Three Late 19thC Glass Apothecary Bottles with Painted Banners to include one Oleum example for Savin Oil & two for Bismuth


Origin: English
Period: Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1875 for the Oluem bottle & c.1890 for the Bismuth pair
Circumference: 9.5 inches
Height: 7.5 inches
OL: SABIN with pourer & cleft
Circumference: 9.5 inches
Height: 8.5 inches
Circumference: 9.5 inches
Height: 7.5 inches

A delightful trio of bottles of good order, all having beautifully painted gold banners with black lettering and red banding. All three possess their original snug fitting stoppers.

The largest which is an Oleum or Oil bottle benefits from a pourer and cleft with which to pour, Sabin (Savin) oil in this case from the vessel.  A recurrent theme of nineteenth century herbal remedies was the use of savin oil of juniper, which is extracted from Juniperus Sabina. It is a native to North America, the middle and southern Europe.

Savin was once used in an ointment or dressing for blisters, for syphilitic warts and other skin problems, but is an irritant when used internally or locally. It is a powerful emmenagogue, and serious and fatal cases of poisoning have resulted when attempted to use as an abortifacient. Savin oil is considered too poisonous to use as it contains podophyllotoxin that destroys cells and has resulted in fatalities and is extracted from the twigs and leaves by steam distillation. The label on this rare example has some wear but is still largely in tact.

The second and third bottles contained variants of Bismuth (Subnitrate and a misturae or mixture) which is found mostly in metallic state as small veins in rocks, occurs also as sulphide; it is obtained from the ore by heating until sufficiently mobile to separate from its earthy matter. Bismuth is brittle, crystalline, brilliant, with silver color and pinkish tinge, forms several alloys and many medicinal salts, some being official.

Historically Bisthmuth compounds were used to treat Syphilis and today Bismuth subsalicylate and Bismuth subcitrate are used to treat the Peptic ulcer. Both vessels are in excellent condition.