A Good 19thC British Oak Campaign Apothecary Chest to Include Sixty-Seven Bottles


Origin: English
Period: Early / Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1825-45
The Chest:
Width: 14 inches
Depth: 10.5 inches
Height: 8 inches

Of oblong form with brass campaign handle, the stop-hinged lid opening to reveal a fitted interior with sixty-seven glass bottles of graduating size, some with wood corks, slatted compartments and pigeon holes, the deep lower compartmentalized draw, with brass locking pin containing a further small oak lidded box revealing a set of scales and weights with the other compartments housing ceramic pestle and mortar, glass syringe and measuring beaker. The box also has its original working lock and key.

The condition is good considering the age and the nature of the contents, there is only three bottles lacking, one of the large bottles with missing lid, and a further three or four with minor chips. The dovetail jointed oak has a good patina and a deep rich colour with a few darker patches and stains here and there from the chemicals, with one large stain to the top and a small hairline crack, making for a piece rich in history.

Some of the bottles still contain their original contents* with powders, mixtures and liquids. Notable examples include Tincture of Arnica Poison, Duffy Elixir for Purging, Emetric Tartar for Putric Fever, Dr Boerchaave’s Fever Powder and Holy Water. The various bottle labels show the owner to be well-traveled including examples from J. Severs of 23 Stricklandgate in Kendal, Cumbria, Thomas Capper of 43 Bold Street Liverpool, Herbert Saunders of Coggeshall, Essex and Beck & Son of Stoke Neweington N16 London. As there are no carrying handles to the flanks of the carcass it is possible this chest was carried around in a larger crate (think back of a mule in India) and thus was moved around that way.

Of great interest to those concerned with medicine, campaign furniture, or simply items that tell a story, this is a well-loved compendium of medicinal paraphernalia.

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