Heritage: J.Grossmith & Son


 

ESTABLISHED IN 1835

Grossmith is one of England’s longest established perfume houses, founded in the City of London in 1835 by John Grossmith. John’s son, John Lipscomb Grossmith developed the firm into an influential, famous perfume house, manufacturing a wide range of perfumes, essential oils, fine soaps, face powders and many toiletries including hand creams.

In the early 1900s Grossmith formula books contained formulae for over 300 different products. Grossmith became a titan of the industry thanks to John Lipscomb Grossmith’s innovative creativity and progressive marketing. With a factory in Grasse at this time, Grossmith was more than a match for the very best French perfume houses.

 Letterhead from 1930s

Letterhead from 1930s

 

 

Grossmith’s factory at 29 Newgate Street was known as ‘The Laboratory of Flowers'.

 Photograph from the Review of Reviews, 1903

Photograph from the Review of Reviews, 1903

 

creative perfumery

As ocean liners and railways opened up the world for exploration and travel, a fascination with the ‘exotic’ became fashionable.

In response to this, John Lipscomb Grossmith’s creations were designed to evoke exotic travel, to transport the wearer to the ‘Mysterious East’. They were rich and complex floral orientals, among the first fragrances to go beyond the market of the time for single florals – this was the dawn of creative perfumery.

 

 Hasu-no-Hana, Shem-el-Nessim and Phul-Nana from the Grossmith Archives

Hasu-no-Hana, Shem-el-Nessim and Phul-Nana from the Grossmith Archives

 

 

At the Great Exhibition in 1851 J. Grossmith & Son was the only English company to win a prize medal for essential oils and perfumery.

 Medals awarded to Grossmith for excellence in perfumery. Great Exhibition medal in centre

Medals awarded to Grossmith for excellence in perfumery. Great Exhibition medal in centre

 Grossmith display at the Brussels International Exhibition 1897 

Grossmith display at the Brussels International Exhibition 1897 

 
Grossmith - Phul-Nana Advert - The Tatler - 2 May 1928.jpg
Grossmith - Phul-Nana 1928.JPG

 

Phul-Nana, launched in 1891, was one of Britain’s most successful and popular fragrances in the 20th Century.

 

ROYAL ASSOCIATIONS

Grossmith has a long tradition of celebrating royal events. Grossmith was patronised by three generations of Royalty – Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary.

In 1895 a bottle of Phul-Nana was presented to the Princess of Wales, who became Queen Alexandra, at the Orient Exhibition held at Olympia.

John Lipscomb Grossmith hosted a visit by King Edward VII to Grossmith’s premises in Grasse in 1904.

The Royal Courts of Greece and Spain as well as Queen Alexandra awarded Royal Warrants to Grossmith in the 1920s.

 
 In 1897 Victorian Bouquet recognised Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

In 1897 Victorian Bouquet recognised Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

 
 
 Advertisement for Victorian Bouquet, 1897

Advertisement for Victorian Bouquet, 1897

 
 Advertisement for Betrothal, 1893

Advertisement for Betrothal, 1893

 

To mark the marriage of the Duke of York and Princess May (who later became King George V and Queen Mary) in 1893 Grossmith created Betrothal. The fragrance received official royal endorsement and bottles were labelled ‘by Gracious Permission of HRH Princess May’.

To celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Grossmith created Victorian Bouquet, ‘The National Perfume’.

 

Archive

Now back in family ownership, the story continues to evolve. Many people connected with Grossmith’s past have contacted us and generously shared their memories and occasional artefacts, further enriching Grossmith’s virtual and physical archive.

We in turn would like to share a selection of images from our archive.