Continuing the series, the next accessory I picked up for my Victorian naturalist outfit is a really cool antique field microscope and set of antique microscope slides.
The microscope was sold as a travel or field microscope and it’s quite perfect for my purposes. The microscope is brass or brass colored metal and comes in its own polished wood carrying case. Its only about six inches long, making it a convenient prop. To work the microscope, the barrel slides up and down and there is an adjustable mirror under the lens to catch the light. It’s a little hard to get enough light to properly see the slides, but when you can all the lenses are in working order. I’m not sure of the age, but I would guess it’s from the late 1800s or early 1900s. Anyone know?
The slides were not purchased with the microscope, but are the perfect counterpart. I won a set of nine on eBay, and all seem to be the work of the same scientist; to my eye the handwriting on all the slides looks the same and they have matching printed labels. Some of the slides have specimens that are visible to the naked eye, like the spider or the antennae of a moth, while others are harder to make out. Not all of the slides are dated, but one is labeled “1859” and about half of the other slides have dates like “73” or “81.” Since the handwriting and labels look the same, I would guess that they are also from the 1800s.
The main feature that drew me to these slides is the fact that several of them are covered with a highly decorative paper. There is blue and green and pink paper that is embossed with a scrolling gold design. Seriously? I didn’t think the Victorians could get any more over the top!
Overall, it is just pretty darn cool to have such a piece of ordinary history. A scientist over 100 years ago gathered these samples, made the slides, and performed his own research with them. It’s a very personal artifact and I think it brings a realistic element to my costume.
Posted: 10/7/2011 11:58:09 AM
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