Hello elizabethdeveer and thank you for your question.
This was a very tricky question, but an interesting one to research.
The drug Veronal would seem to fit your requirements. Invented in
1903 it was in use up until at least 1936. It was taken in "Cachets"
(explained below) and was tasteless in this form. In powder form it
was a white crystalline powder that was odourless, and had a slightly
bitter taste. It had the effect of helping "dyed-in-the-wool
insomniacs sleep like babies" The cachets came in a small glass
Master Builders (1936)
"Otherwise only books and manuscripts, and on a tray innumerable
bottles and jars and potions: against the migraines, which often
render him all but senseless for hours, against his stomach cramps,
against spasmodic vomiting, against the slothful intestines, and above
all the dreadful sedatives against his insomnia, chloral hydrate and
"That's when Barbital (barbitone) was synthesized and introduced, in
1903 under the brand name Veronal, as a sedative. Barbiturates were an
effective sedative for the terminally nervous.
They helped dyed-in-the-wool insomniacs sleep like babies."
"VERONAL, in medicine, diethylmalonyl urea or diethylbarbituric acid
(C2H5)2C~CO NH]ICO, extensively used as a hypnotic. It is prepared by
condensing diethylmalonic ester with urea in the presence of sodium
ethylate, or by acting with ethyl iodide on the silver salt of malonyl
urea; it forms a white crystalline powder, which is odourless, and has
a slightly bitter taste."
"It is best given in cachets (10 to 15 grains)."
From "Dope" (1919) by Sax Rohmer
"Automatically, as a result of habit, she unlocked her
jewel-case and took out a tiny phial containing minute cachets. She
shook several out on to the palm of her hand, and then paused, staring
at her reflection in the mirror.
For fully half a minute she hesitated, then:
"I shall never close my eyes all night if I don't!" she whispered, as
if in reply to a spoken protest, "and I should be a wreck in the
Thus, in the very apogee of her resolve to reform, did she drive one
more rivet into the manacles which held her captive to Kazmah and
Upon a little spirit-stove stood a covered vessel containing milk,
which was placed there nightly by Rita's maid. She lighted the burner
and warmed the milk. Then, swallowing three of the cachets from the
phial, she drank the milk. Each cachet contained three decigrams of
malourea, the insidious drug notorious under its trade name of
"Cachets are containers prepared from a mixture of flour and water,
consisting of two circular discs adhering by their edges. The discs
may be filled and closed by means of any suitable machine, and form
one of the most useful methods of administering a powdered medicament
in tasteless form."
Thank you for your question, and if you need any clarification of my
answer do not hesitate to ask before rating my answer.
Very best regards
Search strategy included:
"sleep disorders" "1930" medication
Clarification of Answer by
17 Mar 2005 10:34 PST
Hello again elizabethdeveer,
Thank you for the five stars and tip!
With regard to the cachet if you look at this search strategy
cachet powder filetype:pdf
The first website seems to be ideal for you, but I can't seem to open
it properly (maybe you can?)
The "View as HTML" works but I can't see the pictures. The title is:
"MUSEUM OF THE ROYAL PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN"
"POWDERS AND CACHETS"
"Unpleasant tasting powders weres ometimes taken wrapped in a
rice-paper wafer, softened by dipping in water, then swallowing with a
draught of water. This idea was furtherd eveloped in France by
Limousin of Paris in the 1870's when they produced the cachet, two
rice-paper cups which were joined together with powder inside"
"CACHETSThere were two types of cachet - wet-seal and dry-seal. The
filling process was similar. Wet-sealwere closed by wetting the
flanges of each half and joining, with dry-seal the two halves
werepushed together.The standard cachet machine consisted of three
metal plates drilled with holes of varying diameterfor the size of
cachet used. A half cachet fitted loosely in the base-plate. The
centre plate maskedthe rims of the cachets to prevent powder being
deposited. Funnels were used to guide theweighed dose of powder into
the lower half-cachet. Tampers were supplied if the powder neededto be
compressed. The other half of the cachet fitted snugly into the third
plate and was held there.When the cachets were filled, moisture was
applied to the rims of the cachet halves in the thirdplate, the centre
plate removed and the two halves brought together. After a few minutes
thecachets were dry and could be removed.The dry-seal cachet machine
was used in a similar manner but the upper plate was sprung to pushthe
two halves together and to allow room to release the cachets. Cachets
were taken by holding one between the thumb and first finger, dipping
in water to soften, then placing on the tongue and swallowing with a
draught of water."
(that last sentence might be interesting for you to describe how the
character took the cachet)
Judging by the text:
"Filling cachets" there is an illustration (how frustrating!)
Let me know if it worked for you.
Very best regards