Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Decorative Apothecary: A Drug Jar, c. 1675

Apothecary Jar, 1675
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In a Seventeenth Century apothecary shop, 
 this sort of jar would have been a common sight.  It is what is known as a “wet” drug jar and was used for dispensing syrup of quinces, which presumably had some sort of soothing or laxative properties. You can see that it featured a narrow foot which enabled it to be pulled out from a row of jars on the druggist’s shelf. A handle at the back was used to tilt it forward for easy pouring of the undoubtedly sticky contents. A paper lid would have been tied around the top.

One side of the jar is painted in blue with a band which is inscribed “S. CYDONIORU” surmounted by a winged angel's head. The band has two knotted ends with fluttering terminals which hang down, the left one is inscribed “S.”

Though made in the style of Delftware, this jar was created in England between 1675 and 1685.  It is made of tin-glazed earthenware.  Earthenware was handy to use for such purposes because it could so easily be painted, albeit in a limited range of colors. Still, it was a medium which was ideal for neatly-labeled apothecary drug pots and tools such as candlesticks. 

Here, our friend is hanging out with a "dry" jar buddy.

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