Rx for Perfect Happiness

"Hollister, what did you and Porter buy this weekend?" "A GOOD PORTION OF THE CONTENTS OF AN EARLY 20TH CENTURY PHARMACY!!!!!!!! (and two new wildly affordable pairs of seeing glasses)."  We went out for a coffee on Saturday morning and noticed a small frenzy outside Bedford Cheese.  The building's owners were finally cleaning out the basement (they bought the building in 1982) - a veritable time capsule of supplies from the pharmacy that filled the space at the turn of the century - and practically giving it away for free. 

This is the resulting loot, cleaned and fully installed in our loft. This grand acquisition has me shivering anticipation of the next phases: painting that wall...and decorating for Christmas!

The pharmacy's old business card: 10 cents.  
Women's dress form (apparently newer than the rest of the shop): $25 (replica Boer War pith helmet - an existing Hovey possession).

The decanters: $5 and $10; the amber bottles: $1 each; the flasks: $10 each; the tea pot: $10.

The gigantic mirrored display case: $150.  (It's revolutionized the apartment...a major overhaul is now in order!  Yay! Ordering glass shelves tomorrow.)

Old hair tonic, thrown into a box of stoppers: gratis.

The bowl on the left is filled with tiny wooden vials; the one on the right has the glass versions.  The tube on the left is new - Aesop Baume Aromatique aux Agrumes pour le Corps - and cost more than all the vials and amber bottles combined.

Some potentially dangerous anti-roach powder: 50 cents.

The real treasure: two old McKesson & Robbins herbal displays, perfectly preserved: $25 each.

Old cold cream containers: $1 each; small glass jars, $25 for all of those and the cork tops.

(Photos by Porter Hovey)


  1. Isn't it wonderful? They got rid of all that old "junk" and you ended up with a bounty of treasures. Everyone wins!

  2. jezebel says:

    How is that I literally, and I mean literally, stalked that sale yesterday and today and didn't see some of your treasures??? I also bought bottles, and an amazing heart shaped sewing box. My grandfather grew up in Williamsburg- I can't wait to ask him if he remembers what I think was called Dover Chemists. I love that so many of us now have relics of a Williamsburg past- like a secret time-machine society.

  3. Anonymous says:

    what? i can't believe it. i woke up and left williamsburg to go to 3 flea markets in manhattan when all this good stuff was just down the street. you really made out. i love seeing how you incorporated it into your space.

  4. Be still my heart: your new goodies are out of this world. And the two of you scoped it, gathered it, transported it, set it up (so glamorously, too!), shot it, and got this visual treasure to us how fast? Wonder women, you are.

    It's all a joy to behold. Thanks (for Tintin, too...gorgeous).

  5. What an amazing find. The display case is superb.

  6. I'm still in shock. Porter and I tried to buy amber bottles at this total junk heap upstate and they wanted $40-$70 each. It killed me that everyone seemed to have gotten wise. So, I wasn't about to let this opportunity pass.

    We tried to be as polite about our gluttony as possible, but due to the hours of quiet stalking, were quickly addressed with: "Oh, look, the girls are back." "Oh, look, the girls again." "Oh, there are the girls."

    It's amazing how greed takes over. I yelled "THAT'S MY BOX!!!!!" at some poor guy who removed a small container of cold cream from my box of stoppers. I've spent my life being passive at sample sales and flea markets, though, so, if there was ever a time to get aggressive, this was it. Oh -- we also got a beautiful glass shade and a shoe shine kit! Jezebel -- so happy you got stuff too! I love our time machine society!

    Someone got away with these INCREDIBLE gigantic egg shaped glass and brass orbs that they'd hang from the ceiling filled with different colored liquids. There was also an incredible wooden refrigerator. I told a couple of the sweet girls who work at Marlow & Sons to call their boss. Hope someone like that got it (not "someone" in an elitist way, just someone who won't paint it).

  7. Anonymous says:

    lucky bastards, beyond great score.

  8. My eyes are popping out of my head and envy is squeezing my heart. What great good luck!

  9. Bridechka says:

    Haha the card is in Russian, that is so interesting! Did the pharmacy used to be owned by Russians? Let me know if you would like me to translate it for you :)

    Congrats on your new found treasures!

  10. Translate please! It's so interesting because I always thought the neighborhood was primarily Polish (as much of Greenpoint is still). Funny, too, that the address (on the corner of North 4th Street) was actually considered Greenpoint back then - not Williamsburg. There was a little medal in the box with some official seal looking thing on one side and the pharmacist's name with Polish writing on it - but the first owners must have been Russian! We also picked up a bunch of their Christmas cards...there were some crazy languages in there. Hungarian, I think. I'll scan those and post closer to the holidays. I love all this history!

  11. Right on! These days deals like these are few and far between. This is what my store specializes in and we aren't able to retail bottles like the ones you bought for less than $45, usually more. I'm drooling over some of the more unusual treasures.

  12. When I moved to Brooklyn around 1990 all the streets above Grand were still considered part of Greenpoint by the locals.

  13. Looks like you could now start your own old timey pharmacy, Williamsburg's answer to Bigelows?

  14. Caroline says:

    Oh, all those tiny little bottles and vials are perfect! What a lucky weekend you hand.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic finds! You have good luck and a great eye!

  16. This is beautiful. I would love to see your place...it looks so warm and inviting!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I only wish everyone else who went to this darling sale had their own blog too and was posting their own treasures for us to see, item by every-single-item!

  18. Emma says:

    That is such a fabulous collection - what a thing to stumble upon on! We have a bar at home called the Apothecary and it is decked out just like an old chemist - so in theory, your loft now looks like a bar! Cool ...

  19. So wonderful! Thanks for sharing- it looks like it was the perfect score for you- its so nice to think of all those things being enjoyed and used again instead of moldering away in a basement. Congrats!

  20. I think you two need to open your own little antique shop or bar...I can't decide which...or maybe an antique shop that serves drinks! Perfect!

  21. Nice get! And I'm with HC, an antiques emporium and bar.

  22. Michelle says:

    I want to live amongst all those lovely bottles in your display! everything looks amazing