Portable Microscopes
by Mike Dingley, Australia

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As a collector of portable, folding, pocket, field-type microscopes I thought that, as I am constantly amazed at the numbers that have been produced, I would share with you a few models old and new from my collection.

1. CARY/GOULD Type. (New Improved Pocket Microscope). Made around 1820 with three objective lenses, a live-box, three ivory (or bone) sliders each containing six dry specimens, forceps and a needle probe. All stored in a red leathered box. The lid of the storage box contains a boss into which is screwed the base of the microscope pillar.

2. GROOM'S HOME-MADE PORTABLE. This microscope was made in 1977 by Norman Groom and he described it in an article in Microscopy 1978, Vol. 33, part 6, pp.365-372. It contains a Meopta 10X eyepiece and an unknown 10X eyepiece with a graticule. Present are a Russian 3.7X, N.A. 0.11 objective and E. Leitz #3 objective. Built-in transmitted and incident light sources (powered by internal batteries), condenser, aperture diaphragm and filter holder containing light green, open, dark ground and polarising filters. A separate analyser is fitted in the wooden case as is a prepared slide of arranged butterfly scales and an objective sleeve.

3. REICHERT 'HEIMDAL' FIELD MICROSCOPE. Made around 1930. Number 190268. Contains 5X and 10X Reichert oculars, ocular micrometer, Abbe optical condenser, 100X Reichert objective and funnel stop. Attached to the inside of the storage box are two clips each containing tiny ground-glass stoppered bottles (for immersion oil and solvent e.g. xylene). All packed into an aluminium case which is in turn packed in to an outer leather case with strap for carrying. It resembles a binocular case. A similar instrument can be found in an article by D.B. Payne, 'The Reichert 'Heimdal' Field Microscope after F.K. Reinsch'. In Microscopy 1977, vol. 33, part 4, pp.201-206. The two pictures show the instrument folded (when stored) and opened up for use.

4. SWIFT FM-31. W10x eyepiece 4X, 10X, 40X and 40X LWD objectives with external battery lamp (not illustrated) and leather case. The eyepiece tube is pulled out to its maximum for use and pushed in for storage. The objectives are non-RMS threaded and are screwed in to a revolving turret below the plain stage. There is a tripod mount socket in the base for attaching the instrument to a tripod when required. Slides are normally viewed in an upside down position but can be used the correct way up (as can thick based vessels such as Petri dishes) when long working distance (LWD) objectives are used.

5. LEEUWENHOEK REPLICA. This copy of Leeuwenhoek's simple microscope was made by a friend of mine in 1996. It is made entirely from silver and does have a small glass lens for observing specimens.

6. McARTHUR MICROSCOPE. This is one of several that I have in my collection. It was made by W. Kirk & Sons around 1988. It is a biological model with 10X eyepiece and 10X and 40X objectives. It also has a mirror and condenser with an iris diaphragm. Fine focus control is all that is required as slides are seated on the stage upside down and focus is achieved through the thin cover slip.

7. MOGINIE-TYPE. See page 109 of 'The Great Age of the Microscope' by G. L'E Turner. This instrument is signed 'John Browning, 63 Strand, London' and was made between 1872 and 1897. The mirror is a single concave and the plain stage has two clips. The collar that holds the body tube is in dark lacquer as is the mirror stirrup. Fine focussing is achieved by a knob actuating a screw that moves the stage up and down. It has one ocular and two objectives (" and 1") each with RMS threads. The instrument resides in a plush-lined wooden box with blue silk lining the lid. The outside of the box is covered with embossed paper emulating the appearance of Morocco leather.

8. TIYODA POCKET MICROSCOPE V-II. This instrument is contained within a grey metal case with a hinged lid. It has a 10X eyepiece and a single objective of 20X magnification (giving a total magnification of 200X) and NA 0.40. Purchased new in 1995 the metal lid, when closed, forms half of the case. When used the lid is opened and the eyepiece tube is pulled out to its maximum to give 160mm tube length. There is no condenser and focussing is controlled by a knurled ring which, when turned, raises and lowers the plain stage.

9. R&J BECK. "BABY LONDON". Serial number 40149. Stand only consists of a stage with two clips, concave mirror and two draw tubes. The legs fold up and the instrument fits in to a blue velvet-lined case measuring 144mm X 105mm X 42mm. An accessory case accompanies this and contains the following accessories:

live box,

32mm X4 NA 0.12 objective,

16mm X10 NA 0.17 objective

42mm X6 eyepiece

17mm X15 eyepiece

spot lens and condenser,

bull's eye condenser on a brass stand

three packets of plain and single concave slides.

Editor's notes:
Click here to view an original 1921 advert for the 'Baby London' microscope and price list.

Microscopy, referred to in the text, is the twice yearly journal of the Quekett Microscopical Club.

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