Back Button



YEAR: after 1881; ?c 1900.

SIGNED: W. Fairservice, Hastings


MODEL: --?--



FS SignatureThis microscope arises from a modified tripod foot similar but not identical to, that seen on some early Ross, and then Watson instruments. The signature appears on the rear tapering toe of the tripod foot. The Lister limb can incline from the vertical to the horizontal with stops for the vertical attached to the back of the stage to rest upon the front of the tripod, and when rotated into the horizontal position, the limb rests on a bar suspended between the right and left side of the rear foot. The tension on the suspending axle can be adjusted. and its rotation is smooth yet holds the instrument firmly in any position from vertical to horizontal. The substage is supported by a fitting attached to the underside of the stage by screws. The substage has a diagonal rack and spiral pinion adjustment and the fitting for the condenser has two knurled knobs to adjust centration. As is also true for the slide in which the fine focus movement occurs, and also the coarse focus, the substage slide can be adjusted for wear, slits in the brass with a screw through each slit allowing for tightening. A tubular tailpiece projects down from the limb; on it rides a two sided gimbaled mirror. The tension on the rotation of the mirror in two directions can be adjusted by a knob on one side of the mirror, and a screw which can tighten the tension on the pin of the mirror fitting. The mirror assembly rides up and down the tailpiece. As in the substage, the coarse adjustment is by diagonal rack and spiral pinion. Fine focus is by a calibrated very finely threaded, vertically acting engraved micrometer screw acting on a long lever. The five inch long tube has a calibrated draw tube allowing extension to 8-1/4. This short tube length is shorter than the traditional 10 inch tube length popular in England in the late nineteenth century, but was becoming more common after about 1900. Accessories accompanying the microscope are a substage condenser, a Watson 3 inch objective and a single ocular signed 'C. Baker, London' in an insignia. The condenser has stacked optical elements and has a wide aperture; it has an iris diaphragm controlled by a lever and a swing out filter holder. The rotating mechanical stage is controlled by the arrangement of a worm screw for the X-axis and a diagonal rack and pinion for the Y axis, with the rack in the center of the stage. A slide holder with clips rides on a channel cut into the stage and has a knurled knob at the back allowing fine control of friction or locking it in place, like many Watson stages. The mechanical stage rotates, its rotation only limited by knobs reaching the limb on either side*. The entire instrument is finished in lacquered brass. The finish is in excellent condition with minor losses for the most part.


Fairservice microscope next to the Royal Although signed 'W. Fairservice, Hastings,' I and my fellow-collectors have been unable to find another microscope signed by Fairservice. William Fairservice was an 'optician' from about 1861, but in Hastings from 1881, and died in 1921; This microscope then must date from that period; since the features found on this microscope were introduced in the late 1880's and early 1890's; the short tube length may suggest it is even after c 1900 as this is when the English makers started to adopt the shorter continental tube length. Watson introduced some of the features seen on this microscope with their Edinburgh, Royal, and Van Heurck microscopes. The Edinburgh was introduced in 1887 and the Van Heurck was apparently first made in 1889, with the Royal later. This microscope has a rotating mechanical stage, similar but not identical to those supplied with the Van Heurck Number 1 model. The use of diagonal rack and spiral pinion is a feature invented by Swift about 1880, and used by Watson and others from about then on all their better stands. Although the foot is a lot like the Edinburgh, Van Heurck and Royal, it is not quite the same configuration; it is closer to older Ross rather than Watson feet and also similar to some Baker instruments. The provision of adjustments for wear of the focusing mechanisms, both for the optical tube and the substage are the type provided by Watson on the three other Watson models mentioned here, but was also used by Baker on their Nelson-Curties stand, and also Swift. As can be seen in the image to the left, this microscope is not nearly as massive as the Royal Watson model.

In summary this very high quality stand incorporates features of various makers including several different stands by Watson, and seems to be of unique design overall. One can only conjecture that William Fairservice may have made (or had made for him), this microscope incorporating features of various stands of the late 19th and early 20th century. It closely resembles the plan of an Edinburgh H Stand but with the rotating stage seen in the Van Heurck, Baker, and Swift stands.

The author is indebted to Paul Ferraglio and Allen Wisner for their helpful advise, suggestions and insight, without which this page would not have been as complete nor as accurate.

*The stage is similar but not identical to the rotating mechanical stages seen on the Van Heurck number 1.