In 1806 William Colgate, an English immigrant, founded a starch, soap and candle enterprise on Dutch Street in New York City. Getting the jump on others, Colgate obtained a giant kettle and proceeded to render (purify) his fat (for soap and candle making) himself. After buying out his early partner, Frances Smith, in 1813, the business became "William Colgate and Company".
In 1817 Colgate's first advertising appeared, for "Soap, Mould and Dipt Candles".
Sometime after 1817, Colgate's brother-in-law, John Gilbert, built a starch factory in what is now Jersey City, New Jersey. In 1847 all of Colgate's factory operations were moved to the New Jersey site.
William Colgate died in 1857 and the business was renamed Colgate and Company.
Colgate and Company began to venture into perfumery in 1866. 1872 saw the introduction of their landmark soap, "Cashmere Bouquet", a milled, perfumed toilet soap. ("Octagon" was their longtime best seller laundry soap and it was immortalized by a giant, octagon-shaped clock, first over the company's New York offices; later, in an updated version, over their Jersey City factory.)
In 1873 Colgate introduced their first toothpaste an aromatic dental cream sold in jars.
In 1896 Colgate introduced its first tube toothpaste, a model very similar to the product it sells today.
Although nobody would have guessed it in 1896, the introduction of tube toothpaste no doubt spelled the beginning of the end of Colgate and Company as perfumers. By the 1920's, Colgate was strongly focused on it's highly profitable dental products.
Yet looking back a few years we find that in 1906 Colgate's centennial year the Colgate product line included 625 varieties of perfume, in addition to their dental products and perfumed soap!
Today Colgate's years as a perfume marketer are largely forgotten.
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