Monday 29 September 2014

For the Patient Who Has Everything...

Last week we learnt a little of silver nipple shields, a topic that certainly caught the imagination of visitors to the salon. Today is another silver-themed snippet from the Georgian apothecary, though I cannot promise nipples on this occasion!

In the long 18th century, fashionable sorts were always looking for a way to set themselves ahead of the pack and in and era when money and affluence were celebrated, even a period of sickness could be used by the canny patient to further cement their social standing. The rather finely turned little curio pictured is a boxwood pill silverer, a useful weapon in the arsenal of any society apothecary who administered to the monied classes.

boxwood pill silverer

Pills were made by hand in the Georgian era and were not the most attractive of items but this fascinating silverer could change all that. Once complete, the handmade tablets were coated in mucilage, a sticky gum, and placed inside the silverer, along with a silver or gold leaf lining, depending on the intended finish. After sealing the silverer, the apothecary would them gently shake it and the pills within would eventually be covered in sparkling silver or gold, making them fit for the finest of sickrooms.

boxwood pill silverer

Although this made the tablets very glitzy, it had the unfortunate side effect of reducing the effectiveness of the medicine as it made absorption much more difficult and in some cases, rendered it useless - not exactly a small price to pay for pretty pills!

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