Apothecary glass

Apothecary glass
Apothecary glassfrom the Glass
Encyclopedia

Apothecary glass
Apothecary glass:
Roman vials



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Apothecary Glass

Apothecary glass
Apothecary glass: A short explanation:

Apothecary glass is glassware used for storing and transporting medicines and the ingredients for medicines. Small hand blown glass medicinal bottles have been in use for nearly 2,000 years. The earliest apothecary glass bottles were the Roman "unguentaria", sometimes called "teardrop bottles", shown on the left. These were made by the thousand from the end of the first century A.D. (when glass blowing was first invented) to around 500 A.D.

The two apothecary glass vials at the front of this picture were the simplest to make, and the most common type found during the late 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. The skilled glass worker would blow a tiny gather of glass into a bulb, pull the neck with his tools to elongate it, and then shear the vial from the blow pipe leaving a simple flared top. The shapes become more complex in later centuries.

glass apothecary vials 2a


Very few apothecary glass vials were made during the "dark ages" and through medieval times. They reappeared during the "Renaissance" period, and from the 15th to 18th centuries small globular "footed" vials for medicines were made, on average about 8 to 10cm tall. The next shape to appear was the small cylindrical medicine bottle, popular from 15th century onwards.

For a more detailed account of apothecary vials, see Walt Rigling's article at http://www.theglassmuseum.com/vials.htm



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