|Date/Era/Period:||1800's most likely|
|Description:||a wooden box containing glass medicine bottles, tin boxes, cardboard cylindrical containers, pieces that screw onto something possibly medical instruments, a weight (says "50" on it). glass bottles mostly have glass tops. one has a cork top. It locks. we had a key made for it as we could not find the original key. it opens from the top and also has a drawer that you can pull out after taking out a pin located at the front top when the top is open. One of the bottles says "mexican mustang liniment, Lyon Mfg. Co, Brooklyn Ny", which is a medicine used in the 1800's for arthritis and other joint pain. Other bottles say "Laudanum", "Chloroform Liniment", both from Wallace Drug Co., Wallace, ID. Another small carboard, cylindrical container about the size of a "lip ointment" tub says "J. Waite, Dispensing Chemist, Cheltenham around the outside of the lid and in the center has instructions written for dosage amount and time handwritten in black ink. There is actually still medicines in a few of the bottles. My father in law was a doctor and he passed it down to us without much information about it other than he kept it as a collectible.|
|Condition:||in very good condition. There are a few slots open for two more bottles in the drawer. The top is full of glass bottles. "Springweiler & Co.makers-London" is engraved in the wood on the inside top by the hinges|
|Origin:||inherited from family|
|Appraised By:||Gale Pirie|
|History Of The Item:||Often believed to hold supplies for travelling physicians, many early medicine chests were intended for domestic or personal use. As early as the 1500s Romans carried portable medical supplies when travelling. In tthe 19th century he fashionable Grand Tour increased the need for portable medical supplies. Medicine chests arrived in Britian in the late 1700s, reaching the height of their popularity in the mid 1800s. An increase in specially supplied chemical remedies and ready-made powders and tinctures provided many of the contents, and the growth of middle-class prosperity, n, meant that there were plenty of potential customers. Cabinet makers, used to creating tea caddies and writing slopes, applied their craftsmanship to medicine chests. Frustratingly, they rarely printed their names on their products. Retail and wholesale druggists or apothecaries bought the chests and in often fitted them out . A chest’s style gives some idea of its date. The earliest British chests were covered in fish skin. In the late 1700s, oak and walnut chests were popular. Mahogany, rosewood and walnut were fashionable in the 1800s. The most popular lifting lid style dates from the late 1700s, and became fashionable again in the mid to late 1800s. Small details, like handles, can also give clues. From the 1820s, military style flush brass handles were in fashion. Medicine chests were used alongside manuals written for the lay public. Twenty titles were published in Britain between the 1760s and 1890s, and each ran to many editions. Copies of these books are now quite scarce. They were practical guidebooks containing lists of the chest’s contents and how to use them, detailed explanations of weights and measures, tables relating dosages to a patient’s age, instructions for purging, emetics, bleeding, and also first-aid directions for resuscitating after poisoning or drowning. All recommended access to a qualified physician. The contents Medicine chests’ contents provide an insight into treatments being used in the middle-class home. They tend to reflect this era of heroic medicine with vigorous therapies and chemical remedies, such as Dr James’ Fever Powders, containing poisonous antimony, which were common to treat fevers. Medicines and equipment for purging, enemas, emetics, blistering, and blood-letting were typical. Common contents included turkey rhubarb. as a stomachic, astringent and purgative, tincture of jalap, a strong purgative, and ipecacuanha as an emetic and expectorant. The only painkillers available were opium-based, usually as laudanum or tincture of opium. From the late 1700s, a chest’s bottles were square or rectangular in section. Empty ones were re-filled and sometimes re-labelled by a pharmacist. The labels were usually on their shoulders so they could be read from above when placed in the chest. Most chest designs also included drawers Early ones often had sliding covers, fitted tin boxes, and a rack to hold glass jars with parchment or chamois tie-on covers. Later, drawers also contained powders in individual paper packets. The accessories in chests became very standardised, and they usually included: A hand-held balance and weights, usually based on the Apothecary’s Troy system. The design of the weights can give some clue to their date. A lancet for lancing boils and abscesses. However, blood-letting, lancing or minor operations were not recommended by the manuals unless by a professional, A marble or ceramic tile, a spatula and a mortar & pestle for preparing and mixing ingredients. A Seidlitz measure, for two powders (collectively called a Seidlitz Powder) which were dissolved in water as a treatment for indigestion. A funnel, used to refill bottles. This was silver or pewter in earlier chests, glass in later ones. Blistering items - a blistering plaister (or plaster) was gently heated, spread on linen or cotton with a plaster iron, and applied to the skin. The resulting blister was believed to move existing pain, as a counter irritant. A probang - a long flexible device used to dislodge anything stuck in the gullet. Curved glass leech tubes - to direct a leech’s attention to problem areas like a gumboil. Caustic stick in a case - silver nitrate used to burn warts out. Medicine chests continued to be made and sold into the early 1900s.|
|Appraiser Tips:||Be very careful handling the old boittles as toxic materials may still cling to surfaces. There have been cases where people handling these old sets have had toxic substances actually get into their bloodstreams! Keep the case as you have been, and do not attempt to refinish, wash or polish the exterior, interior or contents. Light dusting is fine, and keep the piece out of sunlight and extremes of temperature and humidity.|
|Research Sources:||Various historical references, auction catalogs, price guides, appraisal archives, personal knowledge.|
|Appraiser Comments:||Hello, your appraisal request has been assigned to me. Chests like yours are most commonly referred to as Apothecary Chests in the "trade". The maker of your chest is documented in city archives as having been insured as occupier of a building in London in 1821. The company is also documented as having made tea caddies. It appears that your apothecary chest is likely circa 1820-1840, and made of mahogany.. The antiques market is a bit weak at the present time, however, medical antiques collectors are a niche group, and demand for pieces like yours, although not widespread, exceeds supply of pieces like yours. Condition is very important to desireability and your chest appears to be in quite good condition, and although not complete, the contents are nearly all there. Recent auctionhammer price for the following piece was $380.00: SPRINGWEILER & CO, LONDON: A mahogany Apothecary's cabinet, fitted with twelve glass jars above drawer with flush fitting brass handle, 11.5" wide #50-100. This piece was very similar to yours. A great piece, likely to increase in value as more of these are lost over time.|
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