An extensive collection of pharmaceutical antiques has found a home at Victorian-themed tourism attraction Whitestone City, thanks to the generosity of a former Oamaru man.
Retired pharmacist Deryk McNamara, now living in Wellington, donated the collection to the Whitestone Civic Trust recently, and many pieces are now on display.
He said the collection totalled “several hundred” pieces.
The collection, acquired over several decades, included drug bottles and jars with glazed labels, known as Whitall & Tatum bottles, hand machines used by chemists to prepare medication from raw materials, scales and books, including some pharmacy log books.
Most of the collection dates to the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Mr McNamara wanted to give the collection to the civic trust because of his strong links to the town.
The son of Regina (now Rainbow Confectionery), founder Jack McNamara, he attended Waitaki Boys’ High School between 1948 and 1952.
He worked at the factory during school holidays before he left Oamaru at the age of 18.
Mr McNamara was a board member of the company between 1964 and 1984 while working as a pharmacist.
He said the story behind the collection was an interesting one.
“That came about when I was in my mid-20s when I purchased a pharmacy in the town of Feilding. It was a very old pharmacy, as it had been founded in the 1880s and it had virtually had one owner during that time. It traded under the estate of the original owner and then the manager bought it.
“I bought it in 1965 and four years later I sold the pharmacy and moved to Wellington to purchase a bigger pharmacy, having built the pharmacy up in Feilding.
“There was a lot of stuff there that I regarded as antique value. I’ve always had a passing interest in antique furniture and old things, so when I purchased the pharmacy in Wellington, I set up a small pharmacy museum in the pharmacy. I used a lot of the stuff that came from Feilding. That formed the basis of it.”
People had also donated items.
When Mr McNamara sold the pharmacy in the 1990s, he relocated the collection to the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand’s Wellington base, where it remained until a few years ago.
It was then he decided to find a permanent home for it.
“My first thought was to go back to Oamaru. I had visited Oamaru and been into the old precinct and had been impressed with the development that had been done.”
He contacted Tourism Waitaki operations manager Wendy Simpson, who was happy to make the arrangements.
Mr McNamara was more than happy with the outcome.
“I’m delighted, really, because this was really what I wanted. I didn’t want the collection to get broken up.”
Mrs Simpson said the trust was fortunate to secure the collection and it was an “amazing” addition to Whitestone City.