Heidelberg Off The Beaten Path Tips by Trekki Top 5 Page for this destination
Heidelberg Off The Beaten Path: 77 reviews and 120 photos
Industrialisation of Pharmacies
Upon entering the Pharmacy Museum, you will learn much about the early stages of pharmacy, from its first idea of legalization in 13th century to it’s industrialization over the years. All the important and trend-setting researchers of these days are mentioned and explained how they have contributed to modern pharmaceutical developments.
Offizin of Benedictine monastery (1724)
In the German Pharmacy Museum, you will come across 4 offizins, the old pharmacy shops. They nicely show the development over the years, from the first shops in buildings (rather than on old markets).
The table(s) in the middle of the room(s) did not serve as counter, as usually, the customers did not enter the pharmacists’ shops, but were given the medication through a little window. The tables have been used to mix the medicines’ ingredients.
You’ll come across beautiful pharmacy furniture, the famous drawers being still imitated today.
Pic 1: baroque interior of Benedictine monastery in Schwarzach (1724). 2 statues – Aesculap (god of healing) and Hygieia (his daughter) are standing on the preparation table, in their hands the symbol of medicine – snake and staff. The balance is of 1830 (France), having a porcelain pedestal. The mixing table has 60 drawers with ingredients; more ingredients are in the shelf, in beautiful glass vessels.
Pic 2: cherry wood closet and drawer, 1812, of Kronen Apotheke (Ulm, Germany).
Travel pharmacy case of 17th century
In the rooms where all the Offizins are exhibited, you’ll see what the people used these days when travelling. Tiny instruments and equipment is on display in showcases, the most beautiful exhibit is an old travel pharmacy case of 17th century, which belonged to a commander. It contained everything, from tiny glass and silver vessels with the medicines to small instruments.
Plants - in old pharmacology
For me the most fascinating part of Pharmacy Museum is the exhibition of plants, animals and rocks, as used for preparing medicine in the old days.
In 28 showcases with more than 1000 exhibits, the “working material” of 17-19th century pharmacists is displayed and excellently described. The exhibition is divided into the 3 parts of nature (regna naturae) – minerals, plants and animals. Also shown are the original instruments of how pills and salves have been manufactured those days.
In a niche, the “Merck Collection” is exhibited as well, a collection of raw materials and drugs which Chem.-Pharm. Merck KgaA (NOT to be confused with US Merck !!) did collect from all parts of the world when it started to develop from Engel pharmacy to the first international chemical pharmaceutical manufacturing company.
Pic 1: Plants: betel nut (enhancing sweating), Campher (against rheumatic fever), cocoa beans (with analeptic alkaloids) and coconuts (as base for salves) are shown and explained in detail;
Pic 2: more plants, such as herbs (dill) and others,
Pic 3: Animals: dried fox lung (pulmo vulpis) helped against severe cough, toads (bufo bufo) were processed (dried and grained) into medicine against the Black Death – the plague, and other skin illnesses, rabbits (tali leporum) were meant to enhance and speed up birth deliveries, and wood-louse (millepedes) was used against buckled or distorted limbs.
(to be continued in next tip)
The mineral collection
More material displayed in the showcases - minerals are used as raw materials for medicine since ages.
Silver (Argentum) for example was used to make “lunar caustic” (Lapis infernalis, AgNo3), which was good against gonorrhoea.
Gold (Aurum) mainly was used in alchemy days, but later as well as “potable gold” (aurum potabile) in several healing waters.
Lead (Plumbum) is too toxic to be used internally, so it’s basic lead carbonate “white lead” (Cerusse) was transformed into a white salve, used to dry out eczemas and other pustules.
Also, lead oxide (Lithargyrum, PbO) with adstringing effects, was made into plasters and “lead water” (Aqua plumbum).
Tin (Stannum) was used as “white lead” (Plumbum album”, Plumbum candidum) and used as vermicide – considering the hygienic conditions those days must have been a top sales product (haha).
Tinoxide was good against cramps, hysteria and syphillis, it’s chloride against epilepsy.
Copper (Cuprum), similar as lead, was also only used externally, such as anti-septic in wounds.
Iron as “Blood Stone” (Lapis haematitis, haematite, Fe2O3) and “Magnet Stone” (Lapis magnetis, magnetite, Fe3O4) has been the most important iron minerals, those days as today used to enhance “blood building” and wound treatment.
Pic 1: Some minerals used in the old days,
Pic 2: the “Merck Collection” (as mentioned in the previous tip)
The herb processing room
A fascinating room to view – and to smell – is the herb processing room, where herbs were stored and made into medicine. The room is fitted with fresh herbs and smells incredible good (the museum employees seem to refill them from time to time !).
The furniture and equipment are of the Village Pharmacy in Mosbach, mainly from 19th century.
Roots and barks have been pregrinded with special knives and cutting-boards, then in mortars for further crushing.
The big old scale in the middle was used to weigh bigger bulks of herbs.
Alchemy lab :-)
The pharmacist's lab is situated in a beautiful old vault, designed as if you would expect a pharmacist of 19th century to step out of a door and start his daily work :-)
The room is filled with all the lab equipment of early pharmaceutical-technical days, such as retorts, distillation flasks, vessels to catch and separate liquids of different viscosity and density, filtration sets, different presses, crucibles, Berzelius burners, Woulff bottles and many other old instruments – ahhhh, (al)chemist's heaven :-)
Look at the website below, to get an impression of the whole room.
Beautiful old pharmacy sign
In the older days, a common pharmacy trade sign or logo (as today's red A) did not exist. That’s why the pharmacists could choose their own logo, which was inspired by the “raw materials” of their daily life, mainly animals.
So you can see beautiful carved, iron-wrought, plaster, enamel and other trade signs of old pharmacies:
Today's trade sign, the red letter “A” with poison bowl and snake, exists since 1951.
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