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Microscope Nachet "petit modèle inclinable" (Paris, 1863-1872)



Inclinable microscope small model (petit modèle inclinable) by Nachet, 1863-72.


This is a small French laboratory microscope in the typical continental style. Coarse focusing is attained by sliding the main optical tube. There is a thumbwheel control for fine focusing on the top of the main pillar. A draw tube is present which, when fully extended, allows doubling the magnification of the objective lens. The concave mirror is hold by a 360°rotating gimbal, mounted on a fully articulated arm with horizontal and vertical movements, to allow easy oblique illumination. The stage has on its upper side a sliding bar for vertical movement of the microscope slides and a rotating wheel underneath with four holes of decreasing size to act as diaphragm. Engraved on the front is the writing "Nachet et fils, Rue St. Severin Paris". The foot is of the typical shape of the early models by Nachet. The microscope comes with two original oculars (no. 2 and 3) and with an original objective lens no. 6, allowing up to 590X magnifications (with the draw tube fully extended). Everything is housed in its original dovetailed wooden box with the handwritten magnification table still pasted on the inner side of the door.

 

This particular model is indicated in the Nachet's catalog of 1863 as the "petit modèle inclinable", as pictured below.

 

 




Frontispiece and p.12 of Nachet's 1863 catalog, picturing the petit modèle inclinable microscope


This microscope over time went through some restyling. As pictured below, the first model (1856-62) did not have the articulated arm of the mirror. This was introduced in the second model (1863-72). The third restyling (1880's) had the new "cutaway" foot shape, which became the standard for Nachet's microscopes of late XIX century, and a pair of stage clips instead of the sliding bar. The microscope in my collection has the typical features of the second restyling, dating it to the 1863-72 period.

 




The three restylings of the petit modèle inclinable compared with the mirror and stage mountings of my microscope.


 

Nachet's "petit modèle" was very popular in the XIX century, owing to its excellent optics and small size. Louis Pasteur used a "petit modèle droit", i.e. not inclinable, for his microbiological studies. This instrument is still surviving and on display at the London Science Museum.

 




The Nachet's "petit modèle droit" used by Louis Pasteur.


Another famous scientist who made his seminal observations on the fine structure of neurons using a Nachet microscope was Santiago Ramòn y Cajal, Nobel prize in 1906 together with Camillo Golgi. Cajal is often pictured in his lab with his three microscopes: a Verick, a Zeiss and a "petit modèle inclinable" by Nachet (Cajal's model has the stage clips so it is from the 1880's).

 




Santiago Ramon y Cajal in his lab in Valencia in the 1880's, with his three microscopes.


The same microscopes are shown in another picture of Cajal in his lab in Valencia, together with his colleague Juan Bartual Moret. In the picture Moret is using the Nachet petit modèle inclinable.

 




Ramon Cajal and Juan Moret in Valencia with Cajal's microscopes.


Nachet et fils

Camille Sébastien Nachet (1799-1881), was a pupil of the famous French optician Vincent Chevalier in Paris before establishing his own shop in rue Serpente, Paris in 1839. In 1862 the shop moved to rue Saint Séverin, when he worked together with his son Jean Alfred (1831-1908) and the firm was named Nachet et Fils. In 1880 the business was continued by his son under the name A. Nachet until 1890, when it became Nachet et Fils once more. In 1898, Nachet acquired the brand of Hartnack et Prazmowski form their successors Bezu, Hausser et cie. The Nachet firm continued to produce microscopes well into the 1970's, when the brand was acquired by the British firm Vickers Instruments.

For further details see Brian Bracegirdle's book "Notes on Modern Microscope Manufacturers".

 


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