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The Medicine Chest


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  • BWC Cape Town premises

    "When Burroughs died of pneumonia in 1895, Wellcome became BWC’s sole owner, and the next 20 years (until the outbreak of World War I) constituted a period of massive expansion for the company (Bailey 2008: online). In 1898, the first overseas branch opened in Sydney and was followed by seven more branches – in New York, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Milan, Shanghai and Bombay – by 1912. The Cape Town branch opened in 1902, seven years after Wellcome made his first visit to the city in 1895" (Liebenberg 2021: 49 - 51).
  • BWC Cape Town premises (drawing)

    Line drawing of the Burroughs Wellcome & Co. office, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Walter Floyd arrives by boat

    "The BWC shop was located a short walk from Walter Floyd’s dental practice which he bought in 1904 (for £2,404 16s 8d) and shared with his partner, William Johnston. It is uncertain when Floyd first came out to South Africa, but records prove that he was living here by January 1902 (Hart & Lydall, 1981: 1)" (Liebenberg 2021: 52). ​In interviews with Mary Floyd in 2015, I showed her this photo of her father-in-law on the boat, en route to Cape Town, and asked her whether she knew who the woman in the photo was. (She appeared in quite a few photos of Floyd's from this period – one especially intimate one showing her lying on a beach and smiling coyly at the photographer.) Was it Agnes, perhaps? She said it definitely wasn't.
  • Lacuna (Part one)

    "It is interesting to note that the botanical origins of most of these medicines were from outside of Africa, especially if one considers the long history of the Cape as a point on the trade routes where ill sailors regularly disembarked and drew on the knowledge of the Khoekhoe traditional healers for treatment and herbal cures (Laidler & Gelfand 1971: 44). The Cape flora offered a plenitude of medicinal resources and these healers (who were skilled in botany, surgery and medicine) used them in a variety of healing practices . The exclusion of local botanical remedies in the BWC No. 254 medicine chest can be attributed to many factors" (Liebenberg 2021: 67).
  • Medicine droppers

    Unknown object. Currently being explored.
  • Chlorate of Potash

    This packet of Chlorate of Potash was purchased from the local Heynes, Mathew and Co. shop in Cape Town by Walter Floyd. The company would have been a competitor of Burroughs Wellcome and Co. at the time. Established at the beginning of the 20th century, their 6 stories high premises were situated at the corner of Adderley and Longmarket Streets. Similar to BWC, they manufactured numerous specialities for their trade, and were agents also for many remedies with international reputation.
  • Toothstopping

    Unknown object. Currently being explored.
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