Central Custody
Weender Landstrasse 2
37073 Göttingen

Opening hours/access:

Contact person/contact:
Central Custody
Christine Nawa
Tel.: +49 (0551) 39-26696

After around 60 years, this unique medical history collection was discovered in an attic in 2001 by scientists from the University of Göttingen and saved from destruction. The collection includes over 8,500 individual items, most of which are still in their original packaging and contain, among other things, a tree bark brought from South America by Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). The range of holdings is impressive. There are several hundred different cinchona barks alone, as well as numerous roots from rhubarb plants of various origins. The collection offers a cross-section of the "materia medica" of the 19th century. This makes it probably the oldest and most extensive collection of medically effective natural substances in Germany. The collection also contains various curiosities, such as lizards in lavender flowers.

Collection history:
Founded around 1836 by the Göttingen pharmacist Heinrich August Ludwig Wiggers; By the time of Wigger's death it had grown to around 5,000 objects.
1892 under Prof. Dr. Albert Peter assigned pharmacognosy to botany; strong collection increases
In 1899, the Giessen pharmacist Karl F.W. Mettenheimer, Göttingen University, around 1,900 samples from previous collaboration.
In 1934, the first preparations were wrapped in newspaper and packed in boxes. In 1935 the pharmaceutical department was discontinued and the collection was forgotten
from 2001 the collection was owned by Dr. Volker Wissemann was rediscovered in the botanical attic and most of the collection was indexed in an Excel spreadsheet and re-stored.

Purpose of use:
The collection was used as a reference for plant identification and drug production. Even today, the collection can still be attributed great importance - for the natural sciences, the collection can serve as a reference model for biodiversity research. Enclosed recipes may be of interest to the history of medicine, pharmacy and science. There are also connections to the ethnological collection.

Total number of objects:
Approximately 8,000 objects

Partial collections/convolutes:
The collection offers a cross-section of the "materia medica" of the 19th and early 20th centuries, including: Vegetabilia, Animalia. Mineralia, vegetable by-products, (curiosities)

Development status:
The catalog of the Pharmacognostic Collection at the Georg-August University of Göttingen, published in 2017 by Volker Wissemann and Kärin Nickelsen, offers a complete overview of the inventory.

(Text: Marcia Pein and Bianca Scholtyssek)

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