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Syrup jar used to store Oil of Violets, Italy, 1701-1730

The inscription painted onto the side of the jar tells us the original contents of the jar. Oleum Violatum is Latin for ‘ “Oil of Violets”. This syrup was made by infusing 4 lb (4.48 kg) of violets in 16 oz (1.8 kg) of olive oil for eight days in the sun and then straining them. This process was repeated three times and the concentrated oil was then stored for use in the jar. During the process the oil would be strongly infused with both the colour and scent of violets. The principal uses of oil of violets were soothing inflammation and combating pleurisy. The oil may also have been rubbed on to the skin or added to other ingredients.

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Glossary: syrup jar

No description.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: inflammation

The body’s response to injury. An inflammation is marked by redness, heat, pain, swelling, and often loss of function. The process leads to the elimination of noxious agents and of damaged tissue.

Glossary: pleurisy

A condition caused by the inflammation of the pleura (the linings between the lungs and the ribcage). Symptoms include fever, chest pain and discomfort.