Division of Pharmacognosy at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry
The collection at the Department of Pharmacognosy is very varied but mainly consists of drugs, that is, natural products used as medicines or for the manufacture of medicines. The collection also contains equipment such as microscopes, many older colour photographic plates of plants, and an anthropological collection of wooden statues.
The oldest parts of the collection have previously been deposited at Uppsala University’s Museum of Evolution (Botany Section). Some items from the collections are still used in teaching, including a coco de mer, the ‘double coconut’ endemic to the Seychelles, from 1893. The collection of drugs was originally held by the Pharmaceutical Institute in Stockholm, which became part of Uppsala University in 1968.
The Camaroon Cabinet
Within the drug collection there is also a cabinet containing drugs from Cameroon. It was presented to the Karolinska Institute in 1924 by Georg Valdau and Knut Knutson. During the 1880s they founded a trading post in Cameroon, where they traded the juice of the rubber vine Saba comorensis, among other things. Valdau had studied under Gustaf von Düben, Professor of Anatomy at Karolinska Institutet, and the cabinet was presented to the institute as a gift of honour to him. The cabinet was transferred to the Pharmaceutical Institute in the 1940s.
There is also a microscope that is probably the one that Richard Westling (1918-1934), Professor at the Pharmaceutical Institute, used to study the mould from which Alexander Fleming later discovered penicillin. Among the more recent items in the collection are various types of measuring equipment, a mill and a heated drying cupboard for plant specimens.
The wooden statues
The anthropological collection of wooden statues constitutes a rather large part of the collection. The statutes were collected by Professor Emeritus Finn Sandberg during travels when he acquired plant material for pharmaceutical research. Most of the statues come from Asia and Central Africa, but there are also some from Canada, Chile and French Polynesia.
The Department of Pharmacognosy is one of very few institutions that still use their collections in teaching. That the objects have a continuing practical value is very positive and contributes to ensuring that they are taken care of and preserved.