Ancient medicine chest containing 200-year-old tablets unearthed in Leicester

Linda Rider

An antique medicine chest discovered in Leicester which contains 200 year old potions and tablets is due to go up for auction. Collectors can get their hands on this 19th century medical kit for an estimated cost of £650-£850.

The rosewood apothecary box dates back to 1810, making it around 212 years old. Filled with bottled treatments and pills made in Georgian England, the pink velvet interior is home to Gregory Powder, Epsom Salts, Soda, Magnesia and Belladonna.

The set is due to go under the hammer in Hansons Auctioneers’ Antiques and Collectors sale between May 19 and May 23. Hansons will be offering free antique valuations at Quorn Grange Hotel, Quorn on May 10.

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The box also has a drawer that contains balance scales and two lead compartments with original pills in a box from Savory & Moore, Chemists To The King, 29 Chapel Street, Belgrave Square, London.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “It really is quite remarkable to handle medicine jars still containing original powder and treatments. For example, Gregory Powder was thought to be good for indigestion, heartburn and irregular bowls.

“One large teaspoonful could be taken with water. Belladonna can be poisonous but it has long been used in alternative medicine to treat everything from arthritis pain, colds or hay fever to whooping cough and motion sickness.

“Chemical extracts from it are used in medicine today. Many of the jars are original and, remarkably, the box also houses a tin containing ‘The Pills of’ followed by a name written by hand.”

The medicine is still in the original paper from Savory & Moore, who were chemists to King George III. He reigned from 1760 to 1801 and died in 1820.



This medicine box, circa 1810, was found in Leicester.

The antiques owner said the chest provides a historical insight into treatments prescribed for ilnesses from hundreds of years ago. He said: “This was before the world of medicine witnessed major breakthroughs which came about in the late 19th century.

“It’s an exciting fined, particularly perhaps to any pharmacist or doctor. It was passed on within a family with provenance connected to the world of medicine. It’s remarkable to think this chest was probably manufactured five years before the battle of Waterloo and 27 years before Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837.”

To find out more, or to arrange a remote valuation, you can contact them here.

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