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MICROSCOPE-ANTIQUES.COM     2013-16.




VIAL AND ALSO THE VIAL & ANIMALCULE MICROSCOPE

MAKER: CORNELIUS VARLEY

c. 1830's

Varley VIAL microscope


vial microscopedark chamberCornelius Varley was interested in studying living specimens. To this end, he designed and improved his famous 'Vial Microscope' The earliest images of this instrument are shown to the left from 1831, while the 1833 version, along with the 'Animalcule Microscope' shared the same stand and are shown above. The early instrument was hand held. All versions featured the Varley 'Dark Chamber' illumination System, shown to the right.   In the version of the Dark Chamber used with vial microscope, a spring kept the upper end, which was curved to match the shape of the vial, in contact with the vial during use. The Science Museum in London has four different Varley Vial Microscopes, but all using compound optical tubes. Two of these have lever controlled movement to the stage. One of the Varley Vial microscopes at the Science Museum, without a lever stage, has a square vial holder, thus allowing its top to serve as a traditional stage.

Vial microscope attachments can be found with microscopes made by Hugh Powell and Andrew Pritchard, as well as Varley. This makes sense as Powell likely worked for Varley before going into business on his own, and Pritchard, Varley's nephew, was apprenticed to Varley. Many of the characteristics of Varley's early microscopes are very similar to these two other makers.