Michael Birk

[Art Nouveau chromolithographic pharmacy catalogue] Katalog No. 4.

  • A superb, unused Art Nouveau chromolithographic catalogue issued by the German pharmaceutical and medical supply firm Michael Birk, probably in the 1890s.

    This remarkable, 320 page catalogue catalogue contains 15 double-sided plates of elaborate chromolithographic, metallic, and embossed designs for product labels, as well as another 290 pages advertising an incredible array of other products. The chromolithographic labels could be ordered in bulk to be used on bottles and jars filled in person by the pharmacist, and some could be personalised with the shop’s name and address. The catalogue was evidently designed for international distribution, as the examples are shown in a variety of languages, including Arabic. Some of the products include lemon and orange syrup, ginger ale, Egyptian nerve tonic, quinine, toothpaste, cod liver oil, antiseptics, a wide variety of alcoholic beverages including wine, port, rum and rum punch, champagne, and gin, and cosmetics products such as eau de cologne, agua de florida and scented waters. Most of the labels are very elaborate, with colourful designs echoing the origins or contents of the products, some with an exotic or Orientalist flavour, and others using historical imagery. Some are plainer, giving only the product name or a number. Nine pages of labels incorporate fine metallic and die-cut and embossed cameo-like decoration - of note are the two pages of delicate perfume bottle labels.



    The remainder of the catalogue details a variety of products, all depicted in large and well-executed engravings. They include bottles, pots, boxes, tubes and dispensers, including decorative bottles and perfume atomisers, and display units. For the use of the pharmacist are moulds, rollers, mortars and pestles, scales, laboratory glassware, bunsen burners, alembics, and ovens. And there are sections for medical dressings and devices, generators of therapeutic electricity, and all types of surgical and dental tools, including large items such as chairs, tables and boilers. A superb catalogue encompassing all of late-19th century pharmacy and medicine.

  • Tuttlingen, Germany: Michael Birk, [c. 1890s].

    Quarto. Original limp cloth wrappers blocked in gilt, grey, black, and white, blue endpapers, blue top-stain. 15 double-sided leaves of chromolithographic, metallic-printed, and embossed decoration, of which 6 are folding, engravings throughout the other 290 pages. Minor bumps at the corners. A superb, fresh copy in unused condition with many of the leaves unopened and still delicately adhering to each other at the edges.





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