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experimentation was being conducted throughout the 1850s into the development and
refinement of various stains and techniques, with much of that activity taking place in
Germany [27]. By the later 1850s, various means of preparing carmine for use in
transparent injections had been developed. Much of that work was accomplished by
Professors Joseph Gerlach and Carl (or Karl) Thiersch of the University of Erlangen [26,
28], and allowed carmine to be used successfully as an excellent transparent red
colouring component without the prior problems associated with unwanted colour

         It is apparent that the series of anatomical preparations that were imported from
Germany and sold by Smith, Beck & Beck used the advances of the later 1850s. One
only needs to recall the comment by Messrs. Lankester and Busk concerning the
preparations, to appreciate their significance: … they claim the merit of being the most
successfully mounted microscopic preparations that have yet been offered to the public for

Who made these Beck German imports?
         My work on the “IMB” designation uncovered a number of other details, which

were of interest in regards to the entire range of imported German anatomical slides sold
by Beck in the early 1860s. Like most of the firms reselling preparations, Beck kept
secret the identities of their suppliers. Since they used printed labels for their slides,
identification of the preparer based on handwriting is not an option.

         It was likely this German professor of surgery would have been well known for
work with transparent injections and carmine staining during the 1850s. A brief mention
in Kolliker’s 1854 edition of Manual of Human Microscopical Anatomy took on a new

          With respect to the vessels of the foetal eye, Dr. Thiersch has quite recently communicated to

         me a mass of interesting details, accompanied by beautiful injections [29].
         As has been previously mentioned, Thiersch, along with Gerlach, contributed
greatly to the advances made in carmine staining and injecting during the 1850s.
Thiersch was also a distinguished German professor of surgery. By the early 1860s he
was a highly respected surgeon with an international reputation [30, 31]. Further, some
evidence of contact between Beck and Thiersch emerged. A report of the activities at
“The Last Congress of German Naturalists and Physicians”, held in Speyer, Germany
during October of that year, appeared in the 7 December 1861 edition of the Medical
Times & Gazette [32]. The report included:

          Professor Thiersch then gave a most interesting account of epithelial tumors… The same

         gentleman exhibited nearly 100 microscopical preparations (Fig. 4F), which confirmed his

11 Originally published in the Winter 2012 Quekett Journal of Microscopy, Issue 41, pages 701-712

                             Republished with permission in Micscape Magazine, March 2016
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