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Boxes - Apothecary

Apothecary or medicine chests were used in the age of ‘heroic’ medicine - this was pre-scientific medicine that was largely unproven and may have been likely to do the patient more harm than good! Interesting substances we find in chests include mercury and laudanum, a tincture of opium! Chests often included a manual containing a list of contents and how to use them, as well as directions on purging, bloodletting, blistering and resuscitation. Earlier chests were mostly in shagreen and often had sliding covers, fitted tin boxes, and a bottle/jar rack. Wooden chests in oak and walnut became popular in the late 1700s, then rosewood and mahogany in the 1800s. Chests with lids generally date from the late 1700s and eventually declined in popularity, coming back into fashion in the mid to late 1800s. Chests with brass flush handles in the military style were fashionable from the 1820s.

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