox, the muskrat, and the Florida alligator. Civet is secreted by the civet cat, Viverra zibetha, an animal of African origin. Civet is found in a double pouch under the tail, from which it is taken from the living, caged animal two or three times a week. Ambergris, a biliary secretion of the sperm whale, is supposed to be produced as the result of a diseased condition of the organs. It is found floating on the sea. Castor is a glandular secretion of the beaver. When fresh, it is semi-liquid; it is prepared for commerce by drying in smoke. Animal perfumes are valuable for the permanence that their presence imparts to the more evanescent vegetable odours.

The odour of plants may be in the leaves, as in sage, thyme, and mint; in the bark, as in cinnamon and cassia; in the wood, as in cedar and sandalwood; in the flower petals, as in the rose and violet; in the seeds, as in anise and caraway; in the roots, as in the orris (see iris); and in the fruit rind, as in the orange. It may also be secreted as a resinous gum from the tree, as in camphor and myrrh.

The centre of the natural perfumery industry has for many years been in Grasse, in south-eastern France. The culture of flowers for perfumery is carried on also in Turkey, Bulgaria, India, and Syria. İstanbul and Edirne, in Turkey, are especially noted for the production of attar of roses.