Private Stash: Vintage Biological Models

I can’t always predict what I’m going to be drawn to when I’m out thrifting. I have a propensity for buying weird stuff and today’s Private Stash is a testament to this.

I came across these vintage biological models at a surplus sale all heaped haphazardly together in box for $3 each. Intrigued, I decided to pick out a few as a gift for my brother who is a neuroscientist. After all, there’s no gift better than a vintage one, especially if it’s topically relevant. As I sorted through the pile, I found myself not wanting to put any back on the shelf. They’re just too cool. And so I ended up buying them all. The models are made of painted plaster bolted to wooden bases with cast lead numbers. The palette of materials and colors is so rich, especially in an age where you’d be hard-pressed to find an educational tool not made of plastic. Of course, being less resilient than plastic, they were very chipped and dinged up from years of being thrown around in biology lab cabinets. I won’t even tell you how many hours I spent with hairline paint brushes and carefully mixed model paints touching them up. 


I did end up giving the duplicates to my brother for Christmas, although neither of us has a complete numbered set. We surmised that they illustrate the process of cellular division, but even my scientist brother and his doctor wife couldn’t figure out exactly what we’re looking at. But I do know what I’m looking at—sheer awesomeness. I’ve got a few other scientific antiques waiting in the wings to pair with these to make a pretty sweet vignette.

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