Introduction to the scanned version


British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911

An Imperial Dispensatory

for the use of

Medical Practitioners and Pharmacists

Published by direction
of the Council of the
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain


The Pharmaceutical Press
72, Great Russell Street, W.C.


Scanned version copyright © 2001–2019 Henriette Kress.
The BPC (in a very much more modern version) is still in print - find out more at The Pharmaceutical Press site.

A friend said, a few years ago, burdened under his load of books from some antiquarian sale: "... but the crown of the lot is the British Pharmaceutical Codex from 1934. It's got everything!"

The BPC could be called the British dispensatory. This is one from before antibiotics, and thus modern pharmaceuticals, hit it big. It contains loads of plants, some of them toxic, most not, and a few more or less toxic chemicals. Unfortunately it's focusing more on single constituents (alkaloids and such) and less on whole plants. It's also written by pharmacists for pharmacists, which makes it less useful for the herbalist than books written by MDs of the time, especially physiomedicalist or eclectic MDs. It's still a nice view into things as they were, on the European side of the pond. A companion volume could, for instance, be Hager's Handbuch, from Germany.

There are some ...interesting things in this edition of the BPC. For instance, the authors use something they call a "mil" (I'd call it a milliliter, or a cubic centimeter), and they divide it into decimils and centimils (I'd call that 1/10 of a milliliter and 1/100 of a milliliter, respectively). They say they do this in order to make using metrics easier. I'd say they've managed to thoroughly confuse everyone - people who haven't used metrics before won't be helped by additional arbitrary measuring units that aren't found in any reference work, and people who do use metrics know that there's things like deciliters (1/10 of a liter, or 100 ml) and centiliters (1/100 of a liter, or 10 ml) -- they just might give you ten milliliters of something when they should have given you 1/100 of one. Don't worry, I've added explanatory notes to every single deci- and centimil I've seen.

As usual, the online version only covers plant-related entries. Oh, and solvents, of course, because they're needed for things like tinctures. And some of the plant acids, just because.

And as always, you need to know your plants before you use information this old.
That being said, have fun!


The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.