Lightyears Collection

William Colgate, founder of Colgate Co.
William Colgate

In 1806 William Colgate, an English immigrant, founded a starch, soap and candle enterprise on Dutch Street in New York City. Getting the jump on others, Colgate obtained a giant kettle and proceeded to render (purify) his fat (for soap and candle making) himself. After buying out his early partner, Frances Smith, in 1813, the business became "William Colgate and Company".

In 1817 Colgate's first advertising appeared, for "Soap, Mould and Dipt Candles".

Sometime after 1817, Colgate's brother-in-law, John Gilbert, built a starch factory in what is now Jersey City, New Jersey. In 1847 all of Colgate's factory operations were moved to the New Jersey site.

William Colgate died in 1857 and the business was renamed —Colgate and Company.

Colgate and Company began to venture into perfumery in 1866. 1872 saw the introduction of their landmark soap, "Cashmere Bouquet", a milled, perfumed toilet soap. ("Octagon" was their longtime best seller laundry soap and it was immortalized by a giant, octagon-shaped clock, first over the company's New York offices; later, in an updated version, over their Jersey City factory.)

Caprice Toilet Water by Colgate
Caprice Toilet Water By Colgate

In 1873 Colgate introduced their first toothpaste — an aromatic dental cream sold in jars.

In 1896 Colgate introduced its first tube toothpaste, a model very similar to the product it sells today.

Although nobody would have guessed it in 1896, the introduction of tube toothpaste no doubt spelled the beginning of the end of Colgate and Company as perfumers. By the 1920's, Colgate was strongly focused on it's highly profitable dental products.

Yet looking back a few years we find that in 1906 — Colgate's centennial year — the Colgate product line included 625 varieties of perfume, in addition to their dental products and perfumed soap!

Today Colgate's years as a perfume marketer are largely forgotten.

Colgate Fragrances

Old Colgate Bottle (c. 1866-1870)  
Old Colgate Bottle with Older Colgate Trademark (c. 1870)  
Colgate Bottle with Older Colgate Trademark (c. 1870)  
Cashmere Bouquet (1872)  
Small Cashmere Bouquet Perfume Bottle (c. 1910's)  
Colgate Perfume Sample Vials (c. 1910's, 1920's)  
Caprice Toilet Water (c. 1872-1910)  
Imperial Lilac Toilet Water (c. 1910's)  
Les Fleurs Favorite (c. 1922)  

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  • Arthur Ihde, 12/23/2023. I am trying to research if I have one of the earliest Colgate & Co hand colored print ads for Cashmere Bouquet. It is introducing to the public their new Handkerchief Extract Girl Dactylis.

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  • -, 06/11/2006.
    In 1943, at the beginning of her perfumery career (which included creations for Robert Piguet, Pierre Balmain, Balenciaga and Elizabeth Arden), Germain Cellier -- having a background in both chemistry and perfumery -- did a brief stint as a functional perfumer (making "functional products" -- soap in this case) for Colgate ... which was now Colgate-Palmolive.
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