VINTAGE OBSESSION #6: Toothpaste pots

IACF VIntage Shopping BloggerInteriors Journalist (and Vintage Shopping Addict), Ellie Tennant

‘BLOATER PASTE’. It doesn’t sound particularly appetising, but this vinegary cured fish paste was a popular condiment during the 19th Century, when the industrial revolution meant that manufacturers needed to develop new, efficient ways to transport food to a rapidly-expanding population of middle class Victorians. Small ceramic lidded pots were mass-produced, decorated with ornate but inexpensive black lettering and logos. It wasn’t long before they were used to store everything from cold cream to potted meats, but the most common usage was for toothpaste.

Whenever I’m at an IACF fair, I make a beeline for these beauties. Sometimes, only the lids survive, but it’s the fully-intact ones I’m after – to fill with earrings, bath salts, or wax and a wick for a vintage-style homemade candle.

Often, the chemists who prepared the products would include their name and address on the lid. I picked up a stunning ‘American Dentifrice’ pot recently for £5, marked: ‘William Darling’ of ‘126, Oxford Street, Manchester’, but made according to the prescription of a Dr ‘Coffin’ – not a name that fills you with confidence. Some look more inviting than others; ‘Cherry toothpaste from Colwyn Bay’ sounds quite nice, but collectors covet the rarer and hideous-sounding ‘Genuine Russian Bear’s Grease’ pot, for ‘beautifying and nourishing the hair’. Some of these lids bore the additional words: ‘HIGHLY SCENTED’ – presumably of something floral so your hair didn’t smell too strongly of bear…?

Like most Vintage Obsessions, once you ‘pot’, you just can’t stop. Display them on a black tray on top of your coffee table or stock up on (cheaper) lonely lids and superglue them into a box frame for quirky wall art.

001 Toothpaste pot 1 003 Home Barn Shop toothpaste pots 002 Toothpaste pots 2

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2 thoughts on “VINTAGE OBSESSION #6: Toothpaste pots

  1. Hi, to who it may concern, this is not a message about this blog but ref Newbury antique fair . My name is Eric chase & I do several of your fairs , as some of u may be aware I found a purse on my stall at the June fair at Newbury which I handed in, spoke to many people who thought I was mad to do this but I have been in a situation where I have drop / lost my wallet & thanks to a kind person was able to get it back hence the reason why I handed it in ! My thanks Go to your Honesty of been handed the purse back on Monday this week at Newbury as it had not been claimed ! , once again people I spoke to before Monday did not think I would see it again but thought it would go straight in your own pocket , you have prove them wrong which I will tell people in the future, please pass on my thanks to who is concerned . I can spend the money with a clean conceince as we u & myself did the honest thing to try & reunited with the rightful owner. . Once again please pass my thanks to who it may concern for there their honesty , Eric chase

    Sent f my iPhone

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