Letter 10 ~ 4711 Cologne

4711 Cologne

4711 cologne, also known as 'Original Eau de Cologne', is a popular fragrance that has been enjoyed by both men and women for over two centuries. With its refreshing and invigorating scent, this cologne has become an iconic product that has stood the test of time.

4711 Cologne was first created in Cologne, Germany, in 1792 by Wilhelm Mülhens with a recipe given to him by a monk as a wedding gift. The name '4711' was derived from the street address of the house where the Mülhens family lived and worked; located at Glockengasse ('Clock Tower Square') Number 4711. The product was originally marketed as a health drink; a 'miracle water', before being sold as a fragrance. A popular myth is that this was because Napoleon passed a decree in 1810 requiring all medications to list their ingredients and that Mülhens was not willing to comply.

The original formula of the cologne included citrus oils and herbal scents in a unique blend that was unlike anything else on the market, and people were drawn to its refreshing and invigorating aroma. 

The cologne quickly became popular, and by the early 19th century, it was being sold throughout Europe and the United States. In 1881, ownership of the cologne passed from the Mülhens family to a group of outside investors, and in the years that followed, the cologne continued to be sold and marketed around the world. Production of the cologne was temporarily halted during Word War II when both the headquarters and the manufacturing plant were destroyed during the American carpet bombing that caused extensive damage to Cologne, including infrastructure, historic buildings and landmarks.


In the 1920s, the company hired famous illustrator Lutz Ehrenberger who created an advertising campaign that reflected the idea of the flapper girl of the era. The advertisements were viewed as many to be scandalous and caused controversy.  The campaign ended when the Archbishop of Cologne expressed disapproval.

The Scent

The signature scent of 4711 Cologne is based on a blend of essential oils and aromatics, including:

  • lemon
  • orange
  • bergamot
  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • and neroli (bitter orange extract)

The result is a light and refreshing scent that is both timeless and modern. The citrus oils give the cologne a bright and invigorating quality, while the herbal and floral notes provide a subtle depth and complexity.

One of the unique characteristics of 4711 Cologne is its versatility. It can be worn by both men and women, and is appropriate for a wide range of occasions, from casual daytime activities to more formal evening events. The cologne is also suitable for all seasons, although it is perhaps most commonly associated with the summer months, when its fresh and zesty scent is particularly refreshing.

Over the years, 4711 Cologne has become more than just a fragrance – it is an icon. The brand has managed to stay relevant and appeal to new generations of consumers. Today, the cologne is available in a variety of different formulations, including aftershave, deodorant, and shower gel, as well as in a range of sizes and packaging options.

The company now offers a range of other fragrances and personal care and grooming products, but the original 4711 cologne remains the brand's most famous and enduring product. It remains a classic fragrance that is loved by people of all ages and backgrounds all over the world.


 Sources for images and further reading