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History of Medicines Collection

A collection of published material relating mainly to the history and development of medicines and medicinal science during the 19th and 20th centuries.


Illustration from 'Historie of Plants' by John Gerard(e), 1597
Illustration from 'Historie of Plants' by John Gerard(e), 1597

The collection, assembled over time within the Library from the beginnings of the University, principally comprises pharmacopoeias, and formularies, both British and foreign, but includes some works covering broader subject areas such as dispensing, homeopathy, laboratory methods, drug design, professional healthcare and pharmacology. It also contains a number of leaflets and slighter publications relating to topical issues such as radioactive fallout, the effect of regular exposure to automobile exhaust gas and the treatment of 'wound shock'.

The collection contains two earlier works of note. 'Mesue et Omnia Quae Cum Eo Imprimi Consueverunt' published in 1549 and an illustrated edition of 'Historie of Plants', also known as 'Gerarde's Herbal', by the botanist John Gerard(e) published in 1597 which contains a large number of fine engravings showing a wide range of plants, fruits and vegetables alongside notes on their medicinal or health-giving properties.

The collection also includes a series of four unpublished prescription books containing manuscript prescriptions (with recipes) issued by pharmacists between c 1840 and 1942.

Size: Approximately 300 items.

View all books in the collection.


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