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ship's medicine chest

This large wooden chest would have been used aboard a merchant’s ship in the first half of the 20th century. It contains medical supplies that would have been needed to treat the crew members in emergency situations, including everything from salves to sedatives.


The upper compartment houses the medicinal substances in glass bottles, while the lower drawer contains other equipment like splints and bandages. There is also a separate poison compartment for storing toxic or dangerous substances.


When it was in use on board a vessel, only designated medical professionals, such as a pharmacist or doctor, or the captain would have had access to it. Some of the medicines contained in the chest are black draught, sweating mixture, and clap mixture – the latter of which is used for exactly what you would think.

ships medicine chest
ships medicine chest - poison cabinet
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