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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Foin Coupe c1896

Foin Coupe: created in 1896.

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? It had notes of new mown hay, herbal notes, tonka, sweet woodruff.

  • Top notes: bergamot, rose geranium, neroli, lavender
  • Middle notes: herbs, moss rose, orris, clove, sweet woodruff
  • Base notes: tonka bean, musk, benzoin, vanilla, styrax, sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss

The scent of new mown hay has always been a favorite in perfumery. Foin Coupé as it is known in France, evokes the fresh hay cut during a sunny day. Like an open window, this scent recalls sun-drenched summer days. It is made up of different herbs and wild flowers. The fragrance of new mown hay usually has to be made synthetically. The sweetness comes from coumarin, an aromatic lactone being present in several grasses, sweet vernal grass and bison grass, for instance. The coumarin is glycosidically bound in the green plants but is liberated upon withering of the grass.

In perfumery, the "new mown hay" scent is almost an archetype. Based on coumarin (and analogues), and often supplemented with mossy and green nuances, this odor complex enters a multitude of fragrances. Actually coumarin was one of the first perfumery ingredients to be made by organic synthesis. Coumarin was created by William Perkin of England in 1868, an important aroma-chemical which has a hay-like aroma with coconut under tones, however it is banned as a food additive in the United States due to toxicity; is used to produce anti-coagulant medicines, rat poison, a valuable component of incense and perfumes. Coumarin is a fine white crystal that smells like new mown hay. It gives a mild powdery sweet hay note and a great deal of volume and fullness to a perfume. Tonka bean contains a lot of coumarin and smells similar.

An early perfumery masterpiece utilizing synthetic coumarin was Fougère Royale by Houbigant, launched in 1882. Houbigant combined the sweet scent of Coumarin with lavender, citrus and woody notes. It is this basic structure that defines a Fougere.

Hay Absolute: Of the genus foin coupe. The term Hay in this place refers to the type of 'new mown hay.' ; has been used for perfume base creations for many decades; the aroma is powerful and extremely sweet, quite diffusive, coumarin-like and faintly herbaceous, very uniform and tenacious. Used in perfumery not only in 'new mown hay' bases, or in combination with flouve, melilot, tonka, woodruff, deertongue, etc., but also as an individual note to be introduced whenever a truly herbaceous sweet under tone is required.

Hayfield Note: Used in perfumery to reproduce the sweet scent of new-mown hay: usually represented by coumarin.

Two antique recipes from Austin's Indispensable Handbook and General Educator from 1885:

  • 2 oz Tonka tincture 
  • 2 oz tincture of musk 
  • 2 oz tincture of benzoin, 
  • 4 drams extract of moss-rose 
  • 4 drams deodorized alcohol 
  • 20 drops of ottos of rose geranium 
  • 20 drops of bergamot 

  • 6 1/2 oz extract of Tonka 
  • 2 oz extract of orris 
  • 1 1/2 oz extract of musk 
  • 2 drams of extract of vanilla 
  • 2 drams of styrax 
  • 15 drops of ottos of bergamot 
  • 15 drops of sandalwood 
  • 4 drops of otto of neroli, 
  • 2 1/2 drops of ottos of rose 
  • 2 1/2 drops of English lavender 
  • 2 1/2 drops of patchouly 
  • 1 1/2 drops of otto of clove 
  • 23 grains of benzoic acid 
  • deodorized alcohol, enough to make one pint. 

Newer recipes for New Mown Hay perfumes are found in Poucher’s Perfumes, Cosmetics & Soaps, 1992.
Foin Coupe, no 1046
  • 300 linalool 
  • 200 coumarin 
  • 150 lavender 
  • 70 acetophenone 
  • 70 benzyl acetate 
  • 50 geranium bourbon 
  • 50 benzophenone 
  • 40 bergamot 
  • 20 clary sage 
  • 20 musk xylene 
  • 15 sandalwood 
  • 10 patchouli 
  • 5 oak moss 

A finished perfume, Foin Coupe, no 1047
  • 830 alcohol 
  • 130 compound as above (Foin Coupe, no 1046) 
  • 25 musk tincture (3 %) 
  • 5 tonka resin 
  • 4 jasmine absolute 
  • 3 orange flower absolute 
  • 2 rose absolute 
  • 1 civet absolute


Presented in the Carre flacon.

Fate of the Fragrance:

Discontinued, date unknown.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure the exact date that it was discontinued, but it must have been available through the late 1940's, as Tennessee Williams mentions it (and Mouchoir de Monsieur) in a letter written to Carson McCullers in 1948. He mentions being in London but plans to pick bottles of each of those when he is "passing through Paris." You can find the reference on page 202 in the Selected Letters, vol. 2.


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