Through the microscope

The match box microscope

This is “the match box microscope” so called because inside the tube is a brass matchbox instead of a stop. My friend thinks that the original stop was lost and was replaced by the match box. The match box itself is quite interesting, these “safety boxes” were brass and had a small hole in the top in which to place a lit match. The match would burn for about 30 seconds- just enough time to hop into bed, and considered safer than taking a candle to bed in an age when beds tended to have curtains around them to keep out the draughts.

Below is a picture of the matchbox taken down the tube of the microscope followed by a series of picures showing the fine focus, paintwork and other features. The microscope was probably made by converting a binocular microscope into a monocular. You can tell it is an early microscope (1840 ish) by the triangular rack and pinion.

The stand is an iron Lister stand, it’s quite badly painted which is peculiar, people tended not to do shoddy paint jobs in 1840…


Prince Albert’s Safety Box. 100 Patent Vestalights


Base of Lister stand


Aperture ring on underside of stage


Tube and coarse focus knobs


Fine focus mechanism


Mirror and base


Triangular shaped rack and slot in objective tube (no screw in objectives)


Fine focus mechanism, tube and simple mechanical stage which slides up and down

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