Tin of 'Tabloid' caster oil

1900-1930 in England
Burroughs Wellcome and Company Limited

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Unopened tin of "Tabloid" castor oil 5-minim tablets, by Burroughs Wellcome and Co., 1900-1930

Castor oil is an unpleasant tasting yellow oil used as a laxative to purge the intestines. It was a standard family medicine for many generations. The oil is prepared from the seeds of a plant called Ricinus communis – the Castor Oil plant. Inside this metal box are glass vials filled with five minims (approximately 2 ml) of oil. One or more capsules of liquid were swallowed with water as ordered by a physician.

‘Tabloid’ is a brand name of Burroughs, Wellcome & Co., who made this item. It refers to the compressed nature of the product and was coined by Henry Wellcome in 1884. The term remains in common use today within the newspaper industry.


Materia Medica & Pharmacology
Object Number:
glass and tin
castor oil and pharmacy (fixed oils) castor oil and pharmacy (fixed oils)
On loan from the Wellcome Trust

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