The scent of money

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by Annika Backe

September 14, 2017 – ‘L’eau de cash’, that would be a fitting term for the creation of distinguished perfumer Roja Dove, sold at auction on June 30, 2017. British national newspaper The Sunday Times had asked him to capture the smell of a banknote in a small flask.

Perfumer Roja Dove, born in South East England. Photo: Financial Times / Wikimedia Commmons / CC BY 2.0

Going into circulation in September 2017, the introduction of the new £10 note provided the occasion. Like the £5 note, which has become legal tender in September 2016, the new ‘tenner’, which the Bank of England presented to the public on July 19, 2017, is made of polymer. It’s hoped that the notes will become more durable and harder to counterfeit. But there are olfactory repercussions, too. In contrast to the traditional paper, polymer doesn’t absorb odors that easily. 

To Roja Dove, that is a sad thing, because of the accompanying loss of memories of the past. “The beauty of scent is that within a second it takes you back to moments and places,” he says.

What does a bank note smell like?

Born in Sussex in 1957, Roja Dove worked at Guerlain in Paris before he founded “Roja Parfums”. Wanting to capture nothing less than the scent of humanity, he remarks: “I was thinking of a note at the end of its life. You’ve paid for the Tube or the car park, you’ve handled keys and coins and you’ve ended up having a bacon sandwich. You pay with the £10 note and it’s given in turn to the woman who’s wearing some terribly expensive hand cream.” Dove wanted to capture all this in his perfume, rounded off by the leather of the wallets, the paper’s smell of wood, and the chemical scent of the ink. 

An impressive price for the essence of money

The master perfumer produced only one 100ml bottle. In a Sunday Times auction, the lucky new owner gladly paid £1,625 for the scent of the £10 bill. The revenues went to the Albert Kennedy Trust. This organization supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people who are subjected to isolation and violence after their coming out. 

To visit the Roja Parfums homepage, please click here. 

Roja Dove of course has his own Wikipedia entry

Further information on the auction is available here. 

This is the Albert Kennedy Trust website.

And here you can read more about the efforts of a former Microsoft manager to make employees more productive through the smell of newly printed dollar bills.