Wooden caustic pencil, in two parts that can be screwed together. One half hollow with tapered point, the other with a flat edged nib. Stored inside the Livingstone medicine chest. Made by Burroughs Wellcome and Company Limited, England, 1900-1910.

This battered medicine chest was taken by Algot Lane, a Swedish-American explorer, on his 1911 expedition to the Amazon jungle in Brazil. Lange wrote a book about his exploration of the area in 1912 called In the Amazon Jungle: Adventures in the Remote Areas of the Upper Amazon Basin. Unsurprisingly, the chest contains is a large amount of quinine to help prevent and treat malaria, which was common in that area.

The medicine chest was advertised as the ‘Livingstone’ chest after David Livingstone (1813-1873). It was made by Burroughs, Wellcome & Co, who provided medicine chests suitable for a wide range of expeditions – these were often provided free of charge for publicity reasons. It is pictured here with another ‘Livingstone’ medicine chest from the same expedition (A700016).


Materia Medica & Pharmacology
Object Number:
metal (unknown) and wood (unidentified)
caustic pencil
Wellcome Trust