A pharmacy dispensary, ca. 1700
The 17th century pharmacy contains a plethora of remedies. Raw materials are stored in material chambers, chemical processes are performed in the laboratory and complex formulations are prepared in the dispensary. “Magical" substances are still highly attractive. Pharmacy is still an empirical art.
The license for the pharmacy
“Friderich Jacob Mercken, apothecary from Schweinfurth” receives the “operating license" to run his pharmacy from the ruling court of Ludwig VI on August 26, 1668.
Valuable expert literature in the young company
Pharmacopoeias set out regulations for working in the pharmacy, describe substances, explain the preparation of simplicia and composita. The Pharmacopeia Augustana published in 1564 is valid into the 17th century. The edition of 1652/53 also contains critical comments from the scientific community.
The blowfish: A symbol of exotic remedies
“Materia medica” – the term used to refer to all medicines: plant and mineral substances (vegetabilia and mineralia) and animalia from humans and animals. The exterior of a “substance” must exhibit its effect: The fish protects itself with quills, the medicines derived from it fight disease.
The healing power of minerals
In the 16th century, the systematic search for the hidden powers of inanimate nature begins. Alchemistic ideas make compounds of gold or copper into life-prolonging remedies. Sulfur is also omnipresent in Friedrich Jacob Merck’s pharmacy: It “resists decay and poison”.
Dried plants from all over the world
Trade with precious drugs (dry substances) is one of the original tasks of the pharmacist. The preparation of medicines from sulfur is based on healing notions dating back to antiquity. The archives at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, preserves extensive collections of medicinal substances.
A document from the year 1708
Exotic and expensive vegetabilia from distant countries such as muscat flowers, aloe and cinchona bark make therapy valuable. The statement of costs for remedies bearing the signature of the pharmacist Georg Friedrich Merck is an early example of the tasks performed in the pharmacy.
Pharmacist: An occupation entailing great responsibility
Often the dose makes a remedy a poison. In 1720, Johann Frantz Merck sells “a simpleton” a powder, which ends up killing his severely ill wife. An examination reveals no fault on the part of Johann Frantz Merck. However, this again highlights pharmacists' responsibility.