Listing: Shop, formerly apothecaries. c.1810. Top parapet with bust of
Aesculapius, snake and torch.
Comment: The shops is probably best remembered locally as Samuel
Shelley Ltd., chemists.
Aesculapius was the great ancient Greek physician, often considered the
father of modern medicine and very suitable for identifying a chemist's shop.
||Far be it from me to doubt the attribution of
Aesculapius (or to suggest that the item to the left is a club, not
a torch); but, if this had, in fact, been a bust of Hercules,
the club and the snake would have been perfectly appropriate.
Aesculapius would have been more likely not to have had a club but
would have had a snake wound round a staff (a caduceus). One
scarcely likes to think that someone bought a bust that was on the
market and near enough to pass for Aesculapius if it was high enough
up on the parapet.
But Noszlopy and Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of
Staffordshire and the Black Country, seem to accept this as
Aesculapius who, they say, is "typically represented with a
curly beard and a serpent wrapped round a staff. ... Since his
staff cannot be shown in this case, the sculptor has chosen to
show the serpent curled around Aesculapius's shoulders". I