(17 August 2012) The MUSC Pharmacy Museum added a substantial collection to its holdings when AvivA Hoffmann, daughter of Marvin Bernard Kramer ’62, agreed to donate a large part of her father's horde of pharmacy treasures. The relics date from the 1850s to the 1940s-50s and were amassed from all around the east coast.
“Dad got his love of apothecary (and poison) bottles from his profession,” AvivA said. “He graduated from MUSC in 1962, at the age of 20, and couldn't even legally dispense medicine at Kramer's Pharmacy until about a year later!”
Kramer is a child of Izzy ’33 and Irma Kramer, who ran Kramer’s Pharmacy in Summerville, SC. Marvin and his younger siblings, Rosalyn Kramer Monat-Haller of Summerville and Samuel Leon Kramer of Columbia, worked in the store growing up. Catalyzed by his love of pharmacy, Marvin eventually started running the business … and running up an impressive array of pharmacy artifacts.
“Dad's original collection was really something,” AvivA said. “He incorporated more than 10,000 bottles in his small-town drug store – a real throw back in time! - until he sold the business.”
In 1995, he held a one-day auction for the bottles and sold many pieces, but also started a new collection about 10 years ago. The donation includes some 220 items from that newer collection.
The collection is populated with fascinating snapshots of pharmacy’s past, including jars with labels of tungsten or Nux Vomica or arsenic; tins of quinine sulphate, blue ointment or drawing salve; bottles of caffeine, calomel, potassium bromide or wooden applicators; glasses of bromo-seltzer, boxes of powder paper, measuring devices and many other interesting objects. A tell-tale bubble on the bottom indicate some of the bottles are hand-blown.
Ron Nickel R ’65, curator of the MUSC Pharmacy Museum, is incorporating the Kramer donation into the Museum. The Museum welcomes donations of memorabilia and other keepsakes alumni may have in storage.
Tours of the Museum are available. For more information, contact Dr. Nickel at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 792-8440.