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Original preparation of quinine acetate, France, 1810-1840

Original preparation of quinine acetate, France, 1810-1840

Credits: Science Museum

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In 1820, Pierre Joseph Pelletier (1788-1842), a French chemist, and Joseph Caventou (1795-1877), a French pharmacist, isolated quinine and extracted it from cinchona bark. Cinchona had long been used to treat fevers, most notably malaria. Quinine is what makes the bark so effective as a treatment for the disease. This preparation was made by Pelletier and was collected by Captain Peter Johnston-Saint, one of Henry Wellcome’s agents, in 1934. It is shown here with similar examples (A182555 and A182561).

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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: malaria

    Parasitic disease transmitted by certain kinds of mosquito. Malaria is characterized by fever and enlargement of the spleen. Each year, there are approximately 515 million cases of malaria, killing between one and three million people.

    Glossary: quinine

    A substance taken to fight malaria. Quinine is found naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree. It is also an ingredient in tonic water.

    Glossary: cinchona

    The dried bark of any of the Cinchona trees. Used to stimulate the appetite, prevent bleeding and, in the past, to treat malaria.