‘A box of chymical medicines’: an Italian medicine chest presented to Sir John Clerk of Penicuik in 1698

In December 1698 Sir John Clerk, second baronet of Penicuik, visited Cosimo III of Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, while on his Grand Tour of Europe – an essential part of the broader education of the gentleman at this time. The Duke presented him with a wooden medicine chest, in which the original medicines in their labelled containers are still to be found. The chest is Italian in origin, but many of the preparations it contains existed in various forms in European – including Scottish – formulations from that time.