C O F F I N P O I S O N B O T T L E S
Recently I did a post on Skull Poison Bottles. There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that if I see a skull bottle, I might think twice about taking a drink. Now days, with all of the energy drinks and Generation X and Y’ers, I doubt that this may be the case with many. Some of the packaging for these products is quite frightful as in the Monster Energy drink. The skulls, bones and scary graphics actually promote these products!
Prior to using printed logos and labels as a primary identification tool, and when embossed bottles were in their heyday, there was a need for Poison Bottles to be clearly identified and tactile to the touch. Beginning in the 1870s, here in the United States, uniquely designed containers in bright cobalt blue began appearing. In order to warn the user of the dangerous nature of the contents, the outside of the bottle was covered with a series of raised bumps, dots, ridges, or lattice work. Without abundant bathroom and kitchen lights, like we have today, it was felt that there needed to be a way to emboss a bottle so the drowsy medicine gulper, in a dimly lit room, might think twice about taking a swig from a bottle with patterned shapes and lines.
Back-lit Poison bottle display in coffin – ex Ferdinand Meyer IV – courtesy Joan Cabanis
Today we look at Coffin shaped bottles. I always liked these little fellows and felt them to be kind of cute. They are beautiful in their form and color. The light always reflects nicely from the abundant embossing. The picture above, if I am not mistaken, was once my fathers, Ferdinand Meyer IV, famous poison display. He was a collector in Baltimore and used to cart this back-lit coffin, with his poison bottles to bottle shows. I understand that he won quite a few display awards. This coffin display now resides comfortably in an eastern Poison bottle collection. I would like to thank Dr. Charles Aprill for fueling this post with his outstanding picture below.
Read More: Skull Shaped Poison Bottles – A frightening favorite
C O F F I N G A L L E R Y
This Blue Glass Coffin Poison Bottle was patented in 1871 by a man named Langford. What’s odd is that only 2 or 3 are known to exist, and the one shown here is believed to be c. 1895-1900 because of the shape of its neck & lip. Notice that the surface detail around the edge looks like coffin-nails! – JTRForums.com
POISON / NORWICH / 16A
Large size coffin-shaped cobalt blue poison with original label. Label says 500 TABLETS/ COFFIN SHAPE/ CORROSIVE/ MERCURIC CHLORIDE – AntiqueBottles.com
POISON / F.A. THOMPSON / & CO. / DETROIT / POISON. This golden yellow amber coffin shaped poison. – AntiqueBottles.com
“Poison”, America, 1890 – 1905. Clear light to medium sapphire blue, figural coffin form with an overall diamond pattern on three sides, BIM with tooled ring type lip – smooth base, ht. 3 ½”, attic mint! KU-18. A somewhat scarce, very attractive lighter color for this mold with nice clarity.
Coffin poisons, three sizes. Small coffin and “Triloids” poisons with full labels. – Charles Aprill
United Drug Co. Amber coffin poison, this is a nice and pretty scarce bottle. Much rarer in larger sizes than this 3 1/2 inch size. The merger of Riker-Hegeman from New York and United Drug in Boston in about 1912 – RicksBottleRoom.com
Wheaton Amber Glass Coffin Bottle – Etsy
Set of mint 1971 Wheaton skull and crossbone poison bottles.
Coffin-shaped poison bottle, 19th century – Courtesy of Mark L. Ryan
“Poison” (with complete original label), America, 1890 – 1905. Medium amber, figural coffin form with an overall diamond pattern on three sides, BIM with tooled ring type lip – smooth base, ht. 3 ½”, very near mint; (a tiny bit of roughness on one panel edge, otherwise perfect). KU-18. Label reads in part, “25 Tablets / Coffin Shape / Poison / Pat Applied For / The Norwich / Pharmacal Co”. A desirable form and a great example with the original label. – American Glass Gallery
Reverse of Above: “Poison” (with complete original label), America, 1890 – 1905. Medium amber, figural coffin form with an overall diamond pattern on three sides, BIM with tooled ring type lip – smooth base, ht. 3 ½”, very near mint; (a tiny bit of roughness on one panel edge, otherwise perfect). KU-18. Label reads in part, “25 Tablets / Coffin Shape / Poison / Pat Applied For / The Norwich / Pharmacal Co”. A desirable form and a great example with the original label. – American Glass Gallery
About Ferdinand Meyer V
Ferdinand Meyer V is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has a BFA in Fine Art and Graphic Design from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. Ferdinand is the founding Principal of FMG Design, a nationally recognized design consultation firm. Ferdinand is a passionate collector of American historical glass specializing in bitters bottles, color runs and related classic figural bottles. He is married to Elizabeth Jane Meyer and lives in Houston, Texas with their daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. The Meyers are also very involved in Quarter Horses, antiques and early United States postage stamps. Ferdinand is the past 6-year President of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors and is one of the founding members of the FOHBC Virtual Museum.