Schiek in Berlin, No. 137

Drum microscope, c. 1842

The microscope of Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849)

Schiek in Berlin, No. 137

Schiek in Berlin, No. 137

Schiek in Berlin, No. 137

Schiek in Berlin, No. 137. Small drum microscope. c. 1842. In case

Schiek in Berlin, No. 137. Small drum microscope. c. 1842. Storage case. case

two Schiek drum microscopes.

Note that the 1842 drum microscope (right) differs slightly from the 1859 model (left).

Friedrich Wilhelm Schiek (1790 - 1870) established his own workshop in Berlin in 1837. The delivery books of the Schiek firm are still in existence. These delivery books indicate that a drum microscope with serial number 137 was purchased by the "Engländer Herr Beddoes" (the Englishman Mr. Beddoes) in the summer of 1842. It was the 16th out of the 37 microscopes sold by Schiek in that year (I thank Dr. Timo Mappes for providing this information from the delivery books). It cannot be ascertained definitively who the Mr. Beddoes referred to is, but one very likely possibility is that it is the poet and physician/physiologist Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849). Beddoes completed his undergraduate studies at Oxford and later pursued a medical degree at Göttingen and Würzburg, obtaining his MD degree in 1832.  A detailed biography indicates that Dr. Beddoes was indeed in Berlin during the summer of 1842 returning to England by August of that year. Thus it appears that he may have purchased this microscope just before returning to his homeland.

Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Thomas Lovell Beddoes


In the book The Works of Thomas Lovell Beddoes, 1935 by H. W. Donner, there is an inventory of the possessions of Beddoes at the time of his death. Listed among these possessions is "Albert'sches Kleines Microscop" (small microscope; the word "Albert'sches" is of unknown meaning and cannot be translated). The Schiek drum microscope would certainly be characterized as small compared to other types of microscopes available at the time.

Evidently, this may not be the first microscope that belonged to Dr. Beddoes. In a letter to T.F. Kelsall dated May 1837, he writes: "Without any such risk, however, I can tell you how I employ, or abuse, my time. You must know that I am an M.D. of the U. of Würtzburg, and possess a very passable knowledge of anatomy and physiology, &c.: that I narrowly escaped becoming professor of comparative anatomy in the University of Zurich, (having been recommended unanimously for that chair by the medical faculty here,) by means of a timely quarrel in which I engaged, more solito, with several members of the government. Now, being independent, and having all the otium if not the dignitas eines privatis irrenden-gelehrten, sometimes I dissect a beetle, sometimes an oyster, and very often trudge about the hills and the lakes, with a tin box on my back, and “peep and botanize” in defiance of W.W. Sometimes I peep half a day through a microscope: sometimes I read Italian (in which I am only a smatterer,) or what not: and not seldom drink and smoke like an Ætna."

It must be noted that in the book Thomas Lovell Beddoes: The Making of a Poet, 1977 by H. W. Donner, it is stated that Thomas Lovell Beddoes' cousin William Minton Beddoes (1817-1870) was also in Berlin during this time period where he was examined for the degree of Doctor of Medicine on August 11, 1842. Thus, one cannot, at this time, rule out the possibility that it was W. M. Beddoes who purchased this microscope. (I thank Prof. Richard Geyer for his help in gathering some of these facts)

This microscope was obtained for this collection from the estate of a chemist who worked at the University College in London.

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