Mission: Save the ‘scopes

Over the last several years I have acquired three microscopes from E-bay. One is a black enamel and brass unit on permanent display and the other two are in use after I refurbished them.

When I started medical school in 1967 I needed to bring my own scope so my father and I went to a little optical shop he found in Chicago and we checked the stock. Binocular scopes were quite pricey and I settled on a used monocular Spencer  instrument with a wide angle eyepiece. This wonderful example of the machine age was already at least 20 years old when I obtained it and I used it in school and in my career. I still have this beautiful, working instrument. Note the high quality machining.


The other scopes were rescues:

The first is a “student” scope in enamel and brass from the 1920’s. Student means that it had two objective lenses, no abbe condenser, but does have a diaphragm to adjust light intensity. I polished the brass, cleaned and painted the steel, greased the gears, and changed the 10x objective for a 2x. I added  5x and 15x eyepieces from E-Bay and use it as a low power (dissecting) scope. I painted a white piece of cardboard  black on one side for light colored specimens. The cardboard is placed on the stage (viewing platform)  and an old goose neck lamp lights the specimen from above.

(Display scope, “before and after” on left)








Diatoms: Their shell is glass. This was prepared using lye to clear organic matter and multiple washings with distilled water of the centrifuged specimen.



The other is a binocular scope. I did not need it, but the E-Bay summary said it was stored in a garage for 20 years and I knew then it was abandoned. I won the auction for $47.00 plus shipping. I could not turn it down!  I merely cleaned it and it is complete in every way.


7 thoughts on “Mission: Save the ‘scopes”

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