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Updated August 2006

Printed Pots and Jars would have contained various commodities including ointment, mustard, cream, cheese, meats, Anchovy Paste or any other cammodities which were worthy of such extravagant packaging.

These are amongst the most decorative and hence, collectable items which one may come across on a dig.

Arsenate of Lead

Aresenate of lead was used, to quote the label on the above McDougall's pot "on fruit trees to destroy Caterpillars and Biting Insects". It was packaged and sold in a number of containers none more attractive than the blue printed Fergussons with the word Poison in red which is available in a number of sizes.
Pictured above are the 10Lb and 5Lb packs.


Bynol was, to use the words of the manufacturer Allen & Hanbury, "A perfect combination of Malt extract and Cod Liver Oil forming a most valuable nutrient and restorative"

It must have tasted bloody awful!

Cheese Pots

Only the finest cheeses were packed, specially for export, in these beautiful and much sought after cheese pots.

Cream (Fresh and Preserved) Pots

South Africa has only two recorded fresh cream pots. On the left is a pot from a Cape Town based dairy (not Durban, Natal as one might expect from the street address). The Loevenstein farm was located near Cape Town. Potters mark under pot.. "Grassmarket Dairy Supply Co. Ltd. Edinburgh"
On the right is a The Bloenfontein Co-Operative Dairy Limited which Trevor Dally managed to pick up at an antique shop in the Eastern Cape recently... what a gem!

Only one of the above pots (Wigtownshire Creamery with picture of dairy maid) was dug in South Africa.
Fresh or preserved cream could never have endured the long travelling times from England to South Africa at the turn of the century. It was possibly a momento taken on board, containing something completely different. Cream pots were generally returned to the dairy and re-filled over and over. The blue lipped Buttercup Cream pots are rated scarce and desirable as they are not only older but have a really nice picture. The Hammersley Creamery pot shows three hammers as a trademark.

Face Cream

Boutall's Benzoin Toilet Cream / An Elegant Skin Food. (This overglazed pot is sadly starting to lose definition), La Reine Des Crémes. The Queen of Creams. A french pot containing cream prepared by Bossard Lemaire in 3 different sizes. The smallest pot would have been closed with a cork.

Fish Paste

One can only surmise as to the healthiness of fish paste 100 years ago! The John Burgess & Son pot on the left of middle was the first printed pot which I ever dug up. At the bottom are two Pot Lids and an early Burgess barrel all for anchovy paste.


Click on the Holloways "Boobs Out" pot for more information.

Six of probably more than 20 different and unique transfers used on Holloways ointments which cured "Cuts, wounds, burns and bruises, inveterate ulcers, chilblains, chapped hands, insect bites, boils, bad legs ... etc" according to the pots addressed 113 Southwark London and "Gout and Rheumatism" (instead of cuts, wounds, burns and bruises) in the later pots from 533 Oxford Street.
From 1842 - 1867 Holloways was situated at 244 Strand Street, from 1868 - 1881, 533 Oxford, 1881-1909, 78 Oxford Street and from 1910 - 1931, 113 Southwark Street.




The employee who applied the transfer to the extremely rare Holloways Pot on the left must have still been
hung-over or drunk. This pot was dug in Charleston, U.S.A. along with an early ornate Holloways pot lid without the lady and obviously of silimliar vintage. Charleston was a major sea port for much of the 19th century with cotton having being a major export to the U.K. One can only imagine the goods that came over on near empty vessels as there was far more cargo going to Britain than coming to the US at the time.

On the right is a very scarce, although plain "transitional" pot used while Holloways was moving from 244 Strand to 553 Oxford Street, London.


Coopers and Kiellers marmalade seamed to be extremely popular judging by the large number of pots still found bearing their trademarks.


Laxitive, 2 Curry Pastes, Fresh Caviar and Sarsaparilla are but a few of the many other products worthy of their own packaging during Victorian times.

Mustard Pots

Mustard was a much sought after commodity at the turn of the (last) century and some mustard pots are extremely rare and valuable. Virtually all are of French origin and the two on the far right hand side were found in the Panama Canal by Dale A. Williamson.


A not particularly attractive printed pot containing tonic and nervine lecithin food. Available in 3 or 4 sizes. The pot on the right is older, more scarce and carries an interesting inscription "Entirely British owned & controlled" at the top of the oval label.


South Africas' most sought after ointment pot. Kindly note that the instructions for curing chapped lips and piles do not indicate the order in which the ointment is to be used!

Glycerine & Cucumber Jelly, a winter & summer application for softening the skin.
Clarkes miraculous salve for the cure of ulcerated bad legs, boils, abscesses, fistulas, bad breasts & gatherings of all kinds.
Singletons Eye and Golden Eye Ointment... these "pedestal" pots are sometimes mistaken for stoppers... the ointment was contained in the depressed area on top and covered with a greaseproof circular paper.

The Holloways Ointment pot is peculiar in that it is a later version but much smaller and without the sitting lady trademark. Although not nearly as attractive as the pots pictured above, (see Holloways) it is extremely scarce and rather valuable.
Natures Herbal Ointment by Frederick W. Hale 61 Chandos St. Covent Garden London. This ointment claimed to cure similiar maladies to Holloway and was conveniently priced at exactly the same 1s 1½

O.P. Brown Herbal Ointment (from tyhe collection of Richard Eva) promised the same curative miracles as Holloways, Clarkes and Hales with the added advantage of the BROWN'S ANNUAL ALMANAC, 64 pages illustrated, available free by post on application.

Poor Man's Friend

Probably the most commonly found printed ointment pot. Shown here are 4 different types of pot (front and rear views) The two on the right are earlier and rarer than those on the left. The instructions on usage and a list of ailments which could be cured would have been contained in a paper bill-fold wrapped around the pot. Note that this product was conveniently priced to compete with Holloways and Natures Herbal Ointment.


A commonly found yet uniquely shaped and attractive printed pot which contained a preparation of Bone Marrow used for children and convalescing invalids.Pictured above are six different pots most of which would have been available in 4 different sizes, the oldest on the left and the newest on the right.
Potters Marks - From the Left: The Liquor Carnis Co London, Port Dundas Glasglow, Bovril Limited London, the rest bear no potters mark.