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Glass bottle for chloroform, Birmingham, England, 1959

Liquid chloroform was used as an anaesthetic from the late 1840s until the 1950s. The liquid would be vaporised by machine and inhaled by the patient through a face mask. Once the potentially toxic nature of chloroform had become apparent, it was used far more cautiously. The ridges on this glass bottle indicate that its contents are poisonous. The chloroform that was once stored in this bottle was prepared by Philip Harris & Co Ltd.

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    Glossary: bottle

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

    Glossary: anaesthetic

    An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).

    Glossary: chloroform

    A liquid formerly used as a general anaesthetic although no longer used for this purpose as it causes liver damage and affects the heart rate. It is now used in low concentration to treat flatulence.