George Berg’s Experiment Book: The Contents of the Experiment Book
The experiment book’s contents provide a variety of insights into Berg’s glass and chemistry activities. By tracing the ingredients and techniques included in the experiments, we can identify the kinds of glass Berg hoped to make or to improve. We can compare Berg’s comments about results with his subsequent experiments, to understand what he hoped to accomplish with the changes to his formulas. Within certain experiments such additions as a calculation of proportional gravity of the glass or explanations of results—sometimes entered days or weeks later—further indicate how Berg incorporated ideas about the chemical combination of matter into his work. Notes about discussions and lectures offer insight into Berg’s understanding of the problems inherent in reaching his goal, and the routes he chose to improve his comprehension and results.
Our examination of the information George Berg recorded in his experiments leads to several conclusions about the purpose of his project. First, combined with the notes at the back of the first two notebooks and similar comments in the remaining books and on the inserted papers, the experiments confirm that Berg was learning and using contemporary chemistry to improve his understanding of glass formulas. At the same time, he was creating these formulas for two very specific outcomes. He made gem-like glasses, either for the carved or molded “cameos and intaglios” that imitated antique stones or for the more prosaic false stones set into buckles, jewelry, picture frames, or other small metal wares. Berg also made colored glasses that could be reground and used to color enameled wares, probably small boxes, or other trinkets.