Ceramic medicine pots

Sometime ago I wrote about the paucity of decorative ceramic medicine pots in Australia.

These pots, usually with a nicely printed lid are quite common overseas, but seem to be less common in Australia, and at the time of my initial post I hypothesized that the pots were manufactured and printed overseas, and the expense of importing them made it not worth the effort.

So, just as bottles were valuable and attracted a deposit 

C19 bottle of Whale Oil and 4d deposit label on rear

we might guess that the same applied to ceramic pots.

And that was just a hypothesis until yesterday when I was cataloguing a plain ceramic medicine pot from Duerdin and Sainsbury, a wholesale druggist in Melbourne, who were around from at least the 1860’s until they merged into DHA – Drug Houses of Australia – in 1930.

The pot is quite unremarkable and a little battered

20190731_094601

as with all such items an exact date is difficult but stylistically the paper label looks to be late nineteenth rather than early twentieth century

20190731_094607

but the real find is a deposit sticker on the base of the pot

20190731_094706

which means that Duerdin and Sainsbury considered the pot relatively valuable, and what’s more wanted the pot back for reuse – and 4d was a reasonable sum – using the RBA’s pre decimal inflation calculator, 4d in 1901 comes out at a little over $2.50 today

Annotation 2019-08-01 095521

and closer to $3.50 if it dated from the 1860’s – so, given we don’t know the exact date of the pot, we can wave our hands and say that the 4d deposit was worth around $3 in today’s money – not massive, but certainly enough to make you think twice about throwing the empty item away …

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About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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