Drug jar for mercury pills, Italy, 1731-1770

Made:
1731-1770 in Faenza
maker:
Unknown
French ointment jar, c18, polychrome unaiolica decorated with ruins and figures, for mercury pills. Lid seperate from

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French ointment jar, c18, polychrome unaiolica decorated with ruins and figures, for mercury pills. Lid seperate from
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

French ointment jar, c18, polychrome maiolica decorated with ruins and figures, for mercury pills

The mercury pills that were once in this jar are quite likely to have been made to a recipe developed by Augustin Belloste (1654-1730), which was famous throughout Europe. Mercury was the traditional remedy for syphilis and the demand for Belloste’s recipe made his pills very successful. The family became rich from the profits. The recipe remained a secret and was still available in the early twentieth century. The pills were also used to treat gout, and kidney and bladder stones. Unfortunately, the mercury in the pills slowly poisoned the patients.

Details

Category:
Medical Ceramic-ware
Object Number:
A42768
type:
drug jar
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle