PDA

View Full Version : Cost of medicine in "our time"



NoahBriggs
05-13-2008, 02:11 PM
It just occurred to me as I stared at my small assemblage of patent medicine containers here at work - has anybody ever come across indications for average retail prices for medicines procured from a regular apothecary? And how was it sold? By the bottle/paper/whatever, or by the grain/ounce/drachm &c.? So far nobody has called me on this question in the field, but it's only a matter of time . . .

Pvt Schnapps
05-13-2008, 02:36 PM
I'm sure a search of Google Books or the MOA will turn up something about costs, but the first thing I thought of in reading your post was good old Thomas DeQuincy, whose consumption of laudanum approached the heroic. In the introduction to "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" he notes that,

"...some years ago, on passing through Manchester, I was informed by several cotton manufacturers, that their work people were rapidly getting into the practice of opium-eating; so much so, that on a Saturday afternoon the counters of the druggists were strewed with pills of one, two, or three grains in preparation for the known demand of the evening. The immediate occasion of this practice was the lowness of wages, which, at the time would not allow them to indulge in ale or spirits..."

But when wages finally rose, they were already hooked.

So in fact Marx was indeed wrong about something. Religion was not the opiate of the masses; opium was. :)

hanktrent
05-13-2008, 06:12 PM
Here are the medicines and other chemicals listed as being sold to individuals in a small-town store in southern Ohio in 1862. It was in the village of Gallia Furnace. Spelling and quantities (if any) are as listed. These were sold on account, not cash, retail to individuals. If more than one price is listed, it indicates two different sales of the same thing to different people

1 de laudnaum .15
2 oz sug lead .10
1 lb alum .25
paragoric .20
1# Epson salts .20
salt petre .20
1/2# salt petre .20
1 oz assafitida .10
salve .25
1 bot spirits turpentine .15
1/2 copperas .10
1 bot paragoric .10
febrifuge .40
1 oz camphor .12, .16
1 oz sug lead .10
2 oz assefetida .25
1 bot cough syrup .30
liniment .30
bot pain killer .30, .25
1 bottle paragoric .10
1 bot castor oil. 15
camphor .16
pulv'd rhubarb .17 [sold with sugar .25]
sug lead .40
1/4 salt petre .10
copperas .10 [above three items were sold together]
1 dose calomel .15
worm candy .30
2 oz sug lead .10
sweet oil .15
sulphur .10
1 box pills .25
1 bottle B drops .10
1 bot No. 6 .15
1 bot G bitters 1.00
1 bot oil of cloves .15
1 1/4 oz bitters .38
1 bot spirits tur .18
1 bot cordial .10
1 bot laudanum .15
1 oz magnesia .45
gargling oil .30
1 bot liniment .30 [might read [I]sls]
1/2 bot sug lead .30
cough syrup .30
Batesman drops .10, .10

I also have a list of a doctor's estate valuation, but it lists the medicines only, with no quantity. Dr. James R. Brelsford, Greene Co. Ohio died 1866. A long list, partially illegible, of stuff like morphia sulphate 10.00, cloraphm [sic] 3.00, sulphate quinine 40.00, etc.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

hanktrent
05-13-2008, 06:28 PM
Here are specific medicines sold to patients in a doctor's ledger from 1866-67 in Jefferson, North Carolina. Medicines were usually not specified, so these just happen to be the ones that were.

1 vial Hoffmans anodyne .50
preparation bitters 1.50
Peruvian bark .50
1 vial elixer v. .50
1 vial sol quin 1.00
1 dose calomel .50
2 doses Dovers Powder .50
creosote .50
[doctor purchased] serpentinia .50
1 vial mixt 200 rhubarb & sulphur 50, 2.50
chlorate potash .50, .25
alloes[?] & linament 1.50
pink root & senna .50
1 bot aqua am .75
quinine & blue mass 1.50
quinine & per bark 1.50
gum guiacom .25
1 vial parigoric .25
[doctor purchased] snake root .50
4 doses morphai 1.50
sugar lead & sulphate zink child 1.00
1 piece caustic .50
1 bot tinct bark 1.50
C. tarti & sulphur .50
1 vial tinct opii .50
1 vial cod liver oil .75
1 bot sol nit silver .50
1 vial copabia 1.00
1 dose ipicac .25
cream tarter & sulphur .50
9 doses carb iron 1.50
ointment & magnesia 100
cal & ipecac .50
iod potass & tinct iodine 1.00
1 ppr bitters .50
sugar of lead .50
1 plaster .25
1 vial laudanum .50
1 dose ipecac .50
emetic .50
1 vial tinct iodine .50
1 vial linament .50
1 large vial linament 1.00
2 vials & sulph zink 2.00
tinct iron .50
1 vial tinct iron & Pns 1.50
6 doses quinine & P 1.50
2 doses quinine .50, 1.00
5 doses quinine 1.50
9 doses quinine 2 rhu 2.50
aloes .50
3 doses quinine & 1 dose cal 1.00
7 doses quinine 1.00
3 doses quinine 1.00
calomel & sol quinine 1.50
vial sulph quin 1.00
1 prep med 1.00, syringe to be ret 1.00
gum camphor .50
1 vial elixir vitriol .50
rhu & magnesia 1.00
1 vial nitro acid 1.00
6 doses opium 1.50
3 doses opium .50
2 doses morphine .25
3 doses morphine .50
1 vial sol nit silver .50
1 dose ipecac .50
9 empty vials credit .50
blue mass .50
6 blue mass pills 1.00
1 bot plumb acetas 1.00
1 vial eye water .50
1 bot cod liver oil 1.00
1 vial tinct iron .50

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

NoahBriggs
05-13-2008, 08:53 PM
Thank you, Hank! Just what the apothecary ordered.

Schnapps, I read in Parrish's intro to practical pharmacy about the "smurfing" (modern term) of laudanum by addicts, who went from one pharmacy to another to get their fix, and by the time they arrived at the first pharmacy the apothecary had forgotten about them.

retter
05-14-2008, 10:09 AM
The Stabler-Leadbeter Apothecary Shop in Oldtown Alexandria still has the ledger and account books from colonial times up through 1933. They may be available for examination or resaearch.

NoahBriggs
05-14-2008, 10:39 AM
S-L Apothecary are still going through the bottomless inventory of stuff recovered from the building. Unfortunately the ledgers themselves are not available for perusal.

Good idea, though.