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Apothecary comes from the Latin and the Greek, apotheca, meaning storehouse and literally meaning a place to put things away. Later, the word became associated with a person who stored and dispensed drugs, what we know today as a pharmacist. In many small towns and historic places, you may still come across an apothecary. In the early years, the apothecary was also the pharmacist, who was also your general store manager. In most cases, the apothecary also made and mixed a lot of his own “medications.”
Some of the “newer” apothecary bottles and jars can still be readily found. You can find original medicine bottles in many different places if you search. However, you would probably find the most affordable ones at thrift stores, antiques shops and flea markets. You could find nice examples at auctions and estate sales, but generally, you will probably pay more at those two venues. One might even try to talking to small town apothecary to see if they may still have a few of the old jars laying around, although not everyone is collector.
These medications had to be stored somewhere and that’s where the antique apothecary jar comes into play. Most of the oldest antique apothecary jars are in the abarello shape, which is they are round jars with concave sides. Examples dating back to the 15th century exist today. In most cases the older apothecary jars were made of porcelain and in later years were made of glass. In most cases the glass jars were more expensive than the medicines that they held. Some of the more expensive examples of apothecary jars are those of the 15th & 16th century that have nature scenes or other artistic value.