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Blue ridged glass bottle for arsenic, Europe, 1701-1935

Although potentially highly poisonous, arsenic was used as a component in a range of treatments for many centuries. Like the similarly toxic chemical mercury, arsenic was a popular treatment for syphilis. Although its medical applications have been reduced in the last century, arsenic compounds can be used to treat certain conditions, such as severe leukaemia. Used in a pharmacist’s shop, this blue glass bottle is ridged, so the user would know by touch that its contents were poisonous if given in large doses. Coloured glass was also used to indicate poisons.

Object number:

A600213

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Glossary:

Glossary: bottle

Vessels having a neck and mouth considerably narrower than the body, used for packaging and containing liquid and dry preparations

Glossary: syphilis

A sexually transmitted infection resulting in the formation of lesions throughout the body.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: leukaemia

A cancer of the blood or bone marrow. Leukaemia is caused by an abnormal growth in numbers of cells, usually white blood cells. It is a broad term covering a number of different disorders.