Apothecaries' Weights & Measures

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"Apothecaries' Weight.

20 Grains (gr.) make 1 Scruple,sc. equal to 20 grains Troy.
3 Scruples.............................1 Dram, dr., equal to 60 grains.
8 Drams ...............................1 Ounce, oz., equal to 480 grains or 24 scruples.
12 Ounces         ...............................1 Pound, lb., equal to 5760 grains, or 288 sc., or 96 drams.

By this weight, medicines are mixed ; but drugs are bought and sold wholesale by avoirdupois.

 

Apothecaries' Measure.

60 Minims make          1 Fluid Dram, dr.
8 Fluid Drams1 Ounce...........oz.
16 Fluid Ounces1 Pint................pt.
8 Pints1 Gallon.........gal."
                                                         

My little research on this topic (read: Wikipedia) tells me that the 'Drams' here should more properly be called 'drachms' (pronounced the same; as seen in this post) when referring to apothecaries' measures; whereas the avoirdupois system used 'drams'. However, this book comes from right around the period when this distinction was first drawn, so may pre-date that decision.

Similarly, it is the root for 'a dram of whisky' - perhaps to suggest medicinal use of that liquor? You wouldn't get much though, as a dram is about three-quarters of a modern teaspoonful in volume; perhaps a repeat prescription is more in order.

Source: 'Consult Me -- For All You Want To Know', first published 1860s, this edition c.1900s, (W. Nicholson & Sons, Ltd, Halifax)