The British Society for the History of Pharmacy held its annual conference on 1–2 April 2017. The first day of the conference was hosted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and culminated in a tour of the RPS museum and library by John Betts, keeper of the museum collections.
Betts also gave a presentation on the RPS museum’s history, collections, public engagement activities and current research projects. He discussed the museum’s recent participation in an object handling session at the Science Museum in London, which featured RPS staff demonstrating a Victorian pill-making machine.
Betts also described the museum’s involvement in an ongoing research project led by the University of Oxford, ‘From natural resources to packaging, an interdisciplinary study of skincare products over time’. As part of this project, which explores the ingredients and packaging of historical skincare products, the museum is allowing researchers to have access to ointment storage jars and skincare preparations, early pharmacopoeias, ‘herbals’ — manuscripts describing the botanical features and uses of medicinal herbs — and the library.
Among the other speakers at the event was Nicholas Wood, former president of the RPS and past master of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, who gave a talk entitled ‘Sugar and spice and all things nice… what apothecaries were made of’.
The conference marked the 50th anniversary of the BSHP.