Pharmacy: Shop Furniture : Bulk containers for herbs, powders and liquids

Shop Furniture was the name used by pharmacists for the large ceramic or glass bottles they used to store bulk quantities of herbs, powders, and liquids. Shop furniture bottles were used as early as the late 18th century.

Many of these bottles were ornately labeled by painting and enameling. Another method often used for bottle labeling in the 19th century, and shown on many of the bottles in the EHMHF collection, was the sealing of the labels on bottles under glass. The labels are placed on a recessed panel and covered with glass, curved to fit the shape of the bottle.

Until the 1920s, shop furniture bottles were usually mouth blown in a cup bottom mold with tooled finishes. Those manufactured prior to 1870 would have pontil scars.

Since these bottles were used until broken, rather than found at historic archaeological sites, they are often found in intact condition at antique stores.

The collection at EHMHF includes over two hundred of these bottles.

Many bottles, pharmacy accessories and shop furniture from our collection are housed in an 1850s pharmacy unit once located in the Canis Pharmacy in New York City. Visitors to our museum can see authentic 19th century medicines displayed as they once were in an autentic 19th century pharmacy.

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Pharmacy: Shop Furniture