An Apothecary was a pharmacist in the Middle Ages. Apothecaries kept a shop or store of such nonperishable resources as spices, drugs, and preserves. Apothecaries prepared and sold what we would call today, drugs, but it was not until the end of the eighteenth century that the profession of apothecary was clearly recognized.
Apothecaries, mostly men, were the first ones believed to trade in the Middle East. The knowledge of apothecaries gradually transmitted into Europe from merchants and traders. In the early Middle Ages the apothecary would cultivate all of the plants and herbs he would need for his medicines himself. In a later time, formal supply chains developed with individuals growing plants to order or supply to apothecaries. The recipes that each apothecary would use were passed down through the generations. These recipes were closely guarded seeing as the most successful apothecary would get more business.
In 1606 the Society of Apothecaries of London was founded by James VI of Scotland and was associated with the Guild of Grocers. In 1617, a new charter came into being founded. An independent Apothecary Guild recognized as a distinct group of craftsmen. This charter resulted from England's move toward establishing an official pharmaceutical standard, published as the Pharmacopeiae Londonensis. The granting of charter to the apothecaries stands for the first independently organized group of pharmacists in the western world. The charter made it illegal for anyone to make or sell medicines besides apothecaries.
The first American apothecary store showed up in Philadelphia in about 1780 and focused on supplying the German immigrants with the remedies familiar in their home country. At that time the apothecaries practiced almost like a modern day doctor. Not only did they prescribe and distribute medicine, but they also made house calls to treat patients and trained apprentices. Many apothecaries also performed surgery and served as male midwives during birth.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the apothecary as a compounder of medicine who also talked to patients on health was still the...