Thursday, February 19th, 2015...10:27 am

Medicine for the masses

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


Ever wondered where to buy first aid supplies, medical equipment, or prescriptions if you lived in 19th-century Europe?  Look no further than Guide Medical, translated as a Medical Guide to aid recovery in case of accidents or illness : instructions on performing medical prescriptions.  Authored by H. Finck who owned a shop in Geneva, Switzerland this catalog gives us a glimpse into the buying habits of people in this time period.  

Finck, a German apothocary took over the original shop from a French pharmacist and in a few short years took it from a modest corner store to one of the largest pharmacy’s in Switzerland.

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In addition to having the traditional items such as medical supplies and patent medicines Finck also carried perfume, sponges, and even had an American soda-water fountain.  Apparently the shop was quite modern for the time with lights set in walnut wood and windows that were glass cased so that you could see the whole interior of the shop from the outside.  A counter ran around the shop on three sides with various dispensers, along with a beautiful glass show case for various types of bottles for purchase.

Finck was really marketing to both the medical professional and the casual consumer which is probably what made him so successful. This is very evident in the image that describes how one would get the appropriate measurement for socks.


Guide médical pour faciliter les secours en cas d’accidents ou de maladie : instructions sur l’exécution des prescriptions médicales / par H. Finck, pharmacien.   Genève : Imprimerie Ch. Zoellner, 1895.  RC86.8.F49 1895 can be found at the Countway Library at the Harvard Medical School in Longwood.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager and Joan Thomas, Rare Book Cataloger at Countway for contributing this post.

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