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Subject: Pharmaceutical bottles

Pharmaceutical bottles

From: Flora Davidson <fmvd>
Date: Sunday, August 27, 2000
Heather Place <heatherplace [at] hotmail__com> writes

>I recently found some bottles in our drugstore display containing
>Tr. Arnica. Tr.Nuc.Vom.  Tr. Iodi and Pv. Jalapa. All look as though
>the contents inside have created such a pressure that the glass
>bottles have cracked...

In his response to the above question, Jerry Shiner is correct in
suggesting looking up information about the contents of the bottles.
This of course should be done before treatment or interventive work
begins. However, obtaining information about these substances in the
Merck Index and also a pharmacoepia, formulary or therapeutic guide
dating from the approximate period of the collection would  provide
more useful information than would books on homeopathy.   While Tr.
Arnica, Tr. Nuc Vom, Tr. Iodi and Pv. Jalapa may sound like
homeopathic remedies to our modern ears, these were common
pharmaceuticals used by the medical profession at one time. Looking
at reference sources such as I've just suggested should not only
unearth pharmacological descriptions and formulas, but also
cautionary information such as toxicity, instability and
incompatibilities which would be very helpful in deciding how to
handle or treat these artifacts.

In Heather's email there was no mention of present condition of the
pharmaceutical contents or if there was any prior condition report
describing the contents.   It is possible that there was a pressure
build up as  "Tr" is the abbreviation for "tincture" which refers to
an alcoholic or hydro-alchoholic solution.  Therefore, if the
bottles were well sealed and exposed to heat (display lights?) then
pressure may have built up inside the bottles of tinctures.

In gathering information detailing the contents for a similar
pharmaceutical collection, I found  that some pharmaceutical
products actually increase in potency with age.  Tincture of iodi,
an irritant that was used for disinfecting and sterilizing skin
before operations, is one such pharmaceutical which becomes more
potent.  I don't recall if in this case it is due to evaporation of
the alcohol leaving a higher concentration of the active ingredient
or due to some other reason.

As per the question about removing the lids--I'm not sure what type
of lid Heather is referring to but I am guessing here ground glass
stoppers--one technique used by glass blowers in chemistry
departments is localized heat applied to the neck of the bottles but
of course there is a danger in cracking the bottle.  h

Some of the references I found useful for extracting information on
a were:

    Budavar, S., ed., 1996.
    The Merck Index: and encyclopedia of Chemicals, and biologicals.
    12th ed. Whitehouse, NJ: Merck.

    Lucas, E.W., 1915.
    The Book of Prescriptions. 10th Ed. London: J.& A. Churchill.

    Lucas, E.W. and H.B. Stevens, 1915.
    The Book of Pharmacopoeias and Unofficial Formularies. London:
    J.& A. Churchill

    Wallis, T.E., 1967.
    Textbook of Pharmacognosy. 5th Edition. London: J & A Churchill

Flora Davidson

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:16
                 Distributed: Sunday, September 3, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-14-16-003
Received on Sunday, 27 August, 2000

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