Important Collection of Prescription Books from San Francisco, CA, Apothecaries and Family Druggists, T.P. Bevans & Co., 1850-1886
Lot of 9 volumes. All in various sized ledger books with marbled paper covers and leather spines (mostly gone). About half with paper label of T.P. Bevans & Co., Apothecaries and Family Druggists, SE corner of Broadway & Stockton Street, San Francisco. One with label of John Bevans, Apothecary and Family Druggist, still at Broadway and Stockton, but the first part (with the corner information) rubbed off. Two are missing the front board with their labels.
Book 1, 8 x 12 in. May 30, 1850 - Sept. 20, Rx numbers 301-387; on page 9, there are no numbers, dated Sept. 23 - Oct. 1. Then after page 12, the numbering begins with 1 as do the page numbers; dated Aug. 25, 1851 to Oct. 9, 1852; prescription numbers 1 - 1566 (including another 301-387).
Book 2, 8.25 x 13.75 in.; label with "Prescriptions / Liber [book] B / 29 Oct. 1850 to 25 Aug. 1851." Rx numbers 2005 - 2993.
Book 3, 11 x 17 in., ca. Sept. 1, 1856 (numbers damaged, p. 2 starts with 3 Sept.) to 16 May 1859; Rx numbers 5015 - 10999. Hand-numbered pages to 232, last 1/4 or so not numbered.
Book 4, 8.5 x 13 in., front label with manuscript "Prescriptions / Liber [book] E / Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 1854." Rx numbers 127-142, 156-2280; appears that two pages in back torn out, last entry Sept. 26.
Book 5, 11 x 13.5 in., front label indicates book F, Oct. 1, 1854 - Aug. 31, 1856. Starts over with Rx number 1. Missing pp. 239-293, Rx numbers 4020 to 4932. Last page numbered 297, last Rx # 5015.
Book 6, 11 x 17 in., Nov. 21, 1863 - 14 Apr. 1866; Rx numbers 22000-29728. 406pp (preprinted numbers). This one with John Bevans' label.
Book 7, 11 x 16 in., July 16, 1869 - Jan 4, 1874; Rx numbers 36011 - 44043.
Book 8, 10.5 x 16 in., no front cover. Jan 5, 1874 - Feb. 1, 1879; Rx numbers 44044 - 54800.
Book 9, 11 x 16 in., no front cover. Mar. 29, 1886 - Nov. 20, 1893. Rx numbers 80081 - 85026.
These entries are medical recipes and instructions for use. A few have last name of customer, but most do not. Most of these volumes also have notes written on blank endpapers and pastedowns, including a few customers' names. A couple have recipes affixed to front pastedown.
The medical recipes use plant extracts and chemicals. We think we recognize ingredients such as quinine and possibly morphine, but abbreviations are universal. Consignor indicates that some of these formulas include cannabis. There is plenty of research material in here for interested parties. Very few indicate the condition for which these are being prescribed, but there are certainly some indicators (is it taken by mouth, or a salve, for example).
According to a history of San Francisco Friends (Quakers), John and Thomas Bevan immigrated to San Francisco from England about 1850 (possibly drawn, as so many others, by Gold Rush opportunities). An ad in the Daily Alta California, May 9, 1851, advertised that the store had leeches, carbonate ammonia, tartaric acid, and a "general assortment of drugs and medicines." They were already at Broadway and Stockton. In 1862, John went into business with William Pickering, but that partnership dissolved in 1865. Both brothers appear in Directory listings for at least the next decade. (see http://sfquakers.org/about-us/our-history/our-history-150-years/ )
The Bevan family in California appears to have been Quakers, since other immigrants known to have been Quakers stayed with them upon arrival. Silvanus Bevan (1691-1765) was a well known Quaker apothecary in London, and, although he had no surviving children, his brother, Timothy, did. Timothy's son, Silvanus had seven sons - the immigrants may have been descendants of one branch of this family or another, although we did not locate the entire family tree.
All volumes coming apart; large books in daily use do not survive well. The endpages all have some toning and surface soil. A few show signs of water stains, but generally limited. Other than the missing pages noted, they are relatively complete. For the most part they are very readable (if you can read apothecary's notations!).