Chapter 6 The Customs Laboratory of Lisbon from the 1880s to the 1930s: Chemistry, Trade and Scientific Spaces

In: Science, Technology and Medicine in the Making of Lisbon (1840–1940)
Ignacio Suay-Matallana
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The customs laboratory of Lisbon was created by the Ministry of Finances in 1887, and placed in the port area. It was a scientific space created in the borders between chemistry and economy. Its main official duty was testing and analysing imports and exports to prevent fraud, fight against adulteration, and improve tax revenue collection. In mid-nineteenth century, the port of Lisbon was seen as the gateway of trade for Europe. In this context, the customs laboratory was created to protect the national economy, and more specifically the commerce of wine. Over time, the role and activities of the customs laboratory grew, establishing deep connections with other Portuguese scientific networks, as well as with the industrial and commercial environment of Lisbon. This was possible thanks to the prestige and scientific authority of its first directors, linked to both the government and the industrial sphere, and its physical placement in the port of Lisbon. The laboratory became a very useful tool for customs officers, exporters, and traders of the area, creating a scientific hub in Lisbon focused on the control and regulation of merchandise and commerce.

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