The 8th edition of Gmelin covers the entire field of inorganic chemistry from the middle of the 18th century and is based on the original publications. All results are appraised with respect to current scientific thinking. The primary objective of Gmelin is to assemble and systematically classify the research findings scattered throughout original primary scientific literature. This reduction of research data in a usable form combines:

  • exhaustive coverage of all published material,
  • thorough and objective assessment of all results,
  • strictly logical grouping of related facts,
  • modern monographic presentation.

The arrangement of Gmelin is based on the periodic table. In order to use Gmelin it is helpful to know the system number assigned to each element. A Landolt-Bšrnstein chart is posted near the shelves to help identify the Gmelin system number. A periodic table containing Gmelin system numbers can be found on the front inside cover of many of volumes of Gmelin. A given inorganic compound will be treated in the volume for the component element with highest Gmelin system number. Each volume is devoted to a specific element. Volume 1 and 71 ware devoted to sets of related elements. Within each volume, the earliest parts deal with topics as the history, occurrence, and exploitation of the element. After the background information, physical and chemical properties of the element itself are treated, and then its compounds, which is usually the major portion of each volume.

Compounds are arranged according to increasing classification numbers of the component elements. Gmelin represents a comprehensive treatise of inorganic chemistry, of importance in the fields of inorganic and physical chemistry, physics, metallurgy, technology, geochemistry, mineralogy, and crystallography. The text (written in German until 1988) incorporates a great deal of data and is augmented with tables, charts, and drawings. The literature is thoroughly covered and well referenced. Widely scattered scientific material is gathered together, carefully sifted, categorized, evaluated, interrelated, and presented in concise form. English language tables of contents and marginal notes help the user who is not familiar with German. Some volumes of Gmelin are much more up to date than others; different volumes have been issued at different dates when enough material is available to publish a new volume. Many volumes are updated by supplements. The supplementary series of Gmelin which is independent of the Gmelin classification scheme in which unified, authoritative treatments of contemporary research issues are presented. Organometallics are included in the supplementary series. Beginning in 1975, a comprehensive multivolume formula index to the main and supplement volumes and supplementary series began to appear.

Conventions for the volumes on Organometallic Chemistry

The organometallic volumes cover all compounds with metal-carbon bonds except carbides, cyanides, cynates, and thiocynates. In general, compounds of each metal are arranged in order of increasing number of metal atoms in the formula unit (mono-, di-, trinuclear, etc.) and increasing number n of carbon atoms of the ligand (L) bonded to the metal. If there are different ligands present the compound is classified according to the ligand which has the highest value of n.

The 1L ligands comprise not only .delta.-bonded ligands (R) such as alkyl or aryl, but also CO, isocynates, carbenes, carbynes, or .eta.2-bonded ligands coordinated by one C atom and one heteroatom. The higher nL are exemplified by alkenes and alkynes (2L), .eta.3-alkyl groups (3L), dienes (4L), C5H5 (5L), and arenes (6L). If necessary, ligands that are coordinated to the metal through heteroatoms (mD, where m is the number of electrons that the ligand D contributes to the coordination bond) or anions (X) are given a separate classification. Examples of such ligands are P(CH3)3(2D) and acetylacetonate (2D-X).

The Systematic Layout of GMELIN

Sequence of Compounds

The sequence of compounds arranged by Gmelin is governed by the system of last position. Under this system, elements are assigned by Gmelin a system number, as seen in the above chart. The system numbers of the elements within a compound determine were in the handbook series the compound is listed. A compound is described under whichever of its elements has the highest Gmelin system number. This means that a compound with an element of Gmelin system n will have under it all combinations and compounds of that same element with every other element of system number 1 to n-1. The elements used as examples in the above chart demonstrate this system: HCl is found under Cl (the largest system number element in the compound), ZnCl2 is listed under Zn, CrCl2 and ZnCrO4 are listed under Cr (Chromium). 

Note About Gmelin System Numbers:
System numbers do not follow the atomic number sequence, but have been assigned so that the elements which commonly form cations have the higher system numbers than those which commonly form anions. This system arranged compounds in the Gmelin Handbook series under its most electropositive element.

Within each system number volume, the further location of a compound is governed by its 2nd highest, 3rd highest, ..., and lowest element system number. The following example shows how compounds that contain Cu (Copper), with all the compounds having 60 as the highest system number, and arranged in the Gmelin sequence. System numbers are in parentheses.

(60, 16) Cu3P (60, 17, 3) 5CuO * As2 O5
(60, 16, 3) Cu2P2O7 (60, 17, 6) 7Cu * 2AsCl3
(60, 16, 5) addition of compounds of Cu(PF6)2 (60, 17, 7) 7Cu * 2AsBr3
(60, 16, 13, 3) CuBPO5 (60, 17, 9) Cu3AsS4
(60, 16, 15) the Cu-P-Si system (60, 18, 9) the Cu-Sb-S system
(60, 17) Cu-As alloys (60, 19, 9) Cu3BiS3

Gmelins Handbuch der Anorganischen Chemie. 8th ed., 1924 -

Leopold Gmelin. (Leipzig: Verlag Chemie), 1924 -
QC 61 L332 Chemistry Reference (shelved next to Beilstein and Landolt-Bornstein)

Source used in the preparation of this guide:
Guide to Basic Information Sources in Chemistry. 1979

Arthur Antony. (New York: John Wiley), 1979, p.142.

Gmelin: Handbook of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry. 1992
Complete Catalog 1992. (New York, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag), 1992.