A clear glass apothecary Jar painted black labelled Acid Arsenicus Pulv and on the back Arsenic AEB below a skull and crossbones.
The jar has a broken pontil suggesting a date prior to 1850. A clear white odourless powder producing death from symptoms akin to cholera, it comes as no surprise to hear that Arsenic was sometimes referred to as ‘inheritance powder’. It has been used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes for thousands of years and in the West for many years after its poisonous nature was know. Victorian ladies used in it creams which were said to enhance their beauty by giving the skin a white sheen, although the chalk use in such creams would have had a camouflaging effect, this may equally have been use to systemic effects after Arsenic absorption, such as anaemia.
- From the Phisick collection