Saturday 19th October 2019

As usual, the Quekett’s annual sale of microscopes and related items in the hall of St Stephen’s Church on Watling Street just outside St Albans was packed with members and visitors looking for bargains. The hall was booked from 9:30 a.m. to allow 30 minutes for setting up, but it was available early and the hall was packed with buyers by 9:30 a.m. The event had been promoted locally, on Facebook and Twitter, and at outreach events including New Scientist Live and the AES Annual Exhibition, and we were pleased to see some new faces. By 1:00 p.m. lots of things had been sold and most sellers had packed up and departed.

Buyers and sellers in the hallBuyers and sellers in the hall

Some of the regular sellers were not able to attend, but there were some new sellers, and as in previous years there was a huge variety of items for sale. Some sellers sold out quickly, making room for others as they arrived, or for sellers with packed tables to expand. Items for sale included trinocular compound microscopes, a polarising microscope, some stereomicroscopes, prepared slides (boxed and individual), books (not as many as previous years), lots of eyepieces and objectives, a few condensers, and all sorts of accessories. There were also some catalogues, brochures and leaflets, always handy for identifying old items and learning more about them. In addition to providing members and visitors with a good opportunity to acquire new kit, and sellers to dispose of surplus items, Microscopium provides a great opportunity to meet old friends, make new friends, and gossip over tea and coffee in the Hall and over lunch in the nearby King Harry pub.

As usual, many used microscopes, lenses, accessories, slides, books, etcetera were offered at reasonable prices for the benefit of amateur microscopists. These items must NOT be subsequently sold on eBay at great profit, and anyone found doing so will not be welcome at future meetings.

Nick Bessant sold some simple stereomicroscopes and a spectrophotometer, and was also offering a Watson monocular microscope and a few books.

Nick BessantNick Bessant

Joan Bingley was selling a Vickers polarising microscope, a Vickers lamp with a box of spare bulbs, an old Lomo microscope stand that Tony Saunders-Davies had modified, some chemicals, some foam inserts and slides of unusual subjects such as glass fibre, laundry bag, polyethylene and Terylene.

Joan Bingley and Robert RatfordJoan Bingley and Robert Ratford

Joan Bingley’s sales tableJoan Bingley’s sales table

Kit Brownlee was selling an Olympus KHC binocular microscope with its external transformer, a Tissue-Tek wax dispenser, a box full of accessories, and 2 thermoclaves.

Kit BrownleeKit Brownlee

Victor Diss and his son were selling new slides and coverslips and used equipment including a dissecting microscope, a binocular compound microscope, a rotary microtome, a sledge microtome and some very nice microtome knives.

Victor Diss with his sales tableVictor Diss with his sales table

Barry Ellam came with his daughters (Alison and Kate) and was selling a box of histology slides, boxes of assorted slides for 40 p. each (or 3 for £1), empty slide boxes, a CTS binocular metallurgical microscope, a Bausch & Lomb binocular microscope, a Watson Patna microscope, a Zeiss camera lucida, and some objectives and eyepieces.

Robert Ratford and Barry EllamRobert Ratford and Barry Ellam (right)

Visitor buying slides from Kate EllamVisitor buying slides from Kate Ellam

Steve Gill and Mike Samworth were selling old and new slides at £1 or £2 each, lantern slides, a trinocular American Optical AO20, compound microscopes by Beck, Charles Perry, Leitz and Watson, a Watson stereomicroscope, an unusual Leitz inverted microscope, a dissecting microscope and a Sartorius microtome.

Steve Gill and Mike WoofSteve Gill and Mike Woof

Steve Gill with a visitorSteve Gill with a visitor

Microtome by F. SartoriusMicrotome by F. Sartorius

Mike and Steve were also selling spiral-bound books containing hundreds of diatom plates by Horace Barber.

Diatom plates by Horace BarberDiatom plates by Horace Barber

Phil Greaves has managed to dispose of most of the items that have been left to the Club, and only brought a small black and brass Beck Star microscope, a box of eyepieces at 50 p each, some books, cheap slide boxes and free slide trays.

Rachel Hillman was selling items from the estate of Harold Hillman, notably a Baker Series 4 compound microscope with monocular and binocular heads, some condensers and a phase contrast kit, and an unusual Beck stereomicroscope with a horseshoe stand, a dark-ground condenser and arm rests. She was also selling a Beck 48 monocular compound microscope, a Lomo illuminator, a Nikon trinocular head, some objectives and an assortment of bits and pieces.

Douglas Downer-Smith and Rachel HillmanDouglas Downer-Smith (left) and Rachel Hillman

Stephen Parker was selling an Olympus BHTU stand (110 volt, but with a 240 volt converter), a Leitz trinocular head, a Beck phase set, some eyepieces and objectives, and an NBS slide making kit.

Stephen ParkerStephen Parker

Nigel Parkinson was offering some books and a tray of bits and pieces (mostly brass).

Nigel ParkinsonNigel Parkinson

Nigel also showed an optical instrument by Höen of Avenue de Noailles 60, Lyon. So far, nobody has been able to tell us its intended use.

Nigel Parkinson’s mystery objectNigel Parkinson’s mystery object

Tony Pattinson was selling his “The Freshwater Microscopist” books, including the newly-published Part 4; they are all available from blurb.

“The Freshwater Microscopist” Part 4“The Freshwater Microscopist” Part 4

David Peston had a few Leitz compound stands, lots of Leitz objectives (and a few by Nikon, Olympus and PZO) for £20 each, two Olympus NFK 3.3× photo eyepieces, lots of bulbs for £2 each, lots of eyepieces (£10 for 2), empty objective cases, filters and some other items.

Jacky McPherson and David PestonJacky McPherson and David Peston

David Peston’s objectivesDavid Peston’s objectives

Derek Sayers was offering a Zeiss Photomicroscope, a Gillett & Sibert Conference microscope with its projection screen head, monocular microscopes by Cooke, Troughton & Simms (CTS), Ross and Watson, and an assortment of accessories including heads, condensers and a pocket refractometer.

Derek Sayers with a visitorDerek Sayers (right) with a visitor

Derek Sayers’ oddmentsDerek Sayers’ oddments

Mark Shephard was selling a grey Beck 47 monocular microscope, a few books, and some sets of slides.

Jacky McPherson and Mark ShephardJacky McPherson and Mark Shephard

Mark Shephard’s slidesSome of Mark Shephard’s slides

Barry Soames was selling an assortment of accessories, including a Nikon binocular head, a Zeiss Winkel camera attachment, a simple T-mount camera adapter, some mirrors, a slide holder and an Olympus Neo 5× objective.

Barry Soames with a visitorBarry Soames (right) with a visitor

David Stell brought the huge trinocular Leica DMRX microscope that he failed to sell last year, and this time he found a buyer. The microscope was equipped with PL Fluotar objectives, transmitted and reflected DIC, reflected dark ground and a digital camera, and was complete with manuals and software.

David StellDavid Stell

Mike Woof had some very nice Leitz equipment including a trinocular compound microscope, a Wild M20, a Beck 47 and a black and brass Watson Kima.

Mike Woof with his sales tableMike Woof with his sales table


Our thanks to Mark Shephard for successfully organising his second Microscopium, with some very happy buyers and sellers, to the volunteers who provided much-needed tea, coffee and biscuits, and to those who put out and packed away the tables and chairs.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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