Bristol-Myers Squibb European Apothecary The Book Collection

The Bristol-Myers Squibb European Apothecary collection has eighty-nine medical books including two incunabula, 17th and 18th century hand-written formularies, herbals, and manuscripts. It also includes three franchises, legal documents granting permission to operate a pharmacy or granting exclusive rights to a particular formula. In 1979 the rare books were deposited with the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology at the National Museum of American History. 

These books provide a glimpse into Jo Mayer’s varied interests. Nineteen of the books and pamphlets are about mineral springs in Germany. Living and working in Wiesbaden, one of many spa towns in Germany, hydrotherapy was especially important to Mayer. One of the oldest books in the collection is a 1487 edition (incomplete) of Gart der Geaundheit, one of the first printed herbals (Hortus Sanitatis [Minor] printed by Conrad Dinckmut in Ulm.

A complete list of the books and manuscripts can be found on line at

A small exhibition of the books, “European Roots of American Pharmacy” inspired Ellen B. Wells, chief of the Special Collections branch of the Dibner Library, to compile a bibliographic list of the collections books and manuscripts. In a paper on the Squibb deposit, Wells states that nineteen of the books “appear to be unique copies in the United States” and in twenty-seven instances “fewer than five copies are reported to be in the country. Thus, the collection has a very high ratio of very rare materials in it.”