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Edrehi Perfume Bottle and Stopper

In an era lacking indoor plumbing, not surprisingly, the excavation of the SS Republic yielded dozens of perfume bottles including a few rare examples with their glass stopper still intact such as this unique sample, one of three similar perfume bottles embossed with the name Edrehi. Another 71 Edrehi bottles were recovered from the wreck site without their stoppers.

Life in the 19th century necessitated the use of perfume and cologne. Without the conveniences of hot or cold running water, nor washers and dryers to automatically launder one's clothing, personal hygiene was a constant problem intensified by the heat of the summer and made unbearable by the heavy woolen clothing of the winter. The use of cologne was in fact essential, and as common as today's use of deodorants. In addition to its use at home, cologne and perfume was regularly carried by women in their purses for the often needed "pause that refreshes."

In early America, the first scents were colognes and scented water. Perfume would undergo a profound change in the 19th century. Changing tastes and the development of modern chemistry laid the foundations of perfumery as we know it today. Alchemy gave way to chemistry and new fragrances were created. Under the post-revolutionary government, people once again dared to express a penchant for luxury goods, including perfume. Soon a number of perfumery manufactories were established in the country with small quantities of fragrant waters and colognes frequently put into glass bottles.

Unlike some of the more distinguished perfumers of the day, far less is known of the New York perfumery Isaac Edrehi & Co. launched in the mid-19th century. According to period documents, his store was destroyed in 1860 by a great fire which swept through several city blocks. Yet, given the number of perfume bottles attributed to Edrehi and discovered at the 1865 wreck site, it is likely his company survived this disaster.

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