Pharmacist vs Apothecary

What is the difference between a pharmacist and an apothecary? This question has always fascinated me. The difference between a ‘pharmacist and apothecary is that a pharmacist is a professional who dispenses prescription drugs in a hospital or retail pharmacy. While, an apothecary is a person who makes and provides/sells drugs and/or medicines’.  In 1919 

The Russian people as a whole almost revered the apothecary , and they entered it as they would enter a sanctum.


According to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society on ‘pharmacy’s roots’ which dated back to 4000BC, apothecaries also examined and treated patients, without charge, however, charging for the medicines supplied.


Yet another difference was becoming evident, between a pharmacist and a chemist. According to, it stated: ‘A pharmacist is trained in the science of pharmacy to prepare and dispense medicinal drugs, whereas a chemist is trained in the science of chemistry to research and experiment with chemical substances.’

The Herberton Historical Village, in North Queensland, has an authentic dispensary store set up with cedar-like timber from floor to ceiling. The store is like ‘one of the seven wonders of the world’. It feels as if I am seeing something unique and special when I step inside. It is so wondrous, so foreign to what I would ordinarily experience when stepping into today’s pharmacies.

The building outside belies what is actually inside. The wording ‘Chemist’ does little to promote it’s apothecary or dispensary history. It is well worth going inside, simply to step back into the 1800s and see what a dispensary from that era. It looks as good now, as it did some 15 years ago when I started regularly visiting the Herberton Historical Village.

Also as it’s set in an Australian bush setting, it feels even more authentic.

19 thoughts on “Pharmacist vs Apothecary

    • I was out and about and saw this strange word ‘Apothecary’ as a sign for a shop and thought, ‘What does that mean?’ When I looked inside, it looked like a chemist and next door was a 24hr medical centre. I thought, Why don’t they just call it a chemist?’ I now know.


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