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Until around 150 years ago, anyone could call themselves a chemist or druggist. The first steps in regulating the profession came in 1841 with the founding of the Pharmaceutical Society. Membership was based on a recognised qualification, and in 1852 the first Register of Pharmaceutical Chemists was set up. Further Acts in 1868, 1898 and 1908 increased the powers of the Society and ensured that only registered pharmacists were legally entitled to practice.
This exhibition features material from chemist's shops across Tayside, some from the museum's own collection and some on loan from the private collection of local pharmacist Joe Richards, who also helped to prepare this exhibition. If you have any interesting artefacts from Tayside phamacies that you would like to donate to the museum, please contact us.
The late 19th century saw a great boom in the pharmacy profession. In 1850, there were 11 chemists practising in Dundee (listed as 'apothecaries'). By 1900 there were 34, and some owned more than one store.
Boots opened its first shop in Dundee in 1914 - it now has 9 branches across Tayside.
John Gray came to Dundee in 1876 as an apprentice to local chemist James Davidson. Seven years later they became partners, and Gray took over the business on Davidson's death in 1896. The firm became the largest pharmaceutical business in Dundee, and were soon supplying most of the chemist shops in the area.