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Mercurial cream used to treat syphilis, England, 1880-1941

Mercury was used as a common treatment for the sexually transmitted disease syphilis. Mercury had been a popular ‘cure’ for syphilis since the 1400s, although we now regard it as too toxic to use. The label reads “Made in accordance with the most recent formula as used by Col[onel] Lambkin, R.A.M.C.” The R.A.M.C. stands for the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1891 almost seven per cent of all medical discharges from the army were caused by venereal diseases and their effects. Venereal disease affected the health of soldiers who needed to be in top condition to face the enemy. Colonel Lambkin researched widely on syphilis and other STIs such as gonorrhoea, both in Britain and in the colonies of the British Empire.

Object number:

E2008.150.4

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Glossary:

Glossary: syphilis

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

Glossary: sexually transmitted infection

Any disease transmitted by sexual intercourse. STIs include HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhoea, some chlamydia infections and genital herpes.

Glossary: syphilis treatment

No description.

Glossary: venereal disease

Historical term for diseases transmitted by sexual intercourse, most notably syphilis and gonorrhoea. Now referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STIs)