This microscope is signed
on one foot of the tripod base Smith, Beck
& Beck, 31 Cornhill, London, #4375. It is
an example of the Smith, Beck & Beck "Large
Best" or No. 1 model
microscope dating from 1866. This was the
top-of-the-line model produced by the firm at the
The firm was established
by James Smith, one of the three premier English
microscope manufacturers of the Victorian era (the two
others were A. Ross and H. Powell), around 1839. In
1847 Richard Beck became a partner in the firm and was
shortly followed by his brother Joseph Beck in 1857.
After the retirement of Smith in 1865, the firm was
known as R&J Beck.
The microscope is
constructed in brass with a bright lacquered surface
finish and is about 19 inches tall when set up for use
with the draw tubes partially extended as shown in some
of the photos. The main focus is by rack and pinion and
the fine focus is by calibrated micrometer screw
operating on the nosepiece. The interocular separation
is adjusted by moving the draw tubes with rack and
pinion. The substage is focused by rack and pinion and
can accommodate the various accessories supplied with
the microscope. The microscope is equipped with a
mechanical stage having orthogonal motions. The upper
plate with slide holder can rotate in the optical axis.
The instrument is supported by double pillars and can
rotate upon the tripod base. The accessories associated
with the microscope can be identified with reference to
R. & J. Beck 1882 catalog.