- Quassia (1692-1787) was an obeah (healer) from the Guinea region of West Africa who was enslaved and taken to Surinam, a Dutch sugar colony on the Caribbean coast of South America. While investigating local plants with medicinal properties, Quassia learned of a tree that when, when made into an infusion, promoted appetite and assisted digestion. Daniel Rolander, a Swedish botanist who visited Surinam in the 1750s, met Quassia and acquired some samples of this tree. These samples eventually reached Carl Linnaeus, in Stockholm, and that noted botanist named the tree Quassia. Nineteenth century medical texts touted the benefits of water drunk from quassia cups.
- A torn paper label on this example reads in part “QUASSIA / OR / TONIC CUP / The U.S. Dispensary...”
- Currently not on view
- Object Name
- Quassia Cup
- Physical Description
- wood, quassia (overall material)
- overall: 5 in x 2 3/8 in; 12.7 cm x 6.0325 cm
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Credit Line
- Gift of Schrader's Pharmacy, through Harry L. Schrader
- See more items in
- Medicine and Science: Medicine
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.
Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.