Backstage access to our collections: Medical and pharmaceutical items


Hurstville Museum & Gallery is housed in what was purposefully built in 1929 as a home and doctor’s surgery for Dr John Saxon Crakanthorp and his family. The Museum’s collection also contains a number of medical items which help demonstrate the evolution of health care and practice over time. Just across the road from Dr Crakanthorp’s residence was the Friendly Society Pharmacy, which opened in 1913 and is still operating today. The Friendly Pharmacy was once a compound chemist where medications could be personalised for patients, depending on their needs.


1980.1743 – Dispensary labels from Hurstville Friendly Pharmacy

These labels [1] demonstrate just some of the powders that were used to formulate these medications at the pharmacy. This includes liquorice powder which was considered to have some medicinal properties but was most likely used to disguise unpleasant flavours and create a sweet aftertaste in medicines.

Antacid powder

1980.1982 – Antacid powder

The pharmacy sold a range of items such as this tin DeWitt’s Antacid Powder [2] which dates from the 1950’s and was used to neutralize stomach acid to relieve heartburn, indigestion or an upset stomach. This is still used today; however, it is usually sold in tablet form.

medicine chest1

medicine chest2

1980.204 – Medicine chest

Items such as this medicine chest [3] made from cedar wood would have allowed doctors to keep their paraphernalia on hand.


2015.4 – Medical book

This medical journal [4], Manual of Medical Treatment or Clinical Therapeutics, Volume 1 was printed in 1904 would have most likely been used as a reference book by a doctor or for those wishing to administer treatment at home.



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