Page 8 - hl-Smith&Beck
P. 8

possible to determine when their “sole agent” agreement with the German maker ended,
although they seem to have continued sales of the slides for some years. Certainly, by
the mid-1860s there were also other mounters selling transparent injections [17, 18], so
any exclusive sales agreement might not have been so important.

         An interesting entry in The 1873 Illustrated Descriptive Catalogue from M.Pillischer,
         London, under A Classified List of Choice Microscopic Objects [19] reads:

          Special attention is requested to the transparent injections, which are prepared expressly for

         me by a foreign (German) gentleman, which for their superiority cannot be equalled.
         Additionally, under the heading TRANSPARENT INJECTED PREPARATIONS, is a
further interesting note:

          Specially prepared for M. Pillischer by a celebrated German Professor, and pronounced by

the Medical Profession as the best ever seen.
         It seems reasonable to think that this “celebrated German Professor” may be the

same as the “distinguished German professor of surgery” who had originally provided
these mounts to Beck in 1860.

         Ten years after having acquired a few of these mounts, a chance inquiry from

another collector asked about the meaning of the designation “IMB” printed on some of
the slides (Figs. 4A-F). Most of the Beck preparations are marked “INJ” (more obviously
indicating “injected”), or are unmarked (Fig. 1). “IMB” might perhaps stand for “imbued”,
a term occasionally used in biology for “stained” or “coloured”, but it was usually thought
to mean “imbedded”. I decided to revisit this question.

         In the 5 June 1858 edition of The Lancet is a report of a presentation to the Royal
Medical and Chirurgical Society on 8 December 1857, on the histology of the supra-renal
capsules by George Harley of University College, London [20], which included:

          The simplest and most beautiful mode of demonstrating the existence of a nucleus, is by
          colouring the cells with carmine. As this process of “imbibition”, as it is called, is quite new in
          England, indeed in any country, it being scarcely a year since it was employed for the first
          time in Germany, I may briefly describe it. “Imbibition” might be termed a process of natural
          injection. The principle upon which it is founded exists in the fact, that different animal
          tissues absorb and retain pigments with various degrees of avidity.

The paper goes on to describe the carmine imbibition process in some detail, the
description of the resulting stained specimens matching well with those Beck slides
marked “IMB”. The slides in my own collection confirmed that all bearing the “IMB”
designation did seem to be carmine stained (Figs. 4A-F). Of course, the Brookes report on
the 1862 Exhibition specifically mentions:

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

                             Republished with permission in Micscape Magazine, March 2016
   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13