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Physicians, Surgeons, Apothecaries and Chemists in Birmingham

The top part of the plate represents Hygeia, the Greek Goddess of Health, strewing her medicinal virtues over the earth. The Romans used the name Salus for the goddess.  Birmingham General Hospital stands in the background. Eight physicians, all M Ds, are listed and seven have addresses. Five are located in New Street or Temple Row, but one Edward Johnstone resides at Edgbaston Hall, the former residence of Dr William Withering, one of the Lunar Men.

The lower compartment depicts an emblematic device of the Good Samaritan who aided an injured traveller at the roadside. The story would be familiar to readers of the Directory from the life of Jesus in the New Testament. Twelve Surgeons are named with their addresses, one of whom is described as a dentist and another as an oculist who would perform operations on the eye. The names and locations of three apothecaries and chemists follow the list of surgeons.

The advertisement accurately presents the medical class structure by the early 19th century. Physicians were the aristocracy of medical practitioners; university graduates who could command high salaries. Their training in what we now call science gave them an insight into the body and disease, but there were huge variations in the standards of medical education and no regional regulation of medical licensing. Surgeons were not usually graduates, but were apprenticed and learned their craft of surgery whilst working. Traditionally a low status occupation, they were shaking away their origins as barber surgeons who cut hair as well as performed operations. The advent of anatomy classes, textbooks on surgery and general infirmaries in the late 18th century “contributed to surgery’s emergence from a manual craft into a scientific discipline involving physiological investigation” (Porter, 1997, p 280-281). Apothecaries who dispensed drugs were licensed in London, but “unregulated chemists and druggists blossomed, together with quacks and unorthodox practitioners” (Porter, 1997, p 288).



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972-0A Catalogue of Commerce and Art: Bisset’s Magnificent Guide for Birmingham, 1808 84-0Frontispiece to Bisset’s Magnificent Directory 83-0Plan of Birmingham, drawn by J. Sherrif of Oldswinford, late of the Crescent Birmingham 85-0Birmingham Fire Office 86-0Bankers and Public Companies in Birmingham 87-0Physicians, Surgeons, Apothecaries and Chemists in Birmingham 88-0Attorneys at Law in Birmingham 89-0Sword, Gun and Pistol Manufacturers in Birmingham 90-0Mercers, Linen Drapers, Haberdashers, Hosiers and Lacemen in Birmingham 91-0J Taylor, Gold and Silversmith, Jeweller, Tortoiseshell and Ivory Box and Toy Manufacturer, Birmingham 92-0Cabinet Makers, Upholsterers, Gun Makers and Saddlers in Birmingham 93-0Birmingham in Miniature or Richard’s Magazine for the Manufacturers of Birmingham and its Vicinity 94-0Bankers in Birmingham and Businessmen adjacent to Birmingham 95-0Merchants in Birmingham 96-0Miscellaneous Businesses in New Street, Birmingham 97-0Miscellaneous Businesses in High Street, Birmingham 98-0Gun Makers in Birmingham 99-0Inns, Hotels and Taverns and Swinney’s Type Foundry in Birmingham 100-0Factors or Commercial Agents in Birmingham with a view of the Crescent and Wharf 101-0Miscellaneous Professions and Businesses in Birmingham with a View of St Philip’s Church 102-0Miscellaneous Professions and Businesses in Birmingham with Emblems of their Trade 103-0Henry Clay, Japanner, and Artists in Birmingham 104-0Sword Makers in Birmingham 105-0Brass Founders with a view of the Brass House in Broad Street, Birmingham and Miscellaneous Businesses 106-0Toy Makers in Birmingham with a View of the Navigation Offices 107-0Miscellaneous Professions and Businesses in Birmingham with a View of St Paul’s Chapel 108-0Japanners in Birmingham and a View of the Park Glass House 109-0Cards of different Professions and Businesses in Birmingham 110-0Miscellaneous Businesses in Birmingham with a View of the Town from the Warwick Canal 111-0Button Makers in Birmingham 112-0Miscellaneous Professions and Businesses in Deritend near Birmingham 113-0View of Matthew Boulton’s Soho Manufactory and Royal Mint Offices in Handsworth near Birmingham 114-0View of the Eagle Iron Foundry and Mr. Whitmore’s Engineering Works in Birmingham 115-0View of Lloyd’s, New Hotel and Hen and Chickens Inn, New Street, Birmingham 116-0Exterior and Interior View of Jones, Smart and Company’s Glass Manufacturers, Aston Hill, Birmingham 117-0Thomason’s Button and Toy Manufactory, Church Street, Birmingham 118-0View of the Westminster Life and British Fire Insurance Offices, Strand, London, with a List of the Directors. J. Gottwaltz, Birmingham Agent 119-0The Phoenix Fire Office, Lombard Street and Charing Cross, London, with a List of the Directors. J. Farror, Birmingham Agent. 120-0Two Manufacturers, a School, an Engineer and an Inn near Birmingham 121-0Blair and Sutherlands, Gun Makers, Brook Street and Harper’s Hill, Birmingham 122-0Button Makers and other Businesses of Birmingham 123-0View of Birmingham from Aston Wharf with the Names of various Businesses 125-0Miscellaneous Metal Manufacturers and other Businesses in Birmingham 126-0Toy Maker and Japanners in Birmingham 127-0Surveyor, Sutton Coldfield and Coach Spring Manufacturers, Birmingham 128-0A Bookseller and list of Appraisers and Auctioneers in Birmingham 129-0Merchants and Factors in Birmingham 130-0Hepinstall and Parker’s File Manufactory, Ann Street, Birmingham and Walsall, Staffordshire 131-0Miscellaneous Traders, Professions and Manufacturers in Birmingham 132-0Trade Cards for various Businesses in Birmingham 133-0View of Warstone Brewery, Warstone Lane, Birmingham, belonging to Alex Forrest and Sons 134-0Various Toy Makers and Jewellers in Birmingham 135-0Thomas Robinson, Chemist, and Roberts, Jeffery and Co, Button and Toy Manufacturers, Snow Hill, Birmingham