Apothecary (Greek apothekae, a Shop, or Store-room). This term appears to come from the above root, although we now apply it chiefly to one who compounds or prescribes medicines, and not to the vendor or shopkeeper. The apothecary of our day is the regular "Family Doctor," who, having obtained a licence to practice from a chartered incorporation, puts after his name the letters L.A.C., meaning Licentiate of the Apothecaries' Company, of London, incorporated by James I., in 1606; the association was then united with the Grocers' Company, but in 1617 it was formed into a separate company, with the exclusive right of dealing in and compounding drugs. At the close of the 17th century, the members of this association began to prescribe as well as dispense medicines; they soon after became the common medical attendants of the sick, and performed the functions both of the physicians and surgeons of our day. As their calling became gradually elevated into a profession, there arose a new class to supply their place, those called chemists and druggists, who now deal in drugs, and compound medicines, as the apothecaries used to do ; of these we shall have to speak by and by. Several Acts of Parliament for restricting or extending the power of the Apothecaries Company have been passed at different times; the Last was in 1815, and this, as every medical practitioner is to a certain extent an apothecary, gives the company a large amount of control over the profession throughout the kingdom. No person is legally qualified to practise unless he shall have served an apprenticeship with a licentiate of this company, passed before its board of examiners, and paid certain fees which they are empowered to demand for a licence. The French apothecaire, and the Latin apotheca, come very close to the Greek original in sound and signification: there is no Apothecaries' Company- across the channel, and the apothecary there is more of a medicine vendor and compounder than he is with us.
We may observe here that apothesia in Botany signifies a repository, and is applied to the cases in which the organs of reproduction of many of the algae, or sea-weeds, are contained.
Apothecaries' Weights and Measures, are those which are constantly used in the compounding and dispensing of medicines in this country. As a knowledge of them is essential to those who would attempt the domestic treatment of diseases, we give them in extenso.
Weights. One pound contains 12 ounces, or 5760 grains; one ounce 8 drachms, or 480 grains; one drachm 3 scruples, or 60 grains; one scruple 20 grains.
Measures. One gallon contains 8 pints, or 70,000 grains of water ; one pint 20 ounces, or8,750grains; one ounce 8 drachms, or 437.5 grains; one drachm 60 minims, 54.7grains.
Symbols and Characters, lb. represents a pound ; an ounce; 3 a drachm; a scruple ; gr. a grain ; C. for congius, a gallon ; O. for Octavius, a pint: the prefix fl before 3 or means a fluid drachm or ounce; a fluid minim; gtt. for gutte, a drop. The letters ss put after either of these characters signifies a half; thus, ss is half an ounce. It should be borne in mind that minim and drop are not the same quantities, the former containing nearly half as much more as the latter, thus 10 minims of Tincture of Opium are equal to 15 drops ; formerly it was customary to prescribe all medicines by drops as let fall from the mouth of a bottle; but the quantity in a certain number of these differed so considerably, according to the density of the fluid, or the vessel it was dropped from, that an alteration in the plan was found necessary, and that of admeasurement was adopted : we give here a cut of a minim measure, and also of one used for larger quantities. These may be purchased of any druggist, at a low juice ; they are made or glass, some are Large enough to contain a pint.
We give also a cut of a graduated medicine glass which is a useful article in the nursery or sick chamber; it should be explained that a table-spoonful is considered to be halt an ounce, a tea-spoonful 1 drachm, a dessertspoonful is 2 1/2 drachms, a wine-glassful is 2 ounces. In compounding medicines measures and weights should always he used, as articles of domestic use frequently vary so much in size and capacity that it is impossible to convey through them the correct instructions for the various doses to he taken. In twenty different houses the tea-spoons, table-spoons, and wine-glasses will perhaps be of as many different in one case, there fore, the dose will he much lessened, and in the other considerably augmented - a variation which might in many instances be attended with sad consequences.