Regulations on trading of poisons and poisonous substances in Slovene countries in the 18 th and 19th century


  • Jože MAČEK University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Agronomy Department, Ljubljana, Slovenia



This contribution deals with legal management of trading of poisons through the patent of the emperor Leopold II, dated August 26 1792. By this document only authorized dealers in four to five major cities or market towns in every one of the seven administrative units in the Slovene countries were allowed to sell arsenic (arsenic oxide). The same law applied also for white and yellow arsenic as well as for all other substances poisonous for people. It was strictly forbidden to the pharmacists to sell these poisons unless these substances were components of a medicine prescribed by a physician. The merchants had to keep special record (books) where they noted the name of the buyer and all other relevant data. It is obvious that in the decades that followed the trading with poisons increased and consequently the problems connected with this increased circulation became more numerous. A circular of the Illyric government was issued on October 27 1829. It contained a table of poisonous substances and preparations, which could be sold only by authorized dealers and pharmacists. It included also poisonous plants. According to the court decree, dated October 12 1837, a circular of the already mentioned government was issued on November 12 of the same year. It cointained same changes and also the summary of the first circular. The poisons and poisonous preparations were divided into four groups according to their toxicity and the ways of trading. The I. category included same tens of extremely dangerous poisons (e. g. substances of arsenic, mercury and antimony, further on potassium cyanide and some very poisonous alkaloids as hyoscyamine and strychnine). These could be sold only by the dealers mentioned above and exact records had to be kept abou the transactions. The II. category included all domestic and some foreign poisonous plants, which are well known also nowadays and were mentioned also in the circular for herbalists dated October 2 1813. The plants could be sold only by pharmacists. The III. category included only a few toxic substances, which could be used only by pharmacists for preparing mixtures, which were intended to be used for poisoning of animals. The IV. category included less toxic substances, various acids, bleaches and the like, which could be sold by athorized dealers only to persons they knew personally. The importance of this circular is not so much in fact that it deals with the classification and the legislation of the trading with toxic substances, it is important because it gives a list of the toxic substances which were used to some extent in the Slovene countries in the first half of the 19th century.


Lewin, Louis: Die Gifte in der Weltgeschichte. Toxikologische allgemeinverständliche Untersuchungen der historischen Quellen. Lizenausgabe für Parkland Verlag, Köln, 2000, 592 Seiten.



15. 11. 2004



Original Scientific Article

How to Cite

MAČEK, J. (2004). Regulations on trading of poisons and poisonous substances in Slovene countries in the 18 th and 19th century. Acta Agriculturae Slovenica, 83(2), 289–296.

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