Lot 219 in our July Fine & Classic Interiors auction was two boxes of 192 microscope slides dating from the mid-19th to early 20th Century. The subject matter of the slides varied across the board with many insects, organs, plants and bones. The majority of the slides were professionally prepared by well-known makers from Manchester to Napoli and were accompanied by handwritten notation outlining the sample contents and in some cases the location where the specimen was discovered.
The most common maker in the collection was Edward Ward who was a major producer of microscope slides and supplies in Manchester. Although a common maker, with examples coming to auction regularly, his work is widely collected by enthusiasts due to their often excellent condition, attesting to his great skill. Other makers in the collection include Fred Enoch, E. Wheeler, Diatomaceae, J.D. Moller and Stazione Zoolog - Napoli, Italy.
My favourite and arguably the most interesting part of the collection were the slides made by John Benjamin Dancer (J.B.D.). Dancer grew up in the North West of England, spending his early years in Liverpool before moving to Manchester at 29 to start a joint venture called Abraham & Dancer. In the same year, 1881 he also took the first ever photographs of Manchester. Photography was a passion of Dancer and over the next 10 years, he would combine his knowledge of daguerreotype photography with the skills attained in his early life as a maker of scientific equipment to discover the process of microphotography. This technology would later evolve to become microfilm which was widely used as a way of reproducing documents at a much smaller scale. The lot included a few examples of microphotography as well as some micro engravings after Hogarth and Hippolyte Garnier.
After some strong bidding from buyers across the world from Spain to the USA, the lot sold for a hammer price of £1,100. If you have any scientific instruments or slides that you wish to have valued for a future auction please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click the button below for an online valuation.
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