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Pill tile, England, 1617-1700

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Pills and ointments would have been mixed and made on this pill tile. Drug pills were cut from large long rolls which had often been mixed with a sugar solution or liquorice. These cut sections could then be rolled into a roughly spherical shape. When other methods of pill making were introduced, such tiles were often then used for decoration and advertising.

The coat of arms of The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of England – which came into being in 1617 – is painted on to the surface showing that the original owner was a member of the society. In it, Apollo, the Greek god of light, music and healing, is surrounded by two unicorns and a rhinoceros. The motto translates from Latin as “And I am called throughout the world the bringer of aid”. Below this the coat of arms of the City of London can be seen.

maker: Unknown maker

Place made: London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom


    Credit: Science Museum, London

    Free to use with attribution

    CC BY


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