Test Tube

Test Tube

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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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
test tube
Associated Place
United States: New Jersey
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
overall: 2 1/2 in x 5/16 in; 6.35 cm x.79375 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of University of South Carolina
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Science & Mathematics
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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