Museum Treasures

Materia Medica cabinet, 1754

Materia medica cabinet, 1754

Source: RPS Museum

An 18th century apprentice would have been familiar with drug specimen cabinets like this one

This beautiful mahogany cabinet was commissioned in 1754 by the firm Corbyn, Stacey & Company. It holds 462 drug specimens from a variety of sources (as indicated by the labels on the drawers), including minerals, roots, and animal parts. The space in the middle probably held a microscope.

Prior to the formation of the Society in 1841, cabinets like these were used to test chemists’ and druggists’ apprentices. The last of Corbyn, Stacey and Company’s retail premises at High Holborn closed in 1896, after which they became wholesale suppliers. The cabinet was given to the Society’s museum in 1908.

Citation: The Salvadore DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204888

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