SPA - Export- From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century

By the sixteenth century the fame of Spa Waters had spread through the whole of Europe.  But only the wealthy cure seekers could indulge themselves in a long journey to enjoy the benefits offered by the Pouhons. 
“Why not instead take the water to the sick people’s homes ?” some doctors asked themselves.  A simple idea but one opening the door to the exports of the Spa waters.

The greater care taken in bottling and corking, rapidly enabled the waters to be kept for three weeks or more, and longer journeys could be undertaken, as is shown by the increase in export of Spa Waters in time and place :

  • 1572 :  Belgium (meaning, the Netherlands less Pays de Liège)
  • 1573 :  Holland (Maastricht)
  • 1583 :  France
  • 1585 :  Germany and Italy
  • 1600 :  England, Poland and Russia
  • 1615 :  Spain
  • 1626 :  Austria-Hungary, Scotland and Ireland
  • Seventeenth Century :  Scandinavian Countries
  • 1700 :  American Colonies
  • 1709 :  Portugal (and certainly earlier)
  • 1737 :  Latin America
  • 1790 :  Switzerland (and certainly much earlier)

.The first exported bottles, protected by wickerwork, were made from willow strands and were wrapped securely packed in stout baskets, so that they couldn’t touch each other.  Export baskets often held 160 bottles !  In 1830-1835, the baskets were replaced by wooden boxes.
The bottles were in glass, brown or sometimes green shaped like a flattened gourd, with a rather narrow throat and a long neck, without feed;  for serving they were put in holders.
 They were accompanied by certificates and were stamped.

.The carriage of the bottles were done by carts containing at most two baskets and were sent to Holland, which was the real pivot of the export market for Spa Waters. 

These deliveries reached the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam and were then loaded on to ships.


This magnificent expansion of trade obviously was abound to arouse jealousy.  It put the foreign waters –French, English and German- in the shade and made merchants avaricious.  Then began for Spa feverish competition, both domestic and foreign !

As from 1891, the export of Spa Waters to France increased substantially but started declined again in 1905.

 A flat bottle of the Eighteenth Century in a wood holder

Authenticity Certificate, delivered by the Loyal Court of Spa, accompanying the Spa products, certifying that the water had been duly drawn at Spa