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Maker(s):Folsom, James
Culture:American (1819-1884)
Title:medicine chest
Date Made:ca. 1860
Materials:wood: mahogany; base metal: brass; glass, paper, ink
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Boston or New York; New York City
Measurements:overall: 16 x 9 7/8 x 8 1/8 in.; 40.64 x 25.0825 x 20.6375 cm
Accession Number:  HD 0386
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Medicine chest in mahogany with a brass carrying handle, which could be used by a ship surgeon or at home. The chest is outfitted with numerous compartments, currently holding 26 bottles of various sizes (see list in file), which are labeled by James Folsom (1819-1884) who was engaged in the retail and wholesale drug business first in Boston and later opened a store at Coenties Slip, corner of Water Street in New York City. The interior sides of the two front doors have a drawer over three shelves with compartments for bottles; the center section two shelves with compartments for bottles; and the back of the chest has a hidden compartment for larger bottles covered with a side-sliding panel. With the exception of three hand-written labels, the rest are marked "PUT UP BY H.F. FOLSOM, SHIP DRUGGIST, No. 6 Coenties Slip, cor. Water St. New York" and one bottle is labeled, "JAMES FOLSOM, SHIP DRUGGIST No. 220 Commercial St. Boston." About 1860, Folsom wrote "The Mariner's Medical Guide: Designed for the use of Ships, Families, and Plantations, containing the Symptoms and Treatment of Diseases; also, a list of medicines, their uses, and the mode of administration, when a physician cannot be procured." In the introduction, Folsom noted: "The subscriber, in bringing this work before the public, has not relied wholly on his experiences, but has had recourse to stand works, and the assistance of eminent Physicians. I have endeavored to make it comprehensive and brief; having a view the wants of the mariner at sea, and the family in the absence of a Physician. After twenty years' experience in compounding and dispensing the medicines, and having seen so much neglect in supplying vessels with pure medicines, I have been induced by many ship owners and captains to make it an exclusive branch of business - the furnishing and replenishing of Medical Chests." This Guide was very popular and went through many editions. Condition: there is sun damage.


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