This section is from the book "A Text Book Of Materia Medica, Being An Account Of The More Important Crude Drugs Of Vegetable And Animal Origin", by Henry G. Greenish. Also available from Amazon: A Text Book of Materia Medica : Being an Account of the More Important Crude Drugs of Vegetable and Animal Origin.
Fig. 1. - Original packages of drugs (Weigel). a, gourd aloes; b, cassia fistula; c, China root.
Fig. 2. - Original packages of drugs (Weigel). a and f, seron of Calisaya bark; b, Honduras sarsaparilla; c, dragon's blood; d, compressed lobelia; e, galangal root; G, euphorbium.
Fig. 3. - Original packages of drugs (Weigel). a, small cassia bark; b, cassia bark in bundles; c, cassia buds; D, Zanzibar cloves; e, cinnamon bark.
Euphorbium (fig. 2, g) is exported in bales made of plaited reeds and provided with curious handles. Mogadore orris root arrives in somewhat similar packages. Dragon's blood is exported from Sumatra in lumps (fig. 2, c), which usually bear the impress of matting, or in sticks, each of which is wrapped in palm leaf and secured by bands of flexible grass. Lobelia herb is sent either loose in bales (compare ' Lobelia') or in compressed packets (fig. 2, d). Cinnamon bark comes in very carefully made cylindrical bales consisting of sticks of the same length bound together and covered with sacking (fig. 3, e; fig. 11, a). Opium from Turkey (fig. 4, a) is packed in ' chests ' with the fruits of a Rumex shaken between the cakes to prevent them adhering, while stick liquorice (fig. 4, c) is packed with bay leaves. Vanilla (fig. 4, g) comes in small bundles, several of which are enclosed in a tin, balsam of Peru and copaiba in old oil-canisters. Musk pods (fig. 4, d; compare also ' Musk ') are wrapped singly in thin paper and packed in tins, which are sometimes enclosed in silk-covered 'caddies.'
Fig. 5. - Original packages of drugs (Weigel). a, cassia oil; b, star-anise oil; c, lavender oil; d, lemo oil; e, lemongrass oil; f, Japanese peppermint oil; G, American peppermint oil; h, Japanese menthol.
Menthol is exported in tins, oils of cassia and star-anise (fig. 7) in leaden canisters, oil of lavender in tins, oils of lemon-grass and cajeput in wine-bottles, oils of lemon and bergamot in coppers of varying size (fig. 5, d), while otto of rose arrives in metal ' vases ' covered with felt (fig. 6).
The bulk of the drugs sold in London arrive by sea. From the steamers bringing them they are conveyed either by lighters or by railway to the wharves that line the river bank or to the extensive warehouses of the Port of London Authority.
Most foreign drug growers or drug merchants have no offices in London in which to sell their goods; they therefore effect this through a drug broker as intermediary. In and around Mincing Lane a number of firms conduct the business of selling on commission not only drugs but also a great variety of other produce. To one of these the foreign drug merchant consigns his goods, advising the firm of their dispatch. On their arrival in London the broker procures samples from the various packages and exhibits these at intervals on counters in his office. This exhibition constitutes what is known as a ' drug show' and is held normally on alternate Wednesdays. The show is attended by representatives of such drug merchants as desire to purchase, who note the parcels they wish to buy and the price they are prepared to give. On the day following the show the goods are sold by auction and this constitutes a ' drug sale.'
Sometimes the broker sells direct to a customer at a price previously agreed upon; this is sale by private treaty. Not unfrequently the drug producer sells his produce to an agent in the same district or country, who, in his turn, deals direct with the drug merchant in London; such purchases are then shipped direct to the purchaser.
Although most drugs are sold by sample, in a number of instances the original packages are exhibited so as to allow of the inspection of the contents. These are shown in a well-lighted, lofty top-floor of the Cutler Street warehouse of the Port of London Authority, and also at the warehouses of the London and other docks, etc. Original packages of the following drugs are usually shown: aloes (excepting Cape aloes), benzoin, dragon's blood, elemi, gamboge, guaiacum resin, ipecacuanha, myrrh, sarsaparilla, scammony gum-resin, jalap, rhubarb, musk, castor, balsam of tolu, vanilla, etc. Other floors in the same warehouse serve for the storage of a variety of drugs pending then* sale or removal; among these the following may be noted; aloes, aniseed, areca nuts, alkanet root, buchu leaves, calumba fistula, castor seeds, chamomile flowers, chiretta, cocculus indic us root, canella bark, cantharides, cardamoms, cascara sagrada, cassia, colocynth, croton seeds, cubebs, fennel fruits, galls, gentian, grains of paradise, Indian hemp, kola seeds, nux vomica, opium, orris root, quassia, saffron, sandal-wood, senna, squill, turmeric, valerian, etc.