THE FIRST mention of apothecaries in Slovakia comes from the seventeenth century, when they went door to door selling medicine. They offered a unique and varied assortment of healing oils made from arolla pines, dwarf pines, juniper berries, rosemary, fennel and pine cones. They also sold healing ointments and herbs.
The apothecaries made the oils by distilling or pressing crumbled twigs, sprigs and seeds. But some were frauds who obtained medicine from pharmacists and added ineffective ingredients to justify selling it at a much higher price. The Turiec region had the highest population of apothecaries. As many as 40 villages there had one.
By the first half of the nineteenth century apothecaries had expanded their market to all of Eastern Europe and the German-speaking countries. Some of them became very wealthy, but usually frittered their newfound wealth away on aristocratic titles or fancy clothing.
This postcard from around World War II shows a “pudla”, a box in which apothecaries kept their goods and equipment, though they often hired someone to carry it.
19. May 2008 at 0:00 | By Branislav Chovan