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Pill machine

Item details

Object number M-8022
Date Late 19th or early 20th century
Category Curiosities and miscellaneous
Material Timber


A wooden base with a ridged brass strip, wooden baton with corresponding ridged brass strip and two wooden pill rollers. From around 1800 onward pharmacists used these manual pill machines to make pills. The pill ingredients were ground together using a pestle and mortar, mixed with a binder, such as glucose syrup, and formed into a pliable ball which would be rolled out into rods using the flat surface of the baton. The rods were then placed on the base along the brass strip at right angles to the brass ridges and the baton was moved backwards and forwards cutting the rods into spherical portions which were then finished off with the circular pill roller. This method was common until early to mid 20th century when many pills started to be mass produced in factories.