The photograph included in the ‘Handbook and Guide to the Gallery of Economic Botany’ shows an impressive gallery in 1933. It featured plants from across the world alongside some of the many products they could be made into. The gallery was filled with cotton reels, natural dyes, sugar, tea, rubber and tobacco; products that exploited the resources of countries under British control. The collection also contained plants used as medicine, like this sample from Sierra Leone used to treat malaria and yellow fever, recorded in the Ethnology register, but later transferred to the Botany collection.
On the night of the Blitz the gallery was destroyed and every single specimen and sample was lost. In the aftermath the curators made a register of the war losses to the collection (see images below). The pages record thousands of lost items including more than 700 specimens of ‘drugs and botanical products’, which very likely included the malarial medicine, no longer in the collection.