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Randall House - Wolfville Historical Society

Bag, Doctor's


Accession number: 92.18.1
Date: circa 1870
Materials: wood; fibre; paper
Measurements: 21.5 cm L x 40.5 cm W x 24 cm H x 19 cm DepthHeight is the bag from top to bottom including handle. Depth is the top to bottom. Depth is to the heightest point of the lid.
Narrative: This bag was found in J. Douglas Archibald's home in Wolfville. Dr. Douglas Denton examined the case after it was donated. Several bottles had dried contents in them. One had enough arsenic to kill 10 people. Some chemicals could not be identified. Dr Denton feels that the bag was used in the early or middle 1800's by a country doctor or perhaps a vet. According to Dr Ron Stuart arsenic was prescribed for treatment of bowel conditions and syphilis. Until the discovery of penicillin arsenic was the only treatment for syphilis and certainly did not cure it. A person could take a little arsenic every day with no ill effects. In Sept. 2000 Dr. Denton said he believes the bag was used by Dr. Avry DeWitt of Wolfville. When Denton examined it in 1992 he threw out a bottle of cyanide.
In July 2006 the bottles that were present in the bag were removed and cleaned out. All harmful substances were remove and where appropriate replaced with cinnamon, mustard powder, and baking soda.
Description: A rectangular canvas covered wooden box, paper lined -imitation birch bark ?- containing approximately 18 bottles of various shapes and sizes, some containing medicines and some with labels. Domed lid with studs on edges. Canvas on the inside resembles birch bark (may be birch bark).