photo credit thesomedayblog.com

More than a druggist…

The word ‘apothecary’ is derived from apotheca, meaning a place where wine, spices and herbs were stored. Later, it came into use to describe a person who kept a stock of these commodities, which he sold from his shop or street stall.

In colonial times, the apothecary was more than simply a druggist. An apothecary often:

  • Provided medical treatment
  • Prescribed medicine
  • Trained apprentices
  • Performed surgery
  • Served as man-midwife


The apothecary sold patented and proprietary medicines as well as medicines he made from imported ingredients. These ingredients included plant, animal, chemical and mineral materials. Liquids were the most common form of medicine and included tinctures and spirits (alcohol based), syrups (sugar and water based), and decoctions and infusions (water/oil based).

Apothecary jars have a long history in the world. Glass and ceramic containers by the hundreds were used to store simple ingredients and compounds for sale. Prepared medicines were stored in jars of various sorts. (Unlike today, prescriptions were not required for purchasing any medicines.)

Today, apothecary jars are popular storage containers for a variety of items. They come in various sizes, styles, and made from a wide variety of different materials. Some of the most popular ones are made from hand blown glass. Apothecary jars can hold basic household essentials such as herbs and soaps, or if they are clear, they can be filled with decorative items and displayed.

I have an assortment of antique, vintage glass and apothecary-like jars that I’ve collected over the years. They’re used for storage of dried herbs and misc herbal goods and concoctions (bath salts, vinegar, infused oils, etc). I prefer glass over plastic (although plastic is practical at times) and amber/colored glass (to protect herbs from exposure to sunlight) versus clear/transparent glass. I also look for large mouth/clear glass gallon ‘pickle jars’ for infusing herbs into oils for salve and soapmaking.

Whatever ‘style’ apothecary jar you prefer, they all require labels! Here’s a simple DIY label-making project. There are many ‘free’ labels available for download, but one of my favs for free graphics for artists’ use is  The Graphics Fairy.

Here’s another ‘free’ download for pretty labels from Eat Drink Chic.

photo courtesy eatdrinkchic

Hope you have fun creating labels for your storage containers!

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