J. Grunow, New York

Roosevelt Memorial

Monocular microscope, no serial number, c. 1890

J. Grunow, New York, Roosevelt Memorial, Monocular microscope

J. Grunow, New York, Roosevelt Memorial, Monocular microscope in case


J. Grunow, New York, Roosevelt Memorial, Monocular microscope


J. Grunow, New York, Roosevelt Memorial, Monocular microscope. Substage

This microscope dates from 1890's and is among the last microscopes produced by the firm. he Grunow brothers, Julius and William, emigrated from Germany to New York around 1849. They started in the scientific instrument business by first working for the optician Benjamin Pike of that city. By 1854, they began their own operation in New Haven CT where they concentrated on the production of microscopes. By 1864, they were back in New York. Some years later, the partnership ended. J. Grunow continued on to produce microscopes up to around 1892. The total output of the Grunows was limited in comparison to some other contemporary firms; on the basis of the observed serial numbers, they manufactured just over one thousand microscopes in total.

The microscope is signed on the back of the limb: "J. Grunow, New York" and marked on the tube "Roosevelt Memorial". Uncharacteristically for a Grunow microscope, the serial number is absent (although it is stamped #11 on the back of the stage). I have observed a number of other Grunow microscopes with a similar cast iron base. One having the "Roosevelt Memorial" marking (serial number 1052 and stamped #14 on the back of the stage), another identical to the one on this page marked "Roosevelt Memorial" with no serial number and stamped #8 on the back, and an additional instrument marked "Roosevelt Hospital" (serial number 1043 and stamped #35 on the back of the stage). Finally, another with serial number 1081 without any other attributions. It is not clear which Memorial/Hospital is referred to on these instruments since there are various institutions with this type of name located in different cities.

The high serial numbers on these microscopes suggest that they are among the last produced by the firm. It has been stated that the Grunow firm terminated around 1892 (D. Padgitt, A Short History of the Early American Microscopes, 1975). Since Theodore Roosevelt died in 1919, it would seem that the tube was engraved at least 27 years after the microscope was made or that the Grunow firm existed in some form after 1892. Clearly, there is a mystery here.

Alteratively, the "Roosevelt Hospital" referred to on one of these microscopes might indicate the hospital by that name which was founded in 1871 by James H. Roosevelt in New York City. However, there seems to be few indications that this hospital was ever referred to as "Roosevelt Memorial".

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