A Superb c.1870s Glass Apothecary Bottle for Eucalyptus Oil


Origin: English
Period: Mid/Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Wilfred Harris M.P.S. Dispensing Chemist, Bournemouth
Date: c.1870
Base Diameter: 3.5 inches
Height: 10 inches

The large clear glass bottle having the original multi faceted cut stopper, the Latin reading OL: EUCALYP: with star and cross motifs, hand-painted in black over fiery burnished gold banners with frosted neck, surviving from the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

There is some wear to the shield but it is still readable, whilst structurally the piece is sound with no cracks or chips. The stopper remains sound and free. There is some original oil still left in the jar so please be sensible and do not digest this, or discard if preferred.

This bottle was part of Wilfred Harris’ inventory at his dispensing chemist’s at 6 Albert Road, Bournemouth, UK, well into the early twentieth century.

The vessel bore, and still bears, eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus is a tall evergreen tree native to Tasmania. It is the most important genus of trees found in the Australian forests comprising approximately 75% of all of the trees. Topical ointments containing eucalyptus oil have been used in traditional Aboriginal medicine to support wound healing. During the 19th century in England, eucalyptus oil was used in hospitals to clean urinary catheters. Many studies later revealed that eucalyptus oil contains substances with microbial properties, confirming the British use as a cleaning agent. It should be kept in well-stoppered bottles, in a cool place, protected from the light. The flower buds yield eucalyptus oil in great quantity, and even when dry are found to contain numbers of large oil glands filled with oil. It is a faintly yellowish liquid, having a characteristic, aromatic, somewhat camphoraceous odor, and a pungent, spicy, and cooling taste.

Painted labels such as these were eventually phased out and replaced with labels under glass (LUG) later in the century so as to stop the abrasion of the labels themselves so these are nice early examples and their stoppers are ornate.

With some of the original contents this what you could call scented decorative.