Pharmacy history

Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy
The people of Budapest does not even know what a pharmacy is. Only the village knows that. In the village the pharmacy has been the only civilized cultural place since ever. A casino. The center of intellectual life. A shop, but always clean and elegant, its director an erudite gentleman. The local gentlemen gather here before hunting, they give rendezvous to each other here, the pharmacist offers them a little glass of redweed, and the liquor, red as flame, fits very well to their flaming red joy of life. Here they talk over the matters of economy, the affairs of society, the gossips. How strange: a business can be founded on the particular human ability and propensity to undertake putting up various diseases. And moreover quite a good business.

Zsigmond Móricz: Patika (Pharmacy), a reportage in the daily Magyarország, May 23, 1936. Quoted by Kálmán Buzás: Szent Katalin, a gyógyító, avagy szemelvények a kőbányai gyógyszerészet múltjából (Saint Catherine the healer, or passages from the past of the pharmacies of Kőbánya), Budapest-Kőbánya 2009.

Four pharmacies I remember of my childhood. The first one addressed to the Divine Providence or called by its owner the Fáczányi Pharmacy worked since 1871 in the center of our district Kőbánya, in the building of the Casino of Kőbánya, of which we have written earlier. This was blown up in 1976. Its beautiful furnishings, realized by the same cabinet-maker Béla Valnicsek who also created that of the neighboring Art Nouveau church of Saint Ladislaus designed by the eminent fin-de-siècle architect Ödön Lechner, was saved from destruction by old local patriots for a while, but finally in the 80’s it was cleared out from the cellar of a school in Kőbánya, and it disappeared forever.

Budapest, Kőbánya, Fáczányi pharmacy around 1910
The second pharmacy, the Golden Eagle was opened in the “vineyard center” of Kőbánya, at the corner of Kápolna square and Vaspálya street. This image below shows it in its Socialist-period eroded final stage. All the other pharmacies arrived to this stage, too. This was also demolished in the 70’s together with several other age-mellowed buildings of the square.

Budapest, Kőbánya, Arany Sas pharmacy around 1970
Of the third pharmacy, the Hygieia founded in 1926 I do not even have a picture. It was in Maglódi street, just a corner from the hospital. The nearest one to us by bicycle, as a child I used to come here to take out the prescriptions for my grandfather. In the 90’s it became a bar, today a funeral parlour.

The fourth one, the Saint Catherine pharmacy was founded in 1909 in the most civilian street of that Kőbánya which has been left by our days, in Gergely street, some corners from the most beautiful Art Nouveau synagogue of Budapest and from the Art Nouveau Polish church designed by the great architect Aladár Árkay.

Budapest, Kőbánya, Saint Catherine pharmacy around 1920
This pharmacy, however, has remained. What is more, it is still led by its former owners. True, with a gap of fifty years. On July 28, 1950, Friday – the so-called Black Friday – at 10 o’clock in the morning the ministerial commissioners sequestrated at the same time all the pharmacies of the country, thus preventing any “conspiracy” of their owners. Only after the end of the Communist regime, in 1996 could the daughter of the former pharmacist-owner couple buy the store from the state again.

Budapest, Kőbánya, Saint Catherine pharmacy, notification of nationalization, 1950A laconic notification of the Ministry of Public Welfare to the owner of the pharmacy about its nationalization, July 28, 1950.

On the centenary of the foundation of the Saint Catherine pharmacy a beautiful exhibition has been organized in the Cultural Center of Kőbánya with the pieces of furnishing, documents and other mementos of this and other, defunct local pharmacies by Kálmán Buzás, who has also composed and published for this occasion a history of the pharmacies of this district as the third volume of the “Kőbánya Fascicles”: Szent Katalin, a gyógyító, avagy szemelvények a kőbányai gyógyszerészet múltjából (Saint Catherine the healer, or passages from the past of the pharmacies of Kőbánya).

Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy
In the Saint Catherine pharmacy the pharmaceutical traditions of the farthest points of ancient Hungary met each other. Shortly after its foundation, the pharmacy was purchased by Dr. Viktor Pildner, a member of a very ancient Transylvanian Saxon dynasty of pharmacists, owner of the Guardian Angel pharmacy in the Southern Transylvanian Fogaras (now Făgăraş), “a very sympathetic man” and “a very kind and good man” according to the contemporaries, who settled over to Budapest after the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 distributed his home land to Roumania. His elder daughter Melitta also graduated in pharmacy. And their assistant and later husband of Melitta, the pharmacist István Vincze settled over from the town of Rőce (now Revuca) from Northern Hungary, allotted to Slovakia in the Treaty of Trianon.

Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy: The map of pharmacies of the Lands of the Hungarian Crown, 1888Map of the Pharmacies of the Lands of the Hungarian Crown, 1888 (with Fogaras and Rőce marked)

Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy
Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy: Pildner Melitta és Vincze István
Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy: Pildner Melitta
Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy
Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy
Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy
The biographies of the physicians and pharmacists of Kőbánya in the last hundred years before WWII are shockingly beautiful. They bear witness to a world much more elaborated, concentraded, exalted and livable than our one, just like their objects exhibited.

Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacyPortrait and writing-desk of Dr. Ede Müller (1846-1917), the first physician of Kőbánya

The exhibition is of an extradordinarily high quality and an intimate atmosphere, and it has been composed with a great care. The documentation exhibited opens a window to the almost unknown civilian world of a pre-war district in Budapest. And visitors are served herbal teas and herbal candies on the little table in front of the very counter of the Saint Catharine farmacy, just like a hundred years ago. Still open in this week. Don’t miss it.

Budapest, Kőbánya, Pataky István Cultural Center, exhibition on the Saint Catherine pharmacy

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Impromptu sentimental de Wang Wei:

También en España, durante largos períodos de nuestra historia, las farmacias fueron el único refugio posible de tertulias inteligentes, más o menos clandestinas o intelectuales, más o menos políticas o conspiratorias, más o menos toleradas o solo intrascendentes reuniones de amigos burgueses acogidos por un farmacéutico casi siempre ocioso. La rebotica, es decir, la trastienda de la farmacia, es lugar importante en una infinidad de novelas de nuestro siglo XIX. Hace pocos años, hasta se hizo una larga serie de televisión, de gran éxito, Farmacia de Guardia, que convertía el lugar en centro de un interesante microcosmos.

Mi recuerdo alrededor de las farmacias es doble. Por un lado, he ido con frecuencia a admirar una farmacia excepcional que se encuentra, sorprendentemente, en el pueblecito de Valldemossa, en el interior de la famosa Cartuja. Dicen que es la farmacia antigua mejor conservada de Europa, y una de las que se puede documentar mayor longevidad: permaneció abierta ininterrumpidamente durante más de 206 años, de 1722 hasta su cierre en 1929. Se construyó junto al antiguo camino que conducía a la villa, entre el
pati dels lledoners (almeces) y el surtidor, donde existía un pequeño jardín botánico farmacéutico, todavía visible, pero muy modificado. Cada vez que entro imagino las conversaciones que debió mantener allí el ilustrado Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, durante su destierro en Mallorca, con el fraile boticario (de quien se había hecho amigo años antes, en la cartuja de El Paular). Hace poco se leyó en Barcelona una tesis doctoral, minuciosísima, que ha estudiado la farmacia, sobre todo, desde el ángulo farmacológico: podéis leerla completa aquí.

Valldemossa, la farmacia de la Cartuja a inicios del siglo XXEmplazamiento primitivo de la farmacia de la Cartuja de Valldemossa, aún a inicios del siglo XX.
San Cosme y San Damián la presiden desde la pintura colgada sobre los anaqueles.

Valldemossa, actual emplazamiento de la farmacia de la CartujaEmplazamiento actual de la farmacia de la Cartuja de Valldemossa.

Cartuja de Valldemossa, rebotica y último farmacéuticoLa rebotica de la farmacia de la Cartuja de Valldemossa (hoy no se conserva) y
el último farmacéutico, don Juan Esteva, hacia 1920.

El otro recuerdo, más personal, es el de la farmacia de mi tío Pepe. Bueno, así lo llamábamos, «tío», pero era tío de mi madre. Aquella era una farmacia pequeña y en la rebotica apenas había sitio para acoger cómodamente una tertulia. Hasta allí entrábamos los niños cuando queríamos y nos daba barritas de regaliz, caramelos de eucaliptus, pastillas de magnesia que hervían al metérnoslas en la boca. Como buen boticario, el tío Pepe tenía su tertulia, por supuesto, pero se reunía en el bar justo al lado de la farmacia, el Bar Mónaco. Allí es donde le recuerdo claramente, jugando a ajedrez y fumando cigarrillos de una marca ya desaparecida, Rumbo, de caja amarilla con un pequeño timón dibujado en el centro. También ha desaparecido la farmacia y hay ahora una tienda de aparatos eléctricos. Dudo que queden reboticas con tertulia ni boticarios tan sabios en esta parte de Europa.

1 comentario:

cantueso dijo...

Yes, in old Spain, too, but I had not understood this before reading this article. I saw it in some of Machado's poetryYes, in old Spain, too, but I had not understood this before. I saw it in Machado's poetry, recently in his great “Poema de un día”.

It is a long poem where he writes about a rainy day at home reading and looking through old papers, until evening when he decides to go to the "botica":

¿Todo es
soledad de soledades,
vanidad de vanidades,
que dijo el Eclesiastés?
Mi paraguas, mi sombrero,
mi gabán... El aguacero
amaina... Vámonos, pues.

Es de noche. Se platica
al fondo de una botica.

—Yo no sé,
Don José,
cómo son los liberales
tan perros, tan inmorales.
—¡Oh, tranquilícese usté!

http://www.abelmartin.com/guia/antol/cam_6.html