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In the early Spring of 1799, James Atkinson, an enterprising young gentleman from the wilds of Cumberland, set forth by carriage for the glorious city of London. In his suit pocket were recipes for fine scents and toiletries of his own devising. Next to him sat a sizeable quantity of rose-scented bear grease balm. Next to the balm sat a growly bear.
The growly bear was thoroughly devoted to James. Within mere days the utterly fantastic balm became indispensable to London’s most uppity crust, who braved the bear at the door of 44 Gerrard Street (“that marvellous perfume shop with the most terrifying bear”) to procure sufficient stock for the Social Season. In 1800, James Atkinson hit upon his most startling creation to date, a fearlessly English Eau de Cologne totally different from the Italianate colognes then in vogue. Curiously fresh yet warm and spicy, the new Eau de Cologne was stronger and more prepossessing than its continental cousins.
The sweet smell of Atkinsons’ success wafted throughout the realm, emanating most deliciously, in 1832, from its utterly fantastic new headquarters at 24 Old Bond Street.
All things Atkinsons became such a sensation with the royal ranks that when King George IV caught a whiff of it at Buckingham in 1826, he proclaimed Atkinsons the Official Perfumer to the Royal Court of England on the spot.