Three Late 19thC Etched Glass Apothecary Bottles For Sulphuric & Nitric Acids


Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth Century / Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900
Height: 6 inches
Base Diameter: 2.75 inches

The trio of clear glass squat apothecary bottles having frosted necks and original stoppers, all with frosted etched labels with thick ruled borders.

The condition of the bottles is excellent aside from damage and loss to one stopper.

The first vessel would have bore a concentrate nitrous acid: formerly referred to nitric acid, though medieval alchemists called it aqua fortis (strong water). Used as a reactor or test substance and as a very useful remedy in fevers, Nitric acid is, however, more often used as a caustic owing to its great affinity for water. It is employed to destroy warts, condylomata, or unhealthy phagedenic sores. In base form, this would have even given the chemist the ability to dissolve gold & platinum, or instantly age maple or pinewood.

The second and third carried sulphuric acid, dilute and concentrate, which may have been applied to check slight bleeding, as that of leech-bites, or piles. More importantly, Sulfuric acid was known to medieval European alchemists as oil of vitriol, spirit of vitriol, or simply vitriol, among other names. Vitriol was widely considered the most important alchemical substance, intended to be used as a philosopher's stone. The importance of vitriol to alchemy is highlighted in the alchemical motto, Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem which is a backronym meaning ('Visit the interior of the earth and rectifying (i.e. purifying) you will find the hidden/secret stone'.

A fine way of adding antique medicinal charm to a kitchen or any shelf space for that matter.