South Coast spring meeting

Saturday 7th April 2018

The spring meeting in the Village Hall at Langton Matravers in Dorset was organised by Derek Stevens and Brian Darnton and attended by a good crowd of microscopists from the Quekett and the Postal Microscopical Society. Thanks to some local publicity, the meeting also attracted several visitors, including families.

Langton Matravers Village HallLangton Matravers Village Hall

Members and visitorsMembers and visitors

Adrian Brokenshire brought along a polished wooden cabinet of nicely-prepared forams and shells from sand, and we were able to admire them under his Meiji BM long-arm stereomicroscope.

Adrian Brokenshire with visitorsAdrian Brokenshire (right) with visitors

Part of Adrian Brokenshire’s collectionPart of Adrian Brokenshire’s collection

Mounted shellsMounted shells

As usual, Adrian was very kindly giving away bags of shell sand and other materials

Free bags of sand and shellsFree bags of sand and shells

Brian Darnton used a black and chrome Beck monocular microscope and a black and brass Spencer monocular microscope to show slides that has made of forams from Dogs Bay in Ireland. This year, Brian has been inspired by Victorian slides made for the polariscope containing arrangements of plant scales and cactus spines. Suitable plants are those in the family Elaeagnaceae, notable the European genera Elaeagnus and Hippophae and the North American genus Shepherdia. He has made slides of the scales as well as arrangements, and they looked good between crossed polarisers under his own microscopes and even better under Jeremy Poole’s Zeiss Photomicroscope.

Brian Darnton with a visitorBrian Darnton with a visitor

Slides of forams from Dogs BaySlides of forams from Dogs Bay

Polariscope slidesPolariscope slides

Polariscope slidesInspiration for polariscope slides

Brian also had some photographs of testate amoebae under crossed polarisers, and early illustrations of forams by Robert Hooke, Ulisse Aldrovandi and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.

Derek Stevens used his trinocular Vickers compound microscope and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 camera (mounted afocally) to show aquatic life from his birdbath on a monitor. Specimens included rotifers and Haematococcus pluvialis, taxonomically a green alga but visually red because it contains astaxanthin.

Derek StevensDerek Stevens

Grenham Ireland was showing live marine copepods that he had collected from Poole harbour using a plankton net with a 250 µm mesh, displayed via a Chinese 14 MPixel inspection camera and a Panasonic television. Dark-ground illumination was provided by an LED light from a tool shop with a white diffuser and a black card disc. Grenham was asking if there was a formula for calculating the optimum size of dark-ground stop, but the best method seems to be measuring the field of view at the lowest magnification, and making the stop a little larger. Grenham also provided an Olympus VMT stereomicroscope for examining his copepods and some marine annelid larvae

Grenham Ireland’s exhibitGrenham Ireland’s exhibit

Grenham Ireland with visitorsGrenham Ireland (left) with visitors

Grenham was also showing a video of spionid annelid larvae on a very nice LaCie 321 monitor.

Jeremy Poole has started taking an interest in polarised light microscopy and brought along 3 microscopes, a black and brass Swift petrological microscope from 1912 (with Nicol prisms), a black and chrome Swift petrological microscope from the 1960s, and a Carl Zeiss Photomicroscope II fitted with a calibrated rotatable analyser. His slides included a Biosil slide of hippuric acid crystals, a Spike Walker slide of dopamine hydrobromide crystals, and thin sections of rocks.

Jeremy Poole’s exhibitJeremy Poole’s exhibit

Jeremy also brought some books, A colour atlas of rocks and minerals in thin section by W. S. MacKenzie & A. E. Adams, The preparation and mounting of thin sections and small whole mounts of rocks and minerals for microscopical examination by Derek D. Underhill, An introduction to crystal optics by P. Gay and Minerals and the microscope by H. G. Smith (revised by M. K. Wells).

Joan Bingley brought 2 exhibits. One was a portion of a human tooth, viewed under a simple stereomicroscope bought on eBay.

Joan Bingley’s exhibitJoan Bingley’s exhibit

Joan’s other exhibit was a Chinese 14 MPixels inspection camera, used to view a set of NBS F. W. Algae slides lit by a light box on a 21″ Samsung television. In the photograph below, you can see filamentous algae from Derek Stevens’ birdbath and we could see ostracods and a fly larva.

Joan Bingley’s exhibitJoan Bingley’s exhibit

Joan also brought A beginners guide to freshwater algae by Hilary Belcher & Erica Swale.

Kit Brownlee reprised her exhibit on sponges from the Reading Convention, showing a sponge from the Mediterranean, some fossil sponges, and a Klaus Kemp slide of 50 arranged spicules under her Olympus KHC microscope.

Steve Durr with Kit Brownlee’s exhibitSteve Durr with Kit Brownlee’s exhibit

Sponge from Mediterranean SeaSponge from Mediterranean Sea

Fossil spongesFossil sponges

Klaus Kemp slide of sponge spiculesKlaus Kemp slide of sponge spicules

Kit also brought a Natural History Museum book, British Mesozoic Fossils.

Mervyn Bown bought a box of diatom slides from the estate of Ven Dodge at the Reading Convention a few years ago, and we could examine them using his trinocular Leitz Laborlux K, fitted with a magnification changer and a complex measuring eyepiece made by Malies Instruments. Mervyn used his Canon EOS 5D Mark II to display the slides on a Samsung television. The slides included ones made by Ven, Brian Darnton and Bernard Hartley and an arrangement by Frith. According to the label, the Frith slide was a reject, but the diatoms seemed to be lined up perfectly and the the only fault we could find was a few specks of dirt.

Mervyn Bown’s exhibitMervyn Bown’s exhibit

Diatom slides by Ven DodgeDiatom slides by Ven Dodge

Diatom arrangement by FirthDiatom arrangement by Firth

Mervyn also brought 3 books, Introduction to freshwater algae by Allan Pentecost, An atlas of British diatoms by B. Hartley, and The diatoms: Biology & morphology of the genera by F. E. Round, R. M. Crawford & D. G. Mann.

Pam Hamer brought a poster about a volcanic eruption in Chile and some of her slides of rocks polished on one side to reveal microfossils.

Volcanic eruptionVolcanic eruption

Polished rocksRocks polished to reveal microfossils

Pam also brought two books, Rocks and minerals: A guide to minerals, gems and rocks by Herbert S. Zim, Paul R. Shaffer & Raymond Perlman and The field description of igneous rocks by Dougal Jerram & Nick Petford.

Joan Bingley and Graham Matthews with Pam Hamer’s exhibitJoan Bingley and Graham Matthews with Pam Hamer’s exhibit

Pam also brought a laptop with the latest test version of the database of the Quekett slide collection, and persuaded more people to help with transcribing data from slide labels into Excel spreadsheets.

Pam Hamer showing the slide database to Steve DurrPam Hamer showing the slide database to Steve Durr

Robert Ratford brought the Quekett Shop so that members could buy books, ties, binders and the USB drive containing the Journal from 1868 to 2012.

Quekett ShopQuekett Shop

Robert Ratford and Graham Matthews are fans of the Swiss Projectina microscopes so there were 2 on display as well as boxes full of accessories. These microscopes can be used via the binocular eyepieces or they can project onto a built-in circular screen or (after removing a panel at the rear) an external screen. They could be used for transmitted light or reflected light, and even epi-fluorescence and were very useful for measuring. Graham had used one to measure droplet sizes, and Pam Hamer had used one when she was a foresnsic scientist.

Graham Matthews and Mervyn Bown with Projectina microscopesGraham Matthews and Mervyn Bown with Projectina microscopes

Accessories for Projectina microscopesAccessories for Projectina microscopes

Robert also showed his Reichert Visopan projection microscope, demonstrating it with a microphotograph of a map from the Quekett’s collection.

Reichert projection microscopeReichert Visopan projection microscope

Reichert projection microscopeReichert Visopan projection microscope

Steve Durr used his Zeiss Standard microscope to show pathology slides including fatty liver disease, gonorrhoea (caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and anthracosis in the lung of a smoker. Steve provided notes on these diseases.

Steve Durr’s exhibitSteve Durr’s exhibit

The exhibits gave rise to lots of discussions, but (as always happens when microscopists get together) many other subjects were raised. For example, local member Alan Casperd was looking for advice on the Olympus Tough TG-5 camera and Steve Durr was able to help, and wanted to know where to buy hippuric acid and hexadecane (for making slides for polarised light) and eBay was suggested. Recently-rejoined member Peter Wakeman was looking for advice on adding phase contrast to the Olympus BH-2 that he bought at the Reading Convention and Alan Wood was able to help.

Alan Casperd and Steve DurrAlan Casperd and Steve Durr


Our thanks to Brian Darnton and Derek Stevens for organising another enjoyable and successful meeting, and to Rosemary Stevens for keeping us supplied with coffee, tea and biscuits.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

↑ Top of page