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Wale Sig

DESCRIPTION: The microscope arises from a 'horseshoe' foot and is signed on this foot: 'GEO.WALE, PAT.APP.FOR' This microscope is very similar to the one previously in this collection, incorporating features seen in the quoted U.S. patent number 178391. This patent was applied for in April of 1876, and granted in June of that year, thus dating this microscope to 1876. Its coarse focus is by a spiral groove on the optical tube. This groove is a 'V' shaped channel and the pin which registers in this groove is also V-shaped and spring-loaded; this leads to very smooth and concentric operation, quite better than cruder examples of this type of focusing mechanism seen on cheaper European microscopes of the nineteenth century. A draw tube is present. The relatively high power objective has a correction collar calibrated in whole numbers from 0 to 9. It is signed 'Geo Wale 52'. The number is likely the angle of aperture in air rather than a serial number. The fine focus is the one shown in his U.S. patent 178391, and is similar to the continental pillar focus common at the time; the fine focus bar is a triangular-shaped fitting, riding inside the triangular pillar. Although the opening for the substage diaphragm has centering adjustments, this example lacks the substage diaphragm itself. This originally was attached through a bayonet-type of fitting.

stage The microscope pictured here has a gliding stage, the type invented by Joseph Zentmayer but this one is made mainly of glass with a brass fitting held on to the glass by knobs on each side. This fitting has a cutout circular ring. The tip of a pressure fitting rides in this cutout, holding the glass plate in place; this fitting has adjustable pressure. The slide rest on top of the glass has an unusual L-shaped fitting for holding the stage clip from the side. The piece of metal holding the clip has a small support rod (blue arrow) at its distal end which supports that end on the stage. Wale used this stage, or a similar one, on many of his microscopes. The gliding glass stage was very popular with physicians because it allows free movement of the slide in a controlled manner, yet allows it to remain whereever moved without slipping even when the microscope is inclined. This type of stage was supplied with Zentmayer's early 'Grand American' microscopes. Zentmayer's was mainly made of brass and rode on two brass rails; the glass version, seen here, and also on other maker's scopes, rests on a rail which circles the entire stage. Bausch and lomb used a modification of this design and it is also seen on the Beck 'Pathological' stand, as well as the Beck 'Ideal' model as an option.

The underside of the stage features a centerable fitting, spring loaded at the rear and controlled by two knobs on the front. The plano-concave substage mirror rides on a sleeve with square profile which in turn rides on the tailpiece. The tailpiece can swivel right or left in the coronal plane, and the mirror assembly can move up or down the tailpiece on the sleeve.

The inclination joint above the two short pillars has adjustable tension via a T-shaped knob. The pillars rest on a circular plate which can rotate on the foot 180 degrees to allow greater stability when inclined.

wale horizontal

As discussed below, this microscope has been partly restored with several parts made from scratch and others adapted.

restoration replica stage When I obtained this microscope on Ebay in 2017, it was missing many parts and some of its parts were inappropriate replacements. It had a forceably fitted French button objective instead of a Wale objective. It had no eyepiece. The glass glide stage was lacking. The centering knob for the substage had been broken off on one side and was damaged on the other. The tailpiece was incomplete, lacking its outer square sleeve, and the mirror was a modern replacement painted with gold paint to appear to be brass. The mirror was attached to the tailpiece with a modern zinc alloy screw. All in all, this was not much like the original. Fortunately, I had previously owned an example of this model which is still shown on this site. This allowed me to fabricate, replace, or adapt many of the missing parts. Luckily I had an original Wale objective just like the original, so this was the easiest piece to replace. The eyepiece has an unusual diameter and so I had to piece together parts of more than one eyepiece to get the look just right. The square tubing which fits over the tailpiece is not made in the exact dimension needed, but it is made with a close fit. After cutting it to the proper length, I soldered a thin sheet of brass to the inside to create a proper fit. It is soldered on only one end so it acts like a spring to allow the tubing to slide up and down as needed, yet stays in the position it is in. I replaced the modern mirror with a 19th century mirror I had, and made the appropriate brass screw and knob to attach it. My local glass shop made the glass part of the glide stage just like the original. I made the brass parts which attach to the glass mainly from scratch. I also had to make new centering knobs for the substage. I made the stage clip out of old clock spring metal to attach to the slide rest on the glass stage. With these replacements and adaptations, the microscope now closely resembles the original, though it lacks the substage diaphragm and has no case or additional accessories. I also had to overhaul the base-rotation mechanism which was a bit sloppy when I received it. This restoration project probably took about three full days, realizing that I did not lacquer any parts. I avoided relacquering to try to match the patina of the parts of the original. For another example of a restoration on this site see the original 'New Working' Wale limb microscope.


George Wale (1840-c.1903) was born in New York City in September 1840, and was the son of a 'pianoforte maker'. Wale formed a partnership with Richard Morrison about 1864 but by 1871 this partnership dissolved and Wale was working with Henry Hawkins at the Stevens Institute of Technology. In 1874 the partnership ended but Wale continued to work with the Stevens Institute as 'George Wale & Company' until 1878. Following that, he became associated with the Industrial Publication Company. He likely stopped producing microscopes in 1880 when his microscope business was apparently bought out by Bausch & Lomb. He did however continue to make various other optical instruments through at least 1902. He left New Jersey for upstate New York about 1896. He died sometime between 1902 and 1904. Wale was an innovator and made many types of optical instruments in addition to microscopes. George's cousin, William Wales was an optician born in England who moved to the USA. William was best known mainly as a maker of objectives. William's objectives were of high quality and were supplied by many American microscope makers including Walter Bulloch, and his cousin George, though as noted above, the objective with this stand is signed with George's name; it is unclear if he made objectives or simply put his name on them after getting them from his cousin William.

George Wale's innovations included his version of adjustable substage diaphragm, found on other microscopes on this site, the rotation on a horseshoe foot, and in 1879, his 'New Working Microscope' which inclined by a radial slot and was quite inexpensive. This 'radial' feature was copied by many makers including Swift and Ross, and also by Bausch & Lomb which took over his business in 1880. It soon became known as a 'Wale's Limb.'   The Ross version was very complicated and was known as the 'Wenham Radial.'   Bausch & Lomb's larger version became known as the 'American Concentric.' One of Swift's models, also seen on this site, was closer in general form to the original, although of much higher quality construction with the 'radial' slot finely machined, rather than just cast as in Wale's original. Later, in the 20th century, Swift used this radial inclination on a more modern stand called the 'Symposium' Model, also seen on this site.