There is a very beautiful and comprehensive old pharmacy collection housed at our Redcliffe centre.

The collection is made up of an eclectic range of homoeopathic bottles and kits including a French kit in a Pharmacy Museumleather travel case, this kit is dated around 1910. There are also bottles from several British homoeopathic pharmacies including Epps, Thatcher & Co, Goulds and Keane & Ashwell; these range in age from 50 – 150 years old and most contain their homoeopathic pilules. There are several very old preparations from the American company Humphreys of New York.

The homoeopathic collection is complemented by a wooden remedy chest complete with several glass measuring bottles and  bearing the mark of the Ashton & Parsons, City Homoeopathic Pharmacy in London and several homoeopathic books; a veterinary text dated 1860, The Household Physician dated 1905 and The Medical Telephone, a tiny home prescribing booklet produced by The Homoeopathic Pharmacy, Hobart in 1883.

Apart from the homoeopathic section there is a very large collection purchased from the Efford family. Samuel Efford was the owner and pharmacist of the Beverley Pharmacy in rural WA. On his retirement the shop contents were packed up (see below for Sam and Esther’s story)

The pharmacy contents were purchased by the Homoeopathic Education Centre in 1999. This collection includes a ‘shop full’ of American pharmaceutical bottles 1898. They contained all the materials for the prescriptions.

There are very old raw ingredients – powdered roots, seeds, barks, gums and resins many with dip and scratch ink labels.

Patent medicines came in a huge variety of bottles, shapes and labels. There are many different scales, weights and measures all vital to accuracy. The old prescription books, 1890’s contain detailed information on tonics and preparations, individually prescribed and dispensed from the pharmacy.

There are very many interesting items in this collection and every one contains a story to ponder and discover.

Samuel & Esther Efford

Sam took over the Beverley Pharmacy in 1931, in his mid twenties. The Pharmacy was like a time capsule from the hey days of the 1890’s.

The 1930’s were bleak times for rural WA. Beverley had been a thriving inland Avon Valley town where many generations of farmers stuck it out in hard times and spent generously when wheat and wool prices soared.

Sam, in close friendship with Dr Martell, were responsible for the health of the whole district. Sam was rightly proud of his lifelong record of meticulous prescriptions.

He loved violin and played banjo mandolin. Everyone loved his paintings from the Avon Valley and his bizarre imagination.

Esther, his beloved wife, appreciated beauty in everything. She was the mainstay of the Pharmacy and must have sold thousands of cosmetics. She wrote poetry every day, often from witnessing the events and sufferings of a close community. She was the one who talked with the pregnant women; saw the alcoholism, the ulcers, the malnutrition of itinerant workers, the shearers, the fencing or dam sinking contractors. Esther’s sparkling nature reveled in births and weddings.

Sam’s nature was to be a reliable pharmacist, a good listener and an eccentric artist.

In those days people stayed in the same business or address. Sam and Esther were in the centre of Beverley life for 45 years. By then the town was in decline, so there was no-one to buy the shop.

All the shop contents were brought to their new home in Gooseberry Hill. The collection was entrusted to their daughter in law, Georgia Efford, as I was involved in herbal healing. It is such a pleasure to see the complete collection alive through Jan Owen.                  Georgia Efford, 19th January 2000

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