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Laboratory press

The laboratory press was used for pressing (expressio) plant materials which required high pressure. Fruit, leaf and root juices or seed oils were obtained in this way. The press consisted of a wooden base to which a metal piston was attached in the form of a screw; the bottom ended with a wooden round shaft and the top with a horizontal forged wrench used to rotate the piston. The piston was placed in a metal basket with a funnel. Raw materials were put into the basket and liquid was squeezed by gradually turning the screw.

“The Canon of Medicine” of Avicenna

The work of a Persian doctor, philosopher, scholar, known in Europe as Avicenna (Abu Ali Ibn Sina, 980–1037). The Canon of Medicine was written at the beginning of the 11th century, but served as a manual of medical knowledge in the West even up to the 17th century, while in the East it is sometimes used up to this day.

Pharmaceutical tablet maker machine

Today, it seems obvious that we take tablets in their current form. Pharmaceutical companies scramble to launch the most convenient form of a particular drug on the market. Pharmacy was an experimental field in the times we are transported to by the pharmacy exhibition in the house with a turret in the town of Biecz. Pharmacists were not limited to prescriptions and selling ready-made medicines. They also created them. In rooms often referred to as alchemists’ workshops, mysterious mixtures were created, which did not always serve the health of their subsequent users...

Tibetan medicine set

A part of the Ethnographic Museum's collection, the so-called Tibetan medicine set is one of a few complete 19th/20th-century descriptions of Tibetan medicine in the world, including a set of medicines and a description of their application. It consists of two medical manuscripts and almost 300 medicines, or actually products to prepare them such as seeds, plants, fruit and minerals, mostly labelled in the Tibetan language.

Simon Syrenius’s “Herbarium”

The author of Zielnik [Herbarium] was Simon Syrenius (ca. 1540–1611), a doctor and botanist, a professor of the Kraków Academy. His work contains descriptions of 765 medicinal plants together with their medicinal use. Most monographs are provided with woodcut images of plants. As the title suggests, it was aimed at doctors, pharmacists, barber surgeons, horse traders, horse healers, stablemen, gardeners, chefs, cooks, inn-keepers, farmers, wet-nurses, ladies and maidens, and all who love and take medicines.

Poison cabinet

The black painted cabinet was used to store potent medicines in the pharmacy. It usually included an inscription, “Venena” (Latin: veneum – poison), and a symbol of a skull with crossbones. The cabinet presented here bears the aforementioned emblems of death, while inside it is divided into Arsenicalia, Alcaloida and Mercurialia. The Arsenicalia stored in the cabinet are arsenic derivatives, among which the most popular medicine was white arsenic (arsenic oxide), used as a component in various medications.

Apothecary jar for the dissected human skull

An apothecary jar made of milk glass, decorated in a Rococo style (2nd half of the 18th century). The label is surrounded by a gold ring decorated with a reddish-brown chaplet, buckled in the middle. In the middle of the label there is an inscription in two-colour capital letters: CRAN: HUMN: PPT — a dissected human skull.

“Hydria” apothecary vase

A hydria type apothecary vase. Majolica. Savona (Italy). The 2nd half of the 17th century. Handles in the shape of (fantastic) animal heads on massive bent necks. In the front, at the bottom, there is a relief of a gargoyle. In its mouth there is an opening to pour out the content of the vase, plugged with a standard cork. There are smaller gargoyles without openings on the sides of the vessel, under the handles.

Pill gilding box

The round wooden box presented here was used in a pharmacy for silvering and gilding pills. In this way, their unpleasant taste was made more palatable and they were protected against drying and spoiling. The method of gilding pills may be found in Heinrich and Fabian’s Farmacya (Warsaw, 1835): “Pills, hard, dry and cleaned from powder are put on a pill rolling disc, moistened with a few drops of gum arabic or a regular syrup and, by spinning them a few times, they are covered with the liquid.

Two apothecary vessels

Vessels in the form of a monstrance for storing medicinal oils come from the convent pharmacy of Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God in Cieszyn. The pharmacy began its functioning in the 1690s. At the time, the monastery in Cieszyn was founded, together with a hospital and a pharmacy run by monks. The vessels are decorated with white Rococo cartouches with gold borders. Inside the cartouches there are apothecary inscriptions in two-coloured majuscule: Ol. Cinnamomi — cinnamon oil — on one of the jars, and Ol. Macis — nutmeg oil — on the other.

Pharmaceutical pill maker

A pill maker is a device used to make pills (pilulae from Latin pila — ball, pellet), one of the oldest kinds of medicine. The presented exhibit of Eugen Dieterich’s construction (2nd half of the 19th century) consists of a wooden base and a movable slat. On both elements...

Pharmaceutical tablet maker machine

A hand-held tablet press was used in a pharmacy for the production of tablets obtained by compressing a powdered drug substance using a piston. The presented object comes from the beginning of the 20th century. This tablet press was produced in the Austrian company Kahnemann-Krause-Vienna...

Pharmacy mortar from 1615

The mortar is decorated with a flat relief cartouche, on which there is a house mark and the monogram JR, belonging to Jan Radziwin, a doctor of medicine and philosophy, the owner of the pharmacy on the Warsaw Old Town Square. On the cartouche frieze, there is an inscription in capital letters: ANNO DOMINI...

Tenaculum — stand for apothecary scales

This tripod, the so-called tenaculum, on which small hand weights were hung, comes from the hospital monastery pharmacy of the Brothers of Mercy in Pilchowice. The pharmacy was opened in 1819, and the tripod, as shown in the inscriptions placed on it, was funded for the pharmacy in 1820.

Repository for different part of herbs

The presented repository, which comes from a hospital pharmacy, was used to store herbs. The names of medicinal raw materials are placed on the drawers equipped with iron baroque handles: “HB. HEDER” – common ivy (Hedera helix L.), “HB. HYOSCIAMI” – black henbane...

Renaissance apothecary mortar

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...

Renaissance apothecary mortar from 1562

In pharmacies, mortars were used to crush a variety of substances and to make certain forms of prescription drugs, such as: emulsions, ointments and powders. The presented mortar comes from 1562. It has a conical shape and is made of bronze. Its decoration is a plant motif – acanthus leaves – with the year 1562 placed among them. An additional ornament...

Percolator

A percolator is a device used to extract raw vegetable materials by the method of continuous, slow flow of a solvent through the raw material layer. This method is called percolation (from the Latin percolo, flow) or, less often, displacement. Due to this, extracts that are much richer in active substances than obtained by simple maceration (soaking) are produced.

Apothecary majolica vessel — “albarello”

This is a Maiolica pharmacy albarello vessel, elliptically concave, created in Faenza (Italy) in the mid-sixteenth century. It has blue, green, yellow, and orange figural and plant decoration; its human figure is a herbalist with a headscarf for herbs on her back. The inscription on the banderole reads: Aloe patico.

Faience apothecary vessel

This is a faience pharmacy vessel with two handles in the shape of mutton heads. On the shard, there is a black italic shelf mark – Syrupus opiatus – water with a sugary, poppy syrup. The preparation was obtained by dissolving poppy extract – opium (Extractum Opii) – in an appropriate amount of concentrated sugar solution.