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Robert Best Ede's chemistry set, England, 1840-1900

This chemistry set was put together by the chemist Robert Best Ede in the 1800s in Surrey, England. The chemistry set cost £3 3s, which was quite expensive for its time. It contained all the equipment needed to copy the experiments in John Joseph Griffin’s Chemical Recreations – a popular manual of experimental chemistry, which was first published in 1823. The equipment included scales, weights, a glass retort, test tubes, spatula, an evaporating dish, spirit lamp, litmus paper, filter paper and tripod stand. The set also included 71 chemicals and reagents in powder and liquid form. Some of the chemicals’ names might seem surprising. For instance, turmeric powder is more familiar in cooking rather than chemistry. Here, turmeric paper was also used to test for alkalis.

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    Glossary: filter paper

    No description.

    Glossary: retort

    A vessel in which chemical substances are heated for distillation or decomposition. Usually made from glass.

    Glossary: test tube

    Hollow cylinders of thin glass with one end closed. Test tubes are used for chemical and biological experiments and analysis.

    Glossary: chemistry set

    A set of scientific apparatus which allows the user to perform simple scientific experiments.

    Glossary: litmus paper

    Litmus is a water-soluble mixture of different dyes extracted from lichen. It is absorbed on to filter paper and used to test for acids and alkalis – indicated by a change in the colour of the litmus paper.

    Glossary: spirit lamp

    A lamp, used in laboratory work, which burns alcohol as fuel.