View Full Version : Pontiled Poison with Label, C. 1854.

Robby Raccoon
07-26-2018, 03:58 PM
Here is a mid-1800s arsenic bottle that still contains some of its toxic and white metallic product. The label shows much wear on the edges of the panels of the glass, which lends great credit to its having been on there during its term of service some 16 decades ago.
Assuming that this bottle was made after the standardisation of basic requirements for poison bottle labels (by the American Pharmaceutical Association (APA), though it is quite possible that it could date prior to that), this bottle dates to circa 1854-1860. The 1854 ruling by the APA was as follows:
"All packages or bottles [of poisonous substances] shall be distinctly labeled with the word “Poison” or a death’s head symbol, conspicuously printed." 1854.
This bottle has both the "death's head" (AKA Pirate flag, by today's humor) and "POISON" clearly printed upon it in a tealy blue ink.
This is the smallest labeled pontiled bottle I have ever seen, so I'm unsure of for whom this product was meant to be held by. The size suggests it was meant to be bought by a public customer, but the label has no druggist information, which would suggest a shop bottle. It is possible that this was a standard bottle sent to druggists by a manufacturer (or refiner) of arsenic, or a bottle to be sold in stores other than just drug-houses.
The bottle features a wonderful deep open pontil, suggesting 1840s make. Upon closer inspection, though, there appears to be ever so faint a line cutting clear across the pontil: which suggests that a hinge-mold was also involved in the manufacturing process, thus usually bumping the bottle up into the 1850s, which fits perfectly with the expected date. This bottle has older manufacturing characteristics, but that may be because of its abnormally small (see other typical 1840s-1850s bottles for comparison) size (6.8 cm, or 2.7 in.).
The bottle has a piece of thin, cheap fabric helping to seal it other than the typical cork. I have used baby oil to moisturise and petroleum jelly to seal in the moisture of the cork, as well as clear hard glue, to permanently seal the still-powdered contents and to prevent spillage from a dry, shrinking cork. While some people would like to safely dispose of such dangerous contents (arsenic never expires), I prefer bottles to still have their original products.

I have now run out of room to display the bottles neatly in my display (sealed by pressure in a somewhat environmentally controlled glass box (temperature fluctuates throughout the day, but humidity remains constant)).
Not bad for what is really (as of 2018) a 164-year-old piece of old garbage (I like bottles for the fact that they weren't meant to outlive their users!)

07-26-2018, 11:54 PM
Wow, I just bought a bottle like that a couple of weeks ago. 12 sided, small aqua pontil...do you think they are the same? Of course it adds to the coolness factor if it is a poison. https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180727/a123c5bd8e23f6c577fab69bfee5b8e8.jpghttps://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180727/4c0c73c1c58b655c3449327b7ee725c0.jpg

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07-27-2018, 05:26 AM
Beautiful poison and a great label. No snap involved in its manufacture however, for there would be no reason for one to be used here. A snap has a shallow cup into which the base of the bottle sits and with arms extending upward to gently grasp the bottle sides. That line, if it's the one I'm seeing, might be the remnants of the mold line in the neck area where the blowpipe was detached from the bottle, then used to empontil the bottle. This variation in technique has always amazed me. I had a Heimstreet's once with a huge blowpipe pontil scar. In the neck was a long bubble that was sheared in half when the blowpipe was detached. That same bubble continued in the pontil scar. These glassblowers were amazing guys. Wish I had that bottle back!

Robby Raccoon
07-27-2018, 04:36 PM
Nick 79: Your bottle is very similar, but fluted bottles like that were fairly common back in the day though yours looks a bit cruder and taller(?). Yours has more of a trumpet-like mouth, whereas mine has a rolled lip. So, they are not quite the same bottle in style. They were made for all sorts of purposes. Yours could have been a poison, but it could have been a great number of other things as well. I'd think yours is a few years older than mine.

Sandchip: Thank you for the correction. The bubble was cut in half, with half being on the neck and half on the pontil, is what you're saying? That would be awesome to see! It always seems like a terrible job, though-- glass-blowing. I don't envy it, though I'd like to learn more about it.

Robby Raccoon
07-27-2018, 04:39 PM
SandChip, perhaps the termI was looking for was hinge-mold, not snap-case. Is this then correct?

07-28-2018, 07:10 AM
SandChip, perhaps the termI was looking for was hinge-mold, not snap-case. Is this then correct?

Now we're talking, brother!

07-28-2018, 07:13 AM
...The bubble was cut in half, with half being on the neck and half on the pontil, is what you're saying?...

Yessir. Really cool feature.

Robby Raccoon
07-28-2018, 06:44 PM
Hello, Sandchip.
Thank you. I corrected my listing.
Indeed, it must have been a neat bottle. Too bad you don't have a photo of it.

07-28-2018, 11:31 PM
Thanks for the info Sport Bear, I'm pretty new to bottle collecting, just started last year and trying to learn quickly

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Robby Raccoon
07-29-2018, 05:28 PM
Thanks for the info Sport Bear....
I'm afraid I've never been big on sports, but, no problem. ;)

Saturn Doll
08-01-2018, 06:52 PM
Wonderful bottle and I love the photo with the Caterpillar having a look too!! Thanks so much for sharing. :-)

Robby Raccoon
08-01-2018, 07:18 PM
Saturn Doll, thanks for stopping by. The caterpillar liked his photographic opportunity as well.