Letter: The price of a little mould

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The Independent Online
From Mr Kevin Brown

Sir: I was interested to read about the sale at Sotheby's of a slide with a sample of a descendent of Alexander Fleming's original Penicillium notatum mould for pounds l5,000 ("Fleming treasure", 15 January). The price reached reflects the continued interest in artefacts with even a peripheral connection with Fleming.

What cannot be given such an arbitrary valuation is the actual discovery in a small, musty, dusty laboratory here at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, in 1928, a chance discovery by a great mind prepared for the unusual that ushered in the antibiotic age in medicine and has saved countless lives and improved the quality of others. The importance of the discovery of penicillin is beyond price, and surely is more valuable than a slide kept in a hat box.


Kevin Brown

Trust Archivist

Alexander Fleming Laboratory

Museum Curator

St Mary's Hospital

London, W2

17 January