Sample of Original Penicillin


In September 1928, British bacteriologist Alexander Fleming found something unusual growing in his laboratory. Mold had contaminated a plate of Staphylococci, disease-causing bacteria. Where the mold had spread, the bacteria had disappeared.

Further research revealed that the mold, Penicillium notatum, produced a substance harmful to microorganisms but relatively nontoxic to animals and humans. During World War II, British and American scientists expanded on Fleming's discovery to develop the powerful antibiotic penicillin.

Date Made: ca 1940s

Referenced: Fleming, AlexanderMaker: Fleming, Alexander

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine, Health & Medicine, National Treasures exhibit


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Related Publication: Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History, National Museum of American History. Treasures of American History online exhibition

Credit Line: Sir Alexander Fleming

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MG.M-06668Catalog Number: M-06668Accession Number: 198819

Object Name: Penicillin, Mold, Fleming'spenicillin moldbiologicalOther Terms: Penicillin, Mold, Fleming's; Antibiotics; Biologicals; Drugs; Non-Liquid

Physical Description: Penicillium notatum (overall material)Measurements: overall: 1/2 in x 2 in; x 1.27 cm x 5.08 cmoverall: 3/8 in x 2 in; x .9525 cm x 5.08 cm


Record Id: nmah_730403

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