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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Got old Bottles? Put a Cork in it!

I am always fascinated by the old things I find. These were found wrapped in newspaper next to a fireplace and I was permitted to photograph them.  Not everyone walks up to  sale with a camera, yet I was allowed to not have to buy them even after expressing great interest in their history.

I wanted to know how old they were, but unless I bought them I wasn't going to be able to take a long close look.  Can you guess their age?   This tincture says it is to be used "locally as a styptic and as an application to chapped or shredded surfaces, sore nipples, etc." 
I was never able to make out the name of the product because the string is stuck like glue to the label.
 I was hoping the name of the drug store would be a giveaway as to the date, but in my research I can find pictures of Alderman Drugs Store from 1940. When did pharmacies stop dispensing medicine in cork stopped bottles? What was Oil of Citronella used for? Today it is a bug repellant, maybe a treatment for lice?
This is my favorite of the group, mainly for its great typography and the condition of the label over all. Especially the directions:
I like the numerous references to "Kid" and the line to: "Keep Well Corked" good advice where ever you go. Any idea of the age of these beauties? If I had to guess, I would say late 1920's to the early 30's. Despite the cork, which would make me subtract a few years or decades, the machine neck and opening gives it a modern (so to speak) look. What do you think?


  1. The first one is BENZION COMPOUND. Still being manufactured as Benzion Tincture, Benzoin tincture was used for over 200 years as an antiseptic in hospitals prior to World War II because of its antimicrobial properties. Since this bottle has a cork, it probably dates back to the 1920's or earlier, since the use of corks in medicine bottles died out in the 20's.

    1. Thanks "Anon"! My photo is too fuzzy to see exactly, but it looks like 90% alcohol content? Whoa!

  2. The lettering and wording on the labels looks as if the bottles are from the early 1900's or earlier. I'm not an expert, but my mother collected old bottles for years.

  3. Tincture of Benzoin was still being used in the hospital into the 1980's, but I don't know about today. We mainly used it to protect the skin under adhesive bandages, which are also rare these days. It has a distinctive odor, and a color much like iodine when applied to the skin. I agree that the corks in the bottle indicate 1920s or earlier. Also the flowery script fits with this, as streamlined was the rage from the 1930s on.

  4. Hello, may I copy your photo of put a cork in it. I'm learning to paint glass in watercolour and this amazing photo would be a very big challenge for me. I would not do anything with the photo except to paint it. Thanks for considering.


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