150 Year Old Perfume Unveiled In New York

September 24, 2014

A luxury perfume originally created in the 1800s, and hidden in a Bermuda shipwreck for 150 years, is now available to purchase after a meticulous, first-of-its-kind re-creation process.

A launch event was held last night [Sept 23] in New York, with those in attendance including actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, Senator Jeff Baron, Minister of Tourism & Transport Shawn Crockwell and Premier Michael Dunkley.

“This perfume waited 150 years to be worn. And now, finally, it can be,” said Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone of The Bermuda Perfumery after unveiling the fragrance at the New York City launch event.

“We released a limited edition of the Mary Celestia fragrance last night and already there is a buzz. Just 1,864 bottles will be offered to honor the shipwrecked Mary Celestia which was hiding this perfume when it sank off Bermuda in 1864.”

The limited edition Mary Celestia is packaged in a genuine Bermuda Cedar box:


The opportunity to wear history will begin October 1st, 2014, when the limited edition goes on sale exclusively at The Bermuda Perfumery’s Lili Bermuda boutiques in Hamilton and St. George, Bermuda.

Purchasing will also be available online at LiliBermuda.com for mail order shipping around the world. A pre-order process is underway now in stores and on the web.

The retail price is $225 and part of the sale proceeds will go to a new foundation to preserve and promote Bermuda’s shipwreck heritage.

In September 1864, exactly 150 years ago, the Mary Celestia, a Civil War Blockade Runner sailing to Charleston, South Carolina, sank off the south shore of Bermuda.

An international team of Marine Archeologists discovered a well-hidden cargo of perfume bottles in the ship’s bow in 2011, after a Bermuda storm blew through and shifted the wreck.

Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone explains the Mary Celestia fragrance display to Senator Jeff Baron, Minister of Tourism Development & Transport Shawn Crockwell and Catherine Zeta-Jones during the Mary Celestria fragrance launch event in Tribeca Tuesday evening.


The intact bottles were embossed Piesse and Lubin London, signifying they came from a now defunct perfume house on Bond Street in London. It was a place sought after by the world’s elite and its perfumer, G.W. Septimus Piesse, who wrote the first book on modern fragrance-making in 1857 called The Art of Perfumery.

Later it was determined the precious cargo of perfume – smuggled during the Civil War – was likely en route to the neck of a wealthy woman in the American South. Now, 150 years later, the perfume’s journey is complete.

Drom fragrances conducted an exhaustive scientific analysis of the ancient perfume and the results were used to re-create the fragrance as if Piesse was in his studio today.

Jean-Claude Delville, drom’s perfumer, said: “In perfumery, opportunities like this don’t come along too often. Opening the bottles was like going back in time 150 years. I was shocked at how fresh and floral it was and the amount of citrus in it. We analyzed and captured the unique spirit of the original fragrance and thus re-created a lost treasure.”

The fresh fragrance opens with the smell of sparkling grapefruit and zesty citrus. The scent of rosewood is complimented by warm amber tones. Finally the soft notes of rose and orange flower impart timeless elegance.

The limited edition Mary Celestia is packaged in a genuine Bermuda Cedar box, with the bottle nested in a black velvet bag. The box is closed with a hand tied blue ribbon and a red wax seal.

Catherine Zeta-Jones poses with a collection of men in Bermuda Shorts at the Mary Celestia fragrance launch event in Tribeca. Pictured [left to right] Joseph Romanelli, Chiwun Smith, Charles Webbe, Premier Michael Dunkley, Sen. Jeff Baron, Glenn Jones and Matthew Tomlin.


The fragrance bottle is dressed with a unique medal depicting the Mary Celestia before she sank. The artwork of the medal is used with the direct permission of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, which created the image to imprint on its rare three-dollar gold coin issued in 2006.

Every aspect of the limited edition fragrance is inspired by Bermuda – its scent, its packaging and, most of all, its story.

Mrs. Ramsay-Brackstone said: “This perfume was embargoed during the Civil War but there was such passion to own it, there was an attempt to smuggle it past Lincoln’s Navy and into the American South. This story is about international intrigue and romance, timeless luxury and heritage.”

The Bermuda Perfumery has been creating fragrances in Bermuda since 1928, and is known for launching Lili Bermuda, the exclusive fragrance line of Bermuda, which exudes the essence of the Island through the Art of Perfumery. The perfumes are uniquely crafted  in historic Stewart Hall in St. George.

- Photos courtesy of Chiwun Smith for the Bermuda Perfumery

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  1. BTA Report On International Media Coverage - Bernews.com : Bernews.com | November 15, 2014
  1. Family Man says:

    Once again, our tourism minister can’t be bothered to wear Bermuda’s national dress.

    • Hurricane says:

      Open your eyes

      • PBanks says:

        He has a point – Crockwell’s not in the group shot, maybe because they wanted a shot of the fellas in shorts?

        • Hurricane says:

          To him I say Bermuna’s national dress……bullocks! And not everyone wears shorts.

  2. JaneSmith says:

    Great job Bermuda. I thought Jeff Baron looks like a Hollywood celebrity when he’s standing beside Catherine Zeta Jones.

    • Hurricane says:

      @JaneSmith, forget about what he looks like, what is he doing there? My understanding is that he is only the Junior Minister of safety. Please clear this up for me (1) has he been appointed Chief of Staff or bodyguard (2) does he work for BDT? I say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

      • Lois Frederick says:

        Premier’s assistant.

        • Hurricane says:

          Guess I didn’t get that Premiers Assistant memo. However, reinforces my point, that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In addition to the premier, two ministers and an assistant. SMH

          • PIRATE says:

            exactly. you didnt get the memo. instead you gave an uninformed opinion which does nothing but sling mud. to bad you missed completely this time.

            • Hurricane says:

              your dayumm right I slung mud. It’s my money that’s being wasted!

      • Hurricane says:

        Should have been BTA

      • Bill says:

        I certainly agree.

        Premier’s assistant? Please.

        A boondoggle to NYC to attend a perfume uveiling. WOW!

        Same as the last group.

    • sage says:

      So did he.

  3. ok says:

    I would have thought they would have invited Miss Bermuda whose name is Lily who resides in New York to this event. Hello capitalize and promote Bermuda and get Miss Bermuda out there and help to prepare her for Miss Universe.

    • PBanks says:

      Miss World, not Miss Universe, but point well taken. Would have been a brilliant move.

    • Bdaluv says:

      Maybe her bible thumping puts business’ off that have a non-denominational target demographic…
      Business’ hire on what represents them well.

    • Tourism Advocate says:

      Miss Bermuda was invited. She did not attend.

  4. just wondering says:

    Great job by the Bermuda Perfumery for taking an idea and running with it – great exposure for Bermuda – however given the waters of Bermuda are our so called 5th hub for tourism I note in that large number of civil servants/politicians I don’t see one member of Bermuda diving community (who were responsible for the initial discovery) there – isn’t this about recovery of objects from a shipwreck??

  5. flikel says:

    The Premier, a Minister, a Senator and many more people at this party in New York. Had this been the PLP, this would have been labelled a ‘junket’ and a waste of taxpayer money.

    • Lois Frederick says:

      Not really as there is a specific marketing goal for this event.

      • flikel says:

        My point is that the PLP were harshly criticized for their trips which had specific purposes of marketing Bermuda. Whereas, this obvious party junket is receiving far less scrutiny.

        Why is Baron there? Is he associated with tourism?

        • Lois Frederick says:

          The trip has three objectives, business meetings, perfume launch and media interviews. As the Premier’s assistant he has a role.

  6. Jeremy Deacon says:

    Well done Isabelle! Fantastic.

  7. Rhonda says:

    okay, so where is the BTA…

    • Lois Frederick says:

      Glenn Jones – BTA

      • sage says:

        He hit the ground running, hired last week, jet setting with the posers this week.

        • serengeti says:

          So if he wasn’t there it’s “okay where is the BTA”

          And if he is there it’s “he’s jet setting with the posers”.

          I guess that’s what it’s like when all you have is a line-up of snarky comments.

        • Rockfish#1 and#2 says:

          It didn’t take long for the new guy to claim his reward for singing for his supper!

      • somuchless says:

        I guess Glenn is the new front line for tourism. I’ve never heard from the coo or the communications manager. But now Glenn is all out there.

  8. Shaking my Head says:

    Wow….they had to send that many people to New York??? I just love how tax payers’ money is spent!

  9. Lois Frederick says:

    I wonder how many jobs Isabelle Ramsay – Brackstone has created? Based on the fact she has just opened a new store on Front Street I would gather that she has recently created jobs in Bermuda. This new launch being just one of her products. Well done for reinventing the Bermuda Perfumery and breathing new life into it.

  10. swing voter says:

    can’t help it….those facial expressions all say they share the same thought….if only it were a 150yr old bottle of……cognac ;-)

  11. Jeremy Deacon says:

    To all the negatives here – why not just come out and say ‘well done’ to a local business doing well?

    • swing voter says:

      lighten up Deac….um tryna lighten the rhetoric we’ve all become all to used to

    • watching says:

      the business doing well is great. the issue is whether all the add-ons need to be there.

  12. more than enough says:

    When they mentioned dunkley was in new york with gibbons and crockwell, I knew that could not be the whole truth…I knew dunkley couldn’t resist bringing his bodyguard jb.
    Like I said livin la vie da loca

    • Raymond Ray says:

      At least they all were doing several things while there in N.Y.C. Not like a certain former “P.L.P. Tourism Minister” that went to Boston to attend a baseball game at Fenway Park :-(
      How much did the all of us?The P.L.P. wasted billions not hundreds nor thousands but billions!

  13. Hurricane says:

    All politicians never cease to amaze me, as long as they are all up in the party mix, they don’t see anything wrong with how the money is being spent. No matter how the $$$$$$$ are being wasted. What say you Minister Bob Richards, forget towing the party line and call a spade a spade. Tel them, “money doesn’t grown on trees”.

    • Lois Frederick says:

      Based on your comments we can safely assume you have no background in marketing. This product launch is the perfect marketing tool for reaching the demographic that Bermuda needs as visitors. Travel writer Peter Greenberg has called Lili Bermuda the best place in the world to buy perfume. Catherine Zeta Jones on hand will have a big impact on media attention too. Remember this event was one of three objectives of this trip, business meetings, perfume launch and media interviews.

      • Hurricane says:

        Your assumption is correct, I’m no maketing major. However, I do know something about finances and given our position, you could never convenience me that to take J Baron on this trip was a smart move.

      • more than enough says:

        Based on your comments we do not have to assume, it is clear that you have no background in thinking for yourself.
        Instead choosing to blindly tow the party line, no matter what.

        • LiarLiar says:

          And so what is the difference between you and the poster in which you level such accusations?

          Read your posts my friend. You are the exact same zealot that you have the nerve to label as others as being.

          Seriously answer the question. What makes you so different despite your blidn and undying loyalty?

          • more than enough says:

            I support no political party or individual politician, therefore I have no undying loyalties.

            • more than enough says:

              “Throw a stone into the pig pen, and the one that squeals is the one that got hit”
              Or like Bob Marley said;
              ” throw mi corn, mi nuh call no fowl”

      • mj says:

        Yawn…Yawn..yawn….catherine zetta…yawn..yawn..150year old alcohol..yawn , yawn…

    • SMH says:

      Do you know for a 100% fact that:

      a) the trip wasn’t paid for by the sponsors of the event?
      b) they weren’t already in NY on other business and decided to pop in?
      c) they weren’t in NY on vacation or personal time and decided to pop in to support a Bermudian cause during their time off?

  14. watching says:

    I guess enough money grew on the tree for this trip! right Bob?

  15. watching says:

    Wonder how much this junket cost?
    Imagine if this was Paula Cox, Wayne Furbert, David Burt, Jamahl Simmons, plus a tourism official, on a trip to NY to launch a perfume and the comments about it being a waste of money in these tough economic times would have been rampant!
    The hypocrisy is sickening!

    • Bernuda says:

      They were actually in NY to meet with business leaders as a means to highlight that Bermuda is open for business and attended this ceremony as well. You know that as you read the related article, but then pretended like it doesn’t exist and said it was all about perfume.

      Where was your ire when Dr. Brown traveled to India on the taxpayers dime which only resulted in him and Commissiong procuring a generic drug importation business for themselves with the same Indian representative he just happened to be pictured with? Oh and where is the promised Bollywood movie that Dr. Brown said resulted from his tax payer funded trip? Still waiting for that and the promised platinmum period of tourism as well.

      What benefit did BDA receive from Dr. Brown traveling to China? It has been almost half a decade and I still don’t see any Chinese investment on our shores?

      Staying at a 7 star Dubai resort for no reason on taxpayers monies is a waste of money.

      Paula Cox traveling on umpteen trips to receive frivolous awards is a waste of money that provides no value to Bermuda. Dr. Brown traveling with a much larger entourage including his ‘oh so needed bodyguards’ and incurring $20k in ground transportation costs is a waste of money.

      And no one has ever complained when Furbert traveled around promoted tourism as a waste of money. That is simply part of thw portfolio. They might have complained about the avenues sought to advertise our tourism product, but not the need for the tourism minister to travel and advertise Bermuda. The self indulging trips noted above coupled with the need to bring non-necessary personnel (i.e. bodyguards, press secretaries and the like).

      But you can pretend it is apples to apples to satisfy your zealousness. It is your right.

      Carry on.

      • Rockfish#1 and#2 says:

        Your point is well taken, however, the OBA promised to end that nonsense!!

        So far, we haven’t seen a meaningful change! (money doesn’t grow on trees!) so says Bob Richards.

        • Bernuda says:

          And they did end that nonsense.

          You cannot compare this junket (i.e. promoting Bermuda as a business and a tourism destination) to teh PLP examples I noted above.

          This is for Bermuda and her benefit while the examples noted were for self indulgence and narcissitic trips to accept personal awards from obscure organizations that provided nothing Bermuda, but instead cost us countless tax payer dollars.

          So until they start traveling away to gain personal business connections and then soon after open a local business based on the connections made durign the trip and accept narcisstic awards then it is different no matter your protestations.

          And money doesn’t grow on trees, hence why a budget is made for the year for the various Government departments and they cannot overrun them. I, for one, am pleased with the progress made so far on reducing the $350mn deficit left behind by the PLP. Just read the mid-year report issued a few weeks back on this site. There is finally some financial reponsibility taking place in Government that has been missing since 2005.

      • Raymond Ray says:

        Here! Here!”Bermuda says”
        Oh how soon it takes for some people to forget :-(

    • SMH says:

      Do you know for a 100% fact that:

      a) the trip wasn’t paid for by the sponsors of the event?
      b) they weren’t already in NY on other business and decided to pop in?
      c) they weren’t in NY on vacation or personal time and decided to pop in to support a Bermudian cause during their time off?

  16. watchman says:

    Well done Isabelle. You have such class and once again you shine like a star. Best of luck.

  17. MB says:

    OMG would you all just shut up if you have nothing positive to say.
    You DON’T have to comment you know
    This is the problem in Bermuda, we never look at the good, just the politics. Kudos to Isabelle and her team and the government and Catherine ZJ for helping our little island – this is such an amazing story and beautifully publicised. So proud of The Perfumery

    • Rockfish#1 and#2 says:

      “OMG would you all just shut up if you have nothing positive to say.”


      • PBanks says:

        I think MB believes that the purpose of a discussion/comments section is to offer only positive messages on the topic at hand. Criticism or the raising of questions is to be discouraged.

  18. North Rock says:

    When I read blog comments like these…pure unadulterated entertainmnet with no evil intent….I can see why no one goes on the other site…

  19. more than enough says:

    Who is joseph romanelli, chiwan smith, and matthew tomlin?

    • more than enough says:

      Any body?

      • Tourism Advocate says:

        They appear to be guests at a Bermuda event who chose to wear Bermuda shorts. It happens. And in this scenario, isn’t that enough? This is a great photo to get people thinking about Bermuda in a wistful way.

  20. Grizz says:

    Where is the shared sacrifice? Aren’t we supposed to be saving money? Why did they all have to be on this trip, especially the Premier, what was his role in all of this, even Senator Baron. I am so confused.

    • more than enough says:

      What role could “national” security possibly play here?

      • Trulytruly says:

        Premier’s assistant.

        • more than enough says:

          The premier is the minister of national security, did jeff come along just to carry his bags? Or shine his shoes possibly?
          I believe he is “junior” minister of “national” security which is even more reason why he should not have been there. He should have been here fulfilling his role as junior minister in dunkleys abscense. The guy is all up under dunkley all the time.
          Why would dunkley need an assistant? This after all was a trip involving the supposed promotion of business/tourism, and if the right people were in position already, ie gibbons and hanbury they should be able to cover this. And if the premier thought he just had to be there (conveniently) and the minister of tourism (maybe) it was definitely overkill to bring the junior minister of n security (strange indeed).
          I understand that they are hoping to drum up business but as of this moment (even if some of the perfume sold) we are shelling out cold cash for these excursions, without returns…leaving us further in the red with only hopes of gaining something in the future. At least if you insist on this approach, trim the fat a little.
          This was not an issue of “national” security.

  21. We Are Not Amused! says:

    I knew there would be a STINK over this!!!


  22. MB says:

    In fairness the radio is just as bad – some fool with an obvious agenda actually called up to say how did the perfumery get to bottle this perfume if it was found on Bermuda’s wrecks … should it not belong to the people and why did govt give it to them. I died laughing … that someone would actually think they dove up 100 year old stinking salty perfume and somehow bottled it for sale.

    sorry PBanks constructive criticism I can handle but just picking at someone’s good news for political gain and to throw out nonsense and hope it sticks is so sad. We need to lift each other up.

    • PBanks says:

      Fair enough. Some people will throw out words just to slam someone. Unfortunately there’s no mute commentator option on this particular site.

  23. Ms. Poli Tician says:

    The political commentary detracts from the hard work of Ms. Brackstone and Bermuda Perfumery. We must learn to be more thoughtful. This is a celebration, and the comments should be light and congratulatory. Ms. Brackstone has made no political comments, so her success should not be minimized by the tone of posts.

    Congratulations Ms. Brackstone. My overseas friends always make Bermuda Perfumery one of their stops while here. They stock up on the Calypso fragrance. Your products are putting us on the map. Well done.

  24. DS says:

    Congratulations to all who took part in this amazing discovery and re-creation of history. How wonderful for Bermuda and for a local business.

  25. crystal says:

    hmm Jeff Baron and Catherine Zeta actually look like they could make a good couple!

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