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Three apothecary bottles attributed to Baccarat

Despite their similarity to decanters, these heavy lead crystal bottles decorated with gold leaf and hand-engraved Latin names actually contained medicines. The set dates from around 1880 and is attributed to the French crystal manufacturer Baccarat. The stoppers are prismatic-cut and have been shaped and ground so that they completely seal the bottles.

‘Tr.’ is an abbreviation of tinctura, the Latin word for ‘tincture’; these bottles contained plant extracts dissolved in alcohol. Specifically, they were tincture of cannabis, tincture of coca, and tincture of opium (opii).

Taken alone or used as components in other remedies, these tinctures represent the three most widely used drugs in medicine up to the early 1900s. By offering medicines in these exceptionally fine bottles, pharmacists emphasised their quality.

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