Posted 8 years ago
This is a mid-1870s bottle that held collodion photographic chemistry (the stuff is really caustic and noxious). The bottle advertises Phenix plates which were very popular at the time.
Before 'dry' photographic processes became popular in the late 1870s, it was all 'wet' photography. Photographic emulsions coating plates had to be mixed ahead of time for each picture, used while in a liquid state and developed before drying. It was a race against time and cameras of this era typically have collodion stains (considered a badge of honor) on the wood where the stuff dripped out of the plate holders and from photographers' hands.
As photography moved into the 'dry' period (plates could be prepped ahead of time and used 'dry' in the field), there was no need to keep these stout, heavy bottles. Sadly, very few have survived.