Our museum is temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

Cantha. rid

Cantha. rid

Usage conditions apply
This urn–shaped drug jar has a straight neck and a round, domed foot. The lid has a cone–shaped finial. The background glaze is grayish–white. A rectangular label is formed in the center of the jar by thin lines of brown, yellow and green, topped by a small cartouche. The frame is surrounded at its top and bottom by yellow and green vines and black beads. Correspondence in 1954 between Division of Medicine Associate Curator George Griffenhagen and George Urdang notes that the jars appear to be of Catalonian–Aragonese origin. The jar’s label reads Cantha rid. Cantharidin is more widely known as Spanish Fly, a secretion from the male blister beetle. Cantharidin is used as an aphrodisiac and as a blistering agent, an alternative to cupping.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
18th century
Physical Description
ceramic (overall material)
overall: 28.7 cm x 14.5 cm; 11 5/16 in x 5 23/32 in
ID Number
collector/donor number
SAP 487
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of American Pharmaceutical Association and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
European Apothecary
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

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.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object