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MICROSCOPE-ANTIQUES.COM     2013-15.



THREAD COUNTERS OR 'MICROSCOPE CLOTH COUNTING GLASSES':

20TH CENTURY

INTRODUCTION DESCRIPTION HISTORY

thread counting microscopes Among microscopes to assess linen, the latest type of instrument to be invented is the 'travelling' thread counter or 'Microscope Cloth Counting Glass.'   This instrument is characterized by a scale along which a needle or pointer moves so that one can count the number of threads in any unit of length desired, within the limits of the instrument. Like the folding 'C' linen testers, these were made in a wide range of sizes. These apparently were not available until the early twentieth century. Instead of a standard opening, this type suspends the optics above a needle-pointer which moves along above an engraved scale on the base. This pointer is advanced via a worm screw. This type of tester came in a variety of sizes from about an inch to six inches in length.

For more information about all types of linen provers see the Article on This Website about all types of Linen Provers and Thread counters. Also see the page about a thread counter by J.B. Dancer.

DESCRIPTIONS

casartelli proverSigned 'J. CASARTELLI & SON' on one side of the instrument, and 'MANCHESTER' on the other. The case is signed 'MICROSCOPE CLOTH COUNTING GLASS, RD NO. 11768, J. CASARTELLI & SON, MANCHESTER'. This 'Microscope Cloth Counting Glass', by Casartelli & Son is possibly from the first quarter of the twentieth century, circa 1908 or so. It comes in its own red-velour-lined case. It has two silvered scales, one one each of its longer sides. There are two scales, one on each of the long sides. One is a continuous one inch scale calibrated and labelled in quarter inches, the other offers a selection of 5,6 or 10 mm and at the end of the metric scale is an area marked as '37/200' It features a focusing optical element which can swivel around to the other side to use the second scale. Another feature is the presence of tiny sharp pins on the bottom to prevent movement of the cloth while it is being used.

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armstrong proverarmstrong prover This instrument, sold by Armstrong & Brother, Manchester and Liverpool, is very similar to the one by Casartelli noted in the paragraph before this one. It is slightly larger, and the base is symmetrically shaped with a hole on one side, presumably allowing it to be hung up on a hook. The optical element is also much larger. It has other more subtle differences from the Casartelli model, such as the spacing of the threads on the screw (finer), and the straight profile of the stem attached to the knob. It also came in its own box but in this instance, only the inside of the box is signed, and the instrument itself has no signature. The scales are the same as the Casartelli model. The metric scale has separate areas for 5,6,7, and 10 mm, and one for 37/200. Just as in the Casartelli model, this scale cannot be used as a continuous scale. The inch scale is calibrated the same way as the Casartelli, so it can be used to count threads in one quarter inch to a full one inch range. The knurling on the knob for this model is straight, whereas the knurling for the Casartelli is in a cross-hatched pattern. English, between 1904 and 1914.

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patentSigned 'Chas. Lowinson, New York, N.Y., PAT 1740970, 996 A,' the patent was recorded December 24 1929 and was issued to August and Louis Chronik of New York City. Called the 'Triplex,'   it was touted as an improvement in a prior patent of September 20, 1910 for the original Triplex model.   This further refinement of the thread counter includes three different scales on a rotating triangular scale. The eyepice focus is simplified by using a pin riding in a spiral groove instead of a threaded eyepiece. There is an adjustment on the side that allows slight movement of the scale left or right, to line up with a thread to start the count. There is also a facility to move the pointer quickly with a push button which disengages the screw moving the pointer. This instrument is made of lightweight alloys. The 1910 patent is for essentially the same design, except for the cam movement of the scale, which is the major change in the newer patent. It is not as high a quality as the all-brass examples by other makers. This is American, second quarter of 20th century, after 1929.

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Gregg proverThis is the smallest of the thread counters in this collection, made and signed by W.T. Gregg. Like most of the others here, it features adjustable focus and comes in its own case. The case is missing its top covering. This is American, first half of 20th C., likely after the first quarter of the century.

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Possibly from the middle of the 20th century, this prover, made by Casartelli of Manchester, combines the advantages of the folding linen prover with the thread counter. Unlike the others shown here, the focus is fixed, just like most other folding types. There is a single combined scale, calibrated in 1/4 inch increments, followed by 10 mm, calibrated in single mm.

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Suter prover

This is the largest thread counter in this collection, made and signed by Alfred Suter who was then in New York City. Like most of the others here, it features adjustable focus. Probably circa 1945, American, it has a built in counting recorder, for those that have trouble counting by ones. A quick release button, similar to the one on the smaller and earlier Lowinson model, allows rapid repositioning of the pointer.

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HISTORY OF THE 'CLOTH COUNTING GLASS':

Instead of a standard opening, this type suspends the optics above a needle-pointer which moves along above an engraved scale on the base. This pointer is advanced via a worm screw. This type of tester came in a variety of sizes from about an inch to six inches in length. Casertelli's was announced as a new device in the 1906 volume of the 'Textile World Record.' The advantage was noted to be the much more flexible length of cloth to be included in the count within the limits of the instrument. This limit was apparently increased in some examples as seen in this collection. My examples have a range of less than two inches to over four inches, the length of the largest instrument, being about seven inches, but with only four inches of scales. The latter instrument was clearly made in the twentieth century for heavy duty work. Among the best known makers of these in the U.S.A. was the Alfred Suter Company, initially in New York city, still in business today in Florida. The biggest example of a thread counter in this collection is a model by Suter, and it even has a little counter to register the count as the needle is advanced. Casartelli of Manchester, U.K. was apparently among the first, but examples by many other makers are known and include not only Alfred Suter of New York, but also Lowenson of New York (from about 1910), and Thomas Armstrong & Brother of Manchester and then also Liverpool.

HISTORY OF SOME MAKERS of THREAD COUNTERS
CASARTELLI: Apparently Casartelli of Manchester in England was the first to make a thread counter with a moving pointer, which they called a 'Microscope Cloth Counting Glass' about 1908. The company became 'J. Casartelli and Son' about 1896. The business was liquidated in 1933 during the great depression but the new owner continued the Casartelli name until 1989. For a detailed history of the Casartelli firm, see the Casartelli Article by Brian Stevenson on his website.
ARMSTRONG & BROTHER: Armstrong & Brother were opticians and expanded to include Liverpool in 1904. By 1914 the firm was called Armstrong & Brother Ltd. This would date the instrument above to between these two dates. For more on the history of this firm, see the:article about Armstrong & Bro. on the Manchester History Web Site .
W.T. GREGG: The Gregg firm was founded by William Theodore Gregg, an Irish Immigrant, in 1843, and operated through the early 20th century. The company made and/or sold Lantern slides, mining equipment, photographic equipment (including 'Gregg's Folding Camera'), surveying equipment, at least some telescopes and a "stage attachment for holding rakestraws."   William was Vice President of the newly formed American Astronomical Society in 1883. He advertised as a 'IMPORTING AND MANUFACTURING OPTICIAN' and apparently mainly advertised the photography equipment. By 1915, Gregg himself was living in Yonkers, New York.
ALFRED SUTER: The Suter company is still in existence today and still specializes in textile machine parts and textile testing instruments. They were founded in 1904 in New York, but are currently in Florida. The use of a postal code dates the prover above to after 1943.
CHARLES LOWINSON: In business in New York since at least 1910, the Chronik-designed 'Triplex' thread counters remained quite popular for decades. Lowinson was selling them as early as 1910 and the improved version for many years after its patent in late 1929.

For more about the history of all types of linen provers see the history section of the article about linen provers.