I collect antique poison bottles.
Most date from the 1870s to 1930s, a time when illiteracy and an
increase in inexpensive, mass production of household chemicals resulted in a rise in
accidental poisonings. Consequently, manufacturers modified the packaging of their
products to incorporate bright colors and unusual shapes to differentiate them from
food or medicine bottles.
Their brilliant colors made them easier to visually distinguish
your iodine from your eye drops; ridges and prunts, quilted patterns and hobnails or
other strong embossing also made it easier to avoid confusion, especially for the
visually impaired, or when stumbling to your medicine chest in the middle of the
My collection isn't very large, and I have only
one or two examples of bottles which might possibly be considered rare,
but I think they're beautiful--like polished gems catching the light. I acquire
new pieces only if they appeal to me aestheically (or humorously; my
current favorite is my "YAPOO!" ammonia bottle
not only becuase it's a pretty bottle, but, well, it says "YAPOO!" on it).