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Jar for sublimate pastilles, Germany, 1914-1918

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Skull and crossbones are clearly marked on these sublimate pastilles. This indicates they were extremely hazardous. The clear glass jar is full of pastilles is taken from a German First World War medicine chest. They contain perchloride of mercury. As such, they could probably be used for disinfecting, but their main use was likely to be as a treatment for syphilis and other venereal diseases (VD) – an old term for what are now known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This was a major problem in all armies and on any given day, outside of a major battle, they were the main reason for referral to hospital during the First World War.

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Glossary: poison

Any agent which, when introduced into the animal organism, is capable of producing a morbid, noxious, or deadly effect upon it. poisons are usually defined seperately from toxins or venoms as substances which are absorbed through epithelial linings such as the skin or gut.

Glossary: jar

No description.

Glossary: materia medica

A Latin medical term sometimes used to refer to medical substances.

Glossary: pastille

A small medicated or flavoured tablet.

Glossary: World War One

No description.