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Pill-tile: C.1316-1928

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Pottery: uncertain




Tin-glazed earthenware painted in blue with the arms and motto of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries

Buff earthenware, with two suspension holes at the top, tin-glazed earthenware painted in blue. In the form of a flat shield, bearing the full arms of the Worshipful Spociety of Apothecaries and motto: 'OPIFERQVE PER ORBEM DICOR', with below, an oval shield bearing the arms of the City of London.


History note: W.F.A. Wilson; sold Christie's, 15 -16 November 1906, Catalogue of the collection of old English pottery and porcelain formed by W.F.A. Wilson, day one, lot 61a; bought by Mr Sutton on behalf of Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 1.3 cm
Depth: ½ in
Width: 26.8 cm
Width: 10 9/16 in

Place(s) associated

  • London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928-12-07) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


18th Century, first half#
Circa 1705 CE - 1740 CE


Pill-tiles or slabs were used for rolling pills, but lack of wear on the surface of delftware examples, and the presence of suspension holes, suggests that they may have been hung up inside the shop. They are decorated with the arms of the Apothecaries’ Company, sometimes with the arms of London below.

The latin motto of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries was taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book I:521-2 where Apollo says, ‘inventum medicina meum est, opiferque per orbem dicor, et herbarum subiecta potentia nobis ei mihi’ (I am called Help-Bringer throughout the world and all the potency of herbs is given unto me).

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of cobalt
Whole At Centre Height 32 cm Height 12 5/8 in

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Location: On front
  • Method of creation: Painted in blue
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: rectangular pale brown paper (possibly paler originally)

  • Type: Label

Inscription present: inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1316-1928
Primary reference Number: 71779
Old object number: 2598
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 16 February 2021 Last processed: Tuesday 17 October 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Pill-tile" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-12-04 04:52:38

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