The present medicine chest includes containers labelled 'Calcium Lactate' (two containers); 'Kola Compound'; 'Sodium Bicarbonate Powder'; 'Calomel'; 'Digital'; 'Laxative Vegetable'; 'Bismuth and Soda'; 'Opium'; 'Opthalmic Zinc: Sulph: Cocain:'; 'Caffeine Co:'; 'Aromatic Chalk Powder with Opium'.
Burroughs Wellcome & Co. furnished Tabloid Medical Outfits to virtually all Polar explorers from Nansen (1893-1896) to Mawson (1929-1930): 'All have chosen "Tabloid" Medical Outfits as being portable, convenient and reliable in activity under the most adverse conditions of climate and usage.' (L.C. Bernacchi, The Polar Book, London: 1930, p.107).
'It is the medical box developed by this leading supplier of medicines in the early 1900s for use by sledging parties in the Antarctic. It contains a surprising range of drugs and lotions; its size belies its importance, for sledging during the 'Heroic Era' had no medical help other than that which the sledger carried with him ...There were 33 separate remedies for a wide range of ailments, packed tightly into the limited space of the box which was shared with needles, pins, bandage, gauze and dressings. For a soothing lotion or an astringent there was hazeline cream, opium tablets provided relief for severe pain and were also of value in cases of the sledgers most feared complaint, diarrhoea. Boroflax and tannin were included for burns, while sodium bicarbonate, chalk powder and opium, calcium lactate and soda mint for upset stomachs. Kola compound, iron and quinine citrate and iron arsenic compound were for use as a tonic, while calomel was available for those suffering from worms or gout. Vegetable laxative, blue pill, and compound rhubarb had their obvious functions. A cough would be relieved by gelsemium tincture, while zinc sulphate and cocaine made a good eyewash...' (B. Norris, 'A big task for a small box' in Antarctic Reflections, NZAS, Christchurch [1996?], pp.24-5).