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Albarello pharmacy jar, Spain, 1600-1625

The jar has the label “L. SAPHIRUS”, which refers to Lapis Saphirus. This translates from the Latin as “sapphire stone”. Sapphires were used as an ingredient in several drugs, as were other precious stones such as emeralds and rubies. The Spanish royal coat of arms can be seen below the inscription and this jar is just one of a set made for the royal monastery at El Escorial. The monastery was commissioned by Philip II of Spain following his father, Charles V’s dying wish to found a religious monument and be buried there. It is believed that this example was made in the Spanish city of Talavera de la Reina.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: albarello

A form of jar, typically from Medieval Spain, used for storing drugs. The word ‘albarello’ is of Spanish origin but historians appear divided over whether or not the design of the jar originated in Spain, Morocco or China. The shape of the waisted jar is distinctive.