The surprise in the theriac jar

While collecting samples of materia medica for analysis, we discovered a circular metal item in a theriac jar dated 1905. According to the label, the medicine was prepared in Szendy Antal’s “Hungarian Crown” pharmacy in Baia Mare. Some of the black-colored dried substance was still preserved on the bottom of the glass jar and in it what we thought looked like a coin. The item was taken to the restoration laboratory of the National Museum of Transylvanian History, where Radu Cordoș cleaned the corrosion as much as possible. It seems the item was not a coin after all, but a blank with two asymmetrical perforations. With the kind help of Barbara Di Gennaro Splendore, PhD, affiliated to the Research Institute of the University of Bucharest, we discovered analogies and the ongoing mystery function of the coins/tesserae, sometimes perforated, and relief metal lids sometimes found in theriac jars in Italy, for example, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Future XRF analyses, revealing the metal composition of the theriac “coin” from Baia Mare might shed some light into the matter.