Chemcraft (vintage chemistry set, from Boing Boing Flickr Pool)


Contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr pool by Stephen Hocking.




  1. I’ve got one of these of similar vintage, but in a blue box. It was my half-brother’s, circa 1959. If I can find it, I’ll post pics.

  2. Looks like the poor tyke spilt some of his magic blue potion into his eyes. . .how unfortunate.

      1. My god… I wonder how many kids you could dupe into doing piecework with innocuously labeled meth kits (mail your results for a prize!) like that.

  3. Whilst the “No Explosive. No Toxic” is admirable, little Johnny isn’t wearing safety glasses. Tsk Tsk.

    Also those test tubes look like they’re made of glass, that would be a hazard way too great these days! (won’t even begin to go into the implied stereotype that only boys play with chem sets)

  4. Wow this brings back fond memories. In ’59 or ’60 I received the “master ” version of this for Xmas. It and I were regulated to the garage where my dad and I built a special work bench, a large stone slab on a 4X4 frame, just the right hight for my 8 year old frame. He and I worked through the first 50 or so of the supplied experiments. Then he gave me a leather bound folio sized notebook (13×18) of blank paper to record the next 3 years of my own experiments … Joyous times. As I remember one could buy glassware, and lots of extras, from a supplied catalog. Then the next year I got a real working microscope! … Oh to give something like this to all the 8 year olds today!

    Thanks again.

  5. Judging by the expression on the lad in the top photo I can only guess that includes a recipe for LSD!

  6. I had a chemistry set as a kid but it wasn’t some premade kit in a box. No, this was a homegrown corner of the basementfull of toxic and explosive fun! I would go through my experiments book and see what chemicals I needed and give the list to my dad of the ones I didn’t have and he would order them for me in small amounts. I got to play with pretty chromium and cobalt compunds, study casting with tin and lead alloys, detecting sugar, etc.

    I even had a wide array of fancy glassware I bought from a hobby shop and inherited from my brother who also dabbled in it as a kid and had some fancy condensors from his college chemistry studies.

    I managed to keep all my body parts even when dabbling in black powder, potassium permanganate and glycerin fires, and the accidential making of nitrogen triiodide. In my dad’s defense he didn’t know about those last three things. ;)

  7. Me too, me too!

    Mine was some sort of duplex model: a white metal box rather than red, which opened in the center and the two doors swung 180 degrees to lie flat and open next to the exposed bottom layer. (Or it could stand up like a cardboard tri-fold used in a science fair.)

    And yes, the test tubes were glass. Don’t ask how I know that. No safety goggles. And one *could* produce various types of smoke or small explosions.

    Did I mention the fact there were no goggles?

  8. In pix #2– test tube on the right, it looks like they melted/ burned some sulpher!? I ruined a few that way, way back when. Can still feel it im my lungs.

  9. “Safe, non-toxic and non-explosive”. Where’s the fun in that? Don’t worry though, a good library search will always find ways to transform your “inert” chemicals into something far more interesting. (spoken as someone who knows). For goodness sakes, a car battery some water, salt, a bit of plumbing and you’ve got a good hydrogen generator. Let the fun begin.

    Its such a shame that this era is now gone because of safety and drug issues. I’m not taking about a nostalgia for the past either. Wasn’t experimenting at home part of the natural expression of someone who was obviously going to embark on a science career. What is going to be the long term effects of discouraging children from experimenting for themselves. Personally I feel this is a tragedy and will ultimately be felt in the economy, albeit many years later.

  10. I found a garden supply store that would sell a 10 year old KNO3 for 13 cents a pound, as well as a helpful pharmacist who saw nothing unusual with my interest in acquiring nitric acid. These reagents significantly expanded the experimental scope of my chemistry set.

    Of course these days this activity is more likely to attract the attention of homeland security.

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