Test Tube


The test tube is one of the most commonly used pieces of laboratory ware, available in many sizes ranging from less than 1 inch to 6 inches in length. Test tubes are the perfect shape and size to hold small amounts of substances, usually liquid, which are then manipulated in some way, such as being placed over the flame of a Bunsen burner.

The earliest English account of test tubes, and wooden test racks that hold tubes upright so their contents would not spill, appears in A System of Theoretical and Practical Chemistry (London, 1803) written by Frederick Accum, a German “operative chemist” who offered chemicals, books, lessons, and apparatus from his shop in Compton Street, Soho. Since Accum never claimed to have invented either form, we might assume that both were known to practical chemists and others who seldom discussed their work in print. Indeed, Accum may have learned about test tubes during his apprenticeship in a pharmacy in Hanover.

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Chemistry, Science & Mathematics, Artifact Walls exhibit


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of University of South Carolina

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: CH.315121.061Catalog Number: 315121.061Accession Number: 215563

Object Name: test tube

Physical Description: glass (overall material)Measurements: overall: 2 1/2 in x 5/16 in; 6.35 cm x .79375 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-6c4a-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1341432

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