Two Late 19thC Glass Apothecary Bottles with Tin Caps and Painted Banners for Clove Water and Calumba Root


Origin: English
Period: Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1885
Circumference: 9.5 inches
Height: 8 inches
Tin Caps:
Height: 3 inches
Circumference: 8 inches

Here, two specimens in sound overall condition, being in cylindrical form with illustrious gold painted banners bordered by amber with lettering in ebony. Both are complete with the original cut glass stoppers and tin lids, one lid also bearing a band of painted gold. There is some wear to the labels and the tin lids, with some discolouration to the glass which could be cleaned if so desired, but overall the pair are still in good general order.

The first reads INF: CARYOPH. CONC; which points to concentrated infusion of clove water.  This concentrated form would have consisted of Clove oil 2 ml., alcohol (90 %) 60 ml. Water to 100 ml.; then shaken with talc and filtered. It would have been approximately forty times as strong as distilled clove water. The dose would have typically been 0-3 to 1 ml.Oil of cloves is obtained by distillation from the unexpanded flower heads of Eugenia caryophyllata, cultivated in Sumatra, Penang, the Seychelles, and Zanzibar. Oil of cloves occurs as an almost colourless or pale yellow liquid when recently distilled, gradually becoming reddish-brown; strongly refractive; odour, strongly aromatic; taste, persistently burning. It is generally employed as an embrocation in bronchitis, whooping cough, and rheumatism. Internally, oil of cloves is antispasmodic and carminative.

The second banner states INF: CALUM: C? meaning the vessel certainly once held Calumba root in some shape or form, probably infused. This plant, which consists of the dried transverse slices of the root of Jateorhiza Columba, is a climbing plant indigenous to East Africa and growing freely in the forests near the Zambesi.��Calumba root grows in commerce in flattish discs varying from 2.5 to 5cms in diameter. The drug has a slight odour, and bitter taste and is generally used in atonic dyspepsia and debility of the digestive organs.