A Fantastic Group of Nine Early 20thC Clear Glass Chemist’s Jars

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Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Manufactured by Thomas Kerfoot & Co Ltd, and Used in Dispenseries such as Ernest Jackson & Co, Devon and SG Ventham, Portsmouth
Date: c.1915-25
Four Bottles at: 8.75 inches high X 3.5 inches diameter
Three Bottles at: 9.75 inches high X 4.25 inches diameter
Two Bottles at: 10.75 inches high X 5 inches diameter

The graduated set of nine clear glass chemist jars each with large thirteen-sided faceted stoppers and applied labels, some for `THOMAS KERFOOT & CO. LTD`, surviving from the first quarter of the twentieth century.

The labels to the bottles are for `’Bismuth Lozenges’ (x2),  ‘Menthol and Eucalyptus Pastilles’, ‘Black Currant and Glycerine Pastilles’ (x2), Maclean Formula Stomach Tablets’, Liquorice and Menthol Souchets’, ‘Zoids’, and ‘Chest and Throat Lozenges’. There are also two dispensary labels verso to two bottles for Ernest Jackson & Co, Devon and SG Ventham, Portsmouth. One has a date for 1932.

Structurally the pieces are very sound and remain in desirable condition with no cracks to the bottles. The stoppers are original and most are fully in tact, there are two or three with chips to the inner rims, which are only visible when removed. Each jar could be cleaned with sand solution if so desired to the interiors. The labels are all in tact though some have been re-glued to the bottles at the corners.

In 1864 Thomas Kerfoot acquired a chemist's business in London Road, Manchester, established in 1797, on his own account. Initially he traded as a retail chemist, but soon began to manufacture galenicals. In 1887 he abandoned production of compressed pills and tablets. In 1890 he moved to premises in Chester Street, Manchester, which were vacated after total destruction by fire in 1896. The firm re-located to a site at Bardsley Vale (which we see mentioned on the bottle labels here) on the river Medlock. between Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, and a warehouse was opened at 42 Lamb's Conduit Street, Holborn, London. In 1900 Thomas Kerfoot was joined in partnership by his son, Ernest Hodgson Kerfoot, and the business was styled Thomas Kerfoot & Co. A range of new pharmaceutical products was introduced, including Salaspin in 1914 and Kerocain, a synthetic local anaesthetic, in 1915. In 1918 the business was incorporated as a limited liability company, Thomas Kerfoot & Co Ltd.

Ernest Kerfoot's 2 sons, Dr T H Manners Kerfoot and Henry Manners Kerfoot, entered the company in 1931, and in 1936 Thomas Kerfoot died, followed in 1944 by his son, Ernest Kerfoot. During the Second World War the company produced the anli-malarial drug Mepacrine, flavine antiseptics and large quantities of pills and injectables for use by the armed forces. After the war the company continued to produce pills and lozenges, and also began manufacture of penicillin cream. By the 1970s it specialised in the production of antibiotics and steroids, which it sold in unbranded form, directly to retail pharmacies, hospitals and wholesalers. The business is now owned by Swedish parmaceutical company Recipharm..

Wonderfully decorative glassware.

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