ENDURING: Richmond River Historical Society vice-president Jeff Kerr with a chest containing medicines used by a ship’s surgeon 114 yeas ago.
ENDURING: Richmond River Historical Society vice-president Jeff Kerr with a chest containing medicines used by a ship’s surgeon 114 yeas ago.

Bottled up treasures

A STEAMSHIP named St George sailed in to the Richmond River from England 114 years ago with a medicine chest used by the ship's surgeon.

The contents of the chest, donated to the Lismore Regional Museum in 1956 , still surprise history aficionados today.

Recent testing of bottles from the chest has confirmed the contents have not been corrupted and could be used by a medico today. That's if doctors were still prescribing laudanum and olive oil to patients.

Photo chemist Peter Mouatt, of Southern Cross Plant Sciences, analysed 20 of the chest's contents and will discuss his findings at the Richmond River Historical Society's meeting at the Lismore Regional Museum, from 2pm on Sunday.

"It was surprising to see that some of the samples, which are over 100 years old, were in as good quality as the new samples we analyse here," Mr Mouatt said.

The collection of more than 50 medicines is on display. It includes quinine, which is still used against malaria.

The chest also includes a small red bottle full of the infamous strychnine. Used in small doses, strychnine is a stimulant and laxative, but in higher dosages is a poison.

The sea medicine chest includes camphor from Taiwan, oleo resin from the Amazon, poppy from Turkey, ipecac from Brazil and Friars balsam from Sumatra.

The museum is in the old Lismore Municipal Building at 165 Molesworth Street.


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