James W. Queen & Co., Philadelphia

Two versions of the Universal Household Microscope. c.1885

James W. Queen & Co., Philadelphia

Here are two examples of the Queen Universal Household Microscope each dating from the last quarter of the 19th century. They have a bronzed iron base with the signature “James W. Queen amp: Co. Philadelphia” within the casting. On the left is an example of the most simple version having push-tube focusing and a non-achromatic objective and on the right is the most advanced model having rack and pinion focusing, a triple button achromatic objective, and a tube-mounted stage condenser. Each microscope is supplied with a wood storage case. These inexpensive microscopes were sold to hobbyists. They were likely manufactured in France and imported for sale into the US. The microscope on the left corresponds to item 3061 in the catalog, the more advanced example on the right corresponds to item number 3064.

Queen household microscope  cases

The following was extracted from the Price and Illustrated Catalogue of Optical Instruments, James W. Queen & Co., 1880.

Queen household microscopes


This admirable instrument is the most complete, convenient, and powerful Microscope ever produced for so low a cost. It has all the important parts of a first-class instrument, is readily adjusted for the examination of all classes of objects, and is well calculated not only to amuse but instruct young persons, and thereby foster a taste for the study of Natural History.

The Stand is ten inches in height, with hinged joint, allowing it to be inclined to any angle for convenience of observation. The base is of cast-iron, handsomely bronzed, the compound body of finely lacquered brass, with draw-tube for increasing the power of the object-glasses. These are two in number, and give, in connection with the draw-tube, a range of powers from 20 to 100 diameters, or from 400 to 10,000 times. The stage is of ample size, and is provided with spring clips for holding the object whilst under observation; beneath is a concave mirror, conveniently jointed, for the illumination of all transparent objects. All the ordinary animalculæ found in pond-water can be satisfactorily shown with this Microscope. One prepared object, two glass slips, and a pair of brass forceps, are furnished with it, and the whole is packed in a neat and strong walnut wood case.

3062. QUEEN’S UNIVERSAL HOUSEHOLD MICROSCOPE, the same as 3061. with the addition of an Achromatic object-glass of three powers (from 40 to 200 diameters), will exhibit satisfactorily blood and pus corpuscles, . . . . .$8.00

3063. QUEEN’S UNIVERSAL HOUSEHOLD MICROSCOPE, similar to 3061, with additions of Rack and Pinion for adjustment of focus, and a condensing lens for the illumination of opaque objects. These additions render this instrument as near perfect as possible, for so small a cost, and leave but little to be desired. One prepared object, two glass slips, and a pair of brass forceps, accompany each ode, and the whole is contained in a neat polished mahogany case, . . . . . $7.50

3064. QUEEN’S UNIVERSAL HOUSEHOLD MICROSCOPE, same as 3063, with addition of an Achromatic triplet object-glass, giving powers from 40 to 290 diameters, . . . . . . . . . . . . $11.00

We believe these Microscopes — from 3061 to 3064 — cover the entire field possible for such cheap instruments, and that in all essentials they are far in advance of anything heretofore offered the public. In the ten years that have elapsed since we first introduced No. 3061, we have sold several thousands of the same, and always with satisfaction to the purchasers.

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