Between cca 1890 and 1910 J. Grossmith & Son produced an entire range of very beautiful fragrances with decorated exotic labels, inspired by different cultures - Japan, India, China, Arabia, etc. This fall Grossmith resurrected 3 of them:
Hasu-no-Hana (1887 or 1888) - a Japanese perfume (the scent of japanese lily)
Phul Nana (1891 or 1893) - bouquet of Indian flowers and Grossmith’s most revered perfume
Shem el Nessim (1906 or 1907) - the scent of Araby and named after an Arabian springtime festival celebrated in Egypt
In this image you have the vintage bottles, as seen in a Perfume Bottles Auction from may 2009 and presented on liveauctioneers website (you can notice the original name J. Grossmith & Son, London). Because my information and the website were not the same, I put 2 years.
I have never smelled the original Grossmith fragrances because of their rarity and this makes impossible my desire to study the authenticity of the new perfumes given the difficulties of historical recreations under modern legislation. Testing the perfumes, the first impression was really special. They do not smell very much like any modern example and they are an excellent example of the perfumery style of that time, very rich in naturals and maybe very curious to our nose.
Hasu-no-Hana is rich, opulent and shows similar facets with Jicky but without coumarine-very fougère and more accent on the flowers. It has very aromatic and bitter citrus top notes, a strong bouquet with orange flower / petitgrain/rosewood, rose oil, ylang, orris, jasmine, patchouli/sandalwood, sweet balsamic notes (like Peru or benzoin) and soft oriental drydown. It is reminiscent of a perfume type called corylopsis and another one called safranor (a pre chypre type with an oriental element). It has also a very soft carnation undertone and a very elegant musky undertone.
Phul Nana reminds me a very soft version of Tabu mixed with light flowers and roses (like in Idéal Houbigant). It has a strong bergamot-citrus and herbal top, then rose oil-orange flower-eugenol (clove) on a sweet oriental sandalwood coumarine patchouli drydown. Inside the perfume there is curious a lily of the valley-jasmine-lily note. But this note is very strange and not historical accurate. From what I smell, I'm 100% sure this is a formula written after 1922 and not at all in 1893. Neither hydroxycitronellal nor jasmonal A were not discovered before 1900 but much later. A similar idea, but very modern was used in a beautiful oriental Pierre Guillaume creation. The drydown of this rose-coumarine-patchouli fragrance is also powdery and reminds me the scent of some very old and classic masculine colognes with a lot of nitromusks (Canoe-Brut). It is a special blend between the fougère and the oriental family with sweet floral notes.
Shem el Nessim is a floral perfume with a very green hyacinth and carnation/lilac note around a soft florentine orris. It has also a soft rose-lily of the valley light bouquet. You can feel inside the delicate power of salycilates used in small doses but also a strong hyacinth molecule that was often overdosed in that period. On a metaphoric level I could say that it reminds me the curious scent of tulips. Was this the desire of the perfumer to evoke an oriental symbol ? A small lilac note is created with cinnamic alcohol (among other main ingredients). The combination of several pungent and strong flower notes over a very sweet coumarine and orris base creates the effect of a flowery version (sweet pea-hyacinth type) of l'Heure Bleue. It is not very Origan as it is presented on the website.
The new Grossmith perfumes are not easy creations to our nose and they really give you the feeling of another era.
You can also read a short article about Grossmith adventure in LondonEvening.