The University of St Andrews has announced the discovery of what could be the oldest surviving classroom periodic table of elements chart.

Periodic Table Found In Storage Room

In a statement, the British public university said staffers from the School of Chemistry found the old poster while cleaning out their storage room in 2014.

The poster, which dates back to 1885, is printed in German on a linen-backed paper. It was found rolled up along with a clutter of decades-old laboratory equipment, chemical vials, andfhing charts.

The paper was so old it started to crumble when touched.

Purchased By Chemistry Professor In 1888

School records revealed the history of the table. An entry in the financial transaction records in the university's archives showed the table was bought in October 1888 by Thomas Purdie.

Purdie worked as chemistry professor at the university from 1884 until 1909. The table likely hung in his classroom until his retirement.

The table was produced in Vienna in 1885. Researchers were able to narrow down the print date of the poster using hints from the elements represented and left out on the chart.

Gallium and scandium, which were discovered in 1875 and 1879, respectively, were included in the chart. Germanium, however, which was discovered in 1886 was not included in the table.

Conserving What Could Be World's Oldest Surviving Periodic Table Chart

The chart has since received a full conservation treatment. The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust (NMCT) in collaboration with Richard Hawkes, who established the Artworks Conservation, awarded the University's Special Collections a funding grant for the conservation of the chart.

"We are delighted that we now know when the oldest known periodic table chart came to St Andrews to be used in teaching," University of St Andrews Head of Special Collections Gabriel Sewell said in the university statement.

"Thanks to the generosity of the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, the table has been preserved for current and future generations to enjoy and we look forward to making it accessible to all."

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