The chemistry set had clearly seen better days. Curator Ann Seeger pulls the midth-century Gilbert kit out of a glass-fronted cabinet in the back of a cluttered storeroom at the National Museum of American History and opens the bright blue wooden box, revealing that several bottles of chemicals are missing and some vials have lost their labels. The story of how the chemistry set rose to such prominence and then fell follows the arc of 20th-century America, from its rise as a hub of new commerce to an era of scientific discovery, and reflects the changing values and fears of the American people. Seeger shows me a small, brown wooden box, circa , about ten-inches square, inset with a small relief of silvery metal, depicting what appears to be a scene from a ship, with men in pantaloons holding swords. The toy chemistry set has its roots in late 18th- and 19th-century portable chemistry kits sold in boxes like this to scientists and students for practical use. The kits contained glassware, chemicals, perhaps a scale or a mortar and pestle, and other necessary equipment for carrying out chemical tests in medicine, geology or other scientific fields or for classroom instruction.
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
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One set is big, white, and mysterious, the other is smaller but showier. Once you unbuckle the front latches, both the left and right sides fold open. And when we do open the case, we find… a disaster zone! The good news is that all of the chemicals started out in sealed containers, and the vast majority of them do remain intact. On the other side of the case, we have glassware, assorted accessories, little boxes of stuff, and some places where the literature would normally be stored. With a little bit of cleanup, things look much, much better. That helps quite a bit in organizing things.
Vintage SKILCRAFT CHEMISTRY LAB set # 506 in tri-fold Steel Cabinet
By Lisa Hix — July 20th, Here we are, in , a. Most lovers of science are all too aware that chemistry sets have gone down the tubes, particularly in the last decade. Sites like the 12 Angry Men blog have bemoaned how modern chemistry sets expose kids to little more than low-energy experiments that produce changes in color. What the makers mean is that their set has no dangerous chemicals.