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Microscope stands up to scrutiny; Under the Hammer.

Byline: by Mike Litherland of Outhwaite & Litherland

ON one of my numerous calls, I came across a small mahogany box.

In itwas the brass body and feet of a microscope made by Powell & Lealand. Unfortunately, the objective and subjective lenses were missing, but it was still valued at pounds 800 to pounds 1,000.

It is not quite certain who invented the microscope - probably spectacle-makers.

The Netherlands was the home to inventors of both the compound microscope and the refracting telescope, between 1590 and 1610.

In the end it was the compound microscope which had the future.

Although instrument-makers like Culpepper and Cuff made beautiful equipment, the real improvement in the microscope came with the invention of the achromatic lens.

Achromatic lenses for spectacles were developed by Chester Moore Hall in the early 1700s. But it was difficult to make small, high-power achromatic lenses. Jan and Harmanus van Deyl were the first to make these lenses. A famous producer of quality microscopes was the firm Powell and Lealand. Hugh Powell made very high-power objectives, Other producers were Ross and Smith and Beck. Carl Zeiss Jena produced its first oil immersion objective in 1880, designed by Ernst Abbe, who was the founder of the optical theory of microscope lenses.

Due to better mass fabrication techniques, microscope production was concentrated in Germany after the beginning of the 20th century.

Further developments followed with the improvement of the microscope stand and, even more importantly, the development of methods to increase the contrast.

The owner that I met was sure that he still had the rest of the microscope elsewhere.

The instrument was sent to Carlisle to our saleroom partners, Thomson Roddick & Medcalfe, photographed, catalogued and estimated at pounds 1,000.

The owner was delighted but was still convinced he had the other bits. The day before the viewing, a small cardboard box arrived at our office, containing all the missing bits.

We rushed these up to the saleroom and the microscope eventually sold for pounds 2,900 - a fantastic result.

I nearly needed a microscope myself recently when my new son, Aaron Lewis, arrived four weeks early weighing just 5lb 7.5oz. Mum and baby are doing well!

You can contact me on 01704 538489. E-mail: Or call into 43Hoghton Street, Southport, PR9 0PG. We have free valuation days on Fridays.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 7, 2008
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