A Late 19thC Glass Apothecary Bottle with Spout for Dilute Castor Oil


Origin: English
Period: Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1895
Circumference: 12 inches
Height: 10 inches

A more scarce variety of apothecary bottle having a spout for which to pour its contents. Though the hand-painted banner is worn, it is still decipherable and the spout is in sound condition. The wider lip is also in tact, which is present to catch any spillages.

The bottle reading DL: RICINI. signaling that it would have once bore a diluted form of castor oil obtained from the seeds of the plant RICINUS COMMUNIS. This plant is a native of the East Indies and Africa,. The untreated seeds are poisonous & just three seeds may be fatal. This form would have been diluted using alcohol.

The oil is used internally as a laxative. It has an extremely unpleasant taste & would often be given via a special spoon with a hollow handle. The contents could then be blown in the mouth.

This substance has a long and varied history of use as a healing agent in medicine around the world. Castor bean seeds, believed to be 4,000 years old, have been found in Egyptian tombs, and historical records reveal the medicinal use of castor oil in Egypt (for eye irritations), India, China (for induction of childbirth and expulsion of the placenta), Persia (for epilepsy), Africa, Greece, Rome, Southern Europe, and the Americas. In ancient Rome, the castor oil plant was known as Palma Christi, which translates into hand of Christ. This name is still sometimes used today.