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Medicine chest, Ireland, 1771-1790

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This ornate medicine chest contains six glass bottles (all with silver lids), a funnel, two weights and a decorated silver gilt cup. Four of the glass bottles have labels, two of which read “Sal Volatile”, which is more commonly known as smelling salts, the pungent smell being used to revive someone who has fainted. The recommended dose is twenty to sixty drops. The “Spirit of Lavender” was potentially also used as a remedy for faintness – as well as for improving the appetite and combating sneezing and flatulence. Another bottle reads “Tincture of Rhubarb”. Rhubarb was used to help upset stomachs. A tincture is an alcoholic or water-based extract of a drug. The quality of this medicine chest suggests it probably belonged to a wealthy family.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: medicine chest

Small chests fitted for bottles and intended to hold medical supplies; of a type made in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.