A Guide to the Meade & Baker Apothecary Ledger, 1861-1870 Meade & Baker Apothecary Ledger Ms2009-130

A Guide to the Meade & Baker Apothecary Ledger, 1861-1870

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms2009-130


Special Collections, Virginia Tech

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

©2009 By Virginia Tech. All rights reserved.

Processed by:John M. Jackson, Special Collections

Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
Collection Number
Meade & Baker Apothecary Ledger, 1861-1870
Physical Characteristics
0.4 Cubic Feet 1 box
Meade and Baker Apothecary (Richmond, Va.)
Accounts ledger for a pharmaceutical firm in Richmond, Virginia, including customer names, addresses and itemized lists of purchases.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Meade & Baker Apothecary Ledger must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Meade & Baker Apothecary Ledger, Ms2009-130 - Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Acquisition Information

The Meade & Baker Apothecary Ledger was purchased by Special Collections in 2008.

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Meade & Baker Apothecary Ledger commenced and was completed in October 2009. Prior to processing, the ledger had been sent to a professional conservator for full treatment.

Biographical Information

Thomas Roberts Baker, son of Hilary and Margaret Marshall Roberts Baker, was born in Richmond, Virginia on May 30, 1825. As a youth, Baker learned the pharmaceutical business under Alexander Duval, then attended the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, graduating in 1852. During the Civil War, Baker enlisted in the Confederate Army as a member of the Richmond Howitzers but was ordered to report to the army's medical department, where he would serve throughout the war. Baker married Maria G. Burgwyn in 1868, and the couple would have one son.

Richard Hardaway Meade, son of Benjamin and Eliza Hardaway Meade, was born in Powhatan County, Virginia, in January 1831. As a boy, Meade moved with his family to Richmond; like Thomas Baker, Meade found early employment in the drugstore of Alexander Duval. In 1856, Meade and Baker partnered to establish an apothecary shop on the corner of Richmond's 9th and Franklin streets. During the Civil War, Meade served as a member of the House Guard. He married Jane Catherine Fontaine. The Meades would have five children. Though Meade was the junior partner of Meade & Baker, he is credited with having played a larger role in creating many of the company's formulas, including that for a mouthwash that would become very popular.

Meade & Baker eventually moved to the 900 block of East Main Street and became the largest apothecaries in the city. When Meade died in 1880, Baker bought out his partner's interest in the company. The company's mouthwash product eventually became so successful that Baker in 1888 created the separate Meade amp; Baker Carbolic Mouthwash Company, which manufactured and sold not only its namesake product, but a tooth powder as well. At the same time, the original drugstore was sold to the head pharmacist, William P. Poythress. In 1892, the mouthwash company became a stock company with Baker serving as president. Thomas Roberts Baker died on November 26, 1906.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a single accounts ledger from Meade & Baker, a pharmaceutical business in Richmond, Virginia during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Containing more than 600 pages, the ledger appears to be a daybook, recording customer names and addresses, dates of purchases, itemized lists of purchases, and payments. The store's sales consisted almost entirely of pharmaceuticals and related health and beauty goods, but the ledger also records sales for such household items as spices, chewing tobacco, stamps, and pencils. Many of the account entries made during the 1860s illustrate rampant inflation within the Confederacy. The price recorded for a toothbrush in February 1861, for example, is 25 cents, while a January 1865 entry records the price for that same article as 12 dollars.

That the ledger contains account information only for customers outside of Richmond (including a number of customers in other states) suggests that the volume may have been used to record only mail-order purchases. This theory is supported by the fact that this single ledger enumerates an entire decade's worth of sales, far too few for a company that has been described as one of the largest drugstores in nineteenth-century Richmond.

Index Terms


  • Civil War
  • Folk, historical, and patent medicine
  • Local/Regional History and Appalachian South
  • Medicine
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865

Contents List

Box 1
Ledger, 1861-1870