Ship's Medicine Chest

Ship's Medicine Chest

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Usage conditions apply
Starting in 1790, American merchant ships larger than 150 tons and with more than 10 crew members were required to have medicine chests with contents assembled by an “apothecary of known reputation.” These had to be accompanied by instructions for the administration of each medicine. Most commonly, either the captain or first mate administered pharmaceutical products to any crew in need.
This example has labels from the ports of Baltimore, Maryland; Mamaroneck, New York, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, indicating it was replenished more than once over its useful life.
Object Name
drug chest
Medicine Chest
Date made
19th Century
Gray Telephone Pay Station Co.
ship docked at port
United States: New York, Mamaroneck
Canada: Nova Scotian, Halifax
United States: Maryland, Baltimore
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
overall: 46.7 cm x 37 cm x 18.7 cm; 18 3/8 in x 14 9/16 in x 7 3/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland
Expansion and Reform
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Pharmacy
Cultures & Communities
Industry & Manufacturing
Natural Resources
Health & Medicine
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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