A Table Spoon


❄️Mudlark’s Advent, Day 11❄️
Victorian – Early 20th C medicine bottle, with gradations, embossed ‘Tablespoons’

A bottle made of clear molded glass, produced in a factory – molten glass was poured into a mold to make the bottle shape. Molded bottles started being made in the 1830s and were available throughout the Victorian era and into the 20th century. A cork stopper would have sealed the bottle. Corks were used to seal glass bottles until the 1930s.

In the Victorian pharmacy, prescription medicines were made up in the shop and put into bottles, and Chemists often made their own medicine recipes, known as ‘patent’ medicines. They could be bought without a prescription and were easily available ‘over the counter’. The chemist measured the ingredients, added the powders to water or alcohol. When an ingredient didn’t dissolve easily, a thickening agent was added to hold the heavy powder. Preservatives and flavourings were added to the mixture. Finally the chemist put the mixture into a bottle, like this one. The Victorian chemist kept a large stock of bottles to give to customers, marked with the correct dose – usually teaspoon, dessert spoon or tablespoon.

At the end of the Victorian era, more effective medicines were discovered, such as the first antibiotics. Medicines began to be factory produced, and the bottles arrived at chemists’ shops ready for dispensing to customers. But making up liquid prescription medicines by hand continued for a long time into the 20th century.

Sources: Object Lessons, Islington Education Library, Society for Historical Archaeology Inc.

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