Decades before the SS Republic’s final voyage, Edward Phalon was already a household name, having captivated the public with his famous Chemical Hair Invigorator. The New York hairdresser and wigmaker introduced his hair treatment in the early 1840s at his elegant Franklin House establishment on Broadway Street. This richly embellished bathing and hair-cutting emporium boasted elaborately painted walls and Italian marble flooring, with “sumptuous” interior furnishings of rosewood and crimson velvet. An 1849 advertisement for Phalon’s Franklin House promoted his Chemical Hair Invigorator, said to “clear the pores, dissolve impurities and keep the hair moist. . . .” Around 1858, Phalon was joined by son Henry and the company became Phalon & Son’s Perfumery, offering an extensive line of perfumes, hair dyes, and even a Bear Oil.
Seventy-seven bottles retrieved from the wreck site bear the embossed text “Phalon & Son’s Chemical Hair Invigorator.” Found in two different sizes, most of the examples were retrieved empty. Yet, a few select samples still have their corks securely intact and display an oily substance inside, possibly the remains of Phalon’s original hair potion.