Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vintage Expedition Medicine Chest

The Science Museum of London brings us this Tabloid medicine chest from 1910.  It was provided to a failed Trans-Atlantic balloon attempt as a promotional item.  

It's interesting how sophisticated expedition gear was.  Even in the very early 20th century there's a move away from the wooden apothecary boxes I thought were typical of the period to more rugged metal and composite construction.

Another intriguing change is how bottle closures were handled.  I had a mental picture of glass bottles sealed with wax or pitch, but that's really more appropriate for 18th and early 19th century naval chests.  Before the switch to screw top bottles zinc oxide plasters like the ones pictured above were the sealant of choice for bottles.  In many ways they're comparable to modern duct tape- cloth backed up with zinc oxide impregnated adhesive.  The result was a strong, flexible waterproof seal that was somewhat re-usable. 

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