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Chemist recipe book


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The 19th century was a time of major change in pharmaceutical practice in England. The 18th and early 19th centuries were dominated by quack medicines. However, between the 1815 Apothecaries Act and the 1858 Medical Act, the practice of medicine became regulated in Britain. In an effort to further control quackery and further legitimize the pharmaceutical and apothecary practices, the field became increasingly regulated and standardized throughout the latter half of the 19th century in Britain.

This volume is signed by W. Ellis, who is the likely creator. The volume was additionally purchased from Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers in London, indicating that W. Ellis might have lived in England.

Works cited:

Harvard University. Center for the History of Medicine at Countway Library.

Lane, Joan. A Social History of Medicine. Health, healing, and disease in England, 1750-1950.

This volume contains recipes for basic medicines, household remedies, and personal care products, likely from the latter half of the 19th century. Writing on the first leaf of the volume identifies a possible author, W. Ellis. Pages 97 through 164 in this volume are blank.

Recipes include basic-seeming medicines, personal care products, and household cleaning products. There are recipes for various uses, such as cough and respiratory symptom relief, gastrointestinal issues, oral care solutions, hair washes, and colognes. Examples of specific recipes in this volume include "Asthma Powder," "Diuretic Ball," "Drops for Deafness," "Bismuth Hair Restorer," "Godfrey's Cordial," and "Dalby's Carminative." In addition to the medical and home remedy recipes, there are recipes for poultry spice, baking powder, silver polish, and furniture polish. "Horse Powders" and "Foot Rot Ointment" are examples of the volume's veterniary recipes.

The creator frequently uses the term "pulv," which means powder and "liniment," which means lotion.

Some of the notable recipes included in the volume are for "Godfrey's Cordial" and "Dalby's Carminative," both of which included opium and were marked as poison by the mid-to-late 19th century. Godfrey's Cordial was invented in the early 18th century and its formula was first published in The Lancet in 1823. Godfrey's Cordial and Dalby's Carminative were medicines widely given to infants and children in England and the United States in the late 18th and early-to-mid 19th centuries. They were often referred to as "mother's friends" and were used to treat a variety of ailments. Anecdotally, some nurses used these formulas to keep babies in their care quiet. They fell out of use in the 1890s.

Works cited:

T.E.C., Jr. "WHAT WERE GODFREY'S CORDIAL AND DALBY'S CARMINATIVE?" Pediatrics, 1970, Volume 45, No. 6, June 1970.

Sold by Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, 2020.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kelin Baldridge
Finding Aid Date
2022 October 11
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This collection is open for research use.

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Chemist's receipt book, circa 1800s. 1 volume.
Physical Description

1 volume

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