A Decorative Set of Five 19thC Black-Painted Toleware Apothecary Canisters

Origin: English
Period: Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890
The Largest: 18 inches high x 11 inches wide x 10 inches deep
Remaining Four: 15.5 inches high x 10 inches wide x 9 inches deep

The set of five nineteenth century black painted toleware canisters, the largest slightly different in shape, each indistinctly decorated in gilt, bearing numbers and some with Latin names for apothecary mixes.

The canisters have not been restored nor cleaned and therefore remain in tired but attractive and un-tampered with condition. They are structurally sound and have wear to the paint commensurate with heavy use having been picked up and put back down again many a time in the chemists shop. Toleware was more commonly used in this period for the storage of tea.

One canister is labeled PULV: SEM: ANISI which would have held powdered aniseed. This plant originally came from Egypt, and is used as a stimulant and carminative; used in cases of flatulency, flatulent colic of infants, and to remove nausea. Sometimes it is added to other medicines to improve their flavor, correct griping and other disagreeable effects. The dose of aniseed, crushed or powdered, is from 20 to 40 grains.

Another label is PULV: GENTIANAE which is the Gentian root consisting of the dried rhizome and roots of Gentiana lutea a perennial herb indigenous to Central Europe. The rhizomes and roots are collected in the autumn and dried. Gentian is a typical bitter, and is used to increase the appetite in recovery from acute diseases, atonic dyspepsia, and the like. Bitters increase the flow of gastric juice by improving the appetite.

The other canisters labels are either too faded to read or are not present but they are all numbered (2,6,9,11,12). Those without a specific label would have stored a multitude of various medical powders and compounds (not liquids); and it is from these storage canisters that medicines would have been mixed, and then filled into other smaller glass bottles given to patients. 

A very decorative group of apothecary ware, the perfect medicine for an off-colour interior.