Porter Atomic Energy Kit (late 1940s, 1950s)

Porter Atomic Energy Kit

This is a Model No. 100 "atomic energy kit" produced by Porter Chemical Co. under the "Chemcraft" trademark.

In mid to late 1947 Porter became the first company to produce laboratory kits for children that included an atomic energy component. Initially, they produced two such sets: Chemcraft chemistry kit No. 10 (ca. $10) and Chemcraft’s top of the line kit No. 25 (ca. $25). Get the numbering system? Anyway, I think that the model number for this set, No. 100, suggests that it was produced sometime later, probably the early to mid-1950s.

The Model No. 100 kit came with the same atomic energy items featured in these earlier sets. Kit No. 10 contained “actual specimens of Uranium Ore,” a booklet The Story of Atomic Energy and a spinthariscope. Kit No. 25, also included a “radioactive screen."

Porter Atomic Energy Kit

As can be seen in the accompanying image, our set (i.e., Model No. 100), contains a "radioactive screen," a spinthariscope and two glass vials, one of which contains uranium ore while the other contains a "uranium chemical."

The spinthariscope contains radium which according to the booklet is "one of the most valuable substances in the world. Radium costs about $25,000 per gram." Learn more about spinthariscopes.

For the most part, the booklet is a primer on radioactivity. The few experiments described in it consist of placing the uranium samples or the "radioactive screen" against photographic film. In one experiment, they recommend using filters (e.g., lead foil) to see the effect on the photographic image.