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Gilbert Chemistry Outfit

chemistry set

Chemistry sets, of the kind intended for child's play, descend from the "natural magick" books, chemical magic tricks, and scientific puzzles that date from 17th century Europe. Chemistry sets designed to instruct druggists and medical students and to amuse upper-class Europeans date from the late 18th century. World War I developed America's budding chemistry industry and thus developed the toy chemistry set as we would recognize it. A. C Gilbert and the Porter Chemical Company dominated the manufacture of chemistry sets in the United States throughout the 20th century. All told, the Porter company sold more than a million sets, and in its heyday, the company was the largest purchaser of test tubes in the world. A. C. Gilbert was quite clear in his purpose in manufacturing chemistry sets and devising experiments for boys to try. He intended to encourage boys to pursue careers in the sciences. His 1920 instruction book states: "Emphasis has been laid on the experiments of this manual to show the relationship between chemistry and its application to commercial industries and to everyday life. . . . The chemist is looked upon with respect and there is a general desire to know more about chemistry."

  • Manufacturer: A. C. Gilbert Co.
  • Material: wood | glass | metal | printed paper
  • Origin: USA
  • Object ID: 105.900
  • Credit Line: Gift of Ken McCurdy
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