Pill tile with four short legs

1701-1800 in Italy

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Science Museum Group Collection
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Earthenware pill tile, tin glazed, square and standing on four short legs, decorated with arms of a cardinal, Italian, 18th century

Pill tiles are used to make pills and mix ointments. Pills were cut from a large long roll of a drug mixture. The dosage could be worked out by measuring the length of the roll and dividing it by the number of pills that would be cut from it. Once cut, the segments would be rolled into a spherical pill shape on the tile.

This pill tile has the coat of arms of a cardinal in the centre, suggesting it came from a monastic pharmacy.

On display

Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Object Number:
complete, earthenware (tin glazed) and paper (fibre product)
pill tile

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