For more than 140 years, from the late 1700s to the 1930s,the family-owned Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary served customers with an amazing assortment of medicines. When the shop closed, the building’s new owner kept it just the way it was and turned it into a museum.
A lot of the medicines that people would have been purchasing here were probably for minor, ailments, rashes, skin conditions, the flu, a headache. The apothecary museum contains thousands of items. They include bloodletting tools and cobalt glass bottles to store poisonous liquids. Like a modern drugstore, the apothecary sold more than just medicine.Lots of other chemicals like paints and dyes and perfumes would have been made and sold here.
But other items like sewing machines and pens and razors and baby bottles were sold here as well. On the store’s original shelves are dozens of gold leaf labeled hand blown glass bottles for liquids. These bottles have probably been part of this pharmacies collection since the 1850s.A number of them have traces of residue from the ingredients, others amazingly still contain liquids that go back decades,including cinnamon for nausea, iodine and antiseptic and opium which is derived from the poppy flower.
Opium was a very effective painkiller and it would often be used to treat the flu or dysentery. The upstairs room looks like something out of a Harry Potter movie with its old wooden boxes and drawers for storing herbs and other botanicals. Aconite or wolfsbane was a topical pain reliever.
But in the wizardly world, the plant helps control violence by werewolves during their full moon transformations. So if you have more wolf trouble, it gets you through to the next full moon, but the practical use was for gout and joint pain. And then there’s dragon’s blood used for making potions in the Potter series, but Dragon’s Blood actually comes from a tree whose red resin was mostly used as a varnish. These dried wild carrot tops help reduce inflammation.
Which looks surprisingly, probably like they would have looked like when they were originally packaged and sent. This visitor from California is intrigued by the variety of plants which include cannabis, the marijuana plant. Using all these different herbs and, like, you know, plant-based medicines,that are like coming back now and like people are, you know, more into the holistic.So for me that’s personally most interesting to me because I work in the cannabis industry. While some medicines were discarded after it was known they were toxic. We still rely on others for today’s modern remedies.
Deborah Block VOA News Alexandria Virginia