News

Rare Pharmacy Artefacts on Display


26 February 2013

The PDL Collection cabinet at the University of Sydney Faculty of Pharmacy. Left to right: ( Ross Brown AM, Brian Hill and Ralph Tapping).
The PDL Collection cabinet at the University of Sydney Faculty of Pharmacy. Left to right: ( Ross Brown AM, Brian Hill and Ralph Tapping).

A fascinating showcase of rare pharmaceutical artefacts is now on display in the Faculty of Pharmacy Building.

Dozens of unique historical items are on loan to the Faculty from the Pharmaceutical Defence Limited's (PDL) historic collection, courtesy of a donation from Mr Ross Brown AM and efforts by PDL curator Ralph Tapping.

Included in the display are examples of specie jars, inhalers, ear trumpets, spittoons, poison bottles, urinals, military field kits, leech jars and many more.

One of the items, a glass baby-feeder, dates back to the 1830s.

The artefacts featured in the Pharmacy and Bank Building entrance are some of the rarest in the country and are part of a significant collection belonging to Sydney alumnus, Brian Hill (MatMed).

Pharmaceutical Defence Limited has similar displays in universities in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.

According to the curator, Ralph Tapping, "all of these items are becoming quite rare and PDL is performing a very important role in preserving them... it is not possible to have the whole range of artefacts on display in every location, but scattered all over Australia we have an excellent variety".

The objects, originating mostly from England, represent an age of pharmaceutical science and practice virtually unrecognisable from modern-day pharmacy.

Craftsmanship and elegance are notable trademarks of such items, which, unlike today's tools of the trade were as importantly decorative as they were functional; huge, impressive specie jars and carboys, for instance, were placed in shop windows to clearly identify the place as a chemist.

"Pharmacy in those days and up to the mid-20th century was totally different to the present time and was more like the 'compounding' pharmacies that are dotted around today," says Ralph Tapping. "Pharmacies took pride in having elegant jars and bottles, usually in sets on the dispensary shelves, holding the dry and liquid drug and ointment stocks ready for dispensing."

Dean of Pharmacy Iqbal Ramzan praised the collection as a welcome addition for a Faculty with its own rich historical tradition and thanked Messrs Brown, Tapping and Hill for their efforts in bringing the display to the University.


Contact: Chris Beaumont

Phone: 02 9351 2311

Email: 2b3a0b2d267907132e461e2d1c0e2a36285138572f4214501f782205