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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information


Four antique apothecary boxes are set to cause a stir when they appear at auction next week, (Wednesday 29th January).

apothecary box‘Apothecary’, a now defunct name for a medical professional who dispenses medicines to physicians, surgeons and patients, a role now known as a chemist or pharmacist. The profession is thought to date back to 2600 BC and prescriptions from ancient Egypt exist to this day. In this country apothecaries have their roots in London from 1180. Mentioned in Shakespeare, Apothecaries were known to accept special requests for ‘viles and poisons’.

Such a distinguished professional would require himself a fine lockable box to contain all of his precious medicines.

Four rare apothecary boxes made from mahogany have been discovered in a Sutton Coldfield property. They are of different sizes to accommodate various glass bottles, (some named eg ‘Syrup of Rhubarb’ and ‘Syrup of Foxes Lungs’..) and other accoutrements that the Apothecary would need to measure out and dispense his potions.

Adrian Rathbone, Fine Arts Manager at Richard Winterton Auctioneers of Lichfield comments on the find:

‘These boxes date from the early to mid nineteenth century. There is a compact version for just a few bottles, two larger variations and a massive campaign box for use on ships and overseas..such as military campaigns. One thing all the boxes have in common is that they all have a drawer to the frieze which in turn contain further measuring vessels, scales, pestles/mortars etc that would be required in the field.

Antique scientific instruments of all kinds are in strong demand today with collectors, dealers and investors alike who have a strong interest in historical and scientific procedures. Technical aspects aside, these objects are works of art in their own right and make great display pieces which represent a bygone age. When these come up for auction I envisage a large amount of interest from national and international buyers who are keen to add to their collections or even begin a collection’.

The four boxes are estimated from £150 to over £600 each when they appear in Richard Winterton’s two-day Antiques, Home and Interiors Auction next week, (29th and 30th January). The viewing in next Tuesday 28th from 2pm to 7pm and sale day from 9am with the sale commencing at 10am.

Please phone 01543 251081 for further details or visit