This book provides notes on microscope manufacturers from 1850 to the present, with a particular emphasis on 20th century makers. The author has consulted original documentary evidence to ensure that the information is accurate. Serial number history is provided for the larger manufacturers to allow the accurate dating of microscopes.
The book covers UK manufacturers in particular although other makers are also well represented. The book includes a select annotated bibliography on the history, manufacture and cataloguing of microscopes.
This slim sturdy hardback is good value and provides valuable information
on the history of modern optical microscopes and their dating.
The author of this book has previously written on various aspects of microscopy including its history, photomicrography and biological microtechnique. The book has been compiled from the author's own notes collated over the last thirty five years. During this time he has catalogued the large collections of the Science Museum in London.
The scope and structure of the book
The author describes the scope of the book in the Preface and places it in the context of the previously published works on the history of the microscope. Although the early catalogues of many of the larger manufacturers are available, access to them can be difficult. The author does not claim to give complete listings for each manufacturer but does provide information which is difficult to find elsewhere.
The book is intended to complement the recently published SIMON Index (reference below) which is a monumental work describing British makers of scientific instruments from 1550-1851. The author stresses the accuracy of the material he has included, in contrast to the apparently inaccurate dating that has been prevalent in the study of microscopes.
The book is simply structured with thirteen pages that include a Preface, Introduction and a seven page Select Annotated Bibliography. The main body of the book (88 pages) is a simple alphabetical listing of the manufacturers. There are no illustrations.
The book is a fully sewn hardback (25 x 17cm) designed for extensive use and has a simple sky-blue cover characteristic of the Quekett Microscopical Club's occasional monographs.
The Select Annotated Bibliography provides a useful summary of the important publications available on the history, manufacture and cataloguing of microscopes.
In the main body of the book, the structure of an entry for one of the larger manufacturers is typically as follows.
- manufacturers known address or addresses including dates at each location
- a short description of the founders, history and development of the company
- a chronological listing of microscope serial numbers with known dates of issue
- additional historical information eg instrument details and prices
- references to manufacturer's catalogues and other published information
Many mainly smaller manufacturers have entries of only a few lines with many more manufacturers having entries up to a page in length. The book unsurprisingly has the most comprehensive entries for the larger manufacturers viz:
C. Baker, Bausch and Lomb (4 pages each), R & J Beck, Boston Optical Works, Cooke Troughton and Simms, E Leitz, Olympus, Powell and Lealand, Reichert (ca 2 pages each), Smith & Beck, Spencer, Swift, W Watson (3 pages each), C Zeiss (4 pages).
US manufacturers are well represented and include American Optical, WH Bulloch, C Fasoldt, E Gundlach, EH Griffith, RB Tolles and G Wale in addition to those in the list above.
The reviewer found the book interesting to browse through and contains
some fascinating facts. For instance:
Zeiss had manufactured over 1.4 million microscopes by 1994.
Leitz presented their millionth microscope (an Orthoplan) to Justus Liebig University, Geissen in 1982.
Olympus introduced their first microscope, the Asahi, in 1920.
Bausch and Lomb was founded by two immigrants to the USA, Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb, and they made their first compound microscope in 1874.
In conclusion, this slim sturdy hardback is good value and provides valuable information on the history and dating of modern optical microscopes in addition to a useful annotated bibliography.
The book should prove of value to both the professional and amateur with an interest in the history of the microscope.
SIMON Index. Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550-1851. London, Zwemmer, 1995.
Review by Comments to the author sent via our contacts page quoting page url plus : ('dwalker','')">David Walker, a UK amateur microscopist.
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