The Old pharmacy equipment and its use
THE carboy is a recognised symbol of the pharmaceutical profession.
It dates back to the 1600s when they were used to distinguish between pharmacists and apothecaries who used a pestle and mortar as their sign.
Some historians believe they became more important during outbreaks of the plague in the 1600s.
People needed to reach pharmacists quickly, literacy levels were low, so the carboys were used as a guide.
Some carboys are made of spectacular coloured glass and others contain coloured liquids.
There are many explanations for the use of certain colours. Medical origins say: I “blue and red – represents venous (de-oxygenated) and arterial (oxygenated) blood”
I “green and red – green was used to indicate a town was healthy”
I “red showed the town was under quarantine”
These glass carboys identified a pharmacy in the same way red and white poles identified a barber shop.
Carboys were still popular in the 1900s, especially the swan neck examples.
During this period the use of gas burners behind the carboys became widespread.
This allowed them to light up the street. In the 1920s carboys started to go out of fashion.
Pharmacies used their windows for product and packaging-based displays.
OLD PHARMACY: The shopfront on Churchill St.