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Chemistry Collection

TitleChemistry Collection
DescriptionThe Chemistry Collection consists of several hundred items reflecting the history of chemistry research and teaching at Edinburgh University. Items in the collection include historical scientific instruments, samples of chemicals and crystals, three dimensional models, bottles jars and beakers, notebooks and documents, photographs, prints, busts, and many other items of miscellanea. These items are distributed around various locations within the University. The School of Chemistry’s museum has an extensive collection of exhibits, some others are on display in the department and some are on loan to various collections. The nucleus of the Departmental Museum is a collection of chemicals used by Lyon Playfair in illustrating his lectures and presented to the University on his resignation from the Chair of Chemistry in 1869. Among the numerous items of interest held in the museum is a model made from small red and blue balls of wool, held together by steel needles. The model itself is about 20 inches along each side, corresponding to a 3 x 3 x 3 cubic lattice. This is understood to be Alexander Crum Brown's construction of the crystal lattice structure of sodium chloride, dating from 1883, a very early three dimensional elucidation of crystal lattice structure. The museum collection also contains other Crum Brown artefacts such as complicated pieces of knitting in illustration of his mathematical work on inter-penetrating surfaces. Crum Brown held the Chair of Chemistry at the University from 1869 to 1908. Other items of note include a sample of strontia, isolated by Charles Hope in 1781 from mineral samples mined at Strontian; a sample of arsenic from the internationally famous trial of Madeline Smith in 1897; original Beevers-Lipson strips devised by Arnold Beevers of the University’s School of Chemistry and as used by Watson and Crick in the determination of the structure of DNA; a photograph from 1894 of the first and oldest Chemistry Society in the world and a press cuttings book from 1925 detailing the international mix of Edinburgh 's Chemistry students at that time. Items currently on loan to other University collections include an original glass phial of carbon dioxide – one of only three remaining produced by Joseph Black and the sovereign balance used by a Chemistry professor to check the gold content of coins paid by students for their tuition.
CustodianLyon Playfair; Arnold Beevers; University of Edinburgh
Custodial HistoryThe collection was built up around chemicals used in his lectures by Lyon Playfair and left to the University on his resignation from the Chair of Chemistry in 1869. It was added to and largely preserved as a collection by Dr C. Arnold Beevers, Reader Emeritus in Crystallography at the University of Edinburgh from 1938-2001
OriginEurope; Scotland; Strontian; United Kingdom; University of Edinburgh
Parent Collection University of Edinburgh Collections; Chemistry Collection;