The coach for London, top heavy with luggage and all but two of its passengers clinging to the roof seats trounced violently south from Cumberland. It swayed and dipped like HMS Brunswick in a storm causing all topside to take on a very unflattering shade of Neptune green. All aboard were extremely relived to see at long last London appear along the hazy horizon. A Miss Herbert thanked God silently into her handkerchief and the country Parson beside her let loose a curse of such vulgarity that the coachman blushed.
The reason for all this discomfort and the subjects of the Parson’s curse were traveling quite comfortably in the compartment below.
A young gentleman with all his dreams of success in the capital wrapped up in his breast pocket inside his treasured floral recipes. A tub of rose scented bear grease balm separated him from a large ferocious looking Bear. The young gentleman’s name was James Atkinson and the bear was George.
“I still say James I should have sat up on the roof.” George said being quite the gentleman bear. “That poor lady up there in the wind and the rain, you know she lost her bonnet along with her breakfast just past High Wycombe and it’s all because of me.”
James smiled at his very best furry friend who, it should be noted only spoke to him when no one else was around. “It’s not your fault that people do not trust that you are quite well behaved in company George. Oh I say! Look! You can see the spires of the city!”
They each popped there heads out of the windows on either side of the carriage to get a better look. Miss Herbert who just happened to look down at that moment let out a shriek at the sight of George and promptly fainted onto the Parson’s lap. A farmer in the flanking field dropped his scythe and rubbed his eyes at the sight of a bear in the passing coach.
“Are you excited James?” George asked as they both settled back into there quite comfortable seats.
“You know I am George. An entire new life is waiting for us in London. Together you and I will create a new world of bouquets for the ladies and gentlemen of quality. The old Eau de Colognes of the Continent will rule England no more.” He patted his breast pocket.
“I have faith in you my friend and I know that together, you and I will take the city by storm.” George said with a growly grin.
And in due course James and George did even better than their dreams dictated. Within weeks at their new shop at 44 Gerard Street the pomades, balms and fragrances created form James recipe book began to catch attention. It was George who stood by the door and greeted every patron and in so doing created a sensation. But the real stars of the day were the new and very British fragrances created by James Atkinson.
For London society it became quite the most popular thing to “Brave the Bear” and visit the perfume shop. There they sampled and wore such delights as The British Bouquet, The Sandringham Bouquet, Woodland Bouquet. And over time the luminaries of the age became patrons of James Atkinson. Beau Brummell the first Dandy of the day, was a fan and in turn introduced Atkinsons to his friend the Prince of Wales who was also called George (Prinny to his nearest and dearest)
“A little too much powder your Majesty…”
In 1826 Prinny who was now King George IV granted a royal warrant to Atkinsons making it the perfumer to the King and Court. There is a rumor that at this time the gentleman bear George was presented at court where at the royal ball he danced with the seven year old Princess Victoria. It is reported that she said many years later of the encounter. “We found Georgie to be quite fuzzy and a fine dancer.”
In very fact the young Queen Victoria, whose wedding bouquet inspired the creation of The Nuptial Bouquet by James was enamored of Atkinsons. Napoleon was a fan boy. By 1832 when the new shop at 24 Old Bond Street opened others who fell under the olfactory spell where the Who’s who of the 19th century, Duke of Wellington, Admiral Nelson, Lady Hamilton, Prince Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Queen Margherita di Savoia, the Tsarina of Russia and Sarah Bernhardt.
That Hamilton woman and Lord Nelson
They caused a scandal but they smelled great doing it.
When George the gentleman bear passed from the realm in 1835 everyone who mattered attended the funeral at St. Paul’s. He had come to London with his friend James find fame to make there fortunes. And indeed that’s exactly what they accomplished. The fantasy became real and the reality became legend.
Isn’t it amazing what a man and a bear can do?
It is very exciting to discover that the famous and venerated old British perfumery of Atkinsons founded in 1799 is reborn in a re-launch of the house this year. The line has just arrived at Barney’s NY in San Francisco and I was amazed by the beauty of each and every one of the five fragrances in the line. They are as follows, (The Legendary Collection) The Odd Fellows Bouquet, The Nuptial Bouquet, The British Bouquet, Fashion Decree Woman, and from the Emblematic Collection, 24 Old Bond Street.
24 Old Bond Street is a gorgeous Oriental, smart, and captivating fragrance. Sartorial beauty and elegance are the order of the day with this masculine Eau de Cologne. It opens with a bracing, invigorating blast of Gin like Juniper that sinks swiftly into a mellow tea note. Here we are reminded of the British Raj and a time when the colonial empire turned under an ever shining British sun. This tea spiced with juniper melts into a lovely subtle English rose bringing a touch of Tudor spring to the elixir. With the tea at the fore and the rose and juniper at the aft we stay here for a comforting while until from below comes a lovely boozy whisky. This is a fine whisky note aged in old English oak barrels, to a rich smoky beauty. Whisky and cigars in a Mayfair gentleman’s club is the final scene we are left with in the dry down.
The entire life of the cologne is brief but glorious. It is after all an Eau de Cologne in the old style and one should not expect a wild bear of a fragrance. This bear is a gentleman not a beast. The sillage is moderate and I in fact like it that way. 24 Old Bond Street is a ideal after bath or shower cologne that will add a perfectly executed beginning to any gentleman’s (or ladies) toilet. It also comes in a Bath and Shower Essence, a body lotion, soap and scented candle. It is a personal and up-close eau de cologne that inspires confidence and maybe a bit of romance as well.
Atkinsons at Harrods London
borrowed from Atkinsons Facebook page
So if you are in the mind to “Brave the Bear” do visit Atkinsons 1799 and explore this marvelous historical house re-borne.
24 OLD BOND STREET ~ FIVE GOLD STARS *****
ATKINSONS WEB PAGE: http://www.atkinsons1799.com/
LIKE THEM ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Atkinsons-1799/176796825822798