History of science as it was practised in the Netherlands in the second half of the nineteenth century in many respects differed from the way present day historians of science define their field. Whereas today only books and articles count as history of science, a century ago also statues, banquets and ceremonial speeches were regarded as serious ways of reviving the past. In addition, there is the fact that historical considerations were integrated quite naturally into many other activities, such as the teaching of science itself. This was both a measure of the importance of the history of science and an explanation of the invisibility of the history of science as we know it. The differences are illustrated by sketching the way history of science was practised by three leading scientists who were no historians of science: the professor of zoology and microscopy Pieter Harting, the physician and medical professor Barend Joseph Stokvis and the professor of chemistry Jan Willem Gunning. When all is taken in consideration, one might argue that the second half of the nineteenth century was a golden age for the history of science in the Netherlands.