by Roland Mortimer, Brazil
Microscopes are usually heavy complicated instruments and can also be
very costly. With this in mind, some manufacturers last century produced
a simple hand microscope at a very reasonable price which could be used
effectively in teaching. Some were slightly more complicated than others,
having simple condensers attached or a special handle which could be clamped
to the main tube, others could be attached to a base with mirror.
example made by Zeiss is one of the simpler forms, no condenser or handle.
It consists of a brass tube with eye-piece at one end and an objective
at the other, much like a telescope. This tube slides inside a brass tube
of slightly larger diameter to obtain focus. When focus is obtained, a
simple locking ring secures the object in focus. A simple square stage
with stage-clips is attached at the end of the outer tube, clips and slide
being positioned outwards away from the observer. The whole instrument
is nickelled, apart from the faces of the stage which are matt black.
The stage has a large circular recess to enable mounted slides with
cover-glasses to be moved around. This instrument came to me with a No.3
(x5.5) eye-piece with focussing top lens and a brass Zeiss objective, 8mm,
N.A. 0.65 (x20). I have even used wet mounts with this microscope and it
gives good clear images. Using an old brass 1/12th oil immersion objective
by Stiassnie and a x10 eye-piece the instrument resolved the dots on Stauroneis
phoenicenteron and even the fine dots of Surirella gemma. Quite
unbelievable for such a simple piece of equipment without diaphragm or
In use, the instructor/teacher would focus on the object to be examined, lock the ring to maintain focus and simply pass the microscope around the classroom or auditorium so each student could study the slide then pass it on. Since only daylight is necessary and no special accessories are needed, this also makes a fine compact field instrument. As can be seen in the photograph, it is signed, "Carl Zeiss, Jena" in beautiful hand-written script. Date, around 1900 or slightly earlier.
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