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The illustration painted on to the side of the albarello drug jar shows an older man with a white beard. Albarello drug jars, with their characteristic hourglass shape, were invented in Persia. They were designed to fit tightly on shelves but still be removed safely. It is not known what the drug jar stored. It was bequeathed to the Wellcome collections by the British laryngologist Sir St Clair Thomson (1856-1943) and is shown here with three other drug jars (A42538, A636310 and A636312).

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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.