Rose Perfumed Bear Grease - How Atkinsons Got Its Start

What kind of fragrances do you prefer?
Post Reply
User avatar
Coche_y_bondhu
Don't mess with Texas!
Posts: 2247
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 11:34 am
Location: Plano TX USA

Rose Perfumed Bear Grease - How Atkinsons Got Its Start

Post by Coche_y_bondhu »

Hello All,

Found this by chance on the Internet about Atkinsons, a lavender perfumer:

"In 1799, the young James Atkinsons set out from Cumberland, the region of his birth, to seek his fortune in London. In no time at all, James had become famous for the jars of rose-perfumed bear grease which he sold to gentlemen customers as an ointment for the hair, beard and whiskers.

A few years later, his brother Edward came to join him and together they embarked on a great adventure which went far beyond the bounds of England. Their adventure has covered two centuries and five continents, their experience based on a search for the ingredients, rituals and wisdom of far-off lands and cultures which mirror the oft-forgotten needs of their modern-day patrons.

The success of J.&.E. Atkinsons, one of the oldest perfumers in the world, lies in its rich heritage, one which few other perfumers can match, and its unstinting ability to adapt true, lasting values to the modern world."

Just some historical nostalgia to think about next time you reach for that jar of rose scented bear grease :).

Cheers,
Richard
bernards66
Duke of Silvertip!
Posts: 27408
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 1:02 pm

Post by bernards66 »

Richard, Really! I've studiously avoided going into the early history of Atkinsons. I did not think that many members were really....well...ready for the bear grease story. This is one of those historical tidbits that are for the serious aficionados. Sigh, yes rose scented bear grease, just the thing to keep those wayward locks in place. I've seen pictures of fine ceramic 'Atkinson Bears' from the 19th c. that were sometimes in barber shops or apothacarys. On some of their modern cologne labels you'll see a small bear emblem down near the bottom. That's why. Atkinsons went on to become one of the Royal perfumers, along with Gossnell and Floris, during Victoria's reign. Regards, Gordon
brothers
Posts: 20822
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:18 am
Location: Oklahoma City USA

Post by brothers »

Fascinating information. Atkinsons is still a brand, owned by a European firm. I Coloniali is an Atkinsons product, at least I think so. Does anybody have a tube of Atkinsons Lavender shaving cream? Just curious, and found this story about rose-scened bear grease.
Gary

SOTD 99%: soaps & creams, synthetic / boar / badger brushes, Colonial General razor, Kai & Schick blades, Superior 70 aftershave splash + menthol + 444
bernards66
Duke of Silvertip!
Posts: 27408
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 1:02 pm

Post by bernards66 »

Gary, For generations Atkinsons was one of the upper crust gentlemen's perfumers and soap makers with a shop in Mayfair, London. I've been told that there still is a plaque on the building or sidewalk to that effect. At some point, perhaps in the '60s or '70s, the firm and name was bought by one of the major cosmetics companies...I don't know the details or exactly when. I think the name is currently owned, ultimately, by Lever of Italy. But for many years, and perhaps even still, there were Atkinson colognes being bottled in the US that were a little different from the Italian versions. I was never able to learn anything of substance about who this firm was, or even where, let alone what their actual status was vis a vis the original London Atkinsons. There are a few gents on SMF who have tried, and reported on, the current Atkinson's Lavender shave cream and you should be able to dig those posts out of our archives.
Regards,
Gordon
brz90
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:04 pm

Post by brz90 »

I walk past the old Atkinsons building at 24 Old Bond Street often enough. It's one of those buildings in London where it pays to look above the ground floor. It's like a cross between a cathedral and a chateau with a tower rising above the roof and a 23 bell carillon in the tower that rings out on special occasions. Perhaps it will play to celebrate the Royal Wedding. I was walking home from work one evening when I first heard it to stunning effect, it made the night seem magic. Worth a look by anyone doing the Jermyn Street, St James shaving shop tour, just cross Piccadilly and walk up Bond Street. It's a little way up on the right.

Jack
EL Alamein
Posts: 3000
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:55 pm

Post by EL Alamein »

Reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9_jIa2WADc
bernards66
Duke of Silvertip!
Posts: 27408
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 1:02 pm

Post by bernards66 »

Jack, Thanks for the on-the-spot description and exact location. I would certainly stop by that address if ever I get over there. Such a shame that they were not able to remain in business as the original firm. I would love to have walked in there in 1910 or 1920. I do know that along with Floris, they supplied Churchill with toilet soaps for years.
Regards,
Gordon
brz90
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:04 pm

Post by brz90 »

Gordon, for me its always been the independent shops and businesses that make London such a great place and it's sad when they go; but great when you find something new.

Jack
User avatar
Craig_From_Cincy
Posts: 1476
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2005 11:38 pm
Location: Cincinnati, OH USA

Post by Craig_From_Cincy »

Here's a picture of one of those Atkinsons Bear Grease ceramic pots:

Image

The image came from here:

http://nineteenteen.blogspot.com/2010/0 ... l-and.html
Cheers,

Craig
User avatar
Squire
Squadron Leader
Posts: 18970
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:41 pm
Location: North East, MS

Post by Squire »

Other than the cool label it's list of uses are surprising modern.
Regards,
Squire
Post Reply