Weekend poll – perfume and numbers

It is believed that the first time mankind used numbers was around 30000 years B.C. From that time there were found bones and artifacts with bars carved in them and these can be considered as first attempts of counting. Using just bars for counting would be very impractical for high numbers. In ancient Mesopotamia, 3400 years B.C the first numerical system basing on number 60 was developed. The oldest 10-based positional system dates for around 3100 years B.C and comes from Egypt. More or less it was a prototype of the counting system we use nowadays.

Fragrance was an integral part of life ever since the creation of a human. In ancient Egypt, even when the empire was starting to fall down, the city of Alexandria was still one of the most important and well prospering place, partially due to the fact that many perfumers and alchemists lived there. Egyptians used perfumes mostly for spiritual and religious rituals but that wasn’t the only way to use them. The art of perfumery was passed from Egypt to Greece where it was further developed. Greeks became perfume experts; they imported materials from Africa and the East.

To Greeks, perfume was a sacred object, they even believed that fights between gods result in creating different fragrances. Perfume was also used in medicine and hygiene at that time. Rome was another empire that learned the value of scent. They used them in public baths to pamper their bodies. Not only they used perfumes, room aromas, oils & hair balms were also in fashion.

Perfume and numbers, the object of imagination and science, these two old elements had to meet one day and combine. As a result we obtained the perfume creation that bears a number as a part of its name. The oldest one I can think of right now is 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser produced by Mäurer & Wirtz in 1799 at the latest (probably much earlier). Then there is of course the iconic Chanel No. 5 introduced in 1921, No. 22 from 1922 (or 1928 as some suggest) and No. 19 from 1971.

Perfume and numbers became one, they entwined making a nice combination. The trend continues until these days. You don’t really need to think much and you’d probably be able to name at least 5 brands, be it mainstream or niche, that use numbers in names of their perfumes. In this bandwagon we have Parfumerie Generale, Andy Tauer Perfumes, Le Labo, Prada exclusives, Les Heures de Cartier, L’Artisan Parfumeur Mon Numero series. Histoires de Parfums and Pozzo di Borgo both use numbers in form of dates as perfume names.

Moving on… The question for this weekend poll is – what is your favorite perfume with number? In case you find it difficult to name just one, you can give up to 3 perfume names. My answer would be Histoires de Parfums 1725 and Carner Barcelona D600. These are the two numbered scents that I have in my collection. But I also have a lot of respect towards 04 Reverie au Jardin from Andy Tauer or Les Exclusifs de Chanel 28 La Pausa – which would be mine if it was longer lasting.

I’m curious to learn about your favorite scents from this category. Do tell!

[note]: pictures from cuip.uchicago.edu and KateShapland.com

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28 thoughts on “Weekend poll – perfume and numbers

  1. Undina says:

    In general, I HATE numbered names. I do not mind when it’s a combination (I don’t care what number is my favorite L’Air du desert marocain – and don’t remember it) or if it’s an address (though those are very hard to remember) but I think that it’s too aspirational to hope that with 1.5K new perfumes per year anybody would remember the numbered perfume by a tiny brand.

    In my mind, numbers as perfume names are Chanel branded. My favorite one is Chanel No 19. I like No 5 – as an iconic name (but not as a perfume for me).

    • lucasai says:

      I know, you always keep on saying how much you don’t like names from Histoires de Parfums or other brand that uses plain numbers as fragrance titles.
      You’re right, people do remember that it’s L’Air du Desert Marocain, not if it has number 1 or 6.

      I think most people would vote for Chanel – easiest to remember.

  2. Lyubov says:

    Very interesting poll, Lukas! I searched my fumie wardrobe, because I don’t remember the numbers, but probably they are significant, and I have many favorites amongst them. You already mentioned some – the epitome of numbering, Chanel’s 5s (all of them), 19s, and everything. There should be a difference between numbering the fragrances, and giving a name with a number in it. My example – 24 Faubourg. It’s not part of any kind of sequence. On the other hand, my loves from Parfumerie Generale’s range are part of a sequence. As well as most of the Tauer perfumes. So let me list some (not in particular order, just loved):
    PG21 Felanilla, PG14 Iris Taizo, PG04 Musc Maori, PG23 Drama Nuui, PG08 Intrigant Patchouli
    Tauer 02 L’Air du Desert Marrocain (yep, another fan, not surpsrising), 09 Orange Star, 01 Le Maroc Pour Elle
    CK One (does that count?)
    Diptyque 34 boulevard Saint Germain
    Comme des Garcons 8 88
    Maybe I missed some, but these are certain favorite of mine!

  3. Shelly says:

    31 rue cambon

  4. hajusuuri says:

    Great poll, Lucas! I usually don’t pay attention to the numbers except if it is part of primary name of the perfume. Chanel No. 5, yes; 04 Reverie au Jardin, no (even though I love the perfume). My favorite fragrances with a number in the primary name are, and not in any order, include:
    – Le Labo Iris 39
    – Le Labo Vanille 44
    – Chanel Les Exclusifs 28 La Pausa
    – L’Artisan Tea for Two

  5. tomate farcie says:

    My vote goes to Chanel 22 and Ambre 114

  6. Mary K says:

    Then there are Frapin 1270, Bois 1920 and all of the Biehls. (I like al02 for this time of year, as I get a nice stewed fruit and spice smell from it.)

    • lucasai says:

      I’m not a Biehl fan and the names are a bit weird with just perfumer initials and number but yes, Frapin, Bois 1920 (though that’s a brand name not a perfume name)

  7. Mary K says:

    Sorry, I meant the Bois 1920 Classic. Still maybe not the perfume name itself, but close enough for me.

  8. taleofahare says:

    HdP 1969 and Another 13 by Le Labo. I do like Chanel No 22 but don’t own it :).

  9. Laurels says:

    I’m with Undina: numbers that don’t relate to anything just don’t stick in my memory. The only numbered perfumes I remember really liking are HdP 1804 (George Sand) — and I had to check the number to make sure I remembered it right — and M. Micallef Rouge No. 1, which I needed to double-check to make sure I wasn’t really thinking of Rouge No. 2. That said, the Cartier series where the numbers represent hours strikes me as a clever concept, although I haven’t tried any of them.

  10. Cynthia Mc says:

    Interesting aspect of fragrances that I hadn’t consciously considered but must say, yes – it can be difficult to remember something that’s just a number. I’m definitely with Undina and Laurels on that. Thank you for the perspective. Two of my favorites which haven’t been mentioned yet are SL’s Borneo 1834 and Diptyque’s L’Eau du Trente-Quatre.

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