A Superb French Mahogany Campaign Apothecary Chest to Include Thirty-Five Bottles


Origin: French
Period: Early / Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1820-40
The Chest:
Width: 19 inches
Depth: 13.5 inches
Height: 12 inches

In original condition, the mahogany lid opening to reveal the stained pine tiered shelves with five banks of seven original bottles to each, with hand written paper labels in French and contents, the sloping portable case with brass drop carrying handles and rear drawer. There is an associated key to complete the chest.

The condition is excellent considering the age and the nature of the contents, there is only two bottles with damage whilst the dovetail jointed mahogany has a good patina and a deep rich colour with a few darker patches and stains here and there from the chemicals; all making for a piece with strong character.

Other than the fact this piece is French, the sloping front of the chest is also somewhat unusual; there is the possibility that this piece was in its very early days, a chest for stationary and then converted; but the way the lid is in one piece rather than two and the presence of the rear drawer goes some way to counter this thought. We think it made for purpose.

Many of the bottles still contain their original contents* with crystals amongst opaque liquids and colourful blues, yellows, oranges and greens making for a fascinating collection. Random examples include ‘sulfo cyanine de potassium’, ‘hyposulfite de soude’ and ‘carbonate d'ammoniaque’. There is also one bottle with printed label for the Parisian chemists Billault et Billaudot who were known to operate in the mid nineteenth century at 22 Rue De La Sorbonne in the city.

Of significant interest to not only the collector of medical history, or indeed campaign furniture, but also to those searching for an original shop front display or decorative fix for a dull room or window, for which, there can surely be no equal.

*Doe & Hope cannot be held accountable for any misuse of the contents within the bottles post sale.