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Pill machine, 18th Century

Before factory production became commonplace in medicine, dispensing was considered an art and pill machines such as these were a vital component of any chemist’s collection.

Pill machine, 18th Century

Source: RPS museum

Pill machines such as these first appeared in the mid-1700s and quickly became a staple of the Victorian chemist’s shop. A ‘pill mass’ of medicinal powders mixed with a binding agent would be hand-rolled into a pipe on the tile at the back of the machine. This would then be placed across the grooved brass plate and cut into equal-sized pills using the corresponding side of the roller. 

Visitors to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum will have a chance to use a Victorian pill machine, along with several other historic medical devices from London’s other medical museums, at a special ‘Up close and medical’ event on 26 October 2019, which brings together many of London’s medical museums.

 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207015

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