Digging Deeper – Hoyt’s Nickel Cologne

This is the first post in an occasional series where will I dig deeper into the history of an artifact found here at the Chancognie House.  I will start with the Hoyt’s Nickel Cologne bottle pictured above.

Eli Waite Hoyt was born in Alexandria, NY in 1838 and moved with his parents to Lowell, MA in 1846.  He started working in the apothecary shop of E. A. Staniels in 1851 and eventually became Staniel’s partner.  When Staniels passed away in 1863, Hoyt took over the shop.  Not long afterward, he formulated a men’s cologne to sell there.

In the early 1870s, Freeman Ballard Shedd joined Hoyt as a partner at the apothecary and Hoyt’s Cologne became Hoyt’s German Cologne.  It is unclear which partner was responsible for this change, but “German” was likely added to the name to create the impression of imported cologne which was regarded as superior to domestically produced scents.

This marketing ploy was so successful that by 1877 Hoyt and Shedd had sold the apothecary to focus on producing and selling the cologne.  Although hardly a household name today, Shedd was a marketing genius and the product’s success was due in large part to his innovative ideas.  If you have ever enjoyed a free sample size bottle of cologne or perfume, you can thank Shedd who came up with the idea of giving away free samples of the cologne to create interest in the product.

While the sample size bottles did indeed create demand for the cologne, they were expensive to give away, so Shedd devised the more cost-effective method of soaking printed cards with the cologne.  The cards served as both advertising and a sample of the scent and were forerunners of the scented pages now included in many fashion magazines.

hoyt's cologne ad 01

Card image courtesy of cliffhoyt.com.

Originally sold only in large bottles at a price of $1 each, Shedd realized that this was more cologne than many users wanted (or could afford) and introduced a 50 cent medium size bottle and a 25 cent trial size bottle that was especially popular.  In the early 20th century, 5 and 10 cent bottles of the cologne were introduced to further expand the market for the cologne.  Although standard practice today, Shedd’s idea of offering different sizes of a product at different prices was quite innovative at the time.

hoyt's bottles 02

Image courtesy of cliffhoyt.com.


Hoyt died in 1887 and Shedd died in 1913 so neither founding partner lived to see a significant change to the product that garnered them great success and wealth.  With the outbreak of World War I, “German” suddenly lost its appeal in the US and was quickly removed from the name.  The company operated as E.W. Hoyt & Co. in Lowell, MA until 1951 producing the cologne as well as eau de toilette and Rubifoam teeth cleaner at various points in the company’s history.  Hoyt’s Cologne is produced today by another company, but I do not know how it compares to the original product.

I have not been able to find a comprehensive guide to Hoyt’s cologne bottles, so I am not sure exactly when this bottle was in production, but given that it is not labeled German, it almost certainly dates to after World War I.  If anyone has additional insight into Hoyt’s bottles, I would be happy to hear about it.  I hope that you have enjoyed this first installment of Digging Deeper as much as I enjoyed the research – more to come!


  1. I found a bottle in Donaldsonville, LA with SUPERIOR GERMAN COLOGNE on the glass…..it is apparently a HOYT bottle, same small bottle with glass indentation. It was found in a sewage trench on the old main street, under the concrete floor of a store from maybe the 1930s

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your find, Paul! The Hoyt bottles came in several different designs and the styles evolved over the years. Given that “German” was dropped from Hoyt’s advertising after the outbreak of WWI, I would think that the bottle must have been there when the concrete floor was later installed in the store. What a fun discovery!


    • Hi Nelson – Thanks for sharing this information about your Hoyt’s bottle! Yes, given that “German” is part of the name, the bottle that you found would date to before WWI. Hoyt’s introduced 5 cent (5C) bottles in the early 20th century before the outbreak of WWI, so your bottle would like date to between 1900-1918. Great find!


  2. Found a little bottle in Florence South Carolina about inch and a half tall has f hoyt perfumes co. And phila on the face and numbers 434 on the bottom

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting find – thanks for sharing! Those marks are new to me – if I find out more about them, I will let you know.


    • Nice find! Without “German” in the name, it likely dates to after WW I just as the bottle I found does. Thanks for sharing!


    • Great find! Hoyt’s cologne was distributed widely around the US – best wishes with your plantings!


    • Great find! You never know what you might find in the surf. Happy searching and I hope that you have more fun finds!


  3. I inherited a vintage glass collection from a friend, there were two of what I believe to be the ten cents size. It has the numbers, 20 on one of them and 21 on the other… How could I find out the reasons for the different markings on the base. I have seen one with a “2” then a square in the middle and a “6” on the other side. Some I have seen do not have numbers at all. So it made me wonder as to why. Thanks in advance for your response!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a great question and my apologies for the delay in replying! Unfortunately, I do not know of any catalog of the Hoyt bottles that would document the differences in the markings. I have only found the one bottle here and it appears that there were many variations due to mass production over a long period of time. I wish that I had more insight into the variations of these bottles – if I find any additional information, I will let you know!


  4. I came across a 1oz bottle the name on this one is
    F .HOYT & CO.
    The brass top is very well done with raised lettering and I forget what the vertical lines are called along the edge lol. I think there’s a 3 on the bottom.


  5. I have an old glass embossed Hoyt Cologne bottle that I inherited from my grandfather after he passed away. I need to recheck it to see if the word German is on it or not! Great article! I need to check my ancestry to see if He is in my family line!


    • Thank you! The word “German” does help with the dating process. Good luck with your search!


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