Classic and Antique Diatom Slides

by David B. Richman,
Mesilla Park,
New Mexico, USA



Over the last several years I have acquired a number of classic and/or antique slides made by various diatom mounters, including A. C. Cole (1821-1900), Dingley Fuge (1874-1944), W. A. Firth (1853-1923), R. I. Firth (1902-1982), Möller Company (after J. D. Möller’s death, slides probably from 1910-1960), and some others. It is truly amazing what is out there still available on classic and antique slides. These include material collected by the H.M.S. Challenger expedition in 1873-1876, as exemplified by the specimen of Asteromphalus mounted by W. A. Firth illustrated below. I am presenting a sampling of these slides (all of these acquired from the Gemmary in Fallbrook, California) in this article and I hope they are of interest. The photos were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 995 and a Parco-Meiji phase contrast microscope at 200-400 X. I changed the photos to gray scale and used Photoshop to increase the contrast to enhance the details.

Slides from which the following diatom images were made. All slides were purchased from the Gemmary in California.

Strictodiscus johnsonianus f. trigona mounted by Dingley P. Fuge

from Pomona Hills, California (Fossil) (400X).

Triceratium spinosum (= armatum) mounted by A. C. Cole (probably in the 1880s)

From Colon, (Panama) (400X).

Coscinodiscus concavus mounted by A. C. Cole (probably in the 1880s) from Iquique, Chile (then in Peru) (200X).

Asteromphalus sp. (probably A. antarcticus) mounted by W. A. Firth from material collected by the H. M. S. Challenger in March 1874
at Station 157 near 55 degrees S and 109 degrees E north of Antarctica at 1950 fathoms. (400X)


Synedra sp. from the Paama Isles (now Vanuatu) mounted by S. H. Meakin (400X).

Actinocyclus sp. mounted by Flatters and Garnett. Location not indicated. (400X).

Actinoptychus sp. from Möller Company 20-specimen slide. (200X).

Solium esculptum from the Mors, Jutland (Denmark) from Möller Company, cement stone dated to at least the early Eocene (400X).

If anybody recognizes the species of those for which I have only a generic name please contact me and let me know. Likewise, if there are errors in the label names also contact me. I would very much like to have the correct names for the diatoms for which I have prepared slides.

Comments to the author, David Richman, are welcomed.



Bracegirdle, B. 1998. Microscopical Mounts and Mounters. Quekett Microscopical Club, England, 225 pp.

Homann, M. 1991. Die Diatomeen der Fur-Formation (Alttertiär) aus dem Limfjord-Gebiet, Nordjütland/Dänemark. Geologisches Jarbuch Reihe A, Heft 123: 3-285.

Kemp, K. D. (date?) Diatom Database v. 2.20 on CD.

Waller, G. 1996. Sea Life: A Complete Guide to the Marine Environment. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 504 pp.