Antimony cup, Europe, 1501-1700

Made:
1501-1700 in Europe
maker:
Unknown

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Antimony cup, probably 16th or 17th century. Graduated grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Antimony cup, probably 16th or 17th century

Cups made from antimony, a toxic, metallic element, became popular in the 1600s as a means of purging the body of illness through the sweating and vomiting this poison caused. Wine would be allowed to stand in the cup for up to 24 hours, by which time a small amount of the metal had dissolved.

It has been suggested that the cups were introduced in order to get around the law at a time when the sale and use of antimony preparations was strictly forbidden. When making such a preparation, three tablespoons of antimony could cause the desired effects, although it would have been a highly unpleasant experience.

Details

Category:
Therapeutics
Object Number:
A641035
type:
antimony cup
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • drinking vessel
  • cup

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