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Hand worked mill, Europe, 1701-1800

Mills like this one were used to grind up substances for drugs. The ingredients were placed in the top cylinder and ground up by turning the handle on the top. The powder would collect in the drawer underneath. The drawer opens on to a bell-shaped platform which may have been used to prepare mixtures of drugs. This example is made from oak. The mill is made from iron and inlaid with ivory. This hand-worked mill would have been used in a pharmacy or apothecary shop.

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Glossary: mill

A machine or device that reduces a solid or coarse substance into pulp or minute grains by crushing, grinding, or pressing

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: apothecary

A term used until about 1800 to describe someone who prepares and sells drugs or compounds for medicinal purposes. Today the term ‘pharmacist’ or ‘pharmaceutical chemist’ is used instead.