Accession No


Brief Description

set of ‘Courtauld Atomic Models’ chemistry space-filling molecular model kit, boxed, by Griffin and George, mid- to late 20th Century


England; London


Griffin and George


chemistry; demonstration

Earliest Date

Jan. 1, 1950

Latest Date

Dec. 31, 1980

Inscription Date


wood; paper (card; cardboard; paper); metal (brass, alloy, iron); plastic


430mm width;

Special Collection


Purchased from Christie’s Auction House, 85 Old Brompton Road, London on 07/12/2000. Lot 30, sale MSI 8976, "Scientific and Engineering Works of Art, Medical Instruments and Models".


inside of lid
SET No. 2 (S33-418)

Description Notes

Set of ‘Courtauld Atomic Models’ chemistry space-filling molecular model kit, by Griffin and George, mid to late 20th Century, boxed.

With illustrated leaflet pasted to the inside of the lid. A set of scale cards by Gallenkamp, the various models coloured and arranged so as to construct for educational purposes, arranged in nine compartments (with one four-compartment lift-out tray) within its original travelling case.


Ruth Horry; 'Modelling chemistry'; Explore Whipple Collections online article; Whipple Museum of the History of Science; University of Cambridge; 2008: Ruth Horry; 'Space-filling models'; 2008:


There are several main types of atomic models in use today. Two of the most common are 'ball and spoke' and 'space-filling' types. Each model type displays different information about molecules. Whilst ball and spoke models are designed to show how the atoms bond together, space-filling models accurately demonstrate the size and shape of the molecule. The Courtauld Atomic Model set is a ‘space-filling’ type. Chemistry students use space-filling models to help when visualising whether the shape of certain bulky structures will prevent them reacting with other molecules. One disadvantage of space-filling type is that the model does not clearly demonstrate how the atoms bond together. This model set was made by Griffin and George, a company that designed mass-produced models for students learning chemistry. Griffin and George's Courtauld Atomic Models set is extremely well known amongst students of the period. It was developed from the designs of Dr. G. S. Hartley of Courtaulds Ltd. in 1952 and underwent several improvements over the next fourteen years.

The models themselves are made of a rigid plastic, with a colour scheme that is different from the recommendations set out by the Institute of Physics. Instead, the colours of these models were chosen for how good they would look in black and white photographs. The set comes with scale cards by Gallenkamp for estimating the size of the molecules (20mm equivalent to 0.1nm).
Created by: Allison Ksiazkiewicz on 10/03/2014


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