Clear glass mortar, 1850-1900
Small clear glass mortar, possibly hand blown, pontil mark, English, 1850-1900
The mortar and pestle are one of the oldest and most recognisable pharmacy objects. They are so iconic that they have been of the symbols used to represent a pharmacy shop. They are one of the simplest pieces of pharmaceutical equipment and they are used to grind powders in the preparation of medicines. For example, pharmacists used their mortar and pestle when making pills. The powdered ingredients had to be mixed with a substance like liquid glucose to bind them together. This was added gradually while the ingredients were being thoroughly mixed in a mortar and pestle until the ingredients were holding together.
This example is made of glass, which was more fragile than earthenware examples, but glass is easy to clean and therefore it lowers the risk of cross-contamination between different ingredients.