Medicine Chest (From the Collection #10)

The Story

An early form of ‘doctor’s bag’, a wooden medicine chest was designed to hold instruments and drug supplies.  Some were finely crafted from imported woods and brass and had fitted drug bottles.  Wealthier families also kept their own medicine chests for home use.  Such appears to be the case with this particular chest.  It is accompanied with a paperback guide entitled, “Companion to the Medicine Chest with Plain Rules for Taking the Medicines in the Cure of Diseases” by Thomas Hollis (1834).  The booklet is in the form of an advertising pamphlet issued by Mr. Hollis, a Boston druggist and apothecary, that provides directions for administering such curatives as rhubarb, castor oil, camphor, sulphur, Turlington’s Balsam of Life (for cuts and wounds), elixir paregoric (for coughs), white vitriol (for eye sores), and magnesia.

This medicine chest was brought from Scotland to Canada by George Malloch in 1838. Mr. Malloch, a barrister, was later judge of the Leeds and Grenville County courts in present-day Ontario.

The Specs

ACCESSION # (Web Link):1954.3.1 a-ao
Object Name:Medicine Chest
Manufacturer (Country):Unknown (Scotland / USA)
Date Made:Circa 1834
MESH Code:Drug Storage—instrumentation; House Calls; Drug Case; Drug Packagaing—container–bottle; Drug Therapy

Additional Images

About “From the Collection”

“From the Collection” was a project originally published in 2010 to the Museum of Health Care’s website by former Curator Paul Robertson, with the goal being to highlight some the Museum’s most unique items that might be missed in our collection. Each artifact is presented as a bite-sized story, related information, and a link to it’s fully detailed entry on our free online digital catalogue!

Posts in the “From the Collection” series were originally created with support from Funded by the Ontario Museums and Technology Fund. The support of the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is acknowledged.

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