Tuesday 4 April 2023

Green nineteenth century pharmacy bottles

 I've been documenting the contents of Dow's pharmacy down in Chiltern since 2017 and I thought I'd more or less got my eye in as regards nineteenth century pharmacy bottles. The rules are (more or less):

  • Blue ones contain real nasties like strychnine
  • Brown ones are usually ribbed and sometimes embossed Not to be Taken as they contained preparations for external use
  • Clear ones contained medicines for internal use
Blue ones are often ribbed and embossed - the ribbing and embossing are because in the days before electricity, it made it easy to identify the ones not to be taken if you were fumbling about in candlelight for your medication.

But today, my boss pointed out that there was a green bottle among the undocumented items:


Definitely nineteenth century from its shape, and one shoulder side is ribbed and the other embossed Not to be Taken.

Most of the normal reference sites are vague on this but a little digging on Etsy and Ebay revealed that antique green pharmaceutical bottles do exist but are relatively uncommon. 

Green bottles seem to have been used as an alternative to blue sometimes to hold poisons. Most of the ones for sale online to bottle collectors seem to be located in the UK, so I'm going to wave my hands and say that it is mainly a UK thing, but of course occasionally imported bottles may turn up in Australia and New Zealand

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