Dispensing pot for Morton's Balsamic Pills, Italy, 1771-1830

1771-1830 in Italy

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From left to right: A112513, Italian pharmacy vase, early C19 polychrome maiolica, perhaps Ligurian, used for laudanum.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Italian pharmacy vase, early C19 polychrome maiolica, perhaps Ligurian, inscribed 'PIL:BALS:MORT:' used for Morton's Balsamic Pills

On the far right is a jar for Morton’s Balsamic Pills. These were prepared us-ing crushed woodlice, flowers and spices before being pressed into pills and coated with gold leaf. The pills were used to treat consumption and the ‘King’s Evil’ (now called scrofula). Scrofula was said to be cured by the touch of a monarch, but clearly a little something extra was needed. The recipe is named after Richard Morton (active 1637-1698), who was an English cleric turned physician. The jar, one of four shown here, was presented as a gift to the Wellcome collection on the previous owner’s death in 1932.

Related people


Medical Ceramic-ware
Object Number:
ceramic and complete
dispensing pot
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
Canney, V.

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