The Economic History Review

Consumption, retailing, and medicine in early‐modern London

Volume 61 Issue 1
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Pages: 26-53Authors: PATRICK WALLIS
Published online: May 9, 2007DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2007.00391.x

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This article examines the early development of specialized retail shops in early modern London. It argues that apothecaries’ shops were sites of innovative shop design and display. These practices were responses to attitudes to consumption, the problematic nature of the medical commodities which apothecaries sold, and, particularly, contemporary concerns about their reliability, trustworthiness, and honesty. The article concludes that analyses of the rise of the shop need to be revised to incorporate early developments by producer-retailers, such as apothecaries and goldsmiths, and suggests that investments in retailing were driven more by worries about commodities than enticing customers.