The medical and pharmaceutical collection of nearly 5000 items was founded in January 1985 with the takeover of two professional collections: the historic pharmacy collection of Nándor Lóránd (Bács-Kiskun County Pharmacy Centre) and Dr Aladár Réti’s historic medical collection (Bács-Kiskun County Hospital). In 1966 Nándor Lóránd began exploring and collecting old pharmaceutical furniture and vessels; discarded equipment and documents. As a result of Lóránd’s work, the Semmelweis Medical History Museum, Library and Archives waiving its right to collect, entrusted him with curator responsibilities and duties in the county and Kecskemét because of the significance of the quality and value of his collection. Dr Aladár Réthy chief physician, clinical laboratory specialist and medical historian founded the medical history collection, a result of his nationally acknowledged work, although his collecting activities only focused on the county.
Pharmacies typically featured two interconnected rooms since the time of the Renaissance. The main parts were the officina and the laboratory. The apothecary items collected by Nándor Lóránd could be categorized by these functions. The following objects belong to the officina: apothecary furniture, jars, scales, and decorated candy jars; while pharmacy apparatus could be found in the laboratory. Our most valuable furniture is a pine wood, flogging painted, so-called ‘folk Baroque’ apothecary cabinet (1746). Certain installations from the pharmacies of Kiskőrös and Harta represent the nineteenth-century apothecary furniture in our collection. The chemist’s called To the Saviour, which operated at a temporary place from late January 1905, moved into the premises designed for this specific purpose at the second city rental house at the corner of Vásári-Nagy and Hosszú Street in 1906. Unfortunately, only a few sculpted decorations, fragments of furniture and tableware survived from the unity of the art nouveau building, furniture, and tableware.
Apothecary jars can be classified according to their functions. There are wooden jars, liquid and powder jars, ointment bottles, candy jars, medication dispensing glasses, larger stock vessels, oil bottles, vinegar bottles, bitter water bottles. The shape of the vessels varies from one chemist’s to the other (in Bács-Kiskun county it means 89 variants) for the apothecary sets were decorated with different cartouches. The most precious items among these bottles regarding applied art are two eighteen-century faïence jars: a Holitsch jar and a vessel from the workshop of Domokos Kuny in Buda.
The equipment of historic drug preparation used in laboratories could be organized by the different forms of medicine prepared with them: tools for grinding, pill rounders, manual tablet triturate moulds, suppository moulds, filtration apparatus, vessels (infundibula), and distillation flasks. The next unit includes medicine such as eighteenth-century natural substances and drugs; nineteenth- and twentieth-century pharmaceutical products and factory-made products from the 20th century. Advertisements and apothecary labels complement the collection. Homeopathic medicines belong to both collections.
In addition to objects, it is worth taking a look at the collection of pharmaceutical books and periodicals, for example, an encyclopaedia, Hungarian and international books on medicines, drug tariffs, manuals, and practical handbooks. Numerous volumes can be explored from the periodicals titled Gyógyszerészi Hetilap (Pharmacist Weekly Magazine), Gyógyszerészi Közlöny (Pharmacist Bulletin), Magyar Gyógyszerész (Hungarian Pharmacist) and Gyógyszerészeti Szemle (Pharmaceutical Review).
The main units of the medical history collection consist of, on the one hand, instruments and, on the other hand, memorial plaquettes. We only have a few instruments from the 18th century: surgical knives, extraction forceps and cups. The most outstanding piece of our nineteenth-century surgical sets is a pocket surgical kit manufactured by A. Lüer’s workshop. The leather wallet is velvet lined and the instruments have horn handles. The main groups of twentieth-century medical instruments are surgical, gynaecological, dental, otolaryngological and therapy instruments. The finest pieces of the medical history collection are the brass microscopes. Besides, the collection also contains the traditional objects (midwifery bags, diplomas, manuscripts, notebooks) of obstetricians and midwives.
Most of the medical books and periodicals are from the first half of the 20th century, however, we can also find some valuable items from earlier centuries (e.g. István Mátyus: Diaetica, 1762). Our most precious volume among the periodicals is the first year of Gyógyászat (Therapy,1861). Our collection is also rich in documents.
The collection has been housed in the single-storey building located at 3 Kölcsey Street since 14 June 1985, which originally was a farm cottage. It could have been built by the Bene and Vékony families in the 1760s and the last owner was the Hoksza family from 1940. The two Bohemian vaulted porches, the ‘kódisállás’ (literally, beggar’s nooks, where beggars and travellers could take shelter for the night) with a gable roof dividing the wall surface on the one-time back façade render a unique external appearance of this building, which is otherwise typical of market towns.