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APOTHECARY CHEST

 

Risk Assessment & Treatment

October 2018 - April 2019

A 19th century Victorian Apothecary Chest, this object served as the main project for the second year lab module of my Masters. From the Newport Museum collection, it had been damaged in a flood. This chest was water stained, the vials were stuck in place, the metal components corroding, mould was found in the bottom drawer, and the historic medicines a mystery.


Before treatment began I wrote a risk assessment for working with known and unknown historic medicines, as well as undertaking a full significance assessment of this object. XRF analysis was also undertaken on the metal boxes to determine their plating material. It was treated for redisplay in a recreated doctor's surgery, and returned to a used but loved look to reflect its history as a travelling medicine chest.  

Treatment Pathway

  1. Mould remediation (isolate, deactivate, vacuum away)

  2. Remove stuck vials from chest using a micro spatula to separate the velvet lining from the glass

  3. Vacuum interior and exterior of chest

  4. Exterior of vials cleaned with IMS to dehydrate potential mould spores and remove medicine residue 

  5. Glass plate, pestle, mortar surfaced cleaned with IMS

  6. Corrosion smoothing on iron components (scale balance bar, knife blade, metal boxes, chest hinges) using a glass bristle brush

  7. Polishing and buffing brass components (scale pans, chest locking mechanisms) using Pre-Lim surface cleaner (Silica chalk in White Spirit) and microfibre cloth

  8. Broken glass vial and pestle adhered using Hxtal AY1

  9. Loose labels adhered to glass vials using Klucel G 5%

  10. Loose velvet lining adhered to wood interior, canvas lining adhered to base using Methyl Cellulose 3%

  11. Buff exterior of chest using Low Lint Cloth, wet clean to remove medicine residues using Synperonic and water 

Total Time: 39 hours