Monday, August 10, 2009

Private Collections: Pharmacy Relics

Brooklyn Pharmacy, located in SE Portland, is probably the longest continuously operating pharmacy in the state of Oregon. In this day and age of giant mega-stores, dispensing medications, the neighborhood, independently owned pharmacy is a rare thing. As other local pharmacies have closed over the years, their antiques and curiosities have been making their way to Mike, the owner and main pharmacist of this little shop. The following pictures are pieces of this history.

The above are vials of strychnine. As I look at each of the bottles, tiny vials, and little boxes in the three display cases arranged in the pharmacy, it amazes me how many cures were poisons. In fact, almost all of the vials are clearly marked poison.

The images below are definite relics of a bygone era. At one point in time, opium and coca were commonly prescribed medicines. Bayer, the makers of Aspirin, were one of the first to manufacture and market heroin. Not only was it one of the best pain relievers known at the time, it was touted as a cure for alcoholism. Coca leaves have anesthetic properties that could be used ailments and the pick-me-up it provided was an added bonus. But while cocaine and heroin have become street drugs, their pharmacological properties are still widely noted and their derivatives are used to this day.

The number of old vials and bottles in the Brooklyn Pharmacy Collection is quite amazing. Compounding agents, mortars and pestles, pill forming tools, and an interesting collection of old hand-written prescriptions dating back to 1890. If you are in SE Portland, this is definitely a collection worth looking at.

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