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America's first apothecary shop

Zo Gross, of The Pharmaceutical Journal, recently visited the home of America?s first pharmacistand apothecary shop, in New Orleans, United States

The Pharmaceutical JournalVol 265 No 7128p923, December 23/30, 2000 Christmas miscellany

America’s first registered pharmacist, Mr Louis J. Dufilho Jr, opened his apothecary shop in Vieux Carre, New Orleans, in 1823. He registered as a pharmacist in America in 1816, 25 years before the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain was founded.

Mr Dufilho?s pharmacy, “La Pharmacie Francaise”, which is claimed to be America?s first drug store, occupied the ground floor of his French Quarter townhouse. In 1855 he sold the building to another apothecary, Dr Joseph Dupas. The building was badly damaged by a hurricane in 1915 and stood vacant and neglected for many years after. Eventually it was bought by Mayor Robert Maestri of New Orleans and became a museum in 1950. The museum has been designed to recreate Dufilho?s apothecary shop and shows items from 19th century health care. It is operated by the organisation Friends of Historical Pharmacy. pharmacy museum

The New Orleans pharmacy museum located in the building of America?s first apothecary shop, ?La Pharmacie Francaise?

The pharmacy is now home to a number of historical artefacts from different parts of the world. On display is a wide range of antique handblown apothecary jars containing crude drugs, medicinal herbs and voodoo powders. There is also a collection of patent medicines which predate, and led to, the passing of the Pure Food and Medicines Act, such as Beck?s Great Indian liniment, containing alcohol 73.56 per cent and chloroform 3M per fluid ounce, for “headaches, colic and cramps due to gas, coughs, colds and muscular pains”. Leech jars, prescription files, surgical instruments and other apothecary tools are also on show, as well as an 1855 soda fountain.

soda fountain

A 19th century soda fountain. Soda fountains were used by pharmacists to add flavouring to bitter tasting medicines

A courtyard outside the back of the pharmacy was used in the 19th century to grow medicinal plants, kitchen herbs and spices to be used and sold in the apothecary shop. On the second floor of the building, the museum has a 19th century “sick room”, displays of homoeopathic remedies and dental instruments and the Rosenthal spectacle collection.
voodoo powders

Voodoo powders were available in Dufilho?s phrmacy


Items used by pharmacists in the 19th century

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20003895

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