A trip to the apothecary

Jean de Renou, Louys de Serres, and C. le Roy (illustrated by),

Boutique pharmaceutique, ou antidotaire

Lyon: for Nicolas Gay, 1637

The excitable dog, an attribute for the sense of smell, and the array of earthenware pots holding ingredients hint at how potently a seventeenth century apothecary must have smelled.

Ingredients could be purchased separately to concoct womb fumigation recipes at home, or prepared mixtures were available, as demonstrated by the assistant who grinds ingredients with a pestle and mortar. Aromatic substances were mixed with a binder such as wax or oil to form a troche, a little cake, which could then be burned on coals to release the aroma.

In Boutique pharmaceutique, ou antidotaire, a troche recipe for the womb includes myrrh, the aromatic resin galbanum, and castoreum, a fragrant secretion extracted from beavers.

F163.a.4.1 (frontispiece)