Pharmacy vase for Electuary of Kermes, Italy, 1780-1850

1780-1850 in Italy

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Italian pharmacy vase, early C19 polychrome, perhaps Ligurian, perhaps used for alchemical electuary

The label of this pharmacy jar 'El: Alcherm' stands for a preparation called Electuary of Kermes. An electuary is highly prized medicinal paste which was often made using complex and sometimes very exotic ingredients. Kermes is a red dye obtained from the crushed dried bodies of a female insect. The recipe also called for 1 lb of silk, juice of sweet apples, rose water and honey. The preparation was used for 'palpations of the heard, fainting, disturbances of the mind, melancholy which has no obvious cause and in swooning.' In the late 1700s, Electurary of Kermes was heralded as one of the principal preparations for calming the mind and body.


Medical Ceramic-ware
Object Number:
overall (lid): 94 mm,
dispensing pot
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
Canney, V.
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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