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MEDICINE / PHARMACOLOGY: Pharmacopoea Castrensis Ottomana. Pharmacopée Militaire Ottomane


The first printed pharmacopeia in the Ottoman Empire with an original text by an Austrian medical doctor Karl Ambros Bernard, was published by Henri Cayol, the first lithographer in Istanbul.

A uncut example with original wrappers.


4°, [4 pp.] titles, IV, 161 pp., [2 pp.] errata, original blue wrappers with lettering, book-seller’s stamp in Ottoman on p. 1 (good, uncut example, wrappers with small holes, tears and chips and with light foxing, light foxing to the first pages, last page with two small worm-holes, two tiny holes in the first two pages (paper deformation), numeration in black ink on the title page).

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This is the first printed pharmacopeia, a collection of formulas for medical use, with an original text in the Ottoman Empire.

The text is divided in four parts: 1. – Basic medicaments in alphabetic order, with their pharmaceutical and systematic names and the descriptions of their uses. 2. – Composed medicaments in alphabetic order, sorted by their pharmaceutical and chemical denominations and the descriptions of their uses. 3. – Medicaments used in hospitals. 4.- Charts with solutions.

The text is written in French and Latin and accompanied by Italian terms. In the introduction the author, Karl Ambros Bernard, wrote, that Italian terms are for the army pharmacologists, who would not understand the first two languages. Sporadic expressions are also quoted in a vulgar Turkish. Bernard was hoping to prepare a complete Turkish translation soon.

The book was printed for the official use of the Ottoman Army as a part of a project the sultan, to reorganize the structure, based on the European models.

The first printed pharmacopeia in Istanbul actually already appeared in 1818 under a Greek title Pharmacopoeia Geniki, but the text was a translation from an Italian work Farmakopoea ad uso degli Speziali, e Medici Moderni della Repubblica Italiana by Dr. Luigi Brugnatelli.


Karl Ambros Bernard

The author was an Austrian medical doctor Karl Ambros Bernard (Charles Ambroise Bernard, 1810-1844), who is known as a founder of the modern medical education and pharmacology in the Ottoman Empire and a pioneer of pharmaceutical terms in Ottoman / Turkish language.

Bernard was born in Jilemnice (German Starkenbach) in today’s Czech republic. After finishing the study of medicine, he was send to Bukowina to fight the cholera. In 1838, he moved to Istanbul on the invitation of the sultan Mahmud II. to reorganize the Imperial medical school for the army doctors in Galata based on the principle of the Viennese Josephinum.

During his six years in Istanbul Karl Ambros Bernard became a pioneer of the modern pharmacology and medical education in Istanbul. He published four medical books, one of which he translated to Ottoman, using new medical terminology.

In 1844, Bernard published his most famous and influential book, Pharmacopoea Castrensis Ottomana, which he, according to the introduction from September 16th, intended to translate into Turkish soon.

Bernard died suddenly a month later at the age of 34 and was buried in Istanbul on November 2nd, 1844. Today a memorial plate on the gate to the Catholic Church Saint Mary Draperis on İstiklal Avenue in Istanbul commemorates this ingenious medical doctor.

The book was published in the time of the reforms and modernization of the Ottoman Army on the European examples. It was printed by a French printer and publisher Henri Cayol, who in 1831 opened the first lithographic institute in Istanbul, again as a part of the reorganisation of the army.


Henry Cayol – the First Lithographer of Istanbul

In Istanbul, Hüsrev Pasha’s lithographic press at the Ministry of War from 1831 under the leadership of Henri Cayol, with its first book produced in the same year, was one of the first functional lithographic presses in the Islamic World, after the Bulaq (1822) and Indian presses (1827).

The new Pasha’s printer and lithographer was Henri Cayol, a lawyer from Marseille, who opened the lithographic press together with his cousin Jacques Cayol. The modern printing equipment was imported from Paris.

The lithographic press was running in the building of the Ministry of War from 1831, when they published this first book, titled Nukhbat al-talim [The Elite Education], with 79 charts representing for training the battalions, to 1836, when Hürsev Pasha was removed from the office. During these 5 years, 50 soldiers were trained by Cayol at the press to learn the technique of lithography.

In 1836, Henri Cayol, still under Hürsev Pasha’s wing, opened a lithographic press near the French Embassy, where he worked until his death from cholera in 1865. Cayol’s work was continued by his apprentice Antonije Zelić, a Croatian, born in Brela, Dalmatia in 1820, who moved to Istanbul 1840 for economic reasons. After learning the craft of lithography from his teacher, Zelić opened his own shop in 1855.

The lithography in Istanbul was scarce and expensive to make, as the stones had to be imported until 1892, when they discovered appropriate stone south of Istanbul. More common, especially for the religious prints was much cheaper photolithography.

This book was printed in letterpress, as Cayol used the lithographed press for the Ottoman caracters only.


Note on Rarity

The book is exceedingly rare. Wolrdcat only lists one institutional example (Bibliotheque Nationale de France).


References: OCLC 457048002. Selim Nüzhet Gerçek, Türk Taş basmacılığı, [Ankara]: Maarif Vekaleti, 1939. Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1989, p. 802. ÖBL 1815-1950, Bd. 1 (Lfg. 1, 1954), S. 75; Halil Tekiner – Afife Mat – Mert Sandalci, A Concise History of Turkish Pharmacopoeias from 1818 to Present (http://www.histpharm.org/ISHPWG%20Turkey.pdf).

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