The Hanbury Collection at the RPS Library

By Karen Horn, RPS Librarian 

(with painting of Daniel Hanbury)

Daniel Hanbury (1825-1875) was a leading British pharmacologist. Since 1892, his notable book collection, predominantly on pharmacognosy and botany, has formed part of the RPS Library collection.  So how do we come to own it and what are we doing to make it more accessible to members?

Thomas’ and Anna’s loss, our gain …

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society might never have been in possession of Daniel Hanbury’s books if his sister, Anna, had not moved house. Although his brother, Thomas, had intended to give them to the Society, he had found it difficult to part with them.  The books had been housed with Anna after Daniel Hanbury’s death in 1875, and her imminent move meant that a final decision had to be made about their future location.

Sometimes, we just don’t appreciate what we’ve got …

Daniel Hanbury’s books were duly shown the consideration they deserved, with arrangements being made for their arrival in the Library of the Society’s original headquarters in Bloomsbury Square, where they were to be shown to their advantage. At some point, however, they were dispersed: amongst our Early Printed Collection and to the Main Library, with some volumes even discovered languishing in our offsite store.  But Daniel Hanbury’s book collection deserves so much more.  It is for this reason that we are bringing it together again as a unique collection and cataloguing it online, so that it will not be lost to future generations of pharmacists and pharmacy historians.

A journey …

Over the coming months, I will be discovering more about Daniel Hanbury: his connections to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society; his research and writing on materia medica and botany; the Hanbury Medal, named in his memory and the botanical garden at La Mortola, Italy, which he and Thomas created. I am at the start of a journey, with all the anticipation that entails; please join me on it.

If you have any information you would like to share about Daniel Hanbury, please email me –  I would love to hear from you.

Contact the RPS Library to visit and see its amazing collection.

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