Apothecary: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Apothecary

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Interior of an apothecary's shop. Illustration from Illustrated History of Furniture, From the Earliest to the Present Time from 1893 by Litchfield, Frederick, (1850-1930)
A historical re-enactor portraying a 19th century apothecary in Old Salem, North Carolina, USA.

Apothecary (pronounced /əˈpɒθɨkɛəri/) is a historical name for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica to physicians, surgeons and patients — a role now served by a pharmacist (or a chemist or dispensing chemist), and some caregivers.

In addition to pharmacy responsibilities, the apothecary offered general medical advice and a range of services that are now performed solely by other specialist practitioners, such as surgery and midwifery. Apothecaries often operated through a retail shop which, in addition to ingredients for medicines, sold tobacco and patent medicines.

In its investigation of herbal and chemical ingredients, the work of the apothecary may be regarded as a precursor of the modern sciences of chemistry and pharmacology, prior to the formulation of the scientific method.



The first mention of an apothecary was in the days of King Solomon as cited in the Scriptures:

"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor, so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor." Ecclesiastes 9:18, 10: 5, 6, 1.

According to Sharif Kaf al-Ghazal[1] and S. Hadzovic,[2] the first apothecary shops were founded during the Middle Ages in Baghdad.[1] The first one was founded by Muslim pharmacists in 754,[2] during the Abbasid Caliphate, or Islamic Golden Age. Apothecaries were also active in Islamic Spain by the 11th century.[3]

By the end of the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400) was mentioning an English apothecary in the Canterbury Tales, specifically "The Nun's Priest's Tale" as Pertelote speaks to Chauntecleer (lines 181-184):

. . . for ye shal nat tarie,
Though in this toun is noon apothecarie,
I shal myself to herbes techen yow,
That shul been for youre hele and for youre prow.

. . . since you shouldn't tarry,
And in this town there's no apothecary,
I will myself go find some herbs for you
That will be good for health and pecker too.[4]

By the 15th century, the apothecary gained the status of a skilled practitioner, but by the end of the 19th century, the medical professions had taken on their current institutional form, with defined roles for physicians and surgeons, and the role of the apothecary was more narrowly conceived as that of pharmacist (dispensing chemist in British English).

One famous mention of an apothecary appears in William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which a poor apothecary sells Romeo an elixir of death with which Romeo commits suicide.

In England, the apothecaries merited their own livery company, the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, founded in 1617. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became the first woman to gain a medical qualification in Britain when she passed the Society's examination in 1865.

Apothecaries used their own measurement system, the apothecaries' system, to provide precise weighing of small quantities. Apothecaries also were known to accept special requests for viles and poisons. This meaning of the term "apothecary" has not passed into archaic oblivion, as in William Faulkner's still widely read 1930 story "A Rose for Emily" the main character, Miss Emily Grierson, goes to an "apothecary" and buys arsenic, ostensibly to kill a rat (which turns out later to have been her Yankee boyfriend who had apparently become bent on jilting her).[5] Words which are cognate to apothecary have the meaning of "pharmacist" or "dispensing chemist" in certain modern languages. In Swedish, for example, a pharmacy is ett apotek.[6] The pharmacist (dispensing chemist) is called en apotekare.[7] Very similar as well is the German equivalent Apotheke (pharmacy) with the Apotheker being the pharmacist.[8]

The Spanish-derived word bodega also has the same root.[9]

Noted apothecaries


  1. ^ a b Sharif Kaf al-Ghazal, The valuable contributions of Al-Razi (Rhazes) in the history of pharmacy during the Middle Ages, Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine, Vol. 3 (6), October 2004, pp. 9–11.
  2. ^ a b Hadzovic, S (1997). "Pharmacy and the great contribution of Arab-Islamic science to its development" (in Croatian). Medicinski Arhiv 51 (1-2): 47–50. ISSN 0025-8083. OCLC 32564530. PMID 9324574. 
  3. ^ John Brian Harley, David Woodward (1992), The history of cartography, 2, Oxford University Press, p. 28, ISBN 0226316351 
  4. ^ Quoted from Librarius, which also supplies the translation.
  5. ^ The story, with the word "apothecary" used, is abstracted by Janice L. Willms in New York University's Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database—"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner.
  6. ^ See the Swedish Wikipedia "Apotek" article. It also attributes the Iraqi (Baghdad) origin of the concept.
  7. ^ Related similar Swedish occupations are en farmaceut and en receptarie. Apotekare is the one with closest general equivalence and reciprocity with "dispensing chemist" (in British English) or "pharmacist" (in American English).
  8. ^ See the German Wikipedia Apotheke article.
  9. ^ Wiktionary, dictionary.reference.com

See also

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

Medical warning!
This article is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Medical science has made many leaps forward since it has been written. This is not a site for medical advice, when you need information on a medical condition, consult a professional instead.

APOTHECARY (from the Lat. apothecarius, a keeper of an apotheca, Gr. dlroOlpert, a store), a word used by Galen to denote the repository where his medicines were kept, now obsolete in its original sense. An apothecary was one who prepared, sold and prescribed drugs, but the preparing and selling of drugs prescribed by others has now passed into the hands of duly qualified and authorized persons termed "chemists and druggists," while the apothecary, by modern legislation, has become a general medical practitioner, and the word itself, when used at all, is applied, more particularly in the United States and in Scotland, to those who in England are called "pharmaceutical chemists." The Apothecaries' Society of London is one of the corporations of that city, and both by royal charters and acts of parliament exercises the power of granting licences to practise medicine. The members of this society do not possess and never have possessed any exclusive power to deal in or sell drugs; and until 1868 any person whatever might open what is called a chemist's shop, and deal in drugs and poisons. In that year, however, the Pharmacy Act was passed, which prohibits any person from engaging in this business without being registered.

From early records we learn that the different branches of the medical profession were not regularly distinguished till the reign of Henry VIII., when separate duties were assigned to them, and peculiar privileges were granted to each. In 1518 the physicians of London were incorporated, and the barbersurgeons in 1540. But, independently of the physicians and the surgeons, there were a great number of irregular practitioners, who were more or less molested by their legitimate rivals, and it became necessary to pass an act in 1543 for their protection and toleration. As many of these practitioners kept shops for the sale of medicines, the term "apothecary" was used to designate their calling.

In April 1606 James I. incorporated the apothecaries as one of the city companies, uniting them with the grocers. On their charter being renewed in 1617 they were formed into a separate corporation, under the title of the "Apothecaries of the City of London." These apothecaries appear to have prescribed medicines in addition to dispensing them, and to have claimed an ancient right of acting in this double capacity; and it may be mentioned that Henry VIII., after the grant of the charter to the College of Physicians, appointed an apothecary to the Princess Mary, who was delicate and unhealthy, at a salary of 40 marks a year, "pro meliore cura et consideratione sanitatis suae." During the 17th century, however, there arose a warm contest between the physicians and the apothecaries, - the former accusing the latter of usurping their province, and the latter continuing and justifying the usurpation until the dispute was finally set at rest by a judgment of the House of Lords in 1703 (Rose v. College of Physicians, 5 Bro. P. C. 553), when it was decided that the duty of the apothecary consisted not only in compounding and dispensing, but also in directing and ordering the remedies employed in the treatment of disease. In 1722 an act was obtained empowering the Apothecaries' Company to visit the shops of all apothecaries practising in London, and to destroy such drugs as they found unfit for use. In 1748 great additional powers were given to the company by an act authorizing them to appoint a board of ten examiners, without whose licence no person should be allowed to dispense medicines in London, or within a circuit of 7 m. round it. In 1815, however, an act of parliament was passed which gave the Apothecaries' Society a new position, empowering a board, consisting of twelve of their members, to examine and license all apothecaries throughout England and Wales. It also enacted that, from the 1st of August of that year, no persons except those who were so licensed should have the right to act as apothecaries, and it gave the society the power of prosecuting those who practised without such licence. But the act expressly exempted from prosecution all persons who were then in actual practice, and it distinctly excluded from its operation all persons pursuing the calling of chemists and druggists. It was also provided that the act should in no way interfere with the rights or privileges of the English universities, or of the English College of Surgeons or the College of Physicians; and indeed a clause imposed severe penalties on any apothecaries who should refuse to compound and dispense medicines on the order of a physician, legally qualified to act as such. It is therefore clear that the act contemplated the creation of a class of practitioners who, while having the Tight to practise medicine, should assist and co-operate with the physicians and surgeons.

Before this act came into operation the education of the medical practitioners of England and Wales was entirely optional on their own part, and although many of them possessed degrees or licences from the universities_ or colleges, the greater number possessed no such qualification, and many of them were wholly illiterate and uneducated. The court of examiners of the Apothecaries' Society, being empowered to enforce the acquisition of a sufficient medical education upon its future licentiates, specified from time to time the courses of lectures or terms of hospital practice to be attended by medical students before their examination, and in the progress of years regular schools of medicine were organized throughout England.

As it was found that, notwithstanding the stringent regulations as to medical acquirements, the candidates were in many instances deficient in preliminary education, the court of examiners instituted, about the year 1850, a preliminary examination in arts as a necessary and indispensable prerequisite to the medical curriculum, and this provision has been so expanded that, at the present day, all medical students in the United Kingdom are compelled to pass a preliminary examination in arts, unless they hold a university degree. An act of parliament, passed in 1858, and known as the Medical Act, made very little alteration in the powers exercised by the Apothecaries' Society, and indeed it confirmed and in some degree amplified them, for whereas by the act of 1815, the licentiates of the society were authorized to practise as such only in England and Wales, the new measure gave them the same right in Scotland and Ireland. The Medical Act 1886 extended the qualifications necessary for registration under the medical acts, by making it necessary to pass a qualifying examination in medicine, surgery and midwifery. (See Medical Education.) An act, passed in 1874, related exclusively to the Apothecaries' Society, and is termed the Apothecaries' Act Amendment Act. By this measure some provisions of the act of 1815, which had become obsolete or unsuitable, were repealed, and powers were given to the society to unite or co-operate with other medical licensing bodies in granting licences to practise. The act of 1815 had made it compulsory on all candidates for a licence to have served an apprenticeship of five years to an apothecary, and although by the interpretation of the court of examiners of the society this term really included the whole period of medical study, yet the regulation was felt as a grievance by many members of the medical profession. It was accordingly repealed, and no apprenticeship is now necessary. The restriction of the choice of examiners to the members of the society was also repealed, and the society was given the power (which it did not before possess) to strike off from the list of its licentiates the names of disreputable persons. The act of 1874 also specified that the society was not deprived of any right or obligation they may have to admit women to examination, and to enter their names on the list of licentiates if they acquit themselves satisfactorily.

The Apothecaries' Society is governed by a master, two wardens and twenty-two assistants. The members are divided into three grades, yeomanry or freemen, the livery, and the court. Women are not, however, admitted to the freedom. The hall of the society, situated in Water Lane, London, and covering about three-quarters of an acre, was acquired in 1633. It was destroyed by the great fire, but was rebuilt about ten years later and enlarged in 1786. This is the only property possessed by the society. In 1673, the society established a botanic and physic garden at Chelsea, and in 1722 Sir Hans Sloane, who had become the ground owner, gave it to the society on the condition of presenting annually to the Royal Society fifty dried specimens of plants till the number should reach 2000. This condition was fulfilled in 1774. Owing to the heavy cost of maintenance and other reasons, the "physic garden" was handed over in 1902, with the consent of the Charity Commissioners, to a committee of management, to be maintained in the interests of botanical study and research.

See C. R. B. Barrett, The History of the Society of Apothecaries of London (1905).

<< Apotactites

Apotheosis >>

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

rendered in the margin and the Revised Version "perfumer," in Ex 30:25; 37:29; Eccl 10:1. The holy oils and ointments were prepared by priests properly qualified for this office. The feminine plural form of the Hebrew word is rendered "confectionaries" in 1Sam 8:13.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Facts about ApothecaryRDF feed

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address