“TRICKS OF THE TRADE”
 

19TH CENTURY TIPS

 Submitted by Jon Snyder

The tip for October 2004 is an “antique!”  It is taken from a volume published in the 1800s titled “Pharmaceutical, Anatomical and Chemical Lexicon/Second Edition – The National Funeral Directors’ Official Text Book.”  This book was undoubtedly full of state-of-the-art information in 1886.

This month we will feature two entries from the book, both listed in a section entitled “Formulζ for Antiseptic and Preservative Fluids.”  One interesting entry discusses the preparation of “kyphi,” which the text describes as an early disinfectant:  “The earliest disinfectant of which we have any account is one mentioned in the Papyrus Ebers, which was written 1552 B.C.  It is called ‘the preparation of Kyphi, to make agreeable the odor of the house or dresses: dry myrrh, juniper berries, olibanum, matic twigs, fenugreek seeds, raisins…Also use them as pastiles to make agreeable the odor of the mouth.’ ”  Other references to kyphi may be found online by entering the word in your favorite search engine.  It is mentioned as a sacred incense to the Egyptians, and, of course, is even spoken of in the quote above to be used as one uses “pastiles,” an old-fashioned sort of lozenge/candy/breath mint!   

The book contains a number of embalming “recipes.”  Following is a recipe for the “Balm Which Was Made for Madame La Dauphine.”  (Spellings given are taken directly from the book; some vary from modern usage.) 

Florence iris root ............................................................................................ ....3 lbs.

Rush ….............................................................................................................1 ½ lbs.

Bohemian angelica root, ginger, aromatic calamus, aristolochia, of each ... 1 lb.

Imperatoria, gentian, valerian, of each ………………………………….........  ½ lb.

Balmgentle leaves, basilic, of each ………………………………………...  1 ½ lb.

Savory, sage, thyme, of each ………………………………………………...    1 lb.

Hyssop, laurel, myrrh, marjory, origan, ruhe, of each …………………….       ½ lb.

Southern wood, absynth, mint, calamint, wild thyme, odoriferous rush,

scordium, of each ………………………………………………………..…......4 oz.

Orange flowers ……………………………………………………………... 1 ½ lbs.

Lavender …………………………………………………………………….......4 oz.

Rosemary …………………………………………………………………........   1 lb.

Coriander seed ……………………………………………………………..   2 ½ lb.

Cardamom seed ……………………………………………………………..... 1 lb.

Cumin, carraway ………………………………………………………….......   4 oz.

Fruit, and seeds of the juniper …………………………………………….. ....   1 lb.

Cloves ……………………………………………………………………........ 1 ½ lb.

Nutmeg ……………………………………………………………………. ........ 1 lb.

White pepper ………………………………………………………………......  4 oz.

Dried oranges …………………………………………………………….. ....  3 lbs.

Cedar wood ………………………………………………………………......  3 lbs.

Santal citron, roses, of each ………………………………………………. .   2 lbs.

Citron and orange peel, canella, or each …………………………………..    ½ lb.

Styrax, calamite, benzoin, olibanum, of each ……………………………..   1 ½ lb.

Myrrh ……………………………………………………………………….....  2 ½ lb.

Sandarac ……………………………………………………………………...... ½ lb.

Aloes ………………………………………………………………………........  4 lb.

Spirits of wine ………………………………………………………………....... 4 lb.

Salt …………………………………………………………………………........ 4 oz.

Venice turpentine …………………………………………………………......  3 lbs.

Fluid styrax …………………………………………………………………...... 2 lbs.

Balsam of Copaiba …………………………………………………………..... ½ lb.

Balsam of Peru …………………………………………………………….......  2 oz.

Cere-cloth …………………………………………………………………......... 2 oz.

 

 

 

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