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Digital Images

Drug jar for mercury pills, Italy, 1731-1770

Science Museum, London

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view Drug jar for mercury pills, Italy, 1731-1770


Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Credit: Drug jar for mercury pills, Italy, 1731-1770. Credit: Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

About this work


The mercury pills that were once in this jar are quite likely to have been made to a recipe developed by Augustin Belloste (1654-1730), which was famous throughout Europe. Mercury was the traditional remedy for syphilis and the demand for Belloste’s recipe made his pills very successful. The family became rich from the profits. The recipe remained a secret and was still available in the early twentieth century. The pills were also used to treat gout, and kidney and bladder stones. Unfortunately, the mercury in the pills slowly poisoned the patients. maker: Unknown maker Place made: Faenza, Ravenna province, Emilia-Romagna, Italy


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