by Doctor Basenotes, 01 April 2003
"What is the history of the Crown Perfumery and why can't I find their products anywhere? Please help me!"
Doctor Basenotes Says: Should you not have any objections, dear chap, I'll answer your questions in the order you ask them. Firstly, the history of Crown.
I did ask my dear friend Lionel if he knew much about Crown. He muttered something about red noses, big shoes and cars that have wheels that fall off. Maybe he misheard. His hearing has never been the same since he got into the late eighties acid-house dance music scene.
Crown had it's origins in corset making - In 1840, American, William Sparks Thomson opened his corset business at 40 The Strand, London. He created high busted corsets to "assist the lady whom nature had not endowed with ample fullness". One of Thomson's clients was Queen Victoria - and the Crown was adopted as his trademark.
Now, sometimes Thomson's clients would faint due to the tightness of his corsets - and this, in a way, led to the creation of the Crown Perfumery. Thomson's son William Thomson (who I will refer to as Thomson Jr. now to avoid confusion), was a brilliant chemist, and came up with the idea of producing a lavender based smelling-salt to revive these fainting ladies. One thing led to another and soon, in 1872, Thomson Jr. was producing fine perfumes, which were highly sought after by the trendy ladies of the day.
Crown gained a reputation for quality fragrances and by the end of the 19th century, Crown had a range of 49 scents, available worldwide. It's fragrances included (for the ladies) Marechale, Sarcanthus, Crown Ess Bouquet, Malabar and Matsukita. Gentlemen's scents included Spiced Limes, Marquis, Sandringham, Eau de Russe and Town & Country. Other products by Crown included air fresheners and cherry toothpaste.
Despite it's innovations and high reputation, Crown's success dwindled after the death of Thomson Sr. and the start of World War I. The company was sold to Lever Brothers (now Unilever) for £300,000. Under Lever, Crown's resources were turned to making hair products rather than perfume, and in 1939 the company was closed.
But hurrah! In recent times the company was revived and in 1993 a Crown Perfumery boutique was opened. Much of the perfume range was faithfully reproduced and Crown once more in business.
In 2000 Crown was acquired once more. This time by English millionaire, and posh furniture maker, Clive Christian. He closed down the boutiques and slimmed down the Crown range to eight scents - four each for men and women. The range now consisted of Crown of Gold, Marechale 90, Crown Boutique and Tanglewood Bouquet and the masculine scents of: - Crown Park Royal, Marquis, Sandringham and Crown Spiced Limes.
In 2001, Clive Christian launched his own range of perfume. Three scents, with a version each for men and for women - entitled Number One, X and 1872 (the year Crown was founded)
Sadly in early 2002, Mr Christian chose to throw away 130 years of history and discontinue the remaining eight Crown scents. His own scents are still available (In very similar bottles to Crown), though you may find Clive's scents a little expensive for your tastes.
As to where Crown may be purchased now, the Clive Christian company sold all of the remaining stock to English Hall (see link below). As it is no longer made - snap up what you can!