Two Late 19thC Glass Apothecary Bottles with Painted Gold Banners for Chalk and Muskroot


Origin: English
Period: Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1875
The Larger:
Circumference: 12 inches
Height: 9 inches
The Smaller:
Circumference: 10 inches
Height: 7.5 inches

Beautiful examples in fine order, having working square cut stoppers. Original labels read CRETAE. PPT: and TR: SUMBUL: hand-painted in black over gold banners. There is some wear to the paint, though structurally the pieces are sound.

The larger would have bore Chalk (Creta preparata) which is a purified Calcium carbonate by elutriation. There are two types being prepared chalk and precipitated chalk. The collected chalk would have been subjected to grinding in mills, elutriated and the coming liquid is allowed to settle. The sediment is then formed,  and dried (known as whiting). The whiting is further purified by elutriation and dried. The product is small cones of highly purified chalk used for pharmaceutical purpose. Chemists of old would have used this substance for and Antacid, a dusting powder, in tooth and face preparations, the treatment of enteritis and diarrhea or as an absorbent for toxin from the stomach.

The smaller would have contained Sumbul, which is also known as muskroot. This was used widely as a fragrance or incense until its medicinal properties were made known. It consists of the root of Ferula sumbul, a tall umbelliferous plant found in the north of Bokhara in present day Uzbekistan, its range apparently extending beyond the Amur. It was first brought to Russia in 1535 as a substitute for musk; and in 1867 was introduced into the British pharmacopoeia. Sumbul is supposed to have a quieting influence on the nervous system and is used in the treatment of various hysterical conditions. By many it is believed to have an especial relation to the pelvic organs and it is widely employed in dysmenorrhea and allied disorders. It has also been used as a stimulant to mucous membranes not only in chronic dysenteries and diarrheas, but in chronic bronchitis, especially with asthmatic tendency, and even in pneumonia.. Mix Sumbul in an aromatic wine and it is said to make an impressionable woman feel "perfectly lovely'.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.