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Medicine Chest Apothecary Cabinet


25.5 cm (10")
23.5 cm (9 1/4")
19.5 cm (7 3/4")
Antique Duke Of York Medicine Chest Apothecary box in solid mahogany with bone escutcheon and brass handles and door latches. This apothecary cabinet features doors to the front and rear which are secured by brass latches to the sides, but also by locking mechanisms engaging when the lid is closed.

Lifting the lid of this antique medicine chest reveals several compartments with various bottles and tools and a label on the underside of the lid which reads:
'Ireland & Hollier, Apothecaries & Chemists, N 22, Pall Mall.
Family Medicine Chests complete and genuine. Patent. Medicines &c' With the lid lifted the front door can be opened to gain access to the four drawers inside, one of which contains two lidded pill compartments, and the three large glass bottles above.
Opening the rear door reveals eight bottle compartments complete with bottles, some of which have their original contents.

This fabulous little apothecary chest has a fully working lock and tasselled key.

Belonged to Sir William Forbes, 6th Bt. (1739-1806)

Sir William and Lady Forbes were well travelled, in 1780 the visited Wales and then in 1785 Ireland, NLS (Acc.1796/115). They also made numerous visits to, and small tours of, England. They regularly visited London for work and pleasure catching up with their numerous friends. A visit to Leamington Spa and a prolonged stay in Tunbridge Wells in the June of 1792 was for the curative benefits these spa towns provided, particularly for Lady Forbes who seems to have been regularly unwell and suffering from the births of eight children over a relatively short period of time. A travelling medicine chest with the most up to date remedies would have been a necessity, perhaps more so during their Grand Tour which took a period of just over a year after leaving Tunbridge Wells in the June of 1792 to their return to Edinburgh arriving at 86 George Street on June the 16th 1793. Sir William records in Volume III of his Grand Tour Diaries, NLS (MS1541) on the 20 December in 1792 that in Naples that he has difficulties in acquiring a 'Bark' remedy, he had omitted this from his travelling chest. It is tempting to think that the chest offered here was that which lacked the remedy he so craved for Christmas in Naples.

In the early years of the 19th Century, the so-called 'Duke of York' medicine chest became popular. This chest has a lifting lid plus doors front and back. Brass levers ensure that the doors cannot be opened once the chest is shut and locked. The name derives from a medicine chest in the Wellcome Collection originally thought to have belonged to the Duke of York, younger brother of George III. Further research, however, revealed that the chest is dated 1789 and, as this Duke of York died in 1763, the name which has stuck, is a misnomer. Some of these chests lack a back compartment, some have double doors in front and / or at the back, others have extra drawers at one or both sides. There are all manner of variations on the basic Duke of York theme. These are rare, some unique, having perhaps been made to fit individual customers requirements.

Some of the contents have labels, they are as follows;

Calclined Magnesia.

Duncan Flockhart & Comp Druggists, 52 North Bridge Edingburgh, Late Duncan & Ogilvie , Edin & Perth. Named 'James Powder'. Traces of white powder.

Best Indian Rhubarb, contains 3rd of a bottle of brown powder.

Carbonate of Potash, contains small amounts of white powder.

One of the drawers when removed has two labels. Duncan Flockhart & Co, Druggists, 52 north Bridge Edin. Dr Hamilton Jun, Pills

Colocynth & Dr Gregory's Pills Duncan Flockhart & Co, Druggists, 52 north Bridge Edin.

Calomel, contains white powder.

Jalap Powd, contians almost a full jar of brown powder.

Dovers powder, contians tiny traces of light brown powder.

25.5 cm (10")
23.5 cm (9 1/4")
19.5 cm (7 3/4")
c. 1800
Wood, Brass, Glass
United Kingdom
Belonged to Sir William Forbes, 6th Bt. (1739-1806)
Belonged to Sir William Forbes, MARK GOODGER