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Mortars were placed in pharmacies on various pedestals usually made of hardwood, and, more rarely, from stone. For beautifully decorated mortars, which, in addition to practical use, were the decoration of the interior of a pharmacy, wooden pedestals in the shape...

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Mortars were placed in pharmacies on various pedestals usually made of hardwood, and, more rarely, from stone. For beautifully decorated mortars, which, in addition to practical use, were the decoration of the interior of a pharmacy, wooden pedestals in the shape of human figures were ordered (for example, of a black person or an Indian) or an animal (such as an eagle or lion). The presented Renaissance mortar comes from 1607. It was used to grind a variety of substances and to make certain forms of formulas, such as: emulsions, ointments and powders. It has a conical shape with a separate base, slightly extended in comparison to the shaft, and a funnel-shaped collar. The decoration consists of two friezes: a lower one, covered with floral ornament in the shape of the horns of plenty, spirally twisted, into which two birds with open wings are included; and the upper one, covered with the ornament in the shape of fan-shaped, stylized palm leaves. On the sides, there are two rectangular handles.
The inscription on the collar reads: HEINRICK TER HORST ME FECIT A 1607, indicating that the mortar was made by Heinrick Terhorst, one of the leading Dutch foundry workers, working in Deventer (the Netherlands) in the years 1607–1664.

Elaborated by the Museum of Pharmacy at the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Kraków, © all rights reserved

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Renaissance apothecary mortar

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