Mahogany medicine chest, England, 1801-1900
The mahogany medicine chest contains boxes, bottles and tubes of medications to treat a number of conditions. The chest includes treatments to purge the body by vomiting (emetics), by sweating (diaphoretics), as well as general purgatives such as rhubarb, jalap and calomel. Other medications include pain relief, such as opium plus astringents and stimulants, including ginger and lavender. The chest contains a handwritten inventory listing the medications. The chest also includes a set of scales, weights, a pill tile and a spatula. The set was probably used in the home or by a chemist or apothecary.
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Glossary: medicine chest
Small chests fitted for bottles and intended to hold medical supplies; of a type made in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Glossary: pill tile
Tile used to roll and divide pills on - this helped determine the dosage of the pill.
Scales with a horizontal bar pivoting about a central fulcrum, creating equal-length arms; suspended from the ends of the arms are pans or baskets, in one of which is placed the item being weighed and in the other, a premeasured weight.
A drug derived from the opium poppy. It has been used to cause sleep and provide pain relief for many centuries.
A drug that causes cells to contract. Astringents are used in lotions to harden and protect the skin and to lessen the bleeding from minor abrasions. They are present in several other domestic products, such as mouthwash and deodorant.