Description (Brief)
This flask is made of Nonsol glass by Whitall Tatum Company.
Nonsol was a brand of borosilicate glass developed by the Whitall Tatum Company. German scientists Otto Schott (1851–1935) and Ernst Abbe (1840–1905) first developed borosilicate glass in the late 19th century. Its strength against chemical attack and low coefficient of thermal expansion made the glass more resistant to the chemical and heat stresses of the laboratory environment than any other glass on the market. When it first became available in 1902, Nonsol was among the first American-made borosilicate glasses. The name “Nonsol” likely was a shortening of “non-soluble,” referring to its chemical resistance.
Whitall Tatum Company was among the first American glass companies to manufacture chemical glassware, starting as early as the late 1870s. Based in Millville, New Jersey, the company’s factory produced chemical and other glassware for over 150 years, finally closing its doors in 1999.
Whitall Tatum donated this object to the Museum in 1921, at the request of Charles Whitebread, assistant curator in the Division of Medicine. Whitebread planned to use the object as a part of an exhibit to illustrate pharmaceutical methods used in the manufacture of medicine. He hoped to “illustrate some of the operations to which crude drugs are subjected to get them into a form suitable for administration.” The methods he planned to display included: vaporization, distillation, sublimation, comminution, desiccation, sifting, levigation, precipitation, dialysis, expression, percolation, solution, lotion or displacement washing, decantation, collation or straining, filtration, and separation of immiscible liquids.
Harrison, Charles. Cumberland County, New Jersey: 265 Years of History. The History Press, 2013.
Jensen, William B. “The Origin of Pyrex.” Journal of Chemical Education 83, no. 5 (2006): 692. doi:10.1021/ed083p692.
The Journal of Biological Chemistry 25 (1916). American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Kraissl, F. “A History of the Chemical Apparatus Industry.” Journal of Chemical Education 10, no. 9 (1933): 519. doi:10.1021/ed010p519.
National Museum of American History Accession File #67053
Rosenfeld, Louis. Four Centuries of Clinical Chemistry. CRC Press, 1999.
Whitall Tatum & Company. “Whitall Tatum & Co. Glass Ware,” 1879.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1921
Whitall Tatum Company
overall: 6 1/2 in x 3 1/2 in x 3 1/2 in; 16.51 cm x 8.89 cm x 8.89 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Whitall Tatum Company
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Science & Mathematics
Science Under Glass
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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