Antique Scientific Instrument Fair

Sunday 8th July 2018

For the first time, this Fair was organised by the Scientific Instrument Society, who kindly offered the Club a free table at the event in Glaziers Hall (home of the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers) in London.

Glaziers HallGlaziers Hall

Our table was in the main sales area in the Banqueting Hall, manned by Stephen Parker and Alan Wood. We had copies of 4 of Brian Bracegirdle’s books for sale (Microscopical Mounts and Mounters, Notes on Modern Microscope Manufacturers, A History of Photography with the Light Microscope and The Microscopic Photographs of J.B. Dancer). Visitor numbers were down on previous Fairs, but we had some interesting conversations with Quekett members and other visitors.

Quekett standQuekett stand

Stephen exhibited a Swift portable microscope (about 100 years old) with its leather case and used it to show a microphotograph of Queen Elizabeth and one of the slides that is illustrated in Microscopical Mounts and Mounters.

Swift portable microscopeSwift portable microscope

There were stands from the Scientific Instrument Society, dealers and auctioneers.

Stands in the Banqueting HallStands in the Banqueting Hall

Scientific Instrument Society standScientific Instrument Society’s stand

In addition to microscopes, slides and accessories, dealers also had books, telescopes, binoculars, folding cameras, firearms, surgical instruments, drawing instruments, meteorological instruments, laboratory equipment and sextants. Victor Burness had an empty mahogany slide cabinet and 7 brass live boxes. Lisa Tao had a few boxes of slides, including a wooden box by Bryson of Edinburgh and some slides by Washington Teasdale of normal subjects (not diamond rulings), and a bundle of bone or ivory sliders.

Lisa Tao’s standLisa Tao’s stand

Don Edwards, who used to organise the Fair, showed 2 unbranded drum microscopes, and a brass monocular by Mawson & Swan with a brass plate on its box indicating that it was awarded to Thomas Ritson on completion of his apprenticeship in September 1890.

Mawson & Swan microscopeMawson & Swan microscope (Don Edwards)

Drum microscopeDrum microscope (Don Edwards)

Narrow microscope in shallow boxNarrow microscope in shallow box

Flints Auctions showed some of the microscopes and other items that will be in their sale on 31st October and 1st November 2018.

This Wenham binocular by J. Swift has a Nicol prism that can be slid into the light path, but only a normal stage, and has lots of accessories in the base of the box.

J. Swift Paragon Wenham binocular microscopeJ. Swift Paragon Wenham binocular microscope (Flints Auctions)

Smith & Beck microscopeSmith & Beck microscope (Flints Auctions)

This Dick-pattern petrological microscope by J. Swift comes with a circular wooden base and a glass dome that covers it.

J. Swift Dick-pattern petrological microscopeJ. Swift Dick-pattern petrological microscope (Flints Auctions)


Our thanks to the Scientific Instrument Society for providing us with a table free of charge. They are planning to have a table at our Annual Exhibition in the Natural History Museum on Saturday 6th October 2018.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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