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Medicine - Formalin 40% solution | Creepy collection - Medicine | Birmingham City Council

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Image of 18th century cobalt blue medicine bottle

Medicine - Formalin 40% solution

This beautiful blue glass bottle was very typical of the English made poison bottle from the 18th Century. Cobalt Blue and emerald green glass was used almost exclusively to package medicinal products during the 18th century. However, this is a medicine bottle with a warning! Embossed onto the side of the glass it reads “NOT TO BE TAKEN”. If you did ingest the contents you would be very poorly indeed! The vertical ribs on the bottle even warn against misuse in the dark. The original label tells us that it once contained “Formalin 40% solution”.

Formalin is another name for formaldehyde. Formaldehyde can be a useful disinfectant as it kills most bacteria and fungus. The contents of this bottle would probably have been applied topically to the skin. Formaldehyde can also be used as an embalming agent to preserve dead bodies of humans and animals. Maybe this bottle was used to preserve parts of a body?