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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.

“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.

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.

Wooden apothecary boxes from 18th century

The wooden apothecary boxes come from the 2nd half of the 18th century. The vessels are made of linden wood and covered with red polychrome. On the bellies, in oval Rococo cartouches decorated with gold ornaments there are names of the materials they were to contain.

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.

Majolica apothecary vessel

The maiolica pharmacy jug is decorated with an orange, blue, and green plant ornament. It is worth noting the unusual handle – parallel (not perpendicular) to the jug’s body – thanks to which it was possible to lift and carry such a large and heavy vessel using a lowered hand. Under the handle, there is a mascaron head, resembling that of a lion.

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.

Pharmaceutical mortar

A late Renaissance mortar in the shape typical of the Low Countries and with a unique silvery colour. The mortar was made by one of leading casters of Deventer, Gerrit Schimmel, and it is part of a pair. The other is dated from 1688 and signed by the same author. It is at present being exhibited in a museum in Rotterdam.

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...

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.

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.

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.

Alembic

Alembic (Latin: alembicum) is a part of the apparatus required for distillation (distillation from Latin: distillare—drip, fall by drops). It consists of three separate parts: a boiler in which substances for distillation are placed, a helmet covering the boiler, and a cooler that connects the boiler to the receiver; namely, the place where the liquefied (distilled) liquid flows down.

Pharmaceutical vessel

A wooden pharmaceutical vessel in the shape of a chalice with a short and smooth foot on a circular pedestal. The bowl is elongated and smooth with an inscription made in cream-toned oil paint: “Radix Turpethi”.

Marble mortar

The presented mortar has the shape of a hemisphere with a flattened bottom with two handles cut flat at the edge of the outlet. There is a black stripe below the handle.

Apothecary vessel

The vessel comes from the 2nd half of the 18th century and is made of colourless glass. There is a little white lettering piece on it with a signature in two-coloured majuscule: ESS. THERIACALIS (Essentia theriacalis) syn. Tinctura theriacalis. The medicine contained, among others, theriac.

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.

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...

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.

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...