English Delftware Drug Jars: The Collection of the Museum of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

Front Cover
Briony Hudson
Pharmaceutical Press, 2006 - Medical - 271 pages
Tin-glazed earthenware had been known in the Middle East from around 1000BC. However, it only became common in northern Europe during the 16th century when it was known as majolica or Delftware as a consequence of the large quantity manufactured in Delft, Holland. Delftware soon became widely used by apothecaries for the storage of powders, ointments, syrups, oils and confections and such drug jars were often highly decorated or labelled to indicate their contents or commemorate events. Manufacture of Delftware drug jars began at certain locations in London in about 1570 until about 1780 by which time tin-glazed earthenware began to be replaced by creamware, the forerunner of our modern white earthenware. English Delftware drug jars were expensive, highly prized objects, and because of their cost largely remained the property of London-based apothecaries. However, in the British Isles, Delftware drug jars were also produced in Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin and Limerick Today, English Delftware drug jars are highly collectable and rare. Fine examples often sell on the open market for in excess of [pound]10,000. Most of the ceramics are highly decorated with blue-coloured designs.However, multicoloured jars are also known though are very rare. Several museums and individuals hold collections of Delftware drug jars though the collection in the museum of the RPSGB is regarded as the finest in the UK and is of international significance. Until relatively recently, the RPSGB collection had not been fully photographed and catalogued. A comprehensive survey or catalogue of the collection has not previously been published This new title will include an introductory chapter by the Editor, along with a chapter on the history of English Delftware Drug jars by William Jackson a pharmacist historian noted as one of the UK's leading authorities on drug jars. An additional chapter from archaeologists at the Museum of London will give an overview of Delftware manufacture in London. Since fragments of Delftware are readily identifiable and datable the importance of Delftware in dating archaeological excavations will also be described. These three chapters will be illustrated with 220 individual colour photos of drug jars from the RPSGB collection. Each photograph will be systematically captioned with relevant text describing the drug jar, its manufacture, date, etc.

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About the author (2006)

Briony Hudson is Keeper of the Museum Collection of the RPSGB and a Committee Member of the British Society for the History of Pharmacy (BSHP). She has previously co-authored a book on the history and use of liquorice (Hudson B, Van Riel R. Liquorice, Wakefield: Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, 2003)

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