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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

At the Apothecary

IMG_1000Here’s a fascinating little gem of a museum, one that I had never visited before:  The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum in Alexandria, Virginia.  Located in Old Town on South Fairfax Street, this family business was run in the same location from 1796 until 1933.  When the Great Depression hit, and business dropped off, the proprietors closed their doors with handblown glass jars, herbal botanicals, and medical equipment still in place.

This is rare.  Very, very rare.

The pristine condition of the shop/museum alone warrants a visit. IMG_1003 When you glimpse a request for medicine in a letter from customer Martha Washington, it’s history staring you right in the face, along with the mortars and pestles, poison bottles (presumably for rodents), and blood-letting devices (ouch!).

The cubby-holed, wooden-drawer cabinets are everywhere, along with larger wooden boxes of bulk supplies upstairs, such as gum arabic or dragon’s blood (a type of tree sap).  They have the ingredients for IMG_1009perfumes, also, with glass bottles that would be suitable for any of the above, along with glass baby bottles.  Upstairs, an office is set up, complete with ledger and a pill-roller nearby, whereby powders were swept into small channels feeding into tiny, paper packets which would be ingested.

Since actual prescriptions were not written by physicians until the IMG_10161940s or 50s, customers most likely knew what they wanted, or described their symptoms to the apothecarist who had apprenticed for some time before embarking on the profession.

Open museum times tend to be any day except Mondays and Tuesdays, depending on the season of the year.  Guided tours are offered at quarter-past and quarter-till each hour and there is an admission fee of $6 per person, with $1 off if you are a member of AAA.  The docents are be quite informative and engaging.

Not to mention… there’s a small gift shop, too!

 

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