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Victorian Apothecary Treen


A large Victorian apothecary’s bottle holder made from a single piece turned and polished boxwood, and is a beautiful example of 19th century chemist’s treen. The container holds its original bottle with stopper and has traces of its original gold label. The threaded screw-on lid turns beautifully, and the top of the lid is embossed “Gilbertson & Sons London”.

Part of our social history, the container and its vessel would have been used in the 19th century by travelling doctors to avoid the possibility of breakage that an unprotected bottle would have been susceptible to. This is a particularly large sized example.


Treen, "of a tree", is a generic name for small vintage and antique handmade functional household objects made of wood. Today, treen is highly collectable for its beautiful patina and tactile appeal. Before the advent of cheap metal wares in industrialized societies, and later, plastic, wood played a much greater part as the raw material for common objects. Turning and carving were the key manufacturing techniques. The selection of wood species was important, and close-grained native hardwoods such as box, beech and sycamore were particularly favoured, with occasional use of exotics, such as lignum vitae for mallet heads.

Anything from wooden plates, bowls, small boxes, spoons, shoehorns and chopping boards can be classed as treen. Domestic and agricultural wooden tools are also classed with treen, such as our wonderful pestles offered here. Their strongly functional and undecorated forms are now highly regarded by designers and collectors. We love treen.

Dimensions of container: Height 22cm  Diameter 9.5cm

Origin: UK

Materials: boxwood and glass

Condition: the treen holder is in perfect condition; the bottle has an internal fracture to its shoulder and neck, as shown in the image, however the glass remains completely smooth and is not felt when rubbing a finger over its exterior.