Collection & Access

Archives

The Society’s Collection is made up of artefacts, books and records that have come into the Society’s possession by gift or acquisition over the 400 years of the Society’s existence. Broadly, the Collection is made up of paintings, silverware, furniture and a range of pharmaceutical, medical and other artefacts which have associations with the Society and its work. The Collection also includes some special collections of historical importance, as well as the Society’s extensive Archives, together with the Library and a selection of rare books. The care of the Collection is overseen by a Curator, who is generally a Past Master of the Society.

 

All enquiries in relation to records in the Archives should be made in writing to the Archive Office, with full contact details, including home or institutional postal address, or by e-mail archives@apothecaries.org. Details of any information already known, and the sources used, would be very helpful.

Personal access to the Archives may be granted by prior appointment with the Archive Office to bona fide scholars and researchers. Scholars and researchers are required to specify the information they are seeking, complete the appropriate request or copyright forms and agree to abide by the Society’s rules for researchers.

Microfilm copies exist for many of the major series of the Society’s pre-20th-century records. These microfilms are on open access in the search room of the Manuscripts Department in Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury, London EC2P 7HH (tel: 020 7332 1868/1870 email: (manuscripts.guildhall@cityoflondon.gov.uk). The Guildhall Library is open to the general public six days a week and no appointment is necessary.

The Library

The Library is open at selected times, prior to the Eponymous Lectures run by the Society’s Faculties.  The nucleus of the library was started by the presentation of a Gerrard’s Herbal in 1633 and dedicated space for a repository of books was created in the Hall in 1682. During the 18th and 19th century a portion of the library was held at the Chelsea Physic Garden and in 1953 over 300 volumes were transferred permanently to the Physic Garden.
 

Adopt a Book Scheme

The Society launched a scheme to Adopt a Book in 2015 as a way for members of the Society, its Faculties and its Friends to support the restoration of some of the Society’s rare books. This collection of some 250 largely medical and herbal texts date from the 16th century on to the mid-19th century and are an important heritage area for the Society of Apothecaries. Although some are in good condition, a number  have suffered from the ravages of time or overuse, and some may have been in a damaged condition when the Society acquired them. This project aims to conserve and restore these volumes for use. Members are invited to sponsor the restoration of a book for which they will be acknowledged in a bookplate and it is also possible to support one in memory of a deceased family member, friend or colleague.  A representative list of books with their restoration costs may be downloaded click here and a leaflet giving more details of the scheme with a form to indicate preferences and personal details may be downloaded as a pdf file and printed out click here  Please note that the Restoration List shows just a sample of the restorations needed. Details of a wider list of restorations may be obtained by e-mailing Curator

There is no research fee and therefore no charge for enquiry work but a donation to the Friends of the Archives  towards the Friends conservation programme is welcome. Payment may be made by personal cheque or banker’s draft (in pounds sterling) which should be made payable to: “Society of Apothecaries”.

Tours of the Hall, which includes viewing of the paintings, furniture, and some of the artefacts, may be arranged for small groups though the Assistant Clerk, Verity Mitchell.