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Drug jar, Italy, 1500-1700

The decoration of this pharmacy jar displays a high level of creativity by the maker. The two sides of the jar are decorated completely differently. The original contents are unknown, but the jar would have been used to store medical preparations or treatments and covered with a vellum or paper lid tied with string to protect the contents. A photograph from the 1970s shows the vase in several pieces. Thanks to some painstaking conservation work, the vase has been restored to something like its former glory.

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Glossary: drug jar

A (usually earthenware) container designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.