Napoleon's Perfume Bills
Napoleon I. had a fine set of teeth, of which he was very proud. An invoice presented by Gervais Chardin, perfumer to their Imperial and Royal Majesties, Paris, in October 1808, includes six boxes of powdered coral for the teeth, 361 francs. The same tradesman's bills from June 2nd to September 1806, charged 15 dozen in boxwood and ivory, and in October 1808, he invoiced 24 dozen boxwood toothpicks, 48 francs.
Windsor soap the Emperor always seems to have used; Chardin invoiced it at 2 francs per cake in 1808. Sponges were also often invoiced by Chardin - e.g., 20 superfine sponges 262 francs and 12 superfine sponges for the face 144 francs.
Napoleon was fond of the smell of lignaloes (which then cost 72 francs per ounce) and occasionally bought other perfumes, such as one large flask of double extract of Spanish jasmine, 40 francs; but eau de cologne was his principal, and almost his only, regular purchase in this line.
Eau de cologne was Napoleon's favorite perfume, and his consumption of it was phenomenal. He used it in water when washing, and poured it in profusion over his head and shoulders. Madame de Remusat states that he used sixty "rouleaux" or bottles per month. His perfumer, Chardin, sent in a quarterly bill in 1806, as follows:
- 162 bottles eau de cologne.....423 francs.
- 26 superfine sponges..... 262 francs.
- 26 ornamental pots of almond paste (pate d'amande).... 366 francs.
In 1810 we find an invoice for 144 bottles of eau de cologne 300 francs -- Chardin had reduced his price. Shortly afterwards Napoleon found a more advantageous manufacturer of "improved eau de cologne" who invoiced in 1812-13, "for the Emperor's use," 108 cases of eau de cologne, each containing six rouleaux, at 17 francs per case, 756 francs. When Napoleon returned from Elba he dealt with J. Tessier, at the Golden Bell in the rue Richelieu, who invoiced March 20 to April 30 1815:
- 4 cases eau de cologne.... 24 francs
- 2 cakes orange flower soap.... 6 francs
- 6 cakes Windsor soap.... 7 francs, 50
- 3 superfine white sponges... 30 francs
- 2 hair brushes (mahogany)... 18 francs
- 2 rheumatism brushes (mahogany)... 21 francs.