Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Richard A. Paselk

Plates from:

The Elements of Experimental Chemistry
William Henry, M.D.F.R.S.

First American from the Eighth London Edition


Published by Robert Desilver


William Henry (1774-1836), a close friend of John Dalton and discoverer of Henry's Law, first wrote a slim tract, An Epitome of Chemistry, based on a lecture course, in 1801. Students were guided though the work of the important chemists of the day, and, more importantly, provided with some simple experiments. This work was well received and Henry wrote his two-volume, comprehensive treatise, Elements of Chemistry in 1806. It went through numerous editions, becoming a standard work, influencing many subsequent authors, particularly because of its emphasis on chemical practice.* The Plates below are from the first American edition of Henry's text. Plates I-X appear to be from the original edition and are labeled Pl. I. etc. in the upper right corner. The last two plates (J. Warr. Jr.1 & 2) appear to have been specially prepared for this American edition, since they are by a different engraver with a Philadelphia address.

Note that these plates tend to be very practical. They are essentially plans for making one's own apparatus: scaled drawings with detail views and scales to give accurate dimensions. With this book in hand one could approach the local glassblower, tinsmith etc. and go about setting up a laboratory!

Plate I: Plate I, hi res. Miscellaneous glassware, including retorts and an alembic.

Plate I (detail)

Plate I, Alembic

Plate II: Plate II, hi res. Miscellaneous glassware

Plate III; Plate III, hi res. Gas generating and collecting apparatus

Plate IV; Plate IV, hi res. Gas reaction setups, pressure cylinder

Plate V; Plate V, hi res. Parabolic mirror setup; oil burner with vessels

Plate VI; Plate VI, hi res. Crucible furnaces

Plate VII; Plate VII, hi res. Furnaces/ovens; retort in oven

Plate VIII; Plate VIII, hi res. More Furnaces/ovens

Plate IX; Plate IX, hi res. Electrochemical cells; Gas reaction setups

Plate X; Plate X, hi res. Distillation and vapor collection setups

J. Warr. Jr. Plate 1; J. Warr. Jr., hi res. "Calorimotor"

J. Warr. Jr. Plate 2; J. Warr. Jr., Plate 2, hi res.


*Brock, William H. The Norton History of Chemistry, W. W. Norton & Company, New York (1993) p. 187, and Laidler, Keith J. The World of Physical Chemistry, Oxford University Press, Oxford (1993) p. 121.

© R. Paselk 1999

Last modified 26 February 2013