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Dewar flask with wooden transit container, Europe, 1943-1948

It looks like something for carrying your lunch in, but this flask transported early penicillin supplies at the Brighton Mental Hospital pathology laboratories. The hospital doubled as a sanatorium for treating tuberculosis patients and as a mental hospital. This was not unusual for the time as it was thought that the clean sea air of the south coast was good for a number of mental and physical ailments. The double-walled metal flask with cork stopper and screw top lid is called a Dewar flask. It is named after its inventor, the Scottish chemist and physicist Sir James Dewar (1842–1923). Dewar flasks are designed to hold liquid at low temperatures.

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Glossary: penicillin

The first antibiotic drug to treat infections which is made from the mould penicillium. Its discovery is attributed to Alexander Fleming in 1928.

Glossary: dewar flask

a double-walled flask of metal or silvered glass with a vacuum between the walls, used to hold liquids at well below ambient temperature, named after Sir James Dewar (1842–1923), Scottish chemist and physicist.