A Superb Pair of c.1870s Glass Apothecary Bottles for Spirits of Camphor & Tincture of Bitter Orange Peel


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 bottles having the original multi faceted cut stoppers, the Latin reading CAMPH: SPT: and AURANT: TINCT: with star and cross motifs, both hand-painted in black over fiery burnished gold banners with frosted necks and surviving from the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

There is some wear to the shields but not they are still readable and around 70-80% survives, whilst structurally the pieces are sound with no cracks or chips. The stoppers are sound and free.

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.

The first would have bore spirits of camphor, used by many alternative medicine practitioners to treat a number of ailments, internally and externally. The spirit is a household embrocation for the relief of pain and itching, and it is used largely, alone, or in liniments and embrocations, for the relief of pain, stiffness, soreness and swelling, as in myalgia, facial and other neuralgias, and upon rheumatic joints, deep inflammations, chronic indurated glands and other indurations, sprains, contusions, and inflammatory swellings. Inhaling the spirit, or camphor dropped into hot water, gives relief in nervous headache, and often aborts acute colds, coryza, and influenza, giving respite from the excessive secretion and the accompanying headache. The spirit was in common use as a lotion for headache in nervous individuals with feeble circulation, and tendency to fainting.

The second vessel would have held tincture of bitter orange peel being the peel of the Seville orange. The substitution of fresh for dried orange peel was proposed in England, and its propriety considerably discussed in 1872. Indeed, it met with so much favour as to be introduced in the 1885 revision of the British Pharmacopoeia. The tincture of bitter orange peel is employed as a grateful addition to infusions, decoctions, and mixtures.
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.

Striking hand blown bottles for the medicinal themed interior.