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This is a straight walled pewter drug canister with a lid. The body has two round handles that are soldered to the body, and the lid has a round flattened finial. The engraved decoration on the canister creates a cartouche of leaves and scrolls topped by a crown. The center of the cartouche is inscribed with the merchant’s mark, a reversed numeral four incorporated with the initials G H M. Above the cartouche the canister is marked “MACIS: BIL: GE.” Mace or Macis is the dried red outer coating of the Nutmeg seed. In addition to its use as a flavoring for foods Mace was used as a narcotic, astringent, aromatic tonic and to curb diarrhea.
The three hallmarks inside the lid are not very legible. With the aid of a high-powered Leica microscope it is possible to see what appears to be two identical maker marks and the town mark. The maker mark is a horse standing on three legs carrying a banner within a scalloped shield. The initials directly above the horse may possibly be I. G. H.
The town mark is a scalloped shield with three towers, the tallest in the middle. All three towers have long vertical windows. The area below the towers is not legible. Both the makers and town marks look very similar to marks used in the eastern Germanic towns and cities of the 18th century.
George Urdang identified the material used to make the canister as heavy tin which may be another term for pewter.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Physical Description
pewter (overall material)
overall: 8 1/4 in x 7 3/8 in; 20.955 cm x 18.7325 cm
overall: 22 cm x 18 cm x 14 cm; 8 21/32 in x 7 3/32 in x 5 1/2 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
SAP 815
catalog 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
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