An American apothecary cabinet with original collection of pharmacy bottles and jars, walnut, eastern seaboard region, mid to late 19th century. Walnut cabinet with plain, unmolded top over a pair of hinged doors, each with a single pane of glass that opens to cabinet with four deep shelves, each with fitted tops and circular cut-outs to hold pharmacy jars in place. A pair of matching short drawers with original handles and locks is fitted below the upper cabinet. The cabinet itself was originally a built-in and the left side is a plain board. The right side is finished with flat, molded paneling. The cabinet is slightly canted right, probably from it’s construction to fit a specific location. Measures 29 inches wide, 16” deep and 41 inches tall.
The cabinet comes with 41 original glass pharmacy bottles and jars with stoppers. Most still retain their labels with ingredient name and survive in various states of preservation. There are a few missing bottles that would have completed the set and we have three additional stoppers without the bottle. A glass measuring beaker and handheld scales accompany this collection.
A book titled “ Medicology. Home Encyclopedia of Health. A Complete Family Guide. 10 Books In One Volume accompanies the cabinet and was included with the purchase from the previous owner decades ago. Inside the first pages of the book is written in pencil “From Frank E. Fowler, Prov. R.I. October 1910 and “Schooner Bark ‘Charmer’ 1910.” Publisher: University Medical Society. Copyright 1907. The large, leather-bound book survives in rough condition.
The acquisition of this apothecary years ago by the previous owner suggested that this cabinet was used aboard a sailing ship. We believe this to be true do to the interior shelf construction with the carefully fitted deep shelves that would keep the pharmacy bottles safe from moving and breakage. All other apothecary cabinets that we have observed through our appraisal of this item had plain board shelves, since there would be no need for this in a standard land-based pharmacy. Also, smaller transportable style apothecary’s were designed with fitted spaces for the same purpose. The slight canted construction may also be a clue designed to fit on one side against a bulkhead wall.
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