What are these weird things my friend found in his wall?
May 25, 2015 10:05 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is remodeling an older home in the midwest. Masons opened up a wall and found these mystery items. The bottle has a shiny residue inside; the stopper is rubber which is completely hardened and cracked. The third thing is glass, and a mystery. Does anyone here know what they are? (Bonus points if you have any idea why they might have been put inside a wall.)
posted by headspace to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
is the large white object a glass candlestick holder?

What came to mind was an antique kit for doing drugs... (thus hidden in a wall?)...
posted by HuronBob at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

No real ideas about the first two items, beyond medicine bottle and eyedropper? But something about the third item, in your last pic where you've stood it upright, makes it look to me like a glass candle holder with the top candle-holding part busted off.
posted by easily confused at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Isn't that an eye dropper and a candlestick?
posted by stray at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2015

A perfume bottle, and what looks like the glass base of an oil lamp.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:17 AM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

How old is the house? Any chance it could be a witch bottle? They're often buried under hearths or sealed inside walls.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:18 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

For the bonus question, I found some broken glass and stuff in a wall of my old circa 1910ish house alongside used razors, so I assumed that the homeowners were tossing all of their sharp/dangerous trash inside the walls the way people used to do with razorblades through the razorblade slots in old medicine cabinets. (Obviously, they would have needed a bigger hole than that.)

That's just speculation, but based on the glass and razors being in the same area at my house, that was the explanation I went with.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:42 AM on May 25, 2015

My thought is like the first- I have heard they have to heat opiates before injecting, has to be a valuable and / or illicit substance to be hidden in a wall. But there is no telltale needle, though it's not necessarily a deal breaker.
posted by halhurst at 10:46 AM on May 25, 2015

How old is the house?

Friend says: The land was subdivided in 1869. The courthouse and records were destroyed in a tornado in 1926. Based on the construction of the front part of the house, I suspect 1870-1890. (It's post and beam with wood pegs.) However the wall we tore down formed a coal bin, which could have been added much later.

(My personal best guess is that it's a mercury-glass apothecary bottle with dropper, circa 1890s-1920s, and a heat diffuser.)
posted by headspace at 11:30 AM on May 25, 2015

The bottle and dropper are probably some sort of apothecary item, where one would dispense a medicine (perhaps laudanum?) by drops onto a spoon or into a drink. Most perfume bottles don't use droppers. Rather, they use glass wands to dab the perfume onto the skin.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:38 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

The residue on the dropper/bottle looks like it might be merbromin (Mercurochrome)
posted by gimli at 12:04 PM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Construction workers drop all kinds of things into the walls of buildings while they work. Maybe thinking about that way will help some figure out what you have.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 1:48 AM on May 26, 2015

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