An 18th century shagreen and silver case containing a silver topped hand cut glass bottle and a heavy silver syringe.
The glass stopper is fixed so I cannot be sure about the contents. Whilst it would do for a perfume bottle, the typical applicator would have been a dropper and the perfume containers of the day were more ornate than this relatively austere affair. Nor am I aware of a syringe ever having been used to apply perfume. Similar shaped syringes have been used to administer medications in a clinical setting (see last picture) and I believe this set may have been used as a nasal insufflator.
The solution from the bottle would be titrated into the syringe which is very well suited for spraying into the nostrils. Possibilities for pharmacologically active ingredients might include vasoconstricting agents for the relief of nasal congestion or sinusitis, ammonia or astringent compounds by way of the medical application of smelling salts, or even opiates for the relief of … almost anything.
If any one has more information do please contact me.
- From the Lusignan collection