THE INVESTIGATION OF A MICROSCOPE SLIDE.
by Brian Darnton, UK
I suppose most people would freely call microscopy an educational activity, although there are those who would plead that their interest lies more in the area of aesthetic appreciation than in pure science. The following 2 scans at 150 dots per inch, depict a very old slide that has survived the years extremely well and if subjected to reasonable environmental conditions is actually good for another 100 years. But we may ask who made it? When was it made? Where was it made? What is it constructed of and where was the material gathered?
Being a mounter of Foraminifera, the source of material has to come first, so that I may go and do likewise!
First I consulted several good world gazetteers with no success at all. This problem is not new! Cizembra sounds Slavic or perhaps Italian to the English ear but is it? Could it be in the East of Europe where names have changed with politics?
Then I opened up an online search machine on the World Wide Web and came up with an answer from a Roman Catholic information office in New York.
Under the heading of St. Machutus (Maclovius, Malo) (ref. 2): an article described how the Saint, born in 520AD, had followed St Brendon on his epic journey from Llancarrven with many followers to the "Island of the Blest" and then on a second voyage they went off to "The Island of September " known as Cizembra offshore from the French town of St. Malo. I presume that the word is Celtic. If one looks up the online tourist map of the area in French there it lies! The clearest map of offshore St. Malo came from a Britsh Nautical Almanac of the Channel coast.
But who is H.F.H. ? If you are a keen Quekett member you may be able to guess. Here Dr. Bracegirdle's new book (ref. 1) on "Microscopical Mounts and Mounters" more than answered several of the remaining questions. H.F.H are the initials of none other than Henry F. Hailes 1827-1892, a draftsman, and founder member of the QMC, also one time editor of the QMC Journal and vice president of the Society. He is given credit with having mounted Foraminifera during the 1880's which included laid slides.(ref. 3). Henry does not seem to have produced any written work on the Foraminifera but he did write some curious and more general articles in the early Journals of the QMC.
That leaves us with the information on the cell and the background. The preparation is in too good a condition to dissect so we shall have to be satisfied with examination by hand lens. The cell is perhaps cut from 1mm card and a similar thick white card provides a base. The slight irregularities in the black mounting areas can not be blamed on the computer! I suspect that these were created on a ringing table. I would imagine that since Hailes was a draughtsman he probably outlined the little circles with a small compass before ringing with black in order to make them more or less equal in area. The coverglass looks like a 1mm 3x1 inch slide which has been taped on. If we turn the slide over, a species list has been drawn up on a label in the style of the 1880's. These are certainly temperate species of the North Atlantic.
Comments to the author Brian Darnton welcomed.
Label on the underside of the slide.
1. Brian Bracegirdle "Microscopical Mounts and Mounters" ISBN 0-9514441-3-1. Published by the Quekett Microscopical Club, London, 1998.
2. The Catholic Encyclopedia - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09503a.htm
3. The CD-ROM Edition of The Journal of the Quekett Microscopical Club 1868-1992,
Under 'Members, Authors and Obituary'. Published 1998 by the QMC.
A Micscape review of Brian Bracegirdle's excellent book can be found here, and a review of the CD-ROM Edition of the QMC Journal here. Details of the CD-ROM set including purchasing can be found on the QMC website below.
The informative web site of the Quekett Microscopical Club is at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/quekett/. Membership is open to microscopists worldwide.
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Published in the January 2000 edition of Micscape Magazine.
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