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The old days being roughly 1600 - 1850, the time when chemistry and the nature of the elements was being investigated empirically.

For example, hydrogen gas was discovered by Robert Boyle in 1671 after pouring acids over iron filings. It was recognized by Henry Cavendish in 1766.

How did these people trap the gas? What kind of equipment and setup allows this? And crucially, how pure could it be without mixing with normal ambient air?

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    $\begingroup$ Here is Brief History of the Study of Gas Chemistry, which has pictures of hales's pheumatic trough and Priestley's and Cavendish's more elaborate apparatuses. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Sep 17 '18 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ I recommend Richard Holmes' "The Age Of Wonder," which covers developments in nearly every field of science. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Sep 18 '18 at 12:56

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