Burroughs Wellcome Pills Bottle

Small clear glass bottle with metal cap. Embossed on sides ‘B. W. & Co’ (for Burroughs Wellcome) and ‘TABLOID’. External screw-on cap, embossed ‘Wellcome Chemical Works, over 270 highest awards’ (a total exceeded in 1912). In late 1910, Burroughs Wellcome had over 240 awards; by the end of 1911, ‘over 260’. Embossed on base R[egistere]d 542595, for the year 1909. This sort of bottle was used for pharmaceuticals of the ‘Tabloid’ range, including ‘Ephedrine Hydroch’ pills and ‘Diginutrin’.

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January 4, 2015

71 Comments

  1. fiverr eebest8

    I am actually glad to glance at this blog posts which contains lots of helpful information, thanks for providing such information.

    Reply
  2. Kathryn Lee

    I was just digging in my garden (weeding) and up came a little bottle just like the one above, it does not have the lid, but otherwise perfect. I just did a quick search on the name on the side of the bottle, and this site came up. Don’t really know what to say, I just found it interesting. Thought I’d leave a comment. I found it in Glenbrook, NSW, Australia.

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Thanks for that, Kathryn. It’s useful to know how far this product travelled!

      Reply
    • Sherman Zillwood

      I’ve got a bottle small lid on rusty white substance inside like soap on the base is number 4.any idea’s.

      Reply
  3. Robert Ekstrom

    Jest found a bottle like the one above, but on the bottom it is stamped 1.B It has a metal cap that is a little rusted. Is this bottle worth anything?

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Hi Robert,

      These bottles have a historical and cultural value but aren’t worth anything.

      Best wishes,
      Tom

      Reply
    • Adam Howe

      Just thought I’d say just found the cap to this bottle in South Oxfordshire.

      Reply
  4. Diane

    Just found an identical bottle with lid buried in my garden soil, East Tamworth on Sat 30/4/16. I cleaned it up and it is in perfect condition. Great to know its age. Diane.

    Reply
  5. Carie Lemasters

    I live in a small country area outside of Wheeling Wv and I just found one of these bottles with the cap and it still has pills in it!! Can you believe that? I have no idea what they are but I would love to know.

    Reply
    • Lisa Willett

      Hi, I have found a similar bottle to this recently buried in a garden. It is still sealed and has a thick yellow liquid inside. Just curious as to what the contents may be. The lid is black plastic and has B.W & CO stamped with a unicorn(??). The bottle has B.W & Co, No 5, IS 1187 12

      Reply
  6. David Berry

    i have the same type of bottle but it has 542595 on the bottom

    Reply
  7. Ainslie

    I’ve hung onto thus little bottle. Though empty, otherwise in perfect condition, as well as the cap, for quite a # of years. How I acquired it, is anyone’s guess, but mainly, I’d Luke to thank you for making this google search so very easy and so fast at finding info about my “little dresser treasure”
    Ainslie,
    Apple Valley, California.

    Reply
  8. Chris

    Just found one of these tiny bottles in my backyard at Lismore, NSW. Like others, it has no lid, however the bottle is in perfect condition. Checked the bottom, and sure enough, “542595” is there.

    I wonder how many of them were manufactured?

    They certainly seem to have been well distributed around the globe.

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Hi Chris, thanks for letting us know. It’s great to see the distribution patterns that are appearing through this thread of comments! Tom

      Reply
  9. Peter Kreis

    hi there ,i have one of these BW&Co bottles i found it on the family farm back in late 1960s and gave carried it around with me all this time the farm is in Gayndah Queensland.

    Reply
  10. Kate Kemmett

    My daughter found a bottle like this today with pills inside
    She was digging in our garden in Gloucestershire in UK

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Thanks for letting us know, Kate. There must be thousands of these buried all over the world. You can tell your daughter that it’s a bit like a global treasure hunt! Let’s see who finds one next – and where. Tom

      Reply
      • Kate Kemmett

        Thanks Tom, yes I love how they’re popping up all over the world! Our house was built in 1909 so could have belonged to the first family who lived here or one of the builders even

        Reply
      • Martie

        Same little bottle found at a building site in Paardevlei Somerset West South Africa

        Reply
      • JM

        Hello, I found one of these little bottles complete with lid, pills and what I think is cotton wool, whilst digging in the garden of our almost 200 year old house in Wiltshire yesterday! Iโ€™m amazed and pleased that I found it

        Reply
        • Tom Licence

          Thanks for getting in touch and letting us know. You’re quite right – they came with a wodge of cotton wool in the neck. Tom

          Reply
        • Tina

          Hi, my husband found one here on our 4 wheeler trail in paducah, ky.! Ours has a #12 on the bottom.

          Reply
  11. Armando Silva

    I just found one of these bottles in my yard, in Arcadia Ca. No cap but it’s in mint condition, good find.

    Reply
  12. Pete emery

    I have recently found one of these bottles in my yard, has all the marking other people are talking about but on the bottom it only has the number 4? Is this significant in anyway??

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Interesting! I don’t yet know what the numbers on the bottom signify. Perhaps someone else can help?

      Reply
  13. B.W. S.

    The base of mine(found in Weymouth, Dorset)has the registered Design number(572595)and ‘2A’ above. I expect this is just a mould number.
    Does anyone know when these bottles or lids were discontinued?

    Reply
  14. Becky

    I found one of these bottles with cap in my yard in Mendota, Minnesota. It’s in perfect condition. I think I’ll clean it up, drop it in my purse, and put it to it’s original use.

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Given how useful they are, it’s surprising that people threw so many away! Thanks for recording another finds location. We’ll have to set up a global map of find-spots!

      Reply
  15. Mary Penn

    Have just found one of these bottles in our chicken compound in Weedon, Northants. Allotment site is on the old village dump so have found quite a lot of bottles when first digging the allotment a few yeas ago but its nice to have one come to the surface every now and then. Good condition, minus lid. Could you let me know what the pills were used for?

    Reply
  16. Xanthe

    Hi, just found a little bottle like this in our garden. Only difference is the glass is brown not clear and the bottle is about half the size of the one pictured. We think it’s an aluminium lid ands has some writing on it but most is ilegible due to dirt and oxidation we can read the words Wellcome Chem and also some letters. No numbers on the bottom of the bottle. Wellington, New Zealand

    Reply
    • hamish taylor

      Just found a bottle in my back yard today!. B W and Co on one side and Tabloid on the other. The base has the number 487360 and 1A.

      Found in Arduaine, Scotland.

      Reply
      • Tom Licence

        Great – thanks for letting us know, Hamish.

        Reply
  17. Allan Finch

    Found this bottle today digging in my in-laws garden in Lendalfoot South Ayrshire Scotland. Nothing on the bottom but same as others, screw top lid complete 270 highest awards. Bottle has what i thought may be a wick and liquid inside so thank you for the education..

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Thanks for letting us know, Allan. These bottles seem to have been used for various compounds, powders and pills. Some have a bit of cotton wool inside to absorb moisture, but I’m not sure what the wick might be. Tom.

      Reply
  18. Rudi Swanepoel

    I recently found bottles with their original content “compressed Keratin and sugar coated” pills
    Ichthyol, Rhubarb and Soda, Sodium Nitrite and Guaiacol Carbonate
    Not sure if they have any value looks as if they have not been opened

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      That’s interesting Rudi. Had the labels survived in the ground, or did you find the bottles elsewhere? Bottles of this sort were used to contain a variety of products, but I don’t believe that they have much value.

      Reply
      • Rudi Swanepoel

        Hi Tom thanks for the reply, found them at an antique dealer. I did found one (empty bottle) during one of my “digging” trips and was told that it was perfume bottle. Looks as if you are correct on the variety products.

        Reply
  19. Pippa

    I found a tiny amber bottle, aluminium looking lid, marked Wellcome Chemical Works. It measures approximately one and a quarter inches from top to bottom. Says 02 on the bottom. It washed up on the lake shore near Ambleside in Windermere. I have imagined a literary history for the person from whose pocket it fell. Fun!

    Reply
  20. Gerry

    Hi I just found one of these bottles in my garden in Ireland has lid and all and number 3 on the base

    Reply
  21. Yvonne

    We bought one of these bottles at an antique store in Sydney today for $5.00. It has B.W.& Co. Tabloid written on the side and the number 542595 and Rg. 2A impressed on the base. It is stuffed with cotton wool. We thought it could have been used for smelling salts. Thank you for the information on its age.

    Reply
  22. MATHEW T BROWN

    Walking along a beach in Cancun with my daughter and one washed up saying “B&Wco London, Snowhill” what are the chances!! She thinks she has found gold… wonder this bottles journey. Might send in as message in a bottle.

    We live in the UK near London.

    Reply
  23. Phil Tyers

    Found this bottle on a bit of grass verge that had been dug up.
    Beech Hill near Reading Berkshire.

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Thanks for letting us know. These products were evidently very popular! Tom

      Reply
  24. Deb

    Found a clear glass bottle while walking alongside an old garbage dump near Canby California. It has only BW & Co and a small 5 near the base. Pretty cool

    Reply
  25. Ann Roberts

    I just found one planting palm trees in my yard in Melbourne, Florida. My house was built in 1925 so the timing makes sense. It has 1 B on the bottom and Tabloid on one side and B.W. & Co. on the other. The lid was rusted and fell apart but the bottle is in good condition. Glad I found this site to learn more about it. Iโ€™ve found other bottles and metal containers and on my property as well.

    Reply
    • Tom Licence

      Thanks for getting in touch Ann. It’s great to be able to add Florida to the map of find-spots. The dating evidence is useful too. Tom

      Reply
    • Mike

      I just found same bottle in ilwaco washington no lid.

      Reply
  26. Raquel

    I just found this same bottle without the lid in some soil I had delivered for my garden. I live in Massachusetts.

    Reply
  27. Jon Baker

    Hi, found one of these with the lid in the farm dump of an early homestead at Goomboorian Qld Australia. It has either a 6 or 9 on the base. This dump has produced many old bottles and WW1 medals and badges.

    Reply
  28. Jim Higgs

    Hi, I found one in a garden bed today.Marked B.W.&Co ,& TABLOID . Has a 6 or 9 on the base. Site was once a farm , at Birkdale , a bayside suburb of Brisbane Australia .

    Reply
  29. Jess

    Hi all, I’ve just found a tiny bottle which isn’t exactly the same as the one pictured, but is the same brand – a tiny brown bottle (4cm high) with he following printed on the base:
    BW&Co
    No 1 4
    IS.1183
    Anyone have any idea what this would have been for, or what year it might date from? ๐Ÿ™‚
    PS: Found in Sydney NSW Australia.

    Reply
  30. Kristina

    Hi!,
    I’ve had this bottle for about 20 years. Agter all these years I finally have an age for it! I think I found it in the woods. I’m in Cleveland Ohio. Mine has 1B on the bottom. Perfect condition cap and all and was found with moss growing inside the sealed bottle.
    Thank you!!!

    Reply
  31. Christine Moore

    Found one today near Cambridge UK. B W and co. Tabloid. Contains round blue pills. Copper? RO 3 542395 engraved on bottom.

    Reply
  32. Sheila jurczenko

    Hi, last week found one of these bottles, same number on bottom as well but no lid. Found on a walk alongside a river in woking surrey uk. They certainly do travel!

    Reply
  33. Denise Fransler

    I have one of these types of bottles? However, the bottle I have has BW&CO. on the bottom and that is it’s only markings. It seems that everybody else has has numbers on the bottom or the BW&CO on the side? Why is my bottle different it did’t come with a lid either?

    Reply
  34. Lois

    I just found my charming (2″) bottle with ‘BW&Co’ and ‘Tabloid’ on the sides; 1-B on the bottom. No cap. It was barely visible in the sand on the beach in Falmouth, Maine. I like to think it came across the North Atlantic…

    Reply
  35. Felicity Oxnam

    Hi! We found a bottle in our garden in North Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. We found a few other sized bottles, thanks for posting about them! It amazing to see how far and wide they spread!

    Reply
    • Felicity Oxnam

      Itโ€™s also oval shaped and has writing on the lid and RP 2A 4259 stamped on the base.
      We also found a very small narrow brown bottle with not to be taken in the side. And some glass jars which I think might be from ink.

      Reply
  36. Patricia

    Found one on a new build site in Barnsley complete with cap though
    the cap is worn through in places. Number 2A I think on bottom and tabloid on one of oral sides and B.W.& Co on the other. A nice feel to the bottle glass stained inside but no other marks.

    Reply
  37. Leone

    Just found small clear glass bottle with “B.W. & CO.” with a number 2 in a circle below, in Port Angeles, Washington state. Has a rusted cap. Found in homestead garbage dump.

    Reply
  38. Wally Heineken

    I have one found in a barn on an old farmstead in the Flint Hills of Kansas. It is embossed BW&CO on the bottom and the metal screw cap has printed Burroughs Wellcome & Co and what looks to be a unicorn in the center. An interesting find!

    Reply
  39. Sandra Donnan

    Just found in my backyard in Creswick Victoria one of the small brown glass bottles. Not that old as it has a plastic cap with B.W. & Co.written on it.
    On the bottom is the following:
    B.W.& Co
    No. 7
    IS 1189 7
    Interesting read, thank you

    Reply
    • Michael Overall

      Hi my name is mike from tonopah nevada I found one of these little bottles no lid but in perfect condition otherwise. It has an lB on the bottom

      Reply
  40. Leonard Chavez

    Hello,a friend, my girlfriend and I go looking for things. We come across some fields. That we now go to regularly. We find all sorts of bottles. Drinking, pharmacy,food ECT. Well we have one with a partial label with the letters EMP.. No letters in front of CO.. On the bottom reads B.W.&CO with the number 2 under the & symbol. Can anyone tell me what I have? Thanks for your time. Leo

    Reply
  41. kingz

    I have just found one in my garden, it still contains the original product. not sure what it is but its hundreds of tiny silver balls, looks like a metal beads.

    Reply
  42. John Cook

    I’ve found another one in what seems to be a ‘household dump’ in a Surrey field. Every month or so the resident cows and rabbits reveal another little treasure trove.

    Reply
  43. scott gerald mitchell

    found one here in San Marcos Texas, no lid or contents.

    Reply
  44. Stefan

    I’ve found one yesterday, digging in our garden, Bremen, Germany. 2A on the bottom, parts of cotton in the metal cap and some transparent liquid (not much, no smell). We’ve found a lot of “cultural waste” quite often .. historical treasures ๐Ÿ™‚ from early 20th century when they dumped everything for house foundation – and then later in 50s/60s when building little houses on garden plots.

    Reply
  45. Mel

    Hi there, Just letting you know these little gems have found their way to Hobart Tasmania also. ๐Ÿ™‚ Number 4 on the base, no contents. Has cap intact.
    Regards Mel

    Reply
  46. Ron

    Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the story of this bottle. All very interesting. I have a bottle (with BW&Co London on side) complete with cap with Burroughs Wellcome & Co London written on it. It is full of a mixture of small gold nuggets and quartz from my father’s teenage years spent in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia in the early 1900’s. He told me once that if it rained nobody went to school but all the kids were sent out by their parents to the mullock heaps to look for gold that had been missed by the miners and that the rain showed up.

    Reply
  47. Chris

    Just found one of these bottles down by the swan river in Guildford, Perth, Western Australia. No cap but the bottle is in great condition. Must have been either in the river or inside a drainage pipe right where I found it. I picked it up by chance as the shape caught my attention! Pretty cool to know itโ€™s possibly 100yrs old

    Reply

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