Fisher & Co, Homœopathic and Dispensing Chemists

  • Date Established:
  • State:
    New South Wales
  • Suburb/Town:
  • Variations on Business Name:
    Martin & Fisher

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)


Although advertisements for Sydney's homœopathic pharmacy called 'Fisher and Co.' first appeared in 1878, actually this firm was first established in October 1876 under the name of 'Martin and Co.' (This was a branch of Melbourne's homœopathic pharmacy which eventually became known as Martin & Pleasance.) An advertisement for Fisher & Co., which was published many years later in 1917, stated that the firm had been 'established in 1876'. This confirms the connection between Martin & Co. and its later identity as Fisher & Co.


In 1877, shortly after the establishment of the pharmacy, 28 year old Henry Allan Fisher, a chemist, became a partner in the Sydney firm, before becoming its owner in 1878.


The original location for the Sydney pharmacy was at 143 Pitt Street, Sydney. This was a building which had several levels and housed many different businesses, including an architect, a New Zealand insurance company, Union chambers, the Wesley Church Mission Office, and a large warehouse. The building was owned by a man called Henry Fisher. This is NOT the same person as Henry Allan Fisher, and to-date I have not found a family connection between the two men. Henry Fisher, the owner of the building in Pitt Street, ran a warehouse and shipping and commercial brokers company called 'Henry Fisher and Co' which had been in operation since 1833.



Homœopathic Medicine Chest

Photograph: Courtesy of  Sue Williams

In January 1877, an advertisement announced that the Sydney firm, now called 'Martin and Fisher', had moved from Pitt Street to 19 Hunter Street in Sydney, between Pitt and George Streets. They stated that they were 'prepared to supply all drugs and other requisites of a Homœopathic Pharmacy at moderate prices, and of reliable quality. Illustrated lists of medicine chests forwarded free on application. Liberal terms offered to agents.' Supplies were provided by the Melbourne head office of Martin & Co.


Immediately prior to the pharmacy's move to Hunter Street, the owner of the Pitt Street building, Henry Fisher, advertised a 'desirable ground floor frontage', 'in first-class order, recently fitted up as a homœopathic establishment'. Possession was available on 15 January.


In August 1878 advertisements started to appear under the firm's new title of 'Fisher and Co. (late Martin and Fisher)'.


In 1883 Henry Allan Fisher branched out to become an importer and commission merchant, forming a partnership with John William Ferguson. This was in addition to his pharmacy business. However, the partnership was dissolved in May 1886, immediately prior to the announcement of his insolvency. In January 1887 the business was put up for sale at a public auction, including the whole of the stock, fittings and show chases.


In August 1889 Henry was declared bankrupt. The contents of his house at Fernleigh, Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst were auctioned, and in November the stock and fixtures of the pharmacy in Hunter Street were again put up for sale.


In 1891 the firm was still located at Hunter Street. It was during this year that advertisements appeared for a product which became one of the staples of Fisher & Co. Later advertisements stated that Henry Allan Fisher was the originator of his 'celebrated Kola Nut Tonic'. It was made from an African nut (Cola Acuminata) and was designed to be a preventative and restorative to combat the influenza epidemic of that year.


By January 1892 the business, still called Fisher & Co., had moved to 337 George Street, 'nearly opposite the General Post Office'.


In June 1892 this pharmacy, along with that of JT Osmond & Co, was an honorary dispenser of the newly-established Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary.


 In 1895 Dr Richard Wallace delivered a lecture before “the Assistant Chemists’ Association of New South Wales” at Fisher’s  Pharmacy. He recommended the establishment of a homœopathic hospital in Sydney – “the only city with over 300,000 inhabitants which has not one”.


Once again, in June 1896, tenders were invited to purchase the 'assigned estate of Henry Allan Fisher, trading as Fisher and Co.' According to the advertisement:


This is the only recognised Business of the kind in the city, has capital connection, and an energetic capable man can acquire a fortune in a few years. It is only in the market by reason of ill-health of the former proprietor.


The business was purchased by William Morton Stevenson, a jeweller from Adelaide, and after his death in January 1815, by his descendants. The firm continued to trade under the name of Fisher & Co., even after Henry Allan Fisher had left the business. In 1897 Mr Stevenson registered the trade-mark for the Kola Nut Tonic, Fisher & Co.'s most famous product.

The Macleay Argus, 21 April 1900


During 1900 Mr Fisher advertised in competition with his previous company, advertising that he was still manufacturing his Kola Nut Tonic at 15 Castlereigh Street, Sydney. Customers should 'see my portrait and signature (in red) on every bottle' 'None genuine without it.' In another advertisement he stated that:


The signature and portrait of the originator, H. A. Fisher, M.P.S., is on each bottle to ensure genuineness. Be sure of this, otherwise you cannot expect benefit by taking inferior imitations which are worthless and base impositions and veritable rubbish.'


Henry Allan Fisher died in 1903.


Fisher & Co. was listed in the Sydney Directories for 1900, 1902 and 1904. During that period it was one of four homœopathic pharmacies in Sydney. In 1913 the company was also listed under the category of ‘homœopathists’. By 1919 the company was still advertising as “Homœopathic and Dispensing Chemists”.


©   Barbara Armstrong

  • Created:
    Sunday, 03 April 2011
  • Last modified:
    Sunday, 02 July 2017