Washington liked to smell good. One of his favorite fragrances was Number Six Cologne, a blend of rosemary, bergamot, orange blossoms and 28 other aromatics that is still made in its original formula by Caswell-Massey, America’s Oldest Chemists and Perfumers.
Washington so loved the scent that he gave two cases of it to France’s Marquis de Lafayette in 1780 as thanks for helping the United States win the Revolutionary War. The marquis, in turn, liked the cologne so much that he bought another case of it 40 years later when he visited the Caswell-Massey store in Newport, R.I.
Caswell-Massey is celebrating its 260th anniversary this year. Some historians say it’s the fourth-oldest surviving company in the United States. The original owner, Dr. William Hunter, started the business in 1752 as an apothecary in Newport, R.I. In 1833, businessmen John Rose Caswell of Newport and William Massey of New York City bought the company; they changed its name to Caswell-Massey in 1876.
In 2002, to celebrate their company’s 250th anniversary, Caswell-Massey repackaged popular items such as No.6 Soap in a Tin (a favorite of George Washington) and English lavender perfume, which included a history of the scent.