About the SIS

The Society was formally constituted on 20 April 1983 in the course of a lively meeting at the Science Museum, South Kensington, when Gerard Turner was appointed Chairman, Brian Brass Treasurer (he would serve in that role for the next eleven years) and the late Jon Darius the first editor of the Bulletin. Amongst the ordinary committee members was Jeremy Collins the scientific instrument specialist at Christies.

The name of the Society was chosen carefully. It was not to refer to 'Antiquarian' or 'Historical'. It's remit was to embrace gas chromatographs or Geiger counters as much as the aesthetically pleasing instruments beloved of the 'Brass brigade'. In the words of our first press release, the Society aimed to contribute to historical knowledge and understanding through the collection, conservation and study of scientific artefacts. When the Microscopical Society of London (later the Royal Microscopical Society) was launched in 1839, its professed purpose was to afford 'encouragement to microscopical investigations, by promoting that ready intercourse between those engaged in such pursuits, by which not only are great advantages mutually gained, but also information of the most valuable kind disseminated and perpetuated'.

That, mutatis mutandis, is just what we hoped would transpire when collectors, curators, dealers, restorers and other interested parties were brought together on the common ground of our new Society. The establishment of a new society always occasions trepidation enough: Would it attract enough members? (We already numbered over 100.) If so, would they be sleepers or participators? Would the avowed aims be fulfilled, or would the whole enterprise lumber along expending most of its energy in unproductive meetings and minutes, minutes and meetings? These thoughts, articulated by Jon Darius on the first page of the first Bulletin proved to be unnecessarily cautious.

Throughout its history the Bulletin has had only three editors and has grown into a respected publication, essential reading for serious scholars of the history of science and the material culture of scientific enquiry, experimentation, instruction and its industrial, medical or military applications. It has always been A4 format, was professionally typeset from issue no 2 and advertising has been carried since the beginning.