It is very interesting that the world cologne elicits the beauty of a city in German as well as a fragrance.
I recently went into a shop to buy my favourite cologne. As I looked around, a little girl walked over to me and asked, what is the oldest cologne? It was a surprising question and I promised her I would look it up and share the answer.
Introduced in 1772, 4711 is the world’s oldest and perhaps most treasured cologne still produced. The Original Eau de Cologne 4711, is named after its location at Glockengasse No. 4711. It was also developed in the 18th century by Wilhelm Mülhens and produced in Cologne since at least 1799 and is therefore probably one of the oldest still produced fragrances in the world.
The world’s oldest perfumes have been found on Cyprus by a team of archaeologists. The perfumes were scented with extracts of lavender, bay, rosemary, pine or coriander and kept in tiny translucent alabaster bottles
4711 is a classic German scent that has adorned the wrists of men and women alike since the 18th century. Many customers adore the fragrance not just because of its pleasant notes but because of something more special, a nostalgia for days gone by. Every self-respecting woman in the 50s and 60s had a bottle of 4711 on her vanity.
How does a fragrance stick around for so long, though? Trends in scents come and go, but 4711 has stayed as popular as ever. We dug a little deeper into the brand’s 225-year history to see what all the commotion is about.
The oldest Eau de Cologne was born in October of 1792, when Wilhelm Muelhens received a secret recipe as a wedding gift. This recipe was for an “acqua mirabilis,” or a miracle water intended for internal as well as external use. Soon after, Wilhelm opened a manufactory in the Glockengasse (meaning “Clock Tower Square”) area of Cologne, Germany. He marketed his miracle water as a health drink served undiluted or mixed with wine.
The name came about in part thanks to the French military occupation that began in 1794. Frustrated by the disorganized layout of the city, a French general had all the houses sequentially numbered. Muelhen’s house was given the number 4711, which has stuck with the brand ever since.
In 1810, Napoleon decreed that all recipes for medications intended for internal use publicly list their ingredients. Muelhens didn’t want to disclose his secret recipe, so he began to market his miracle water as solely a fragrance.
Peter Heinrich Molanus designed the hexagonal, upright bottle (still in use today) back in 1820. Its flat surfaces make it easier to packages for transportation, and left plenty of room for label design. At the time, it was sealed with a crown cork and included a bottle opener in the package.
In 1875, Ferdinand Muelhens (Wilhelm’s grandson) registered 4711 as a brand and created the first iteration of the modern logo. In 1900 the Muelhens family finalized the design, and it hasn’t changed since.