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Bucharest, Aug 16 /Agerpres / - The History of Pharmacy Museum, Romania's first such institution, sits in the city of Cluj-Napoca, at No. 28 Union Square, and holds over 3,000 exhibits dating from the fourteenth century. The Transylvanian city of Sibiu has a similar museum.
Founded in 1954 at the initiative of Professor Valeriu Bologa of the Cluj University of Medicine and Pharmacy, the museum is tucked in the Hintz House, a historic monument dating from the fifteenth century, which accommodated the town's first pharmacy "St. George" - founded by a Saxon family - throughout its uninterrupted operation for almost 400 years (1573 - 1949). As of 1752, the space was rented out to private pharmacists and the first tenant was privileged pharmacist Tobias Mauksch; in 1863, it became ownership of the Hintz family. The property was returned in 2008 to a descendant of the Hintz family (who were the last pharmacists to work here until 1949).
The initial core for the establishment of the museum was the collection of Transylvanian pharmaceutical items of Professor and Corresponding Academy Member Iuliu Orient (1869-1940), which was displayed at the Transylvanian Museum in 1904. Other donations added later on, all bearing remarkable testimony to the pharmaceutical activity in 16th - 19th century Transylvania.
The collection is displayed in three rooms of the old pharmacy and two laboratories that preserve the medieval setting, located at the basement, where an entire arsenal of tools used for the preparation of drugs meets the visitor's eyes: there's a distiller for obtaining the alcohol used to extract tinctures from various herbs, containers for melting substances, bowls for the hot preparation of drugs or for roasting therapeutic seeds, presses for medicinal juices, tools for shaping or capsulizing tablets and suppositories, bronze and iron mortars (16th century), old furniture, medicines, prescriptions, seals of medieval pharmacies.
Trade-specific weight units are not missing from the pharmacy collection: the libra (420.82 g), the ounce (35.001 g), the drachma (4.375 g), the scruple - scrupulus in Latin (1.550 g) and the granum (0.072 g).
The museum boasts the most valuable collection of pharmaceutical vessels in Romania, dating from the 16th - 19th century, made of wood, ceramic, earthenware, glass or porcelain, all by well-established manufacturers, painted and engraved with the Latin names of the pharmaceuticals kept in them. Some of these recipients are unique in Europe. The decoration of the Dispensary, the space where drugs were sold, is unique in Romania; it was ordered by pharmacist Tobias Mauksch who has worked here for half a century. The original 18th century ceiling frescoes are preserved, featuring elaborate pharmaceutical symbols: the tree of life surrounded by the two serpents of Aesculapius and a crane holding a stone in its claws as a symbol of watchfulness.
Also to be found here is a pharmaceutical chest from the 17th century, with ten drawers, each with a plate indicating the substance deposited inside: "Crem. Tartari" (potassium hydrogen tartrate, with laxative and diuretic effect); "Lap. Pumicis" (pumice powder, a remedy against intestinal parasites); "Lap.Haematid" (hematite - a trivalent iron oxide; the powder of this mineral was used as antihaemorrhagic agent).
Also to be seen in the Dispensary is the diploma awarded to pharmacist Velits from Turda in 1776. Two wooden panels painted in the eighteenth century represent Greek physician Hippocrates and the goddess of wisdom, Minerva.
Displayed on the prescription preparation table are some drug formulations used by pharmacists in the past such as coral powder, powdered precious stones, crayfish eyes, Syrian asphalt (used to treat rheumatic diseases) or herbal tinctures.
The museum also preserves medical kits used during the war, complete with soothing remedies, medical books and documents belonging to the first pharmacies in Transylvania.
Among the fascinating exhibits are medicines from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, many of them very bizarre, such as mummy powder - considered a panacea in the Middle Ages and credited with miraculous powers of curing the plague and cholera; Teriaca - a medicine more than 2,000 years old, a complex product with over 60 herbal ingredients that also contained a significant dose of opium, used predominantly as an antidote against poison, as well as an ingredient in even more complex medication; Arabian lizard - used as powder in the manufacturing of diuretics and aphrodisiacs.
The Pharmacy Museum in Cluj-Napoca presented on February 24, 2014, on the Romanian love day - the Dragobete - an 'Eau d'Amour' recipe dating from the nineteenth century. The perfume recipe which was high in demand at that time was preserved in the 'St. George' apothecaries and contains essential oils of bergamot, rose, orange blossom, violet root oil, and musk, amber, coumarin, vanilla, ylang-ylang, jasmine essence, all these exotic ingredients mixed in various quantities with wine alcohol. The fragrance was prepared in the pharmacy, which was also offering cosmetics in those days, and sold in special, hand painted vials.
The Pharmacy Museum is a special collection that lights the spirit through the passion for serving the profession that imbues the exhibits and the originality of the tools of the trade. AGERPRES
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