Books' Room at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj

This room, initially another storage space and then the laboratory of the modern pharmacy, is now used for the display of part of the books and documents collection, but also of some of the highly popular exhibits  of the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca.
Books' Room in the History of Pharmacy Collection, Cluj-Napoca

The central case contains two 18th-century manuscripts by Tobias Maucksch, the privileged pharmacist who initiated the decoration and the first marketing strategies in the old pharmacy. He noted offering doctors in town New Year’s presents so that they referred patients with prescriptions to his shop. Such presents consisted of white sugar, coffee or six lemons, as these were novel and fashionable goods during that period. The case also contains several printed works employed by pharmacists, from ancient writings and collections of aphorisms, to specialize books such as pharmacopoeias, encyclopedias of knowledge, and dispensatories, collections of recipes for the preparation of drugs.
The museum's collection of specialized written sources is in fact much larger, including as early as 16th-century pharmaceutical works printed in Venice, manuscript inventories of pharmacies from Transylvania, diplomas and numerous later, printed books.

Apothecary old books

Apothecary and medical old books

Among the famous exhibits, in this room you can discover the bottles in which the Elixir of Love was once sold and the recipe for this aphrodisiac drink, and a precious apothecary chest, a kind of first aid kit that noblemen took with them in their numerous travels through Transylvania and abroad.
Listen to the presentation on izi.Travel HERE.


Leather earrings collection

Art leather earrings by #Atelieruldeistorie
Atelierul de istorie has created so far around 20 original earring models, entirely handmade out of genuine leather. Most of them are inspired by the civilizations of antiquity, mostly that of the ancient Dacians, but there are also Baroque shapes, contemporary models with 3D effects, types inspired by folk art and many more. Some are also available on one of my Etsy shops, the Transylvanian Trove. See the latter selection HERE, though it also includes vintage items made out of feathers, metal, ceramics, and polymer clay, all original handmade creations from Transylvania.
See also a previous entry on the advantage of leather as a creation medium for jewelry, especially earrings, HERE.


Baroque volutes leather earrings

Atelierul de istorie presents the latest addition to its online shop, a pair of handmade leather earrings inspired by the decorative shapes typical to the Baroque period. These large earrings suggest the volutes that artists and decorators from this period so often employed in their works. In size (6.5 cm in lengh, i.e. 2.5 inches) these accessories are also Baroque, aka impressive, decorative, and easily noticeable.
The hangers are made of common metal alloy.
More color variants shall be available soon.
See other Baroque-like products by Atelierul de istorie HERE
See more of my art leather earrings on Pinterest HERE.

Baroque leather earrings

Volutes handmade leather earrings

Large leather earrings


An ancient Roman dessert remake

The latest gastronomic experiment at Camp Virtus, part of the cultural project "Labyrinth through time", envisaged the recreation of a Roman dessert, adapting an ancient recipe. The "cake" consisted of a solid layer of fresh season fruits (among those available during Roman times, naturally, such as grapes, plums, and pears), covered by a layer of fresh ricotta cheese mixed with honey, all topped with resins (other variants indicate walnut seeds or pine seeds). Fresh and easy to make, the result was served today during the remake of a Roman banquet with five-year-old kids dressed in tunics and togas :)
See an introduction to Roman deserts (in French) HERE
A useful introduction to Cooking Apicius HERE.

First layer of the Roman dessert

Fruits added

Fruits, cheese with honey, and resins

The Roman banquet for children


Camera materialium pharmaceuticorum

The Materials’ Room (Camera materialium pharmaceuticorum in its proper Latin form) was the main storage area of the old apothecary shops. No decoration was needed, as only the pharmacist and his assistant(s) had access here. In this rooms part of the old apothecary shop in Cluj-Napoca, the large three-wall closet is preserved from the Hintz pharmacy and it contains the wooden apothecary jars – most of them used for the storage of vegetal powders, as their signatures start with PULV, Lat. pulveris, i.e. powder. In the center of the room one can see the collection of hand scales, used by pharmacists to weigh the ingredients, and both younger and older visitors can have a go at the interactive corner, smelling and guessing a number of spices initially used as medicine.
Camera materialium inside the old apothecary shop in Cluj
Apothecary closet from the old Hintz pharmacy

This room also displays two Baroque apothecary closets, one with simple, vegetal decoration and the other with an illustration of the stages of life, from childhood, youth, maturity, until the inevitable end, in form of a skeleton with a scythe – that could be postponed by buying drugs from the pharmacy! The decoration, though slightly macabre, of the Memento mori type, was in fact yet another kind of commercial, a manner in which the pharmacists of old attempted to increase their sales. This piece of furniture was probably used initially in some Officina (apothecary shop room), as it is too decorated for a simple storage room.

See, read and listen to more on the old pharmacy in Cluj on the museum's multimedia free-access profile on izi.Travel.
Read more about the apothecary furniture collection hosted by the museum in Cluj-Napoca HERE

Wooden apothecary jars for Aloe vera preserved in the Materials' Room


Gladiatorial news from Virtus Antiqua

In its first show this year, during the Free Dacians' Festival in Baia Mare, Romania, held between May 19th and 21st, our reenactment association Virtus Antiqua has presented some of its novelties. These new elements have been included in the traditional show - a day in Ludus Memnii, the gladiatorial school of Gaius Memnius Primus. This year we present not only fights between recruits and gladiators, but also between gladiatrices, though a rarer sight in ancient Rome, makes for a more tasty depiction of such shows and events. Another addition is the inclusion of auxiliary soldiers in the show, part of the story of conflicts and rebellions inside the gladiatorial training school. The third novelty consists of the dance of the priestesses, not only that of the dancers embodying the ancient furies.
See more photos from the show in Baia Mare HERE.
Virtus Antiqua arms presentation stand at Festivalul Dacii Liberi

Gladiatrices from Virtus Antiqua

Auxiliary Roman soldiers chastising rebelling gladiators

Dance of the Batavian priestesses


Exotic fish tank linocut

I have just added a new listing in my Etsy shop, Goddess Gruia, an original, one-of-a kind linocut print entitled "Exotic fish tank", entirely made by hand. Each print is unique, marked accordingly "EA" - Epreuve d'artiste, signed and dated in pencil by the artist, aka Ana Maria Gruia. The linocut also includes handmade details in gold marker that shine under oblique light and reveal new decorative elements.
The subject, exotic fish tank decoration, with tropical fish and plants, is less usual for my style, but this is part of a small series created for a special order.
Size: 14x21 cm (5.5x8.2 inches).

Exotic fish tank linocut, tropical leaf, tropical fish, original print, home gift, handmade golden details, unique artwork by Goddess Gruia

Detail of linocut with golden elements

Detail of the print with the individual lino plates used in its making


Red leather draco wallet

Atelierul de istorie has just created a personalized variant of the handmade leather wallet with tooled decoration consisting of the mythical Draco, the half wolf half snake war standard of the ancient Dacians. The bi-fold wallet is entirely made by hand - original drawing, transfer, incision, tooling, dyeing, sewing, and finish. This color combination - red and brown both inside and outside, degrade on the outside, one red card pocket stamped with the same ancient symbol - is but one of the options available.
Draco leather wallet by Atelierul de istorie

Draco leather wallet by Atelierul de istorie

Draco leather wallet by Atelierul de istorie

Draco leather wallet by Atelierul de istorie
Here are some images during the manufacturing of this wallet, i.e. the hand stitching and gluing of the components. These are all made of natural veg tan leather, the pieces varying in thickness.

Draco leather wallet by Atelierul de istorie

Draco leather wallet by Atelierul de istorie

Draco leather wallet by Atelierul de istorie

Draco leather wallet by Atelierul de istorie


The Baroque Officina of the old apothecary shop in Cluj

The so-called Officinae were the shop parts of old pharmacies - see details of the definition from Lat. Officina. The Officina of the apothecary shop in Cluj-Napoca, currently hosting the History of Pharmacy Collection, is the representative room, the most decorated one, the place where clients entered directly from the main square. The room was initially longer, as the corner of the building (The Maucksch-Hintz House in Cluj) was cut off during the 1950s in order to widen pedestrian access around the intersection. As any luxury shop today, the more impressive the interior the higher the prices.

18th century Officina inside the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj

18th century Officina inside the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj

The most important element of decoration in the Officina is the painting of the vault, created right after the middle of the eighteenth century. This is a rare example of lay Baroque painting preserved in the city, adapted to the room’s function: the medallions contain symbols of pharmacy such as the snakes of Aesculap on the Tree of Life, the stork with a rock in its claws, a symbol of vigilance, and the horns of plenty, symbols of abundance and, in a wider sense, health.

18th century Officina inside the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj
Central show case with animal ingredients, prescriptions and apothecary weights.

Another element of decoration consisted of the furniture and the numerous apothecary jars. the latter impressed clients through their shape, decoration and Latin inscriptions that proved the pharmacist’s presumed erudition. Naturally, the main function of these signatures was to indicate the content of the jars that was either apothecary ingredients or intermediate products such as bases for unguents or elixirs. The apothecary jars were made of different materials – pottery, glass – clear or milky, in order to protect the contents from intense light, and – exhibited in the next room – jars made of wood.

Detail of cupboard with display shelves, bust of Hygeia and 19th century portrait of a pharmacist from Gherla.
See, read and listen to more on the old pharmacy in Cluj on the museum's multimedia free-access profile on izi.Travel.


Glanum soup - remake of an ancient Roman recipe

Part of the Labirinth through time project, members of the Virtus Antiqua reenactment group and volunteers have recently reconstructed an ancient Roman recipe known as Glanum soup. The name comes from that of an oppidum called Galnum, in present-day Provence. The recipe is based on wheat, vegetables and meat and the main seasoning consists of onions studded with cloves.

Glanum soup at a boil

Clove studded onions

Some of the vegetables

Adding the wheat

Cutting and chopping the ingredients
Like all Roman recipes, we had to adapt this one to what was available and to how we envisaged the quantities and cooking times of the various ingredients. And despite burning the mix a bit in the end, we were happy with the result :)
See more about the project and its activities at the following links:
- www.campvirtus.ro - web page of the future historical park near Cluj
- the YouTube channel of the project Labirint prin timp
Project logo


The Long Night of Museums at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj

Long Night of Museums 2017 at the History of Pharmacy Collection 

As every year, the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj, section of the National History Museum of Transylvania, takes part in the national Long Night of Museums event, in 2017 set for the 20th of May. Visitors will be able to see the small museum from the center of Cluj for free between 7 and 0 PM, but keep in mind that the rooms are small and access adapted to a medieval pharmacy not an event with thousands of people, thus there is always a small line to wait in and the apothecary laboratory cannot be visited on this occasion, as it is set in the basement and the access stairs are very steep and asymmetrical.
See you tomorrow in Unirii Square 28!

The Long Night of Museums 2016

The Long Night of Museums 2016



New skull tooled leather wallet by the Proper Leather Studio

The Proper Leather Studio on Etsy has just remade one of its best selling models, a leather skull wallet entirely handmade. The bi-fold leather wallet is hand-dyed, in shades of dark brown dye and brown Gel Antique on the outside and dark brown and 6 dark brown side pockets for credit cards on the inside. The item is made of high quality veg-tanned leather,  subsequently protected with several layers of acrylic finish. Polished and waxed edges.

Natural leather wallet for men, skull wallet, handmade EDC leather, boyfriend husband gift, European card holder, Goth hand-tooled wallet

Outside: 1.6-2.0 mm (4 to 5 oz) single bend European hide
Inside: 1 mm (2.5 oz) calf hide
Folded measurements: 12 x 9.5 cm / 4.7 x 3.7 inches.
Slim enough to enter into your pocket.
Due to the high-quality leather and craftsmanship, this wallet will last good years of use. Nevertheless, do not submerge it into water and avoid acids and corrosives. Leather is not a waterproof material and if submerged, it absorbs water and might deform of loose some of the color. Cared for, it will only look better in time. Also, it needs to soften through wear a bit, to reach its optimal functions. 

 See the other wallets available - hooded skull and bucranium.

The studio is a family business, with me making the designs, transfers, cutting, and dyeing, and my husband managing the measuring, cutting, and sewing of the products. We like to make thing properly, thus every item has been cut, incised, tooled, dyed, sewed, and finished entirely by hand. We take our time in carefully crafting every single item so that it is both artistically pleasing and durable.