pharmacy shop bottles

The bulk of our collection is made up of hundreds of bottles and jars which line our shelves. These bottles were the bread and butter of a pharmacist’s trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although in earlier times, pharmaceutical materials were typically stored in earthenware jars, by the latter half of the 19th century most pharmacists had made the switch to glass.

 

Our collection demonstrates several of the important innovations taking place in glass making at this time, namely the production of coloured and textured glass. On our shelves, we have many examples of blue and green bottles, some with ridged patterning on the exterior. This use of easily discerned colour and texture was common in the 19th century for storing poisonous substances. This was meant to signal the dangerous contents to people who were illiterate, or who were looking for medicine in the dim light of a candle or lantern.