Whats your Poison ?

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Kenleyboy
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Today the sun is shining , a total contrast to the weather we have experienced this last few days and dare I say an almost spring type feel to it , it certainly has a hint of the "feelgood" factor about it and let us not forget that the evenings are gradually getting lighter and before long the clocks will eventually go forward affording us longer lighter days ahead . We are of course a little way off from that just yet but things can only get better .
I am stuck between two conflicting tasks this weekend , the workshop beckons and after a sterling effort over the xmas break I managed to give it a well deserved clean down and tidy up , get a little bit of order in place and a clean workbench is always good for the mind , a fresh start where everything is in order and I can actually find things rather than rummaging through a pile of brushes and pens and whatever other paraphernalia I have accumulated over a few busy weeks .

The other slightly pressing task was to get in the "bottle room " and have a clean down and wipe away the excessive dust which has settled upon the shoulders of an array of coloured bottles and the shelves that they proudly sit upon . The room sounds rather grand but the reality is far from the truth , its is the old scullery where washing machines and tumble dryer work feverously away more so in these winter months and then there is the general household foot traffic as well as the dogs to contend with when feeding time beckons .

Before I set to task and settle my mind on which I would choose I decided a nice cuppa was in good order and have a sit out in the garden and make the most of the freak sunshine and just enjoy a bit of outdoor contemplation . Mid morning out in the sun was just the tonic , the small wood behind our garden was awash with little flocks of birds , probably finches as they make their way across the adjoining farm fields grouped up and foraging to keep their tiny little bodies warm through the winter months . The Blue Tits were busy on the feeders and its the simple things which seem to be the more entertaining and a refreshing dog walk is also greatly recieved when the weather is playing ball especially in these strange times . Today would have been an ideal opportunity to be out on the fields with a metal detector or even a nice gentle bottle dig but alas for now it is not possible so we make do with what we have for now . I popped my head in the workshop , it was cold as to be expected , fire up the wood burner which would take a good hour to create a warmth comfortable enough to work in and then brace myself for the next project in hand .

While the burner crackled away and the logs hissed and spat as the flames took hold , I decided to have a bottle clean up and get a start on the one of my favourite themes being the dazzling poison bottles and while the sun was shining and the light was good then it was a good opportunity to take a few snapshots of light filtering through coloured glass .
I am often asked just why I have this fascination with glass and bottles and there are a number of factors involved one being my job which was a glass etcher and engraver specialising in restoring and making Victorian glass panels using the exact same techniques as our Victorian craftsman and Woman used . Although my work was on flat glass , the designs on bottles especially Beer bottles were not that far removed from the creations produced out of the workshop . I do also like Victorian history and despite being classed as "modern" in the world of metal detecting , in bottle digging terms it is ancient .
Victorian era bottles were innovative and full of character , heavily embossed with the makers details , a simple but effective way if advertising their wares and paper labels although used it wasnt until much later that the labels would become the norm and although the design of later unembossed bottles were still very stylish the heavy embossing is the real eye catcher which makes ann old Victorian bottle more pleasing to the eye and very much sought after by diggers and collectors alike .
Poison bottles are great examples of this for many reasons

An impressive heavily embossed large size Hobnail poison bottle with ground lip .
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A selection of variants in design and embossing . The idea for such heavy pattern work on poison bottles was to serve the purpose of safety and with no electric lights that we have now , those rummaging for a bottle of medicine in the dark confines of a cupboard could feel the tell tale ridged and pronounced embossing to warn them they were indeed holding a bottle of poison rather than a medicine bottle . Also many people especially the poor were unable to read but they could feel and those warning lines which were enough precaution as a warning to avoid accidental poisoning .
However the 19th century was era of the high profile poisoner and arsenic was readily availible over the counter intended for woman wishing to improve their complexion which reulted in more case than not of Renal failure or Heart attack ! Then there were those of a more dubious nature who would use the act of poisoning to their advantage such as serial killer Mary Ann Cotton who poisoned her three husbands and several of her children !! It was not until the 1850s that new legislations came into place with stricter controls and stopped the ease of selling over the counter poisons to anyone wishing to purchase them .
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Poison bottles from one extreme to the other , the large 20 oz poison dwarfs the small poison bottle that stands at barely 1 1/2 inches tall , nice and small and handy to pop in your pocket and drip the contents into a tankard of refreshing ale and "upset" the unwary !
Out of all the colours I think blue has to be my favourite glass , it is rich in hue , green is also a refreshing colour and amber is warm and come is many shades from almost black to yellow blues also vary .
These area selection of personally dug bottles with the exception of the large 20 oz and the Teesdale blue bottle , both purchased at a local bottle fair , the rest are my rewards of digging holes , pulling muscles , sweating buckets but nothing beats the site of a dark blue poison bottle sticking out of the walls of black ash and muck recently excavated . It has been toil and strife sometimes but I love it , love the banter , the friendships , the wonderful places I have been lucky enough to stick a spade in and rescue long forgotten bottles from a time that I did delve into through my work and gained a little understanding of those crafts people . It is not old as in the terms of historic items we are occasionally afforded while metal detecting but they have a charm and an artistic provenance of a once generic item that is now appreciated within the beauty of substantially decorative glass bottles , the likes of what we will no longer see and now replaced by the soulless plastic vessells which are now part of our bland everyday throw away society .
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Saki
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A brilliant and educational write up :thumbsup:
Blackadder43
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Everyday is a school day
Great info on the heavy pattern work on these poison bottles and its reasoning :thumbsup:
Makes perfect sense now why they did this, its the equivilent i suppose of todays labels with "May contain nuts"...but far more practical and instantly obvious than a label

There must be quite the light display if the sun shines at the perfect angle in that room :ugeek:

Great write up and looks like a good day was had too :clapping:
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Easylife
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Great write up and pics. :thumbsup:
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Emily
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Some incredible bottles!! I too love the design, embossing and tactile qualities that seem to be missing on bottles these days. Let me know when you have your next clear out, I’d be interested in some. ☺️🥰
Live long and prospect
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Oxgirl
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I enjoyed that :Star: . Felt like I’d put on a pair of slippers and was puffing on the proverbial pipe in my study relaxed in my favourite chair.

Those bottles are beautiful- there is something extra special about the small round ones but all of them just sparkle in the sunshine. Beautiful things :thumbsup:
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Easylife
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Oxgirl wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:33 am I enjoyed that :Star: . Felt like I’d put on a pair of slippers and was puffing on the proverbial pipe in my study relaxed in my favourite chair.
Well that's opium dens for you! :rollinglaughing:
Sorry, but sometimes I just can't resist! :Thinking: 🍺
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Oxgirl
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Easylife wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:23 am Well that's opium dens for you! :rollinglaughing:
Sorry, but sometimes I just can't resist! :Thinking: 🍺
No idea what yoh mean :angel: :D
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Littleboot
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What a brilliant write up and such gorgeous bottles . Hard to believe things so lovely could have such a sinister association.
I love the deep blue glass...but I also have a fondness for aqua colours. The displays look fabulous when they are grouped like this. The art of display is an art in itself and is a big factor in the success of a collection.
I totally agree with the bland ugliness of much modern packaging. It seems the very people who lecture us about throwing things away are the people who have made huge profits from plastics and everything that is sold in them. The age of hypocrisy is truly upon us.
My mum worked in the local village co-op in the early 1930's. She had to weigh sugar and wrap it in sugar-paper. Lots of things went into the shop in bulk form...flour, cocoa, butter etc.....and was portioned and wrapped on the premises. And a lot of containers were returnable.
I love old apothecaries jars and bottles....in fact I love old fashioned shops. In France we still have a lot of shops which retain their character....been in the same family for generations....but they are slowly being lost to the march of *ahem* progress.
I do think detecting and bottle digging both do illustrate the quality of things in previous eras more than any formal study could ever do. You can actually feel the quality. Things were substantial. It is very nice to find lovely things but, by the same token, it is bittersweet because it brings home the plain fact....masked as it is by 'modern technology'....that we are living in an age of serious decline in standards all round.
"The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the axe, for the axe was clever and convinced the trees that because his handle was made of wood he was one of them."
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