A Fine Pair of c.1870s Glass Apothecary Bottles for Bismuth & Potassium


Origin: English
Period: Mid/Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Wilfred Harris M.P.S. Dispensing Chemist, Bournemouth, UK
Date: c.1870
Base Diameter: 3 inches
Height: 8 inches

The large clear glass bottles having  the original multi faceted cut stoppers with shield shaped painted labels in black lettering on a gold leaf ground the Latin reading BISMUTH TROCH and POT: CHLOR TROCH both with frosted necks and surviving from the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

There is some minor wear to the shields but not a great deal, whilst structurally the pieces are sound with no cracks or chips. The stoppers are sound and free. There is a label present to the reverse on one of the bottles; “Wilfred Harris M.P.S. Dispensing Chemist, 6 Albert Road, Bournemouth, phone 20010”.

These bottles were part of Wilfred Harris’ inventory at his dispensing chemist’s at 6 Albert Road, Bournemouth, UK, well into the early twentieth century. The first would have bore lozenges or troches of Potassium Cholride in a supplement which forming a natural salt that is important for the heart, muscles, and nerves.

The second vessel would have held lozenges or troches of Bismuth (Subnitrate and a misturae or mixture) which is found mostly in metallic state as small veins in rocks, occurs also as sulphide; it is obtained from the ore by heating until sufficiently mobile to separate from its earthy matter. Bismuth is brittle, crystalline, brilliant, with silver color and pinkish tinge, forms several alloys and many medicinal salts, some being official.

Painted labels such as these were eventually phased out and replaced with labels under glass (LUG) later in the century so as to stop the abrasion of the labels themselves so these are nice early examples and their stoppers are ornate.

We hereby declare our medicinal decorative fix well and truly satisfied.