Page 33 - Pharmacy History 37 Nov 2009
P. 33

Geoff Miller
In today’s world when all we hear are stories of people losing their jobs and their homes and that the whole world is going through a recession, there is one outstanding investment opportunity that seems to just keep going north in value.
I am referring to collecting bottles with a pharmaceutical flavour, especially if they are blue, sparkling clean, undamaged and embossed.
These criteria apply particularly to bottles that were designed to take poisons and hazardous substances.
A splendid example of the capital gain in bottles is this Martin poison bottle which is embossed on both sides with the word ‘POISON’
and ‘THE MARTIN POISON BOTTLE’ in the base depression, depending on the capacity. .
This is one of four different types of side laying poison bottles, which was patented in Manchester in 1911 by John Dowell.
Collectively these bottles are called ‘warning poisons’ as they are considered to be non spill and the shape fulfils the criteria of being different in shape and feel from regular medicine bottles.
This example in amber glass was considered to be the British and possibly the world’s rarest poison bottle until another to eclipse it was recently located in Australia.
Originally purchased by a collector for around $400, it was sold to an English ‘poison specialist’ for £12000 (AU $25000) in April this year.
This bottle now has the ‘bragging rights’ for the rarest and best example of an 8 ffoz ‘slug’ poison.
Admittedly such finds are very
rare but many items attributed to pharmacy practice have such an attraction to the hard nosed collector.
Photo 4: The only recorded example of Dowell’s 1911 ‘warning poison’
volume 5   no 37  NOVEMBER 2009
Pharmacy History Australia 33
Martin’s Slug Poison
This beautiful green glass rarity originally contained liquid ammonia and the metal top acted as a sprinkler.
This bottle design has a rounded bottom and would not stand up. Its
patent was for the dimpled surface and the rounded base.
Thanks to Brian Thatcher who is regarded as having the best collection of poison bottles in the world.

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