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MODEL: 'Nelson No. 2'

c. 1895




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Nelson No 2 with accessories


This large microscope arises from a tripod foot or base. It is five and one half inches from the level of the feet to the middle of the inclination joint. The splay of the front foot pads (toes) is seven inches (outside edge to outside edge). The front foot pads (toes) are round, unlike the later models which are slotted.

The microscope can incline from vertical to horizontal and be held at the desired angle by tightening the large lever on the right side*. Stops are provided at the full horizontal and vertical positions.

substagesubst fine focusThe substage carries its condenser in a centerable mount and focuses by diagonal rack and pinion controlled on the left side of the microscope, though some examples have the knob on the right side. There is a 'Campbell' Differential screw fine focus to the substage, controlled at the bottom of the tailpiece. There is rack and pinion rotation to the substage, a feature no longer offered in the catalog on the Nelson No 2 as of 1898.

mirrorThe gimballed mirror is plano-concave and on a swinging arm which is in turn, attached to the back of the tailpiece which also holds the substage. Although it can swing right to left, its anchor point is fixed; this differs from the later model without the substage fine focus where there is a separate tailpiece for the mirror, which attaches to the dedicated tailpiece by a collar which can move up, down and rotate right or left. In this model there is an extra small arm on the end of the stem to allow some flexibility in positioning. (On the Nelson No 1, and on some earlier versions of the Nelson No 2, the extra small arm is double jointed.)

fine focusThe main optical tube coarse focus is by diagonal rack and pinion, fine is by 'Campbell' differential screw controlled from the underside of the arm. The fine focus control is calibrated and has a groove for allowing its control by a cord and pulley system during photography. There are indicator fins over both the main fine focus knob and the substage fine focus knob.

stageThere are two stages with this example. The mechanical stage, a variation on the Mayall stage of 1885, has separate controls for the X and Y direction, and an oxidized brass finish with the slide locator scales white. It differs from the Mayall version in that only one axis does not use a plate, the other axis moves the framework holding the slide. The entire mechanical stage rotates manually, and the edge of the circular stage support is silvered and calibrated, numbered 0 to 270 degrees, marked each degree. A pointer on the right rear part of the stages registers on the calibrations. The calibrations also go 10 degrees counterclockwise to indicate minus 10 degrees from the zero. The stage cannot rotate more than 270 degrees, the controls protruding beyond the limb when the mechanical stage is rotated to its extremes. There is no provision for centering the stage. Unlike the later example in this collection which has holds the slide with moveable bars, front and back, this stage has two stage clips and lacks the front bar, just as in the engraving in the 1895 catalog showing this fancier version of the No 2. On the left side* of the bar(the right side of the image to the left), is a stop to locate the edge of a slide. This stop can be turned out of the way and has a sprung catch to locate it in either position.

under the stageplainstageThe stage is held in place from below the stage support with a large threaded ring; a special tool is supplied with pins to fit this ring to enable it to removed. The second plain stage has two stage clips, and can be secured in the same manner as the mechanical stage, with the threaded ring from below. This plain stage provides a large surface for the slide and makes working on a specimen while on the stage, easier.

calibrated tubesThere are two draw tubes. The outer draw-tube has rack and pinion adjustment with the knob on the right; examples exist with this adjustment on the other side as well. There is an additional inner drawtube, the same kind of arrangement as Watson's Van Heurk and Royal models. The drawtubes are both calibrated.

The original fitted case is present. It has cloth coverings over the fittings to protect the microscope and furniture to hold the three objectives in their cans, the auxiliary plain stage, and the tool for changing the stages.

There is one ocular, a number '1' of the later standard diameter of 22 mm, and it makes use of an adapter; the tube has a larger opening for the older type of 'top-hat' eyepiece design.

objectives1/16 objThere are also three objectives. They are housed in three original Baker cans, though one does not match the power of the objective within.
There is a 3 inch objective in a 1/4 inch can. The can is signed on its lid: 1/4 In, Baker, London. and 1/4 on the bottom of the can.  
The second is a 1 inch in a can signed 1 In Baker, London. The bottom of its can is signed 1. 
The third objective is a No VII Seibert immersion objective with correction collar.   It is signed   No VII, IMMERSION, SEIBERT . This objective has a nickeled correction collar calibrated 0-9; below this, towards the distal end of the objective, there is a flattened area with an indicator line to show if the correction is set above or below the baseline. This correction collar functions very nicely. The top of the can is signed GERMAN OBJECTIVE, 1/16 In, Immersion, ____, C. Baker, Agent, LONDON. On the bottom the can is signed: 1/16. This objective, according to the 1895 Baker catalog, is designed for water immersion, and the correction collar was an extra charge.  

condenserThere is a Baker condenser with iris diaphragm, which is signed on top: Nelson's Low Power Condenser', C. Baker, LONDON.

*Note the the 'side' of the microscope is as viewed from the rear, as it would be positioned for use, eyepiece closest the user and stage on the opposite side, farthest from the user.


This microscope is the earlier version of the Nelson No. 2 stand, dating to about 1895. For more about its history please see the page dedicated to the History of Microscopes associated with the input of E.M. Nelson, now on a separate web page. A later version of this microscope, circa 1899, is also available on this web site. It lacks some features which were standard when this 1895 version was produced (such as the rack and pinion rotation to the substage), and also several other optional features found on the microscope shown on this page. The later version has slotted instead of round feet, no substage geared rotation, and no substage fine focus. It also lacks the calibration for stage rotation found on this example. A page which compares changes from the 1895 model to the 1899 model (excluding options or changes discussed in the history page) is also available.

Baker's Nelson No 2 microscopes are quite uncommon. Even rarer are the Nelson No 1 models, of which very few are known. Their most striking features are they are much larger, with a foot splay of 11 x 9 inches, and the shape of the limb which angles forward from the inclination joint, unlike the limb on the number twos which arise straight from the inclination joint to near the top of the limb when they bend forward to meet the optical tube.