Eau de Cologne

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Eau de Cologne (French:  [o d(ə) kɔlɔɲ] ; German: Kölnisch Wasser [ˈkœlnɪʃ ˈvasɐ] ; meaning "Water from Cologne"), or simply cologne, is a perfume originating from Cologne, Germany. [1] Originally mixed by Johann Maria Farina (Giovanni Maria Farina) in 1709, it has since come to be a generic term for scented formulations in typical concentration of 2–5% and also more depending upon its type essential oils or a blend of extracts, alcohol, and water. [2] In a base of dilute ethanol (70–90%), eau de cologne contains a mixture of citrus oils including oils of lemon, orange, tangerine, clementine, bergamot, lime, grapefruit, blood orange, and bitter orange. It can also contain oils of neroli, lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, petitgrain (orange leaf), jasmine, olive, oleaster, and tobacco.


In contemporary American English usage, the term "cologne" has become a generic term for perfumes usually marketed toward men. It also may signify a less concentrated, more affordable, version of a popular perfume.


An eau de cologne by Farina (1811). 1811-Rosoli-Flacon.jpg
An eau de cologne by Farina (1811).
4711 Eau de Cologne. Eau de Cologne 1280470.JPG
4711 Eau de Cologne.

The original Eau de Cologne is a spirit-citrus perfume launched in Cologne in 1709 by Giovanni Maria Farina (1685–1766), an Italian perfume maker from Santa Maria Maggiore Valle Vigezzo. In 1708, Farina wrote to his brother Jean Baptiste: "I have found a fragrance that reminds me of an Italian spring morning, of mountain daffodils and orange blossoms after the rain". [3] He named his fragrance Eau de Cologne, in honour of his new hometown. [4]

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. On 12 December 2006, the perfumes and cosmetics company Mäurer & Wirtz took over 4711 from Procter & Gamble and has expanded it to a whole brand since then.

The Eau de Cologne composed by Farina was used only as a perfume and delivered to "nearly all royal houses in Europe". [5] His ability to produce a constantly homogeneous fragrance consisting of dozens of monoessences was seen as a sensation at the time. A single vial of this aqua mirabilis (Latin for miracle water) cost half the annual salary of a civil servant. [4] When free trade was established in Cologne by the French in 1797, the success of Eau de Cologne prompted countless other businessmen to sell their own fragrances under the name of Eau de Cologne. Giovanni Maria Farina's formula has been produced in Cologne since 1709 by Farina opposite the Jülichplatz [4] and to this day remains a secret. His shop at Obenmarspforten opened in 1709 and is today the world's oldest fragrance factory.

In 1806, Jean Marie Joseph Farina, a grand-grand-nephew of Giovanni Maria Farina, opened a perfumery business in Paris that was later sold to Roger & Gallet. That company now owns the rights to Eau de Cologne extra vieille in contrast to the Original Eau de Cologne from Cologne. Originally the water of Cologne was believed to have the power to ward off bubonic plague. [6] By drinking the cologne the citrus oil scent would be exuded through the pores, repelling fleas. Much as flea shampoo for dogs can be based on citrus oils today.

In modern times, eau de Cologne or "cologne", has become a generic term. The term "cologne" can be applied to perfume for men or women, but it conventionally refers to perfumes marketed toward men. [7]

The importation of Eau de Cologne into Turkey resulted in the creation of kolonya, a Turkish perfume. [8]

Literary Reference

Yevgeny Yevtushenko's Poem, About Drinking, describes the author coming back from a whaling voyage and arriving at a small town where the local store is out of spirits and instead they find a case of Eau de Cologne to drink.

See also


Related Research Articles

Perfume Mixture of fragrant substances, usually in liquid form, used to give agreeable scent to objects, air or living creatures

Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds, fixatives and solvents, usually in liquid form, used to give the human body, animals, food, objects, and living-spaces an agreeable scent.

Bergamot orange cultivated variety of citrus fruit

Citrus bergamia, the bergamot orange, is a fragrant citrus fruit the size of an orange, with a yellow or green color similar to a lime, depending on ripeness.

Cologne is a city in Germany.

Johann Maria Farina

Giovanni Maria Farina was an Italian-born perfumier from Germany who created the first Eau de Cologne.

4711 German cologne

4711 is a traditional German Eau de Cologne by Mäurer & Wirtz. Because it has been produced in Cologne since at least 1799, it is allowed to use the geographical indication Original Eau de Cologne. The brand has been expanded to various other perfumes and products besides the original Echt Kölnisch Wasser, which has used the same formula for more than 200 years.


Neroli oil is an essential oil produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree. Its scent is sweet, honeyed and somewhat metallic with green and spicy facets. Orange blossom is also extracted from the same blossom and both extracts are extensively used in perfumery. Orange blossom can be described as smelling sweeter, warmer and more floral than neroli. The difference between how neroli and orange blossom smell and why they are referred to with different names, is a result of the process of extraction that is used to obtain the oil from the blooms. Neroli is extracted by steam distillation and orange blossom is extracted via a process of enfleurage or solvent extraction.

Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Jülichs-Platz

Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Jülichs-Platz GmbH is the world's oldest eau de Cologne and perfume factory. It traces its origins to a luxury goods retail business founded in 1709 in Cologne by Giovanni Battista Farina, who was subsequently joined in the business by his younger brother, Giovanni Maria Farina. The short form 'Farina gegenüber' and the French name 'Jean Marie Farina vis-à-vis de la place Juliers' were also commonly used over a long period of time. The company's logo is a red tulip.

Chypre is the name of a family of perfumes that are characterised by an accord composed of citrus top notes, a middle centered on cistus labdanum, and a mossy-animalic set of basenotes derived from oakmoss. Chypre perfumes fall into numerous classes according to their modifier notes, which include but are not limited to leather, florals, fruits, and amber.

History of perfume

The word perfume is used today to describe scented mixtures and is derived from the Latin word, "per fumus," meaning through smoke. The word Perfumery refers to the art of making perfumes. Perfume was further refined by the Romans, the Persians and the Arabs. Although perfume and perfumery also existed in East Asia, much of its fragrances were incense based. The basic ingredients and methods of making perfumes are described by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia.

Jean-Claude Ellena

Jean-Claude Ellena is a French perfumer and writer.

Eau de toilette

Eau de toilette literally translated as toilet water is a lightly scented cologne used as a skin freshener. It is also referred to as "aromatic waters" and has a high alcohol content. It is usually applied directly to the skin after bathing or shaving. It was originally composed of alcohol and various volatile oils. Traditionally these products were named after a principal ingredient; some being geranium water, lavender water, lilac water, violet water, spirit of myrcia and 'eau de Bretfeld'. Because of this, eau de toilette was sometimes referred to as "toilet water".

Fragrance Museum

The Farina Fragrance Museum is situated across from Cologne City Hall, and near the famous Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in the Obenmarspforten in Innenstadt, Cologne. Founded in 1709, John Maria Farina opposite the Jülichs Place is the eldest fragrance factory still standing and houses the registered office since 1723.

Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma is an Italian lifestyle and fashion company that produces fragrances, candles, bathrobes, and leather accessories. All of its ranges are exclusively made in Italy, and distributed in 43 countries.

Valle Vigezzo

Valle Vigezzo is a valley in the Lepontine Alps in northwestern Italy on the border with Canton Ticino of Switzerland. It forms the eastern branch of the Ossola valley. It is also called the Valle dei Pittori due to the large number of painters over the centuries such as Giuseppe Mattia Borgnis, Lorenzo Peretti, Bernardino Peretti, Enrico Cavalli, Carlo Fornara, Giovanni Battista Ciolina, Gian Maria Rastellini, Maurizio Borgnis, Lorenzo Peretti Junior. It is remembered for its "spazzacamini" or chimney-sweepers who brought their trade around Europe. It is connected with the Eau de Cologne, invented over 300 years ago by Giovanni Maria Farina using, among other ingredients flowers and oils from plants from Vigezzo. Another man from Vigezzo, Giovan Maria Salati is credited to be the first recorded person swimming across the English Channel over 200 years ago, after having been taken prisoner by the British after Waterloo.

Creed (perfume)

Creed is a multi-national niche perfume house. Based in Paris, it was originally established and founded in England as a tailoring house in 1760 by James Henry Creed

Roger & Gallet

Roger & Gallet is a French perfume company founded by merchant Charles Armand Roger and banker Charles Martial Gallet in 1862. It is owned by L'Oréal. They purchased a Parisian perfumery business founded in 1806 by Jean Marie Joseph Farina, grand-grand-nephew of Giovanni Maria Farina, the creator of Eau de Cologne. Roger & Gallet then won a legal dispute over the right to use the Farina family name, and the company now owns the rights to Eau de Cologne extra vieille, in contrast to the Original Eau de Cologne from Cologne.

Bergamot essential oil Cold-pressed essential oil

Bergamot essential oil is a cold-pressed essential oil produced by cells inside the rind of a bergamot orange fruit. It is a common flavoring and top note in perfumes. The scent of bergamot essential oil is similar to a sweet light orange peel oil with a floral note.

Atelier Cologne is a niche perfume line owned by L'Oréal. Founded in 2009 by Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, Atelier Cologne is best known for unisex citrus scents like Orange Sanguine.


  1. "Perfume & Cologne Market 2019-2025 | Professional Survey By ICRW". Big Fashion trends. 2019-09-20. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  2. "Finding Queen Victoria's perfume". Royal Central. 2019-05-12. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  3. Eckstein and Sykes, p 8
  4. 1 2 3 Fischer
  5. Farina Fragrance Museum information leaflet
  6. Monk, Paul M. S. Physical Chemistry: Understanding Our Chemical World. 2004. Wiley.
  7. "The history behind eau de cologne". Germany Wanderer. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  8. Yalav-Heckeroth, Feride. "A Brief History Of Kolonya, Turkey's Fragrance". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
Works cited