The Development of Chemical Formulae and Equations

An Evaluation of School Textbooks of the Period 1830–1871
  • Kurt Kölli


Symbols and chemical nomenclature have been most important for expressing chemical knowledge. Of course, such sign language has changed over the centuries. While early symbols reflected the mysticism of the Middle Ages, a rational, practical and simple system was arrived at by the end of the 19th century.


Chemical Formula Sign Language School Textbook Element Symbol Italic Letter 


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  1. 1.
    Thomson’s Annals of Philosophy, On the Chemical Signs and the Method of employing them to express Chemical proportions. Vol. III, (1814), p. 51.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. A. Stöckhardt, Die Schule der Chemie oder Erster Unterricht in der Chemie, versinnlicht durch einfache Experimente, Braunschweig 1850.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    W. Odling: Beschreibendes und theoretisches Handbuch der Chemie, Erlangen 1865 [translated into German by A. Oppenheim].Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    A. Lielegg: Erster Unterricht aus der Chemie an Mittelschulen, Wien 1871.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    K. Kölli, Der Chemieunterricht an den österreichischen Schulen zur Zeit Josef Loschmidts, Diplomarbeit an der Formal-und Naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Wien, Wien 1994, 225p.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt Kölli
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Inorganic ChemistryUniversity of ViennaAustria

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