Florida Water was introduced in New York City and sold in corner pharmacies as an everyday staple. The original formula and label—inspired by the enchanting properties of the famed Fountain of Youth—has remained unchanged for over 200 years.
And the proof was discovered in the most remarkable way.
The Mary-Celestia was a side-paddlewheel steamer chartered by the Confederate Army. The ship was fast -- peaking at 17 knots – and it successfully outran Union ships while smuggling guns, ammunition and supplies.
It operated in 1864 as a blockade runner for the Confederacy to transport banned goods in and out of Confederate ports while trying to break the Union’s blockade of the South during the Civil War. The Mary-Celestia left for Wilmington, South Carolina with a full cargo of food, ammunition and rifles, and was cruising the south shore at 13 knots on a flat calm day piloted by expert Bermudian Pilot John Bristow Virgin when it struck a blind boiler at high speed and sank on Bermuda’s southern reef.
Speculation about the sinking and possible sabotage remains unresolved to this day. In late 2013, an archaeological excavation of the ship revealed a contraband stash of private goods hidden inside the steamer. Inside, buried in the sand, they managed to recover several pairs of shoes, a wooden hairbrush, and two bottles, which analysis and research have identified as a 19th century cologne and perfume.
Both bottles – which have to be at least 150 years old – were intact and sealed with their original contents inside. This is a rare and unique discovery, as usually bottles of this type are found empty or broken.
Analysis of the bottles from the Mary Celestia shipwreck revealed they contained cologne, a green-yellow liquid inside a narrow clear bottle. The bottles were embossed “Murray & Lanman, Florida Water, No. 69 Water Street, New-York.
So, From Scarlett O’Hara to Solange Knowles, Florida Water has been mystifying and delighting generations since 1808.
Have you tried it?