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Medical Bottle, open pontil (SOLD)

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Product Description

Civil War Surgeon's Medical or Apothecary Bottle. It has a glass stopper and when on measures 10” high with a diameter of 3 1/2”. It has the crude, early “open-pontil” on the bottom of the bottle, which was an early form of glass manufacturing up until the Civil War. This would be the type used by the United States Dispensatory Department. They would keep control and supply the Civil War surgeons with medicine and herbs to treat the soldiers. 

The state of medical knowledge at the time of the Civil War was extremely primitive. Doctors at the time did not understand infection, and did little to prevent it. It was a time before antiseptics, and a time when there was no attempt to maintain sterility during surgery. No antibiotics were available, and minor wounds could easily become infected, and hence fatal. While the typical soldier was at very high risk of being shot and killed in combat, he faced an even greater risk of dying of disease. 

Twice as many men died of disease than of gunshot wounds in the Civil War. Dysentery, measles, small pox, pneumonia, and malaria were the soldier's greatest enemy. The overall poor hygiene in camp, the lack of adequate sanitation facilities, the cold and lack of shelter and suitable clothing, the poor quality of food and water, and the crowded condition of the camps made the typical camp a literal breeding ground for disease. Conditions, and resulting disease, were even worse for Civil War prisoners, who were held in the most miserable of conditions. The surgeons would mix different medicines from these types of bottles to hopefully create some type of treatment for the soldier’s ailment. This bottle is absolutely beautiful and shows the crude characteristics of early glass manufacture. There are similar examples in Pictorial Encyclopedia of Civil War Medical Instruments and Equipment, by Dr. Gordon Dammann.

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