Chemical Christmas greetings

Show Navigation

By | From the Collections

Dip into the recently digitised issues of the Chemist & Druggist journal and you will find some colourful examples of pharmaceutical advertising – especially at Christmas. Medical suppliers frequently used the pages of this trade magazine to promote their wares. In the early half of the 20th century, one of the largest advertisers was Burgoyne Burbidges & Co.

Burboyne Burbidges advert on front cover of The Chemist and Druggist Journal

Front cover of the Chemist and Druggist, 15 December 1951, issue 3747.

This business was first established in 1741 as a glassware and chemicals manufacturer at 16 Coleman Street in the heart of the City of London. Under the leadership of Frederick and Thomas Burbidge, the business thrived and manufacturing moved to a factory in East Ham in East London. Here, the factory supplied chemicals to the medical industry up until its closure in 1952. 

Burgoyne Burbidges and Co. first appears in the Chemist and Druggist listings in 1893. By 1909, the company was important enough to warrant a larger article outlining its history. The business required a great number of staff, prompting a flurry of job advertisements. With business burgeoning, it is no surprise to find that Henry Wellcome corresponded with the company in 1901 and 1905.


Burbidges’ colourful Christmas adverts dominated the front pages of several of December issues of the Chemist and Druggist in the 1950s. Although Christmas was an excuse for more colour, Burbidges used the Chemist and Druggist regularly throughout the year to list the range of products and chemicals they manufactured.

Advertisement for Burgoyne Burbidges, The Chemist and Druggist Journal, December 16 1950.

Advertisement for Burgoyne Burbidges, the Chemist and Druggist, 16 December 1950, issue 3695.

Burgoyne Burbidges & Co. continues to trade, although they are now based in Mumbai in India. Burbidges is only one of many medical suppliers that feature in the pages of the Chemist and Druggist. The advertisements in the journal offer a rich visual history of developments both in print advertising and the pharmaceutical industry.

Julia Nurse

Julia Nurse

Julia Nurse is Collections Researcher at the Wellcome Library. With a background in art history, she has previously worked as Assistant Curator of the Iconographic Collections, and more recently co-curated the content within the refurbished Reading Room.

See more posts by this author

Comments are closed.

Related Blog Posts