Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pretty Lethal

When we were younger we used to go digging around old dumps in order to retrieve antique stoneware bottles, containers & ceramic lids, but above all the beautiful Victorian glass bottles that were commonly used for drinks such as lemonade- with their funny marble stoppers; household products & pharmaceutical mixtures. The latter looked very imposing with their gold embossed labels - "Tincture" etc. However, it was the colour of some of these bottles that was particularly eye-catching - with their cobalt blue, honey amber, dark emerald.
 We soon learned to associate these colours, especially the much-coveted royal blue, with toxic products as it was indeed very much the practice to store them in bottles that could be easily differentiated from other, less harmful household substances. Whilst illiteracy was rife, poor lighting afflicted all classes and so careful packaging could avoid lethal accidents. As a consequence, the shape and texture of  bottles containing dangerous chemicals was changed too and so embossed glass, 'quilted' surfaces, ridges and grooves all
  helped people see and feel the difference between bottles.

Today I love just looking at the colours and wondering about the past lives of all these containers.
The big stoneware containers I didn't unearth, but the one from Birmingham used to act as a hot-water bottle for my mum as a child!

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