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'RASPAIL'S MICROSCOPE'

c. 1880

SIGNED: A. PICART 20 RUE MAYES PARIS

DESCRIPTION HISTORY

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DESCRIPTION: Signed in block letters on the arm: 'A. PICART 20 RUE MAYES PARIS.' This is a fairly well-built, 'Raspail-type' of simple (or single) microscope. Focus is by rack and pinion to the vertical pillar. The arm can rotate inside the pillar, and the arm can move forward and backward via a knob controlling a screw movement. There is a flat stage which can hold a flat glass plate or a watchglass (for liquid specimens), and there is an accessory stage for holding a vial or test-tube. There are two original eyepieces. The mirror is single but gimballed, sliding into the pillar on a pin. The case has a drawer with fittings to store the microscope, and its accessories. There is a permanent boss on the case which the pillar is screwed into for erecting the microscope.

picart microscope left side picart microscope left side picart microscope left side picart microscope signature picart microscope signature



HISTORY OF THIS TYPE OF MICROSCOPE

This is basically an 'Ellis aquatic' microscope with modifications as first suggested in the 1830's by Raspail, and originally constructed by Deleuil. It was subsequently copied by makers such as Picart and Chevalier. Whereas the original Ellis aquatic types were made in the 1700's, this instrument was made over 100 years later. It should be noted that the attribution to Ellis is likely inappropriate as Trembley was the originator. The main modifications from the original 'Ellis' model found on this model are rack and pinion focus and a fine-screw forward and backward motion to the arm, the latter being Raspail's contribution. As the father of histochemistry, this microscope has been referred to as a 'Chemical' microscope, but there is not evidence that Raspail himself actually used that term. On the other hand, many of his contemporaries and later authors have called this 'Raspail's Microscope'4. For some of Raspail's original works, including the atlas for his works, see the references with links1,2,3 below.

Picart was in business in Paris from about 1870-1890. Another, virtually identical instrument, was sold on Ebay in 2011. Picart was known to make polarizing microscopes and one was sold at a German auction earlier in this century. I have little information about Picart, but welcome additional information.


REFERENCES:
1. Nouveau système de chimie organique, fondé sur des méthodes nouvelles d'observation. Tome 1 / par F.-V. Raspail... - 1838.
2. Nouveau système de chimie organique, fondé sur des méthodes nouvelles d'observation. Atlas / par F.-V. Raspail... - 1838
3. Nouveau système de chimie organique, fondé sur des méthodes nouvelles d'observation. Tome 3 / par F.-V. Raspail... - 1838
4. See, for instance, Bonnet, in the 1838 London Medical Gazette, and another author in The American Journal of Pharmacy Vol 9, p225, 1839, and many others of the period. This type of microscope continued to be called 'Raspail's Microscope' even in books as late as 1877 e.g. Phin, J. Practical Hints on the Selection and use of the Microscope 2nd Ed. 1877 p27.