''Bitters, Brews and Beyond: Houston History in a Bottle''

Hamburgers come in paper boxes, toys are sealed in plastic that requires a freakin’ lightsaber to open and water is sold in more plastic still. The folks over at the Heritage Society remember a time when elegant bottles held our most needed items, and they're displaying them as part of the new exhibit ''Bitters, Brews and Beyond: Houston History in a Bottle.'' ''During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Houston was home to dozens of different soda bottlers, breweries and dairies,'' said Collections Manager Ginger Berni. ''Local drugstores and pharmacies dispensed medication, offered a variety of toiletry items and sold over-the-counter medicinal products — all in glass bottles.'' Many of these often handmade containers have been dug out of the ground in Fourth Ward or other local historic neighborhoods.

Among the not-to-miss pieces is the collection of pharmacy bottles from local stores such as Burgheim's Pharmacy. An estimated 100,000 or more brands of patent medicines were available between 1860 and 1900, usually medical compounds with exotic ingredients and exaggerated claims for cures. Most Houston pharmacies made their own compounds to sell utilizing proprietary druggists' bottles embossed with the name of the druggist or store, and sometimes a graphic feature. It's a little-known but fascinating bit of Houston history.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Through October 26. 1100 Bagby. For information, call 713-655-1912 or visit heritagesociety.org. Free.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: July 2. Continues through Oct. 26, 2013


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