Wonders of The World- The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

When I heard Mandy Aftel was opening up her curiosity scent vault I about lost my mind. She and Foster Curry, her husband and business partner, opened the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in 2014. It’s been a long time coming but I made it! I got to be here, almost four years later… and it was a dream come true! Bucket list check off point! Here are some mega highlights and smells from my visit to this magnificent wonder of the world!

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Let the pleasures begin.

Smelleth thou must… all ye who enter here!


I thought this droopy flower was so pretty. Every blink I took is a permanent picture in my mind. When I saw this purple beauty I wondered what it was. I smelled it of course! A community based plant app I have told me what this purple bloom might be. As it turns out, it’s a variety of scrambling fuchsia. This was taken from the front of Mandy’s house.


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Old School Treasures!

Beautiful lab equipment from the yonder years.


The most incredible collection of Ambergris that I have ever smelled.

The most incredible collection of Ambergris that I have ever smelled.

The Ambergris Cathederal.

The Ambergris Cathederal.

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Sweet Scentiments

A darling collection of fragrant photographs. Keepsakes and sentimental longing.



It's a portal to another, intriguing time. Aftel's exhibit-amassed with the help of obscure eBay search terms, longstanding friendships with collectors, and deep library dives- include a taxidermy civet (prized for its pungent glandular secretion), roasted Onycha shells (included in a Biblical recipe for incense), and a century-old perfumer's kit rescued from a Paris attic. But there's plenty more than meets the eye. For example, there a new iteration of Aftel's prized perfume organ: a custom-built Douglas Fir shelving unit that houses dozens of far-flung aromatics, including tiare gardenia from Tahiti, exorbitantly prices Oud, and, yes, Douglas Fir. An exceptional display deconstructs the scent of rose- a complex bundle of aroma chemicals- into its key isolates. And her latest perfume, Curious, a musky composition inspired by the Archive, is broken into top, middle, and base "chords" in an effort to demystify the process of blending.- text by Laura Regensdorf, Vogue Magazine

Who knew Elemi Resin looked like that? I am a dark, resinous incense lover- Elemi was the first resin that lifted me rather than grounded me. Truly a unique smell… bright, fresh, green, lemony like a mixture of frankincense, galbanum and citrus.


Angela at Eden Botanicals calls this, “Black Death.” Haha! She (lovingly) exclaims how much she dislikes Cistus saying, “it’s forged in hell!” It’s one of my favorite smells, of course. I just love how different our noses are and I love Angela. :)

Angela at Eden Botanicals calls this, “Black Death.” Haha! She (lovingly) exclaims how much she dislikes Cistus saying, “it’s forged in hell!” It’s one of my favorite smells, of course. I just love how different our noses are and I love Angela. :)


Animalics for all! Featured here is Hyrax, Civet and Onycha shells. Onycha shells are a common ingredient in the Biblical incense mixtures. Onycha is an ancient Greek word for "Finger Nail". This is the door membrane of a snail-like mollusk found in the Red Sea and imported from Oman. It gives a marine like, animalic smell. Exquisitely unique!


Pictured above: A deconstruction of a rose, a break down of Mandy’s perfume entitled, “Curious” and below are my favorite smells from her perfume organ. Her letter pressed scent strips are the ultimate cool!

I took a picture of my chosen smells on the cushion of the bay window that overlooks the family garden. When you go to the museum you get scent strips to choose your faves and take a dippy-doo of Mandy’s perfume materials home with you.

I took a picture of my chosen smells on the cushion of the bay window that overlooks the family garden. When you go to the museum you get scent strips to choose your faves and take a dippy-doo of Mandy’s perfume materials home with you.

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The chill out spot while you read about centuries of olfactive endeavors.

Mandy’s collection of books about all things aromatic and is truly remarkable. I could have been at this spot for a a lifetime.

A last farewell look back.