Nickel plated French microscope, c.1860

With lever controlled stage

McAllister's Complete Family Microscope

French microscope with lever controlled stage. Nickel plated French microscope with lever controlled stage. Nickel plated
French microscope with lever controlled stage. Nickel plated French microscope with lever controlled stage. Nickel plated
French microscope with lever controlled stage. Nickel plated French microscope with lever controlled stage. Nickel plated
French microscope with lever controlled stage. Nickel plated
French microscope with lever controlled stage. Nickel plated

This French microscope is unsigned by the maker. It was purchased for this collection in the USA. It was likely imported into this country. A very similar microscope is illustrated and described in the 1867 William Y. McAllister catalog where it was called "McAllister's Complete Family Microscope" The following was extracted from that catalog:

William Y. McAllister-1867

McAllister's Complete Family Microscope: 13 inches high, all brass, on tripod, with joint, to incline, screw adjustment, draw tube, lever stage, with secondary stage, which is very useful diaphragm plate, mirror to give oblique light., condensing lens for opaque objects, Camera Lucida, by which the object may be traced on paper of the magnified size, Polarizing apparatus, two eye-pieces, two sets of Achromatic Object Glasses, 50 to 500 diameters. Dissecting Knife, five objects, mahogany with lock and handle.........$85.00

This is a really good Family Microscope, exhibits all the Microscopic phenomena of Direct, Oblique, and polarized light.

This particular example is unusual in that it is nearly completely nickel plated.* It is supplied with two eyepieces and two separate button type objectives, one with canister. There is an alternate nose-piece that can accept an Nicol prism analyzer and a fitting for the sub-stage that is designed to hold a polarizing prism. The main focus is by slide tube and the fine focus uses a micrometer screw which moves the tube and the limb. The stage can be positioned using a lever controlled mechanism. Tube length can be extended by draw-tube. Directly under the stage the microscope is the rotating secondary stage that can accept accessories such as a polarizer. Below that is an aperture wheel and a double mirror.

*It is known that certain French microscopes of this period were plated, less commonly and at an extra expense, with palladium instead of nickel, which results in a more durable finish. Consequently at this time, we can not be certain which of these metals was used to plate this microscope.


In addition to McAllister, a similar microscope with an iron stand was offered in the 1859 James W. Queen & Co. catalog where it was called "Queens Student's Microscope". It was also sold by the instrument supplier and importer James Foster Jr. of Cincinnati as indicated in his 1859 advertisement. In the James W. Queen Catalog of 1870, a version of the microscope was offered with rack and pinion focusing. One such example is represented in this collection.

Examples of the microscope with rack and pinion focusing are known that are signed Mirand Aime rue Galande 57, Paris and Breton Rue Dauphine, 23, a Paris. It is not clear who the actual maker is. It is evident that microscopes of this type were sold not only in France, but were also exported to the USA.

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