*under construction*

26 March 2010

Pick Your Poison

Poison to the left of me, poison to the right... Now that the song has been firmly planted into minds of everyone coming to the blog this week and we're all humming along - what's up with this poison, anyway?

Chemist and poison bottles on my work table

Bottles are an important ingredient of the treasures in my shop and I search high and low for the perfect ones and those with an interesting story are all the better -

Some of the most beautiful bottles, ever, are poison bottles. These antiques came into existence in the mid 1800s. Many people at that time were illiterate, so accidental poisonings, unfortunately, were common. According to history, Hospitals were mixing up the bottles as well and killing patients - after an attendant in Missouri gave carbolic acid to a patient by mistake (and he died), hospitals ordered sleigh bells chained to the necks of bottles containing poisons.

While sleigh bells were certainly attention getting, chaining them to each and every poison bottle was not a practical solution. So it was the poison manufacturers themselves who took direct action to save customers who, for instance, were fumbling for medicine by candlelight and grabbing bedbug poison by mistake. What they did not only reduced the number of accidental deaths, but it also created a stunning and an almost irresistible collectible.

To distinguish them from non-lethal products, poison bottles were made unique and dramatic in color, texture and shape. Colors like cobalt blue, honey amber, black, and emerald and several other shades of green were used to ensure they stood out from the other bottles on the shelf. They also were designed with unique textures: latticework, raised ridges, dots, diamonds, horizontal or vertical ribbing, or hobnails. And for an added warning, for those that could read, they were embossed lettering warned, "DEATH," "POISON," "POISONOUS," or "NOT TO BE TAKEN INTERNALLY."

A few of my gorgeous poison bottles that I've collected recently.

Over the past few months, I have found an absolute treasure trove of poison bottles from last century which are nothing short of spectcular...

And here is a little preview of what I am doing with some of them -- recycled and repurposed.

Newly made cross bottles at Greyfreth

One of the things that has been keeping me so busy, but at least I am surrounded in what I love while I work - old, beautiful, relics and some interesting history - so it doesn't seem like work at all.

Have a lovely weekend
xo Isa


Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Isa
Just gorgeous .. the original bottles .. such fabulous colours!! and your repurposing.. terrific!! I love bottles of any kind really.. [now that sounded bad.. haha]... have a great weekend.. xx Julie

Julie@beingRUBY said...

ooh.. forgot to say.. the history of the poison bottles was fascinating.. i didn't know that about the colour and texture being introduced for those reason... thanks.

Anonymous said...

They certainly are unusually beautiful, and thank you for the background information. I love learning about such things.

vignette design said...

Your bottle collection is gorgeous. I didn't know about poison bottles or the history. I'm thinking I have one little green one somewhere! Have a great weekend.

Emom said...

Love the cross bottles....smiles.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Isa, what a gorgeous collection of bottles. I find old bottles fascinating. I love the cross stoppers too.

Hope you have a delightful weekend filled with sunshine and fair winds.

Helen said...

Dear Isa,
These are the most beautifully colored glass! Doesn't seem possible they could have ever contained poison! And the cross tops?? Well, you already know how much I love them!

Fifi Flowers said...

J'adore all of these green bottles... FAB!!!

vicki archer said...

Stunning Isa....xv