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Silver pill box, Ireland, 1701-1745

This pill box was believed to have been given to a Mrs McGuire by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), the author and poet who later became the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The inscription reads: “To Mrs McGuire Within I hold What cures a cold When Flegm distils Take two small pills To clear your chest Probatum est” Probatum est is Latin for “it is recommended”. “Flegm” is an old spelling of phlegm, the slimy often green coloured mucus brought up by coughing. Pill boxes were used to carry drugs prescribed by the local doctor or if the owner needed to take particular pills on a regular basis. They were sometimes expensive items, engraved or decorated and exchanged as gifts.

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Glossary: pill box

A small box for pills