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Item number: 6481

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A Rare 19th Century Cased Natural curiosity, ‘Bezoar’, Stone
Ex English Private collection

The ‘Bezoar’, is a hard, solid stone very gradually formed from an indigestible object which has become trapped in the gastrointestinal system. The English word, ‘Bezoar’, is a derivative of the Arabic word, ‘Badzehr’ and the Persian, ‘Panzehr’. Known from both humans and animals, they are mainly associated with the stomachs of Middle Eastern ruminant mammals such as Goats.

Introduced to Europe by Arab physicians and traders, these rare, legendary stones were highly prized for their magical and medicinal properties, the translation of their Arabic and Persian names means ‘counter poison’ or ‘antidote’ and for centuries were considered an effective remedy against a variety of ailments and disease. As their original Middle Eastern names suggest, they were however perhaps best known for their reputed ability to counteract poison.

Finely ground dust from the ‘Bezoar’, was prescribed and administered on occasion although the practice of placing the stone in to ones drink prior to consumption was far more widespread, thus neutralising any poison present and rendering the substance safe to drink. Due to the considerable monetary value of the ‘Bezoars’, which was an obvious and unavoidable reflection of their rarity, this ritual was somewhat confined to use among those of Royal or noble blood, the very wealthy and those in positions of power.

By the 18th Century the use of ‘Bezoar’ stones as medical treatment or as an antidote to poison began to decline however their great rarity, connection to wealth and power and the myths and legends surrounding them ensured they retained their great worth, desired and pursued with no less zeal, but collected and admired as natural curiosities by a new enlightened breed.

This fine 19th Century cased, ‘Bezoar’, stone is beautifully marked, its surface clearly displaying the layering effect from growth, progressively built up during formation. An old collection inventory or possibly auction label affixed to the glass, marked in handwritten ink.

Dimensions (Approximate)

Case: 8.5cm

Bezoar: 3.5cm