This Just In: Antique Medicine Bottles

Mar 20, 2015 by

084Got a headache? Suffering from adrenal problems? Your teeth causing you pain? Got a cough that just won’t go away? Have a body part that needs disinfecting or powdering?

Regardless of what ails you, Orion’s Attic has a hint of the solution … if you lived in the 1800s. Thanks to our latest find — a mini estate liquidation we did in Silver Spring, Maryland — we just created a virtual 19th century apothecary in our eBay store. We have already listed more than 20 great antique medicine bottles and have a whole crate full still to go. Many date back more than a century while others are from the mid- 1900s. The group also includes bottles that contained alcohol, ink and food additives. We’ve placed them in the Bottles department in our eBay store.

One bottle sold less than five minutes after we put it up so check out the collection quickly and often to see what’s in stock. These bottles make fantastic display pieces in window sills, curio cabinets and, if you’re lucky enough to own one, an apothecary cabinet. You’ll find bottles from Baltimore to Boston and west to Michigan. Many contain their original labels, caps and/or corks. One even has its original box. The colors are fantastic, too. Cobalt blue always captures the most attention but we’ve got brown, amber, clear and a great teal bottle.063

A few highlights of the Orion’s Attic antique medicine bottle collection that are up for sale already include:

  • A unusual, tube-shaped bottle by Burroughs Wellcome & Co. of New York offered bromides but warned “excessive dosage or prolonged use may in some instances lead to skin rash, mental disturbances or other serious effects.” Nothing like a rash and a mental disturbance to ruin your day.
  • F.A. Thompson and Co. recognized bitter pills are hard to swallow so it created chocolate-coated calcium sulphide tablets. I’ve tasted chocolate from that era so I’m not sure the candy coating helped.
  • The “Spirit of Camphor” bottle cracks me up. Sold by the Loewy Drug Co. of Baltimore, Maryland, the elixir contained 90 percent alcohol. Add 10 to 30 drops of water and mix with sugar and take your “medicine.” By the same token, I can’t help but wonder what our “Raspberryade” bottle was all about. I suspect it was light on raspberries and mighty strong on a certain kind of aid.

One of the great things about running an estate sale and estate liquidation company that serves Maryland, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia is that we get to peel back layers of American history every day. These bottles are helping us develop a vision for what it must have looked like for people to stroll into their local druggist’s shop a century ago and seek real and perhaps imagined cures for their problems. Now it’s your turn to step into the apothecary!

Do you know someone who needs a great estate sale company or needs an estate liquidation? We’re here to help. Contact Orion’s Attic today to schedule a free consultation to look at your treasures.