Selling a Theory: The Role of Molecular Models in J. H. van 't Hoff's Stereochemistry Theory

  title={Selling a Theory: The Role of Molecular Models in J. H. van 't Hoff's Stereochemistry Theory},
  author={Trienke M. van der Spek},
  journal={Annals of Science},
  pages={157 - 177}
Summary In 1874, the Dutch chemist and Nobel prizewinner Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff (1852–1911) laid the foundations for stereochemistry with a publication in which he openly suggested that molecules were real physical entities with a three-dimensional structure. He visualized this new spatial concept with illustrations, but also with the help of small cardboard molecular models, which he made himself. Some of these models have survived the ravages of time and are among the oldest molecular… Expand


The Leiden 2 set of 69 models has only ever been mentioned in a footnote to a Dutch article in 1924
  • Chemisch Weekblad
  • 1924
2 Á/7. Only Professor Buys Ballot in Utrecht wrote a public reaction. The text of his open letter to Van
  • Sur les formules de structure dans l'espace', Archives Néerlandaises des Sciences Exactes et Naturelles
7, footnote 1; J. H. van 't Hoff (note 27), 5, footnote. Original phrase: fü r den Zweck der Anschauligkeit is unerlä sslich die Contruction von Modellen aus Cartonpapier
    As far as we know, none of these sets has survived
      Citation: Die Thatsachen zwingen dazu die Verschiedenheit isomerer Molecule von gleicher Structurformel durch verschiedene Lagerung ihrer Atome im Raum zu erklä ren
        In this letter, the museum director described the models as 'Originalen ihrer Modellen'. The acquisition is described in the annual report of the Deutsches Museum
          Model XX (figure XXIX in the text)
            Original citation: der Brochü re des Herrn van 't Hoff ist eine grosse Anzahl aus Pappe gefertigter Modelle beigegeben, welche das Verstä ndniss wesentlich erleichtern. 52
            • Article kept in Museum Boerhaave (arch 208)
            The manual is described in the letter of thanks that Oscar von Millar sent to Van
              The precursor of Van 't Hoff's models is described in section 2.4