Albarello drug jar for Sublimate of Mercury, Italy, 1501-1800

1501-1800 in Deruta

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Science Museum Group Collection
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Tin-glazed earthenware albarello, polychrome decoration on white groung, labelled "SOLIMATO", possibly Derutan, Italian, 16th-18th century

Mercury compounds were traditional treatments for syphilis – a once very common, potentially deadly venereal disease. But this toxic treatment slowly poisoned the patient. Sublimate of Mercury, if soaked into a piece of cloth and carried next to the heart, was also believed to protect against plague. The earthenware drug jar has a badge painted on the side, probably referring to an Italian pharmacy.


Medical Ceramic-ware
Object Number:
drug jar
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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