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c. 1900





Universal Household    Microscope


Foot Of Microscope Signed on the Foot: Universal Household Microscope, F.W.W. This is a small student or amateur level microscope in the general form of a household microscope, originally invented in 1867 by T.H. McAllister. It has a push/pull focus, and a flat substage mirror. It has an inclination joint in a Lister-limb pattern. The mirror is supported in a gimballed support, but is fixed in location. There is no drawtube. It was almost certainly a French Import, made for the American Market. The objective is not divisible. A single remaining stage clip screws to the underside of the stage. When vertical, the bottom of the inclining limb meets the bottom of the pillar in a matching angular cut, thus preventing it from going past vertical when returning from an inclined position.


F.W.W. is almost certainly F.W. Woolworth, as no other company with those initials would be so well-known to be recognized in this fashion at the time. Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first store under his sole name on February 22, 1878. It is unlikely this microscope could date to earlier than that. In fact, no stores went by the name of F.W. Woolworth until about 1887. The chain was not known as F.W. Woolworth Company until about 1912 when 596 stores merged. Since the word company is not included, this microscope likely dates to between 1887 and 1912. The idea of a Universal Household Microscope was started by Thomas H. McAllister; his original Household microscopes were made in the U.S.A., but soon competition forced him to import his as well. There were many competitors at the time and most of these microscopes resembled each other in one way or another. Most notable was the tendency to call them all Universal Household Microscopes. The other brands were either green and gold as this one, or in the case of T.H. McAllister, Gold only. All had brass tubes. The mounting and foot varied from brand to brand. Other Household microscopes in this collection, and from the same era, were sold by Beck, T.H. McAlister, W.Y. McAlister, Queen & Company, and others. Many of these even had the same words Universal Household Microscope molded into the foot, but the idea should be credited to Thomas McAllister.