Two Late 19thC Glass Apothecary Bottles with Painted Gold Banners for Hyoscyamus & Iridis


Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1870-80
Base Diameter: 3 inches
Height: 7.75 inches

Beautiful clear glass examples in fine order, having square cut stoppers with original labels reading P: R: IRID: and SEM: HYOS: hand-painted in black over fiery burnished gold banners.

There is some wear to the paint, though structurally the pieces are sound. The stopper for P:R: IRID: is currently sealed shut but could probably be loosened if so desired.

The first would have bore an extract of the Iris family or Iridaceae, a family of perennial, herbaceous and bulbous plants included in the monocot order Asparagales, taking its name from the genus Iris. An extract of this plant was used medicinally as a cathartic or laxative and as a treatment for dropsy.

The second vessel would have Hyoscyamus, Hyoscyami Semina. In 1848 it is noted that its irritant properties are ‘obscure, being confined to the production of dryness and rawness of the throat, when it is given in large doses, together with some tendency to act upon the bowels’. It is, on the contrary, a very powerful narcotic, dangerously poisonous when taken freely, and, in small doses, anodyne, hypnotic, calmative and antispasmodic. Every part of the plant is poisonous, the roots being feeblest, the seeds most energetic.

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.

A superb brace of decorative and beautiful bottles that are becoming more difficult to find in tact.