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Before 1867

Maker: SMITH, BECK (& BECK?)


Beck vertical illuminThis is a coverslip-type of vertical illuminator. This one, made of lacquered brass, is signed: 'Smith Beck, Patent, London' on a little black plate. The brass is engraved with the number 313. Vertical illuminators supply downward light on opaque objects which cannot be satisfactorily illuminated from the side; this is usually because using higher power objectives of short focal length, the top of the specimen cannot be illuminated from the side. This was one of the earliest types of nosepiece vertical illuminators and uses a coverslip to reflect light towards the object, while still allowing the reflected light to travel back to the eyepiece through it. As time went on, variable apertures for the source light were added, as Beck did about 1885; an example of his illuminator with added apertures is also shown on this site. and such devices later even included an iris aperture, and eventually had intrinsic electric lighting. The latter was very advantagous. Richard Beck Joined James Smith in 1847. From 1847 to 1856 the firm was Smith and Beck; from 1857 to 1867, after Richard's brother Joseph joined it was Smith, Beck and Beck from 1867 It became R & J Beck when Smith retired. Therefore, this example likely dates to before 1867.