Medicine bottles, unguents, lotions and herbal medicine equipment.
Sheer top aqua glass medicine bottles of various sizes. These were all found in BC. They were often erroneously called "opium bottles" by bottle diggers. Bottles such as these were commonly available at bottle swap meets.
Clear and aqua glass medicine and unguent bottles-- all embossed with Chinese characters on side or bottom. In the centre can be seen a small clear glass Tiger Balm.
Bottles with labels and many with original contents-- some in cans and boxes. The
paper wrapping on the bottle in the box laying on the left identifies the contents as "Eucalyputs oil-- for rheumatism". The small green box on the right contains"Po Sum On healing oil". I have had most of these for over 30 years and most of the ones with contents are intact. The two envelopes contain powders. The one on the right is identified as a headache cure.
Larger bottles-- some contained lotions and all have embossed characters. A 25 cent piece indicates the size.
Rarer bottles-- the double bubble, a banjo bottle, a teardrop, a ceramic bottle with glazed characters, a metal bottle (or bottle holder) and a milk glass bottle.
The emerald green bottles are quite rare. I was in a collector's shop in Victoria, BC, many years ago and the proprietor, a collector himself, had a flat box with 6 old emerald green Chinese medicine bottles laying on their sides in cotton batting. Unfortunately, they were only on display and not for sale!
Another look at some rarer medicine bottles. I have added four dug deep emerald greens (one complete with a small spoon) and three more banjo bottles to the collection. You can see the remains of gold lettering on the middle green bottle. Earth colouration effects are seen in the centre two dug emerald green bottles. These two came from Chinatown in Fresno, California. Three of the banjo bottles were found along the Kettle Valley railroad right-of-way in south central British Columbia. One of the two teardrops has a label and cork. Recently (March 2008) 3 dug teardrops, one of which was a beautiful dark emerald green, one a larger teardrop with a face and lettering, some common shear top medicines, and a larger blue glass Chinese chemist's bottle sold on Ebay for $400. Some rarer Chinese bottles command a high premium!
Here is an interesting old aqua bottle with hexagon side panels, dug in a Chinese dump in the Northern California Feather River Canyon area near Oroville, Ca. This dump dates circa 1880. This bottle has a large pontil mark (bare iron pontil) on the bottom and bimold seams that go right to the top of the screw top! The pontil shows the glass was blown into the mold. Bimolds were made from 1870 to 1910 in the USA. Bottles with seams right through the screw tops began to be made in 1903 in the USA, but I have no information on when they were first made that way in China and it is possible this bottle was actually manufactured in the USA so it could be a later discard. Screw top bottles were first patented in Britain in 1858 and were used with zink screw tops on fruit jars so the technology has been around a long time before 1903. If this bottle had a zinc top it had long ago disintigrated in the dump. The glass has plenty of bubbles and twist lines in the neck. A Chinese junk ship is embossed on the side of the bottle with what looks like a tiny crossed "C" and "Y" above it and an arc of 4 characters just above the "CY" where the hexagon panels end. This appears to be an expensive bottle and one wonders what it contained. Perhaps a translation of the characters may help. I applied some ink to the characters and the "CY" to make them more visible.
An good example of the famous Tiger Balm recently came into my possession. This one came from Nova Scotia complete with lable, lid and balm residue. It is 1 1/8 inch tall and 1" in diameter. The residue of Tiger Balm inside the bottle makes it look like amber glass. Showing the lid, label and embossing:
Older style medicine scales-- I walked into a medicine shop in Victoria BC's China town in 1973 and noticed they had new medicine scales. I asked what had happened to the old scales and the man at the counter got one out of a drawer and said, "Ten dollar", whereby I walked out of the store with it.
Large clay lined apothecary herb storage container. The clay lining could be moistened to keep herbs fresh while transporting them.
Mortar and pestle used to crush herbs in a Chinese apothecary shop. The mortar bowl is very heavy with thick walls. It was likely the bottom part of a 3 piece Chinese pewter food preparation pan pressed into service as a mortar.