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Interestingly, this description seems to closely match the thin hardened “puddle”
of balsam-like mountant seen surrounding and sealing the specimen covers on many of
the Beck imports (Figs. 1, 4, 5). Unfortunately, neither Thiersch’s biography (written
many years after his death by his son in 1922), nor my historical records search in
Germany produced any mention of his involvement in a commercial relationship or
business of any kind [39].

         Confirmation of Thiersch as the maker of the Beck transparent injections was
finally provided by the 15 June 1895 edition of The British Medical Journal. Included in
an obituary for Thiersch [40] (Fig. 7), was the definitive statement:

          He was a most dexterous microscopist in the days when section cutting and staining were in
their infancy, and we are informed that five-and-thirty years ago he was introduced to Messrs.
Smith and Beck, of Cornhill, and supplied them for some years with marvelous slides of injected
and stained specimens, both of healthy and diseased structures. Any of our readers who happen to
possess these beautiful slides may like to know who was their author.

In Conclusion
         Thiersch’s lasting contributions to scientific knowledge and medical practice were

considerable [30, 31, 40]. He contributed to the understanding of wound healing and the
importance of antiseptics, and was one of the first to demonstrate the epithelial origin of
cancer. Some of his surgical procedures are still in use today, for example the Thiersch

         Thiersch made the transparent injections sold by Beck in the early 1860s: his
development of the techniques required arose from his work in anatomy, and are a
lasting monument to this “German professor of surgery”.

I would like to express my appreciation to Brian Davidson for his support
along the way. My sincere thanks also to Brian Bracegirdle, James
McCormick, Brian Davidson, Brian Stevenson, and Peter Paisley for generously sharing
information concerning examples of the Beck German imports in their collections, and to
Katarzyna Szeremeta for research on my behalf in Germany.

Howard Lynk

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