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November 25, 2015

From a contemporary boy band to a Medieval doctor's kit - smooth segue!

Centuries ago most households 'doctored' themselves.  Pictured above
is a medicine chest made in the 1560's for Vincenzo Guistiniani, the
last Genoese Governor of the Island of Chios in the eastern Aegean Sea.

The rectangle storage box on the right features the symbol of Chios, a
black eagle above a castle.  The chest contains 126 bottles and pots for
drugs, a few still contain traces of their original contents.

If someone needed surgery in the 1600's - musket ball removed, sword
slash stitched up, etc. - the surgeon was called summoned and he
arrived with something like this:
A pocket-size surgical kit with simple, basic tools.  No
anesthesia or antibiotics and rags or linens were used as
sponges.  Less than hygenic which might explain why
most deaths from surgery were due to infection.

The local pharmacist (usually self taught) was the rock
star of the ailing community.  Villagers went directly
to him for a 'physic' that was likely a common herb.
Dutch apothecary cabinet, ca 1730

Although I dream of having tea with Jane Austen, I truly
appreciate living in a civilization with Penicillin. 


  1. I have to agree, I would rather be around with penicillin. However, it is a beautiful chest.

  2. I hare that I'm allergic to Penicillin. Happy Thanksgiving, Jan.