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Scientific, Instrument, Medical, Apothecary Box, Antique, New York City, 19th C.

$1,800

Portable Apothecary Cabinet
American: c. 1850-1880
Mahogany and brass box, glass bottles, brass scale and weights
8.5 x 15 x 11.25 inches, box
$1,800

Rare American portable mahogany apothecary box, associated with New York City. The locking lid is surmounted by an inlaid ebonized wood escutcheon, and opens to a fitted velvet-lined interior with slots holding square bottles of pharmaceutical compounds with glass stoppers. The lower drawer holds other accessories: laboratory glassware and a brass apothecary scale that hangs from a hook in the lid when open. The box has various brass campaign hardware including a pair of bale handles, recessed corner and side strap mounts, a pull on the drawer, and a brass key escutcheon. Many of the bottles bear the label of Ewen McIntyre, Chemist and Apothecary on Broadway, corner of 18th Street, New York City. Among them are bygone remedies such as Syrup of Squill, Charcoal Soda and Magnesia, Rhubarb and Magnesia, and Hive Syrup.

Product description continues below.

Description

Ewen McIntyre (1825-1913) was a distinguished American pharmacist who spent most of his life in New York City. Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, he came to New York at the age of 17 and became a pharmacist’s apprentice and began his studies at the New York College of Pharmacy. While still a 20-year-old student, he tested the imported British calcium carbonate in use at the shop and discovered it was in fact calcium sulfate adulterated with powdered slate. The outrage his discovery caused among American pharmacists, especially when the British supplier responded dismissively, kick-started a movement to ensure that inferior drugs could not be imported into the U.S. This led to the passage of federal legislation and the founding of the American Pharmaceutical Association to advocate for the profession. McIntyre graduated from college in 1847 and opened his pharmacy at Broadway and 18th Street three years later, in what was then the outskirts of New York City; there were no houses above 23rd Street at the time, and his pharmacy shared the intersection with businesses that raised dairy cows and pigs. In 1881 he established a branch at Sixth Avenue and 56th Street, and brought his son Ewen McIntire, Jr., into the business, renamed Ewen McIntyre & Son. In 1890 the Broadway location was closed and two years later McIntyre funded the construction of the McIntyre Building [sic], which remains on the site and was restored in 2009. Respected and valued by members of his profession, he served as the first vice president of the New York College of Pharmacy and as president from 1877 to 1890, when he became a trustee. He was also a member of the American Pharmaceutical Association and New York State Pharmaceutical Association. McIntyre was married for 60 years and fathered 15 children.

Condition:  Box very good, recently professionally French polished, with the usual overall remaining toning, wear, shrinkage, handling.  Interior good with light wear, soiling, discoloration. Glass bottles good, with the usual discoloration, wear, light chipping to glass. Some bottles stuck closed.  Paper labels on bottles good with toning, wear, light chipping, discolorations. Some chemical compounds still in bottles. Chemical compounds inside bottles as is, should handled with care as antique specimens of unknown composition.

References:

Davies, Pete. “Refreshed and Restored 874 Broadway Gets An A+.” Curbed NY. 26 May 2009. https://ny.curbed.com/2009/5/26/10541592/refreshed-and-restored-874-broadway-gets-an-a (6 June 2018).

History and Commerce of New York, 1891. American Publishing and Engraving Company, 1891. p. 164. Online at Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=TSEaAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA164 (6 June 2018).

“Obituaries. Ewen M’Intyre.” Druggists Circular. Vol. 57. February 1913 pp. 104-105. Online at Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=7m4gAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA104 (6 June 2018).

Additional information

Century

19th Century