Antique Medicine Bottles



2015-06-26 11:17:06

Antique Medicine Bottles are collectible bottles used throughout history to store a variety of medicinal liquids.


Brief history

During the medieval era, alchemists and apothecaries used to display medicine bottles in their windows to lure potential customers into their store. Today, these now antique medicine bottles can't help but lure collectors into shelling out hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars just to be able to display them in their own household.

Antique medicine bottles can come in a variety of different shapes, sizes and colours such a blue, green, brown, purple, pink, red, and many more.

The types of antique medicine bottles can also range from gargling oil, purifying extracts, kidney and backache "cures," cannabis or hemp, opium or "blood searchers," to name a few.

Notable Antique Medicine Bottle sales

Brinckerhoffs medicine bottles

TW Conroy, LLC in Elbridge, New York sold an antique brown Brinckerhoffs medicine bottle for $2,000 in November of 2006.

Jacob's Pharmacy medicine bottles

Victorian Casino Antiques in Las Vegas, Nevada sold a blue antique embossed Jacob's Pharmacy medicine bottle from Atlanta, Georgia for $850 in March of 2011.

Cannabis Americana medicine bottles

Desert West Auction Service in Mimbres, New Mexico sold two Cannabis Americana medicine bottles (one green and one brown) from Lloyd Brothers Pharmacists Inc. in Cincinatti, Ohio for $500 in June of 2007.

Medicine chests/cabinets

Sotheby's in London sold a mahogany apothecary cabinet (circa 19th century) containing two shelves of labelled medicine bottles (all of which are believed to have been used by James Watt) for £12,000 in March of 2003.

TW Conroy, LLC in Elbridge, New York sold a large 19th century American Hanging Druggists Cabinet containing various antique medicine bottles, tonics and homeopathic cures for $1,000 in December of 2004.

Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales Ltd. in Hillsborough, North Carolina sold an antique medicine chest (circa 19th century) with eight clear antique medicine bottles which were labelled by Arthur J. Wells of Gloucester for $475 in December of 2011.

Neal Auction Company in New Orleans, Louisiana sold an antique American mahogany Apothecary case (circa early 19th century) containing 16 hand-blown glass medicine bottles (most of which came with glass stoppers) along with various different scales, weights and nine brass-capped vials for $950.

Bonhams in Knightsbridge sold a large mahogany medicine chest (circa 1780) which contains various antique medicine bottles, jars, scales, weights, and enema nozzles for £1,680 in April of 2009.

Guide for collectors

Antique medicine bottles that are from a complete set or an antique medicine alchemist/apothecary cabinet or chest are considered to be the most rare and valuable.

In order to determine the age of an antique medicine bottle, check to see if the mold seam running along the side of the bottle stops before the lips. If it does, this bottle will probably date back to before 1910, which makes it both rare and valuable. If the bottle has three different mold lines, then it was made approximately between 1820 and 1870, but if the bottle has a pontil, it probably dates back to before 1870, thus making it even more rare and valuable.

Restoration of an antique medicine bottle is not recommended.

For more information regarding antique medicine bottles, visit sites such as the Antique Medicine Bottle Hall of Fame or the Antique Bottle Collector's Haven.

Share on social media
Write a response...

The bookmarklet lets you save things you find to your collections.

Note: Make sure your bookmarks are visible.


Click and drag the Collect It button to your browser's Bookmark Bar.

collect it