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Chemistry set in a mahogany case, United Kingdom, 1900-1910

All the equipment necessary to carry out a range of chemical experiments and research is contained in this set. The case includes test tubes, a measuring cylinder, filter papers and funnel, litmus paper, a pestle, a burette, and chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, egg albumen and copper sulphate. This chemistry set was owned and used by Alexander Ninian Bruce, a Scottish physician and neurologist, who studied for his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Edinburgh from 1901 to 1911. A prize has been set up in his name at the Royal Society in Edinburgh for research in Medical or Veterinary Physiology, awarded to someone working in a Scottish Higher Education Institution.

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    Glossary: measuring cylinder

    piece of laboratory glassware used to accurately measure out volumes of chemicals for use in reactions. They are generally more accurate and precise for this purpose than flasks.

    Glossary: mortar

    Cup-shaped vessel in which drugs or herbal mixtures are pounded with a pestle.

    Glossary: pestle

    An elongated piece of hard material usually made of stone. A pestle is used for grinding pigments, herbs, spices or other materials in a mortar.

    Glossary: ether

    A volatile liquid (resulting from the action of sulphuric acid upon alcohol) formerly used as an anaesthetic. Ether was usually inhaled.

    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: chemistry

    The branch of science that studies substances which constitute matter with the aim of discovering their properties, how they react, and the uses and products of such reactions.

    Glossary: burette

    A marked glass tube, with a small tap and stopcock. It is used for delivering set quantities of a liquid or for measuring the amount of liquid or gas received or discharged.