ActionsBuy this image Add this to a collection Share or embed this object Tweet
Please contact the Picture Library if you would like to use this record and image under licence.
Pill box and contents
|Description||Pill box containing '___trate of mercury'. This is probably nitrate of mercury, a poisonous chemical used by hat manufacturers from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century to treat fur. It is from the use of this chemical in this industry, and the mercury poisoning caused by prolonged exposure to the vapours from nitrate of mercury that we get the phrase 'mad as a hatter'. This sample and pill box come from a 14-drawer cabinet found in the Herschel family home in the 1950s. The contents of this and a similar cabinet seem to suggest that they were used by successive generations of the family to store specimens, material and apparatus for carrying out experiments. This is one of a set of pill boxes each containing a different chemical or mineral sample presumably used by John F.W. Herschel or his children (it may even have been used by John F.W. with his children) as the raw materials for experiments.|