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Scaled Perfume Bottle

Originally sealed with a cork stopper, this perfume or cologne bottle molded in a scaled decorative pattern was especially popular during the mid-19th century. It represents one of some 40 examples recovered from the wreck site. All of the bottles were recovered empty.

Eau de Cologne was first manufactured commercially in the early 18th century and soon became an unparalleled success, “known and admired in every corner of the civilized world.” By the following century, Eau de Cologne had become such an important staple that no perfumer and very few apothecaries could be found that did not attempt to make it—especially so in the United States where each manufacturer strove to improve upon the original recipe, creating in effect a diversity of sweet-smelling toilet waters, all called “cologne” and all offered to the American consumer. The enormous popularity of these many fragrances provided for a steady stream of cologne bottles produced by a number of American glass makers, including the scaled example featured.

While the wearing of perfumes, colognes, rosewaters and other concoctions of scent played a major role with both the ladies and gentlemen of the era, it also appears that their use was not entirely restricted to the more cosmopolitan middle and upper classes. By the mid-19th century, widespread advertisements for cologne and sweet waters of all kinds had increased dramatically, often published in small-town local gazettes as well as in larger urban newspapers—strongly suggesting that the sale of colognes and other scented waters was not limited to the burgeoning metropolis’ nor to society’s upper crust, but rather more broadly targeted the general public.

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