America’s Oldest Personal Care Company, Caswell-Massey, Gets Tweaked

History, heritage, and loyalty must be earned. Caswell-Massey has been storing up on these three for the past 271 years. And now, they are modernizing themselves for the next centuries

By: Isabelle Kellogg

Posted on: June 29, 2023

Caswell Massey
Caswell-Massey’s made-in-America soaps and colognes started appearing in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1752, when a Scottish-born doctor opened an apothecary to sell high end “toiletries” to eager, wealthy customers. Maybe he knew, or maybe he didn’t, that his products would soon become so covetable that Caswell-Massey would establish itself as an American icon of authentic, luxury personal care products for all ages and genders. 

Caswell Massey newport store
The Caswell-Massey store in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1885.  

The brand was the first fragrance house in America, and has been the longest continually operating perfumer in America since it was founded in 1752 by Dr. William Hunter. He blended his own colognes and numbered them simply One through Twenty. Number Six (launched in 1772) became George Washington’s favorite and became recognized as the unofficial “scent” of American men with its citrus, woody and musk top notes. After the introduction of White Rose perfume, Castile soaps (olive oil based hard soaps made in a style similar to those made in the Castile region of Spain), came next, followed by body lotions and bath oils, and other personal care items under the Caswell-Massey label.  

Caswell Massey old ad
A Caswell-Massey advertisement in the New Yorker magazine in 1964.  

Such an illustrious history (and quality) needs to be preserved before it gets lost in a world that is full of the more mass marketed Diors and Chanels. 

In 2016, the company brought in a new CEO to subtly tweak the company’s image and product range without overshadowing its history. What, you ask, was the mission for the new CEO, Nicolas Arauz? We were curious to find out too because many of us, including myself, grew up in homes where Caswell-Massey soaps and colognes were sought after and coveted.

Caswell Massey soaps

First and foremost, Mr. Arauz said that his mission has always been to reignite the passion in this legacy brand. As Caswell-Massey is an American luxury brand, at its core are artistry and American confidence, using fragrance to create experiences and memories. In his own words, “I know when someone makes a decision to have a Caswell-Massey fragrance in their fragrance library, this scent will be part of their story - so we need to make our fragrances with the utmost quality, unique, and inspiring - since these will become part of so many personal stories in the future.”

Caswell Massey Almond EDT

Scents associated with America’s landscapes like the dusty Wild West, our coastlines, forests and nature preserves inspired him to create collaborations with the IFF (International Fragrance Foundation), New York Botanical Gardens and Yellowstone National Park to build credibility and showcase the brand's focus on innovation and sustainability while preserving iconic fragrances.  

The newest fragrance pays homage to the year the company was founded: 1752. The graceful, but subtly bolder bottle design captures the essence of the newest scent and is called 2571, the founding date backwards. The 2571 was created by IFF’s Laurent LeGuernec, and is a harmonious blend of sandalwood, cardamom, bergamot with green floral top notes and base notes of amber, recalling Caswell-Massey's hallmark Number Six scent. 

Caswell Massey 1752
The Caswell-Massey 2571 fragrance.  

According to Mr. Arauz, more than ten generations of customers have memories and associations with that specific fragrance, so Number Six is clearly part of their DNA. “The exercise for 2571 was to think of that same influence, and those same memories and associations, coming back to us from the distant future instead of the past. The name refers to a year in the future, and the mark for the fragrance is like a spinning time machine. It answers the question - what if we created a fragrance with the same brand DNA, the same American ethos, but entirely influenced by a rich natural world that we have yet to experience.” 

"While we are America’s Original Heritage brand, I like to think of us as a 1000-year brand, we just happen to be only 271 years into it so far."

On the selection of the blending of the aromas, he continues, “It shares some olfactive cues with Number Six, notably the Golden Amber notes; but it also has these remarkably fresh ozonic notes in it, cleaner Neroli and Bergamot citrus notes, and lush elemental earth, sandalwood, cedarwood, and spice notes in the Cardamom and Cypress notes. This lush, fragrant natural world is a very optimistic view of the future - it’s part of our brand and part of the American ethos. We created 2571 in exactly the same spirit as Number Six: as an optimistic expression of our future, an expression of luxury, freedom and hope.”

Caswell Massey 2571

Like all the Caswell-Massey fragrances, 2571 is available as a triple-milled bar soap, as a 100ml full size Eau de Parfum (in a gorgeous new embossed glass bottle!) and in a 7.5 ml travel-discovery size as well. 

Caswell Massey Marem

Mr. Arauz has been busy researching and refreshing classic formulations to “reflect modern clean and sustainability standards and using renewable energy”. For standout classics like Jockey Club and Number Six, the company has refined them and improved the quality while staying true to the original formulations. “Fragrances from the archives, like Marem, have been re-introduced. Other ‘classic’ scents have been replaced with more modern fragrances that share the same brand DNA in order to speak to the current customer. We launched our Almond fragrance in 2018, LX48 in 2019, and both 2571 and the upcoming OAIRE are the fragrances of 2023. We are very much a brand that is thinking about the future. While we are America’s Original Heritage brand, I like to think of us as a 1000-year brand, we just happen to be only 271 years into it so far. There is a very bright future ahead of us.”  
And if you’re curious about what scent do you think best describes you, find out using the fragrance finder here

Isabelle KelloggIn addition to a career in communications and marketing focused on the luxury lifestyle sector, including co-authoring and lecturing a case study on French heritage jeweler Mauboussin with Harvard Business School, Isabelle continues to share her experiences about fine art, wine, travel, jewelry and culture as a freelance writer for internationally based digital publications.

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