Did Gage Make These Antique Microscope Slides?

by Barry B. Miller, New Jersey, USA


One of the most important figures in the history of American microscopy is Simon Henry Gage. He was a notable educator who advanced the knowledge and use of microscopes in America.

Simon H. Gage was born in Milford Township, Otsego County, New York on May 20, 1851. He died on October 20, 1944. Gage started a life-long association with Cornell University as he entered that school as an undergraduate in the fall of 1873. His love of teaching soon became evident as he taught other students while an undergraduate. After graduating from Cornell in 1877 with a B.S. degree in Natural History, he accepted a position as an instructor at the university. His teaching career led to a professorship in 1895 in the field of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology. After many years of teaching, Gage retired in 1908. He then devoted his life to research; although in 1918, he returned to teaching after ten years of retirement to help relieve the shortage of instructors during the war.

Professor Gage was responsible for writing approximately two hundred publications. The best known of these is The Microscope, which started out as a laboratory manual for his students. It evolved through seventeen editions spanning sixty years into a highly popular textbook. Microscopy in America was of particular interest to Gage. His monograph Microscopy in America (1830-1945), which was completed and edited after Gage’s death by Oscar W. Richards, is a thorough discussion of the subject.

Due to my interest in microscopes and their history, I was happy to learn that one of the slides in my small collection was prepared by Gage. The slide has two labels. One label indicates the following in handwriting: "Prepared by Prof. S. H. Gage. Shows all the coats of stomach. The gastric tubules in longisection and in transection." The other label indicates the subject ("Stomach") and the date ("Apr 4, 84").

gage1.jpg (18231 bytes)

gage2.jpg (21226 bytes)

The slide is shown above together with a view of the slide’s subject at 100 magnification. The latter photograph (as well as the other photomicrographs) were taken using a 1901 Leitz microscope and a Pentax K1000 SE camera.

This slide was included in a small box of approximately two dozen slides of various origins. The fact that the slide’s printed label (F. M. Kendall, Jackson, Mich.) appears on the slide as well as some others not having a preparer’s name makes me wonder whether one or more of the other slides may also have been prepared by Gage. According to Brian Bracegirdle’s book, Microscopical Mounts and Mounters (page 59), "F. M. Kendall, Jackson, Michigan, has his label on a few slides." Thus, these labels do not appear to be of great abundance.  (Update Sep. 04. See footnote on F. M. Kendall.)

The other slides are pictured below. I noticed a certain similarity between the printed letter "S" (in Stomach) on the known Gage slide to the letter "S" as it appears various times on the Starch slide. What do you think – were any of these other slides also prepared by Gage? I would be grateful to hear from others as well as those who own slides that were prepared by Professor Gage. Email comments to Barry Miller are welcomed.

gage3.jpg (23146 bytes)

gage4.jpg (27977 bytes)

"Diatoms in situ showing beginnings of subdivision"

gage6.jpg (23989 bytes)

gage5.jpg (27495 bytes)

"Nuphar advena Petiole"

gage7.jpg (24936 bytes)

"Tous les mois Starch"

I offer my thanks to my wife, Marcia, for her helpful suggestions related to the text.

Footnote: See Micscape article, Sep. 2004 where information on F. M. Kendall is presented and discussed by the author, kindly supplied by his great-granddaughter.


Bracegirdle, Brian, 1998, Quekett Microscopical Club, Microscopical Mounts and Mounters.

Richards, Oscar W., 1964, Transactions of the American Microscopical Society, Vol. LXXXIII, No.4, Supplement, Microscopy in America (1830-1945).

The A.N Marquis Company, Chicago, Illinois, Who Was Who In America Vol. 2, fifth printing, page 202.
Editor's notes: Also see the author's previous Micscape article 'Old slides have interesting stories to tell - a case example'.

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