Feud over the Invention of the Eau de Cologne Won by Feminis in the Latest Round {The 5th Sense in the News}

An interesting early advertising American label for an Eau de Cologne from Boston dating from the 1870s depicting a duel between Ja'ques and Farina, both makers of the wonderful Eau de Cologne

As 2009 marks the 300th anniversary of the Eau de Cologne (is it a simple coincidence?), a village feud spanning the centuries and resembling in flavor that of the Capulets and Montagues gets settled for a little while in favor of the Feminises over the Farinas, both candidates to the title of inventor of the Eau de Cologne...

Originally named Aqua Mirabilis by Paolo Feminis it is better known as Farina's Eau de Cologne created officially in 1709. The name "Eau de Cologne" is reportedly recorded from 1742 only. 

"Researcher Silvia Ceccomori told ANSA she uncovered leaves of paper once attached to eau de cologne bottles in which Farina's grandson Giovanni (1718-1787) attests that the perfume ''was invented by Paolo Feminis, Italian and distiller of Cologne''. Santa Maria Maggiore's Deputy Mayor, Claudio Cottini, said he was satisfied that the dispute could finally be put to rest and that he hoped Farina's German descendants would accept the new evidence."


Photo credit: Rhealee8 on eBay

Do you have a favorite Eau de Cologne?

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1 Comment | Leave a comment

  1. The Giovanni Farina (1718-1787) mentioned in the article is Johann Anton Farina. While a member of the genuine cologne-producing family (he is the son of one of Johann Maria Farina the Elder's brothers) he was never involved in the family business, i.e. Farina gegenüber dem Jülichsplatz. Rather, he ran a cologne business of his own in Düsseldorf and he claimed to be using the original Feminis formula (the existence of which has never been documented - we do not know whether his acqua mirabilis, a generic term for all kinds of waters, had anything to do with what later became Eau de Cologne), thus presenting his product as older or more genuine than the Cologne company's. So I'm afraid this is old and irrelevant news.

    Farina Gegenüber claims that Johann Maria Farina invented a genuinely new product. Fact is that there is no evidence to disprove this and all historical evidence of older Eau de Colognes in Cologne is manufactured (e.g. an approbration of Feminis' water by a doctor of the University of cologne, who, as the university's rolls show, never existed). Feminis produced Acqua Mirabilis, but we do not know its formula. As a historian I doubt one can pinpoint a genuine inventor of such products (it is like the telephone or phonograph - dozens of people were working on it independently of each other). What is beyond doubt, however is that Farina invented the name Eau de Cologne and made it a succesful product with a consistently high quality achieved through complex blending processes and a highly complex formula (he is, in other words no less than the Edison of EdC). The production volume, reputation, quality and price of his product, which started to become a bestseller in the 1750s-1760s was simply disproprotionally higher than of the small-time imitators and plagiarizers who usually went bankrupt rapidly. 4711 only overtook Farina in the 20th century in terms of size, but they became a mass market brand, while Farina remained what you would today call niche - too expensive even for middle class consumers of the day. So to summarize: by the available historical evidence Johann Maria Farina is the inventor of Eau de Cologne.

    Read more: http://www.basenotes.net/threads/224464-Who-invented-eau-de-cologne?p=1450882#post1450882#ixzz0nuJO7FaN


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