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Inventory no. 52173 - Former Display Label


Signed 'J. B. Dancer, Optician, Manchester.' Brass, etc., in wooden box (not shown). Height over all c.410 mm.

The body tube moves by rack-and-pinion along the straight upper part of a curved limb, which is mounted between two pillars on a flat tripod foot. This structure very much resembles the Smith & Beck microscopes of the period. One of two eyepieces and one of two objectives (the 1/4-inch) are fitted; the objective threads are of R.M.S. standard gauge. There is a mechanical stage, with an aperture disc. A plano-concave mirror is mounted at the end of the limb.

Inside the door of the box (not shown) is Dancer's trade card, depicting a wide range of scientific instruments, including a very similar microscope, and reading 'Manchester ... JOHN B. DANCER / Optical Mathematical & Philosophical / INSTRUMENT MANUFACTURER / 43, Cross Street, King Street, MANCHESTER.' The box contains a number of accessories and, in built-in drawers (one of which is displayed), a miscellaneous collection of microscope slides and objects, many of them predating this microscope (1810s and 1820s). Those which are contemporary with it include slides for use in polarisation and other light analysis microscopy; home-mounted preparations; and slides by professional preparers, notably J. Casartelli (also of Manchester), J. T. Norman, C. M. Topping, and Dancer himself. Dancer's slides include microphotographs, of which he was the inventor.

John Benjamin Dancer (1812-1887) inherited his father's optical instrument making business in Liverpool, and moved to Manchester in 1841. Although he made or retailed the whole range of scientific apparatus, he was himself a specialist in microscopy and photography, to which he made important scientific contributions. He is best known as the inventor of microphotography (in 1852). Dancer is a rare example of a provincial English instrument maker of international quality; and the prominence of the name 'Manchester' on his trade card indicates that he took pride in this fact.

The slides, unmounted objects, and manuscript notes accompanying this microscope suggest that it belonged to either a professional scientist or a very serious amateur microscopist. His identity has not been established, but he was presumably connected with Oxford's Geology or Mineralogy Departments.

Transferred from the Department of Geology and Mineralogy

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