A Fantastic Quartet of Graduating c.1895 Glass Apothecary Bottles


Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Wilfred Harris M.P.S. Dispensing Chemist, Bournemouth
Date: c.1895-1905
Ranging From:
Base Diameter: 2.25 inches
Height: 6.75 inches
Base Diameter: 3 inches
Height: 8 inches

The graduating LUG (labels under glass) clear high quality flint glass chemist bottles having the original cut stoppers, and frosted necks, the Latin under the glass labels reading TINCT: VALERIAN, FERRI ET QUIN: CIT, ALUM: UST: and TINCT: CATECHU all being shield shaped on white grounds with red, black and orange borders, and three marked to the bases “E.S & Co L Registered no 265897” surviving from the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Structurally the pieces are sound with no cracks or chips aside from one crack to the neck of the Ferri Et Quin: Cit bottle. The stoppers are sound and free. E. S. & Co could possibly be for Evans, Sell & Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1873-1877).

These bottles were part of Wilfred Harris’ inventory at his dispensing chemist’s at 6 Albert Road, Bournemouth, UK, well into the early twentieth century. Earlier painted labels were eventually phased out and replaced with labels under glass (LUG) like these later in the century so as to stop the abrasion of the labels themselves.

The first would have bore tincture of valerian which excites the cerebro-spinal system. Large doses cause headache, mental excitement, visual illusions, giddiness, restlessness, agitation, and even spasmodic movements, and frequently nausea. In medicinal doses it acts as a stimulant-tonic, antispasmodic and calmative, and has been used in chorea, hysteria, and in the low forms of fever, where a nervous stimulant is required. Valerian is also one of many agents which have been used for the relief of epilepsy.

The second vessel would have held ferric quinine citrate. Quinine is a general protoplasmic poison, and in sufficient concentration paralyses all forms of living matter. Many persons show a marked idiosyncrasy to quinine, and comparatively small closes may produce symptoms of "quinism," including giddiness, headache, humming noises in the ears, with deafness that may last a few hours, disturbances of vision, and sometimes erythematous or urticarial skin eruptions. Quinine is employed in headache and neuralgia, hay fevers, and influenzal catarrhs, usually in the form of the sulphate, hydrochloride, or hydrobromide.

The third bottle contained potassium aluminum sulfate, with Ust meaning ustum which is Latin for “heated” and is actively astringent. It coagulates the albumin in the tissues and in the blood, produces local contraction of the capillaries, is somewhat escharotic, and produces induration of the skin and tissues. It at first excites and subsequently diminishes the salivary secretion and the secretions of the mucous surfaces of the mouth and stomach, diminishing the secretion of the gastric fluids, and precipitating pepsin.

The fourth would have held Tincture of Catechu, an extract of Acacia, useful in chronic diarrhoea, chronic dysentery, etc. It may be administered in some mucilage, sweetened water, or port wine.

A quartet of quality glassware that would instantly cheer up a boring shelf or a much-maligned mantelpiece.