The Collection of Kaštel Pharmaceutical Factory

tvornica lijekova kastel HMMF

Eukalcin, advertising card, design: Pavao Gavranić, Zagreb, 1930s, HMMF-117


The collection of the pharmaceutical factory Kaštel in large part belonged to the Department of History of Medical Sciences of the Croatian Academy of Sciences in Gundulićeva 24 / III in Zagreb and was given in charge to the Museum. The postcards (34 copies) designed by Pavao Gavranić for the Kaštel factory arrived at the Department as a gift from the Graphic Cabinet on November 2, 2005, which originated from the donation of Angela Gavranić from Zagreb, the wife of the late Pavle Gavranić. The medical journals (issued in 1939, 3 copies) and the catalog of Kaštel products (from 1936) arrived at Museum in 19. 5. 2015. and 23. 2. 2017. as a donation by Zrnka Naletilić from Zagreb, daughter of late doctor Lujo Naletilić.

The collection includes advertising postcards (34), medical journals with a list of medicines (3), product catalog, medicine packaging (24) and a photo of pharmacy students visiting the Kaštel factory.

The rare and valuable material of this collection tells a story of the beginnings and first successes of the Croatian pharmaceutical industry, the Kaštel factory, which is the predecessor of today’s Pliva.

Kaštel Factory was founded in Karlovac in 1921. The first president of the board of the Kaštel shareholder company was prof. Dr. Gustav Janeček (then President of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts), who in collaboration with Dr. Eugen Ladany started the production of pharmaceutical and galenic preparations, thus paving the way for modern drug production in these areas. The team of enthusiasts led by values ​​and passion for science soon after the founding of Kaštel started with research and development of new drugs. In 1928, production moved to today’s location in Zagreb. Organized research work began in 1936, in co-operation with Professor Vladimir Prelog from Zagreb University, a later Nobel Prize winner for chemistry. As early as 1936, Kaštel marketed sulphanilamide, an active medicinal substance of bacteriostatic action, under the name Streptazol, which was patent-protected. Kaštel became one of the first manufacturers of sulfonamide in the world. During 1939, a state institution Plibah (Proizvodnja lijekova banovine Hrvatske) was established, and this name was changed on 23 June 1941 to the State Institute for Medicinal Products Pliva (Proizvodnja lijekova i vakcina). In August 1945 the Kaštel factory was annexed to the Pliva Medicinal Products Institute (the name under which it operates from 1945 until today).

A series of 34 advertising postcards kept in the collection of the Croatian Museum of Medicine and Pharmacy was designed by Pavao Gavranić for the Kaštel d. d.  factory in Zagreb between 1935 and 1940. It is important to emphasize that the author of this series of ads is one of the leading Croatian masters of graphics, whose work is valorized, but unfortunately still not well known to the general public, which is particularly relevant to certain segments like this which have not been published before. Pavao Gavranić (Zagreb, 18th June 1905 – Zagreb, 16th of July 1973), painter and graphic artist, art historian, art pedagogue, gave the most significant contribution to the field of applied graphics and is considered one of the main protagonists of the development of the Croatian graphic design. His work in the field of advertising graphics is one of the most important in modern Croatian culture. This is primarily the case for many posters designed between 1930s and 1950s, greatly contributing to the establishment of high standards of graphic design in market communication in Croatia.

This museum story about Kaštel is complemented by three copies of medical journals with a list of drugs, their composition and indications, issued by Kastel in 1939 under the title of Diarium medici that arrived at the Museum in 2015 as a donation from the legacy of the Zagreb physician Lujo Naletilić. The Museum also owns a collection of 24 different samples of the Kaštel factory product packaging from the same period, but unfortunately it has not been determined who has designed them. Certain remedies packaging  have been preserved with complete contents (suppositories, tablets, ampoules with liquid for injection). Photos of two samples of drug packaging from Karlovac’s production period were handed over to the Karlovac City Museum for publication on their web site under the title Virtual Museum of Karlovac Industry.

All these items were cataloged in detail and presented to the public at the exhibition and in the catalogue of the same name: Kaštel na vrhuncu : oglašavanje i ambalaža lijekova tvornice Kaštel u Zagrebu 1930-ih i 1940-ih (Zagreb, 2016.).

Injektions steriles “Kaštel”, ampules in original packaging, Karlovac, 1920s, HMMF-147

Tablettae cardiotonicae, medicine from “Kaštel” factory in original packaging, Zagreb, 1930s, HMMF-156

Tetracor quinine tablets, medicine from “Kaštel” factory in original packaging, Zagreb, 1930s, HMMF-159

Istopirin – pain, advertising card, design: Pavao Gavranić, Zagreb, 1930s, HMMF-139

Istopirin – pain, advertising card, design: Pavao Gavranić, Zagreb, 1930s, HMMF-139

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