The Koeth Collection

Following in the University of Maryland’s tradition of promoting education and awareness of nuclear science, the University of Maryland Radiation facilities is also currently host to the greatest interactive collection of radiological antiquities in the United States. The Koeth Collection includes artifacts from the first nuclear reactor (CP-1), over 100 antique radiation detectors from around the world, and numerous radioactive quack devices from the early 1900s. Collection owner and curator, Tim Koeth, has been collecting antique radiation detection equipment and radiological antiquities for over 30 years. Researchers, class tour groups, and all visitors to the facilities are offered the opportunity to view this collection, including a shoe-fitting fluoroscope, Radium emanating Revigators, and many other treasures of the nuclear age.  Please follow the tour link to make arrangements for visiting.

This collection has an emphasis on portable radiation detection equipment, use of radioactive material and radiation in consumer products, both in serious applications as well as quackery, and artifacts with a strong connection to the history of the Manhattan Project.


This first cabinet that vistors encounter houses some of the oldest units in the collection starting with a Beckman MX-2 dated 1948.  The next three shelves display the majortiy of the Civil Defense instruments of the 1960s, including the aerial survey system for installation into a Cesna.  The bottom shelf displays two russian survey meters that were typically seen at the Chernobyl accident.

The second cabinet primarily contain instruments sold to the general public during the Uranium prospecting craze of the 1950s.  The second shelf down hold displays almost every model of the Precision Radiation Instruments Company.

The three half-height display cases house many examples of military radiation detection instruments.

This displays many examples of dosimetry.  If rate meteres are analogous to a car speedometer, then dosimeters are analagous to a car odometer, recording the total amount of radiation it was exposed to.

Perhaps the centerpiece of the Koeth Collection is a 1946 Adrian X-Ray Company in near mint condition.  It is inoperable but otherwise perfect condition.

Visitors will get a chance to operate a 1960s "Classmaster" geiger counter, making measurements on various consumer products.

This lithograph by Leo Vartanian has the busts of (l to r) Leo Szilard, Arthur Compton, Enrico Fermi, and Eugene Wigner, as well as a recreation of the CP-1 experiment.

An actual piece of graphite from CP-1. Argonne National Lab gives these mementos to distinguished employees in addition to the Lithograph and the post card below left.