Treasures From the Collection

Medicine Chest


medicine chest

Our portable early 19th century medicine chest belonged to a ship captain.  It's locking front doors and velvet cushioning protected the bottles during rough seas. 

Beautifully crafted Mahogany, with brass and ivory fittings, such chests were more expensive than ordinary leather ones.

It is reputed to have a secret compartment.

The medicines include:

Jalap powder: Made from bindweed, this was used as a laxative.

Spirits of Hartshorn: Made from the shavings of deer horns and hooves, this was used as smelling salts.

Dover's powder: Used to make the patient sweat copiously in order to stave off a fever or cold.

Elixir Paregoric: Used to control diarrhea, asthma, as a cough medicine, and a pain suppressant for toothaches when rubbed on gums.

Some of the medicines are now considered dangerous.

Syrup Lead: Made from quill, a fibrous bulb, this medicine was used as an expectorant for coughs but now is often used as rat poison.

Sugar lead: Used to treat intestinal troubles, it more likely caused pain than relieved it.

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