Reading Convention

Saturday 11th March 2023

The familiar venue of St Peter’s Church Hall in Earley is not available for Saturdays well into the future, so this year the Convention moved to Sonning Common Village Hall, a bit further from Reading.  The Convention is now being run by the Quekett Microscopical Club, retaining the usual format of the morning devoted to exhibits and sales, followed by a break for lunch and then a talk in the afternoon.

Sonning Common Village HallSonning Common Village Hall

As usual, there were some interesting exhibits as well as a good range of microscopes, objectives, eyepieces, accessories, slides, brochures and books for sale. Bargains ranged from a phase telescope for £2 and a Leitz Periplan eyepiece with a 28 mm thread (great for afocal photomicrography) for £3 to a modern Chinese trinocular compound microscope, with several microscopes equipped for polarisation or phase contrast to choose from.


Joan Bingley used a small Brunel stereomicroscope to show grains of basalt from Macquarie Island that she had mounted in an unusual slide made by Ernie Ives that has a removable coverslip. Collecting is not allowed on the island, but Joan recovered grains that had been deposited on her clothes and equipment by the wind and the rain.

Joan Bingley’s exhibitJoan Bingley’s exhibit

Steve Gill visited Klaus Kemp about 5 years ago and was asked to dispose of a lot of diatomaceous earth from Klaus’s diatom-cleaning shed, because he was not going to clean any more material. There were several jars, but their labels had fallen off because of the fumes of sulphuric acid! A few people have already examined some of the jars and they appear to contain semi-fossilised freshwater diatomaceous earth that can be cleaned by boiling in water, no acids required. Steve had labelled the jars with numbers, and provided small plastic bags, labels and plastic teaspoons so that we could help ourselves to as many samples as we liked.  Steve would like to receive reports of which diatoms can be identified from which jars, so that he can try to work out where the material came from.

Members taking samples of diatomaceous earthMembers taking samples of diatomaceous earth (clockwise from bottom left: Debbie Burfitt, Danny Ferri, Jacky McPherson, Mark Berry, Chris Millward and Sam Medworth)

Pam Hamer showed the set of printed Quekett leaflets on things to look at with microscopes, which are also available as free PDFs.

Pam Hamer’s tablePam Hamer’s table

Pam also provided some notes on her search for illuminators that are suitable for microscopes, and promoted the meeting at Langton Matravers on Saturday 22nd April 2023, for which she desperately needs more people to provide exhibits or demonstrations.

Chris Millward brought a collection of Mycetozoa (slime moulds) in small glass-topped boxes that E. K. Maxwell had exhibited at a Quekett meeting on 8th June 1950; Chris provided a Vickers stereomicroscope on a boom stand so that we could take a closer look at the specimens. E. Kelly Maxwell served in France during the First World War and sent some specimens back to England. He constructed a microscope and used it to show diatoms and rotifers to the local people. He described his experiences in a paper in the Journal entitled “The Amateur Microscopist During Wartime”.

Debbie Burfitt and Chris MillwardDebbie Burfitt and Chris Millward

Chris Millward’s exhibitChris Millward’s exhibit

Slime mould collectionSlime mould collection

Nigel Parkinson brought several small instruments of unknown purpose, hoping that someone in the Quekett would know what they were.

Tony Pattinson brought his PZO MSt 130 stereomicroscope with two LED ring-lights, one for top light and the other arranged to provide dark-ground illumination. His specimens were tadpole shrimps (Triops cancriformis) in large fluid mounts that Tony makes and fixes to 3×2″ slides.

Peter Sunderland and Tony PattinsonPeter Sunderland and Tony Pattinson (standing)

Dark-ground stereo with LED ring-lightDark-ground stereo with LED ring-light [photo by Robert Ratford]

Tony also brought a portable computer so that he could show us some of his videos of freshwater life, and all five parts of his series of books, The Freshwater Microscopist.

Tony Pattinson’s exhibitTony Pattinson’s exhibit


Lisa and Nigel Ashby were selling some surplus microscopes on behalf of the Quekett, including two Reichert Zetopans, a smaller Reichert with phase contrast, a Vickers Metalette inverted metallurgical and two Watson Service IIIs. They were also selling some of their own items, including a cream trinocular Bactil 60, a black Bactil, a black stereomicroscope with a glass stage and a mirror for transmitted light, and a couple of black and brass microscopes, one stereo and one compound.

Phil Greaves and Nigel AshbyPhil Greaves and Nigel Ashby (centre)

Lisa and Nigel Ashby microscopes for saleLisa and Nigel Ashby’s microscopes for sale [photo by Robert Ratford]

Joan Bingley was selling a black and chrome binocular microscope with its wooden case, plus some books and small accessories.

Joan BingleyJoan Bingley [photo by Robert Ratford]

Gordon Brown was offering two trinocular microscopes for sale, a modern Chinese L3000BHTG from GT Vision (with a camera and a small Viltrox monitor) and a Carl Zeiss Jena NF with phase contrast. He was also selling a Carl Zeiss Jena Pancratic condenser, part of a Zeiss Universal and some other bits and pieces.

Phil Greaves with Gordon Brown’s sales tablePhil Greaves with Gordon Brown’s sales table

Gordon was also busy buying items that will used at meetings of the Anglian Microscopy Group or passed on to its members, including four Cambridge rocking microtomes, microtome blades, a slide-ringing table, a Vickers stereomicroscope, a trinocular Leitz Laborlux, microtome blades, several staining vessels and some slide racks.

Gordon Brown’s acquisitions for the AnglianSome of Gordon Brown’s acquisitions for the Anglian Microscopy Group [photo by Gordon Brown]

Tim Cameron was offering a huge assortment of items from the estate of Klaus Kemp. They included an AO Cycloptic stereomicroscope, a Vickers Zoomax stereomicroscope with transmitted-light base, several incomplete compound microscope stands, heads, lamps, transformers, objectives, eyepieces and condensers.

Tim Cameron and Mark BerryTim Cameron (left) and Mark Berry

Mike Gibson was selling a microtome, a video camera, a box of Coplin staining jars, some small glass tanks, an Olympus BH-2 lamp house, an adapter for using Olympus photomicrographic equipment on a microscope with a 38 mm trinocular port, and various other items.

Jacky McPherson, Steve Durr and Mike GibsonJacky McPherson, Steve Durr and Mike Gibson (right)

Steve Gill had a table with a Flatters & Garnett Precision Micro-Projector, black and brass monocular microscopes by Charles Perry and Spencer (with their wooden boxes), an unusual fibre-optic light, a large tripod for a video camera and a few other items, plus some publications and a large tray filled with all sorts of small items.

Steve Gill’s sales tableSteve Gill’s sales table

Phil Greaves had some microscope for sale, including a Bausch & Lomb Stereozoom (with transmitted-light base and transport case), a black Zeiss (from the estate of Norman Chapman), a grey Zeiss Standard and a small Brunel stereomicroscope. Plus dozens of objectives, eyepieces and condensers, some power supplies, and several slide sets. Most of the slides were routine, but there were two boxes of unusual histology slides.

Phil Greaves’ sales tablePhil Greaves’ sales table

Large histology slidesLarge histology slides [photo by Gordon Brown]

Pam Hamer was selling a grey Prior stereomicroscope with three pairs of objectives and a small monocular compound microscope, on behalf of her niece.

Pam Hamer’s microscopes for salePam Hamer’s microscopes for sale

Tricia Marcouse, who has been sorting out Kit Brownlee’s microscopical bits and pieces, had some binders overflowing with leaflets from many of the major microscope manufacturers, and some eyepieces, objectives, power supplies, a miniature microscope, etcetera.

Chris Kennedy and Tricia MarcouseChris Kennedy and Tricia Marcouse

John Millham set up his usual collections of desirable stereo and compound microscopes and accessories, but then felt unwell. An ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital. Fortunately, they did not find anything seriously wrong, and he was allowed home in the evening.

Chris Millward had an Intel Play QX3 (one of the first digital microscopes), a black and chrome Baker monocular, a black and chrome Cooke, Troughton & Simms metallurgical microscope and a couple of lamps for sale. He also had some chemicals and laboratory equipment.

Chris Millward’s sales tableChris Millward’s sales table [photo by Robert Ratford]

Mark Shephard has some slide sets, a small cabinet, a few books and a set of geometry instruments for sale.

Mark ShephardMark Shephard

Dave Skeet was selling a cream trinocular Watson Bactil 60 microscope, slide sets, objectives, eyepieces and some books. However, the most interesting item was a Baker Interference Microscope with a complete outfit for Smith-Baker interference contrast and its wooden case.

Nigel Parkinson and Dave SkeetNigel Parkinson and Dave Skeet (centre)

Peter Wyn-Jones was selling a huge assortment of microscopes, objectives, eyepieces, condensers, lamps, cameras, exposure meters and other accessories from the estate of Peter Massingham. It included items from Leitz, Nikon, Olympus, Vickers (polarising microscopes), Wild and Zeiss.

Peter Wyn-Jones and Pam HamerPeter Wyn-Jones and Pam Hamer


James Richardson from Richardson’s Botanical Identifications gave a talk on the identification of tree roots and their relevance to subsidence and heave. They use a Meiji stereomicroscope and a Leitz Laborlux to help with identification. They make lots of slides with sections mounted in glycerol, and they cut nice sections using razor blades.

James Richardson’s talkJames Richardson’s talk


Our thanks to Steve Gill for organising another enjoyable day for microscopists, and to everyone who put on exhibits for us or brought along items for us to buy at bargain prices.

Report by Alan Wood, photographs by Alan Wood, Gordon Brown and Robert Ratford

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