A retort is a vessel used for distillation, usually of less volatile liquids. It has been used for centuries. During the eighteenth century it, like many other types of laboratory ware, became standardized. Often made of glass, the vessel is spherical or sometimes tear-shaped, with a long downward pointing neck. The distillate condenses at the top of the neck and flows down to be collected in a receiver, usually a short-necked round-bottomed flask.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
overall: 45.8 cm x 8.6 cm; 18 1/16 in x 3 3/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Mathematics
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Transfer from Department of Defense, U.S. Military Academy

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