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Victorian Chemist Tooth Paste Pot


We have sourced a small collection of Victorian chemist's tooth paste pots with lids.  Each lid is exquisitely designed and bears all of the proprietor's information in black and white: "Woods Areca Nut 6d Tooth Paste - For removing Tartar and whitening the Teeth without injuring the Enamel. Propretor W. Woods Chemisy Plymouth"


Toothpaste was sold in shallow ironstone pots such as these in Victorian Britain until the commencement of the 1914 war. Practically every small chemist made his own paste and had his own personalized printed lids. Unknown outside of their own town when alive, these chemists are now known to thousands of pot lid collectors, simply because they had the nouse to choose an attractive design for their toothpaste lids; the pots now excavated from Victorian rubbish dumps. The two most popular types of toothpaste were areca nut (betel nut) and cherry. Oddly both were made to the same formula, and with areca nut flavouring; yet with the addition of carmine, one was turned pinky-red: “cherry”. The exoticism of Indian betel nut and of “cherry” lead to pictorial adornment for the lids. This was the era of the so-called elixir or cure-all whose advertisers recognized no boundaries; and also the era of edible pastes: potted meats and shrimps; bloater and anchovy pastes. The lettering and graphics applied to these paste pots now provide stunning examples of Victorian utilitarianism and a glimpse into 19th century daily life, needs and aspirations.

Year of manufacture: c.1880

Origin: England 

Material: ceramic

Diameter: 7cm

Condition: very good, considering these were literally chucked away and have been buried in the ground for a good 120 years. There is some very slight discolouration and may be a very small chip or two to the base - but nothing untoward.