World's oldest periodic table chart emerges from obscurity

Germanium, discovered in 1886, is not included on the chart.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This may be the wold's oldest known classroom chart of the Periodic Table of the Elements.

University of St. Andrews

This is a big year for the Periodic Table of the Elements as the world celebrates the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev's creation. We can now lays eyes on a fascinating relic of its history. The University of St. Andrews in Scotland says it found and restored the world's oldest periodic table chart.

St. Andrews detailed the find on Thursday, though chemist Alan Aitken uncovered the chart among a collection of old chemicals and lab gear in 2014 while cleaning out a storage area in the university's School of Chemistry. The chart was big and fragile and started to flake when handled. 

The university says the chart is similar to a second version of the table Mendeleev produced in 1871. A printer's mark dated the chart to between 1875 and 1888. A team of experts went to work to date the table, ultimately agreeing it was made between 1879 and 1886. 

The chart is made of paper with a linen backing. It required some delicate conservation work to preserve it, including brushing off surface dirt, separating the backing, washing the chart and repairing tears and missing chunks of paper. It's now stored in a climate-controlled area. 

"This table appears to be the only surviving one from this period across Europe," the university said. St. Andrews would like to know if any other examples of such early tables still exist. Until then, this stands as the earliest known chart of a table that revolutionized the way we look at the elements.

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