Like many others, I love cobalt blue bottles and have been collecting them for years. These bottles have historically been used for several purposes.
One of the main uses was for POISON. These bottles are very decorative to make it easy to identify the contents as poison. Because no standard was adopted in the 1800's, despite efforts of the American Pharmaceutical Association and American Medical Association, poison bottles were made in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and patterns. Many were manufactured with a skull and crossbones, or skulls, leg bones or coffins. Ribbed or quilted surfaces on the bottles and diamond or lattice type patterns were used to be able to identify by touch that the contents of the bottle were poisonous. Most poison bottles were produced in dark blues and browns, rather than clear coloring, to help aid the identification of the poisonous contents.
Ink well bottles were produced in several colors, among them cobalt blue. This ink bottle, while beautiful, may be a reproduction. It does not have the characteristic conical shape of an antique ink bottle.
Medicinal bottles were also made in cobalt blue and other colors. Medicine bottles include all those made specifically for PATENTED medicines. Bitter and cure bottles are not considered medicine bottles because the mixtures were of questionable efficacy and were not patented. I love the medicinal bottle below on the left, with its early "measuring cup" style of lid.
While some collectors may admire many different colors and types of early bottles, we each collect according to our own preferences, with mine being the cobalt blue color. You may wish to collect other colors or types of bottles. There is a great resource book for bottle collectors, Antique Trader Bottles Identification & Price Guide by Michael Polak. I love the color photographs in the book too.
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