A Story of a Bottle. A Fragrant Object for Womens' Day

I Maria Farina No 1711, CologneThe Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk would like to wish all ladies a happy Women’s Day!

What is the one item which cannot be missing from a real lady’s dressing table…? Perfume, of course! It is for this reason that we are presenting you today with an artefact in the form of a six-sided cologne bottle from the 18th–19th century: I MARIA FARINA No 1711, COLOGNE.

This brand’s perfume is still being produced today by the descendants of the Farina family. The historical founder of the perfume factory, established in 1709 in Cologne, was Johann Maria Farina, born in Italy (before moving to Germany, his name was Giovanni). From his fatherland, he brought the mastery in the art of distillation, which in connection with his sensitive sense of smell, enabled him to create scents associated with luxury, freshness and happiness.

The Farina factory in 18th-century Cologne contributed to the fame of the city thanks to the produced toilet water, called cologne (Kölnisch Wasser). The adaptation of the name to French: Eau de Cologne allowed the perfume to gain popularity in the European courts. Some of the most famous Farina clients: Louis XV, Napoleon Bonaparte, Stanisław August Poniatowski, Queen Victoria, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Marlena Dietrich, Oscar Wilde and princess Diana.

Eau de Cologne became so popular that it gained its imitators, marking their products with the name cologne. However, the original perfume were unique and unforgeable. Johann Maria Farina wrote to his brother in 1708 about one of his new scents: “I have discovered a scent that reminds me of a spring morning in Italy, of mountain narcissus, orange blossom just after the rain. It gives me great refreshment, strengthens my senses and imagination.”

The bottle from the collection of the Archaeological Museum in Gdańsk most probably comes from the 19th century. Archaeologists discovered it in the area of Mariacka, Chlebnicka and Klesza Streets. The scent alone, as indicated by the label, was produced in 1711, however, the bottle’s appearance – discoloured glass, shaped in a six-sided form – places it later in time.

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