Professor Gómez Pamo's Vegetable Histological Collection
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Description of Funds
The collection is made up of approximately 90 drawings sheets fixed on a thin board. It includes various types of plant cells, pollen grains and spores, histological structures of roots and rhizomes, bark, leaves, etc., under white and polarized light.
The sheets are organized according to the syllabus of the subject “Pharmaceutical Plants” that served as teaching material. First, it shows the cellular structures, vessels, fibers and glands, second, the roots and rhizomes of medicinal species, such as jalap, the polygala, aconite, ipecac, etc. -., stems and bark (including cinchona bark and cinnamon), third, the leaves (tea, boldo, eucalyptus), fruits and seeds (pepper, coffee, nutmeg), and, finally, some glands and starches. There is evidence of parallelism between the sheets of this collection and the iconographic content of the Gómez Pamo’s Treatise on Pharmaceutical Plant that served as a manual of this discipline.
Drawings made during the years when Professor Gómez Pamo held the chair of Pharmaceutical Plants, summarized his teaching activity. They also are witness of a new approach that intended to analyze histological structures of plants and classify them according to the type of plant species they belong. This classification provided the pharmacist evidence to identify drugs plants and discern possible fraud in the commercialization of medicinal products.
The History of the Collection
The teaching activity in the transition from nineteenth to twentieth centuries raised the need to show in the classroom biological structures not directly visible in nature. In a poor educational system in which teaching practice was not widespread, the student was not familiar with the microscope and the images that could be seen through it.
However, there were magic lanterns and imported collections of photographic plates in those years. These collections often included series of artistic elements, natural landscapes and examples of machinery but rarely detailed anatomical and morphological structures observable under the microscope.
In order to overcome the lack of teaching tools, the Professor should have drawing skills to paint on the blackboard. Sometimes the professor used large sheets of paper to show the drawings in detail, they were framed and used as teaching material. This is the case of the Professor Gomez Pamo’s Pharmacognosy Collection preserved at the Complutense University
Juan Ramón Gómez Pamo held the chair of Pharmaceutical Medicine in the Central University from 1889 until his death in 1913. Gomez Pamo was the founder of the Histological Society of Madrid and became member of various academies and scientific societies