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Laboratory Microscope, Vérick (Paris, 1880's)




Microscope de Laboratoire, Verick (Paris, c.a. 1880-1885).


This French continental microscope has an unusual double-pillar stand on a circular base. The coarse focusing is obtained by sliding the main optical tube, while a thumbwheel (which is stuck and not working in my microscope) on the back of the main limb regulates the fine focusing. There is a draw tube which doubles the magnifications. Two stage clips hold the slide on the stage during the observation. The instrument can be inclined 90° and has a concave mirror mounted on an articulated arm for oblique illumination. A rotating wheel under the stage with four holes of different diameter acts as diaphragm. The instrument is housed in its original mahogany dove tailed box. The microscope comes with one original objective no. 1 for low magnification and a rare immersion objective no. 6 (I tested it both with water and oil, with the latter medium giving the best images). Two original oculars, no. 1 and no. 3 allow magnifications from 60X to 570X (with the draw tube fully extended). 

Intriguingly, according to the book "Traité élémentaire du microscope" by Eugène Trutat of 1883, Vérick objective no. 6 is listed in the dry series. However, an immersion objective no. 6 is listed in the French microscope maker Nachet's production. Since the objective coming with my microscope is clearly of the immersion type (when used in dry mode the image is blurred while in water or oil it is sharp and well defined), it is either from Nachet or it is a later production of Vérick not yet listed in the book.

 




List of available objectives from the three main French microscope makers of the XIX century. Taken from the French microscopy book "Traité élémentaire du microscope" of 1883.




Signature on my Verick microscope


The microscope is signed on the circular base: "C. Vérick, elève special de E. Hartnack. Rue de la Parcheminerie 2, Paris". The serial number 3848 engraved under the stage dates it as a late production, presumably in the 1880-1885 years.

 

This instrument is described as the "Microscope de laboratoire" model no. 7 in the book "Traité élémentaire du microscope" by Eugène Trutat of 1883.

 




Illustration of the microscope de laboratoire by Vérick in the French microscopy book "Traité élémentaire du microscope" of 1883.


The same model is on display at the Israel's National Museum of Science

 




Vérick microscope on display in the Israel's National Museum of Science


Constant Vérick operated in Paris from 1870 to 1885, then his shop was taken over by M Stiassnie. Thus, only a limited number of Vérick microscopes are still existing. This one was among his most popular models. The quality of the optics was excellent and my instrument is still providing clear, bright images also at high magnifications.

 

Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1906 together with Camillo Golgi, is often pictured together with a no. 6 Vérick microscope, a somehow larger model than the no .7, with a special black lacquered finish resistant to acids, an important feature due to the acids used by Cajal for staining his samples with his modified version of Golgi's "black reaction".

 




Cajal pictured together with its Vérick "Microscope a platine fixe no. 6", as described in the 1883 book "Traité élémentaire du microscope".


However, several historical sources, report that the very first microscope used by Santiago Ramon y Cajal was a small Vérick instrument. Actually, the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos (Spain), has a Vérick no. 7 model identical to my one on display as an example of the first Cajal's microscope.

 

 




Vérick "Laboratory Microscope" displayed in Burgos (Spain) as the original Cajal's microscope.


The popularity of this model was such that it also crossed the Atlantic Ocean. This microscope in fact, has been used by the Brasilian microbiologist Oswaldo Cruz (1872-1917) during his medical studies in Rio de Janeiro. He was later pupil of Emile Roux at the Institute Pasteur in Paris and when he moved back in Rio he founded the National Serology Institute for mass vaccine production and was the first to introduce in Brasil the modern concepts for fighting infectious diseases such as plague and malaria.

 




Vèrick model no. 7 used by Oswaldo Cruz in Brasil in the 1890's


Constant Vérick

Constant Vérick operated his shop in rue de la Parcheminerie, Paris from 1870 to 1885. His firm was then taken over by Maurice Stiassnie, who operated until the beginning of the WWI (c.a. 1915). Vérick was a pupil of the famous optician Edmund Hartnack and his pride about such tutoring is reflected in his signing the instruments as "special pupil" (elève special) of Hartnack. His last catalog dating 1885, listed nine stands and several dry and water or oil immersion objectives, testifying a very diversified and good quality production. Several accessories, including microtomes and a microphotographic apparatus were also listed. For further details see Brian Bracegirdle's book "Notes on Modern Microscope Manufacturers".

 


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