What’s the 4711?

15 02 2012

I was paging through the February 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine and came across a promotion for 4711 Eau de Cologne. Now for those of you who are too young to remember or know this, 4711 was a popular cologne from yesteryear. It was first launched in Köln, Germany (Cologne in English) in 1792, as a unisex scent, by perfumer Wilhelm Mülhens. The full name on the original bottle says “Echt Kölnish Wasser” (real water from Cologne).


My grandmother used it as smelling salts though, and I grew up thinking that it was only used to help revive you when you felt faint. I had a bout of panic attacks during my first year of university, and having 4711 in my handbag was de rigueur.

Flash-forward to 2012 and 4711 seems to be making a comeback. The smell is refreshing in the same vein as all the “eau” colognes, and the fact that it costs a mere R60 for 25 ml makes it a real bargain. The citrus smell reminds one of a burst of lemonade on a hot summer’s day.


Attached is a picture of the original bottle owned by my late grandmother, Audrey Roman (whose 83rd birthday it would have been today, by the way). Proof that it is authentically from the seventies or eighties, is the fact that it says “Made in WEST Germany” on the back label. And it still smells divine, after all of these years.




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