Samuel Coates collection  1772-1806
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This volume (22 pages) is a typewritten biography of Elias Durand, a French immigrant who became a notable pharmacist and botanist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the mid-19th century. The biography, written by a former apprentice, concentrates on Durand's final years in France and on his pharmaceutical career in the United States.

Durand's final apprentice wrote this biography, entitled Some Recollections of an Old Corner, in 1886. Two images are pasted into the book's opening pages: an illustration of Durand's pharmacy and a photograph of Elias Durand. The biography begins with a brief history of Durand's studies in France, as well as a description of his service as an assistant pharmacist in Napoleon's Army. The bulk of the narrative concerns Durand's experiences in the United States, first in Boston and Baltimore and then as a pharmacy owner in Philadelphia.

The author traces Durand's first jobs in America, including descriptions of Durand's encounter with a group of Native Americans outside of Baltimore (pp. 7-8) and his establishment of his own business, which he operated between 1824 and 1852. The biography frequently discusses Durand's role in the professionalization of the American pharmaceutical industry and mentions many of his accomplishments, such as his invention of an apparatus for making "carbonic acid water" (p. 10), his use of French literature and research to further American pharmacy expertise (pp. 11-12), his soda water and fruit juice concoctions (pp. 13-14), and his work bottling mineral water (p. 18). The author credits Durand with the creation of several medicines and notes the pharmacist's association with prominent Philadelphia doctors including Charles Meigs and Samuel Jackson. The biography also briefly mentions Durand's later botanical career and his personal life.

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