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4711 (pronounced "forty-seven eleven", "four-seven-eleven" or "siebenundvierzig elf") is a brand of Eau de Cologne by Mäurer & Wirtz, a subsidiary of the Dalli Group owned by the Wirtz family. It is produced in Stolberg near Aachen, Germany.


At the outset of the 18th century, the Italian expatriate Johann Maria Farina (1685–1766) created a new fragrance and named it Eau de Cologne ("water from Cologne"), after his new residence, Cologne. Over the course of the century, the fragrance became increasingly popular.

In 1803, bought the license and company rights from a person named Carlo Francesco Farina, unrelated to the Farina family of the perfume business. Mülhens resold this licence to more than twenty individuals; however, in 1835 these transactions were voided and judged as invalid by a court and the illegitimate 'Farina' companies were liquidated. Nevertheless, the son of Wilhelm Mülhens set out to find another unaffiliated Farina in Italy, making him a business partner instead of merely buying rights to his name. Another company by the name of Farina was established.

In 1881, a court ruled that Ferdinand Mühlens, grandson of Wilhelm Mülhens, was not allowed to ever again use the company name of Farina. He then chose his office's former house number, 4711, as the name for his brand and company. This number had been in effect between 1797 and 1811, before Cologne had switched from a city-wide numbering system (implemented during the occupation by French troops) to more common street-wide house numbering in 1811, so the house had in fact long been No. 12 when he selected the name.

The company name was Eau de Cologne & Parfümerie Fabrik Glockengasse No. 4711 gegenüber der Pferdepost von Ferd. Mülhens in Köln am Rhein until 1990, but was then renamed Mülhens GmbH & Co. KG.

In 1994, the company of the Mülhens family was bought by Wella AG, Darmstadt, Germany. Since 1997, Wella has operated its cosmetic activities under the name Cosmopolitan Cosmetics GmbH, although the name Mülhens GmbH & Co. KG was still in use. In 2003, Wella AG was taken over by the American competitor Procter & Gamble.

In the summer of 2006, Procter & Gamble announced its intention of selling the "local" 4711 brand, along with three other former Mühlens brands, in an effort to focus its portfolio on "global" brands. Several interested parties competed over a period of several months until it was announced in December 2006 that the brand rights had been sold to the perfume company Mäurer & Wirtz of Aachen, a subsidiary of the Dalli Group.

House number 4711

On October 3, 1794, in view of the French troops standing just outside of Cologne, the city council approved a plan proposed by the guard-committee to number all houses in the city without exception and to install what would be considered appropriate lighting for each location. Orders were given to install the lighting immediately, while the numbering was left to fate.

On October 6, 1794, French troops occupied the city. On October 7, 1794, the city council decided that every local government official had to hand in an inventory of all citizens and non-citizens in his district within 48 hours. Furthermore, the guard-committee received autorisation to number the houses as agreed previously.

On October 20, 1794, Senator Gottfried von Gall noted in his diary that the numbering and the written documentation of the houses which started eight days earlier was being continued.

The printer Heinrich Josef Metternich (a council member) applied for permission to publish an address calendar. This calendar was supposed to include, amongst other things, the house numbers which had recently been assigned. He also sought permission to collect all the relevant details.

In the second address book of Cologne (1797), the widow of Wilhelm von Lemmen seel. was still listed as the tenant of the Klöckergasse house, which had been given the number 4711.

Wilhelm Mülhens was listed as the tenant of the house no sooner than in the third edition of the address book of Cologne; his occupation was listed as "in Speculationsgeschaeften" (which translates to speculator). He is not yet listed under the manufacturers of Eau de Cologne in the mercantile directory.

In 1811, the continuous house numbering was changed to a system of numbering streets separately, as is common today.

In the preface to the 1813 French edition of the address book, the publisher Thiriart claimed that there had not been any house numbering before the arrival of the French in the city ("inconnu á Cologne avant l´arrivée des armées françaises au bord du Rhin") and that the order to number the houses had been given in 1795.

In 1854 Peter Joseph Mülhens moved from Glockengasse 12 into a newly constructed commercial building with a neo-gothic facade at Glockengasse 26-28. Glockengasse 12, which had been assigned the number 4711 in 1794, remained vacant for a period of time and was torn down after it was sold.

The depiction of a French military officer painting the house number 4711 on the facade of the house in the Glockengasse while sitting on his horse is a product of advertising. A piece of tapestry, a gobelin which had been ordered and made in the 1920s, served as a model. A scenic version spread widely in the 1950s and the 1960s.

Popular references

  • The number 4711 is sometimes used by software engineers where an indeterminate, but specific, number is needed.
  • In Finland the telephone number (09) 4711 is a direct line to the Poison Information Centre, that answers questions concerning the prevention and treatment of acute poisonings every day around the clock.
  • In Yevgeny Zamyatin's novel We, the name S-4711 is a reference to the Eau de Cologne.
  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 4711 is tattooed on Frank's upper thigh.
  • Electronic musician Vladimir Ussachevsky composed a work called Improvisation on 4711 (1958).
  • The German Navy during World War II issued vast amounts of 4711 perfume to the submariners of the U-Boat fleet. As there were limited facilities and few opportunities for bathing, the scent was to be used in an attempt to improve the odour aboard the vessel. Crew members typically didn't use much of it and would take home bottles as presents for mothers, wives, or girlfriends.
  • "4711 Kommando" was a slang term used in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp to refer to a latrine work detail
  • Are You Being Served? - In Series 8, Episode 5 [Heir Apparent], Mr Humphries (playing the cross-dressing role of his mother) picks up a handkerchief allegedly belonging to her son (i.e., himself). She (he) sniffs it and says "So that's what happened to my 4711!". In Series 9, Episode 1 [The Sweet Smell of Success], Mr. Humphries answers the phone in menswear, identifying himself as 'Assistant 4711'.
  • Holly Golightly sprinkles her neck with this cologne in the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's.



  • Stiftung Rheinisch-Westfälisches Wirtschaftsarchiv (RWWA), Cologne: Genuine files 1803 u. Mülhens letters May 9, 1802 / June 22, 1819 / June 27, 1819 / October 31, 1824 / January 20, 1826 / February 3, 1826 / January 11, 1827
  • Abt.33, Stiftung Rheinisch-Westfälisches Wirtschaftsarchiv (RWWA), Cologne. [1]
  • Ulrich S. Soénius: Mülhens, Fabrikanten von Kölnisch Wasser. Familienartikel mit Einzelbiographien Wilhelm, Peter Joseph, Ferdinand und Peter Paul Mülhens. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie, Bd. 18, Berlin 1997, S. 299-303.

External links

Source en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4711_(brand)