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A vintage telescope-microscope gadget!

Some instruments are telling more about their owners than about the objects under investigation. A few, possibly most among us tend to boast with individual property. As a consequence marvel microscopes are welcome, not so much for microscopic study but in order to impress our friends. It is just the same as with expensive watches or smartphones.

A few years ago we came across one of those marvelous instrument (see figure below). And, as anticipated, it is clearly on the gadget side. Just for fun, not so much useful for actual tardigrade work. Nevertheless it might still be used for successfully screening a petri dish content for tardigrades - in case there should be no other instruments available!

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Fig. 1: A telescope microscope combination instrument of unknown make. Estimated age: possibly produced in the 1920s or 1930s? The eye-piece is place in the center of the front end (on top in the figure). The objective is on the opposite side of the housing, in a decentral position. The small milled wheel close to the objective actually works as a two position switch in order to chose among telescope and microscope function. The focus wheel is barely visible in the figure, being positioned one the right hand base side of the housing (cf. also fig. 2). The instrument's walls are made of nickel plated brass. And of course there is a leather sheath protecting your precious gadget. Dimensions are ca. 60 mm x 45 mm x 20 mm, weight (without sheath) 84 g.

The telescope function is quite usable - just because the magnification is not overdone (approximately 3x). So even the elderly microscopist will be able to cope with it. Furthermore it has a favorable close-up distance of ca. 50 cm which comes in handy when looking into museum displays or on butterfly wings. Besides it may serve as a spectacles' replacement for the elderly naturalist. To sum up it is much more attractive than one of those nasty "8x20" pocket telescopes sold by discounters nowadays.

The microscope magnification is ca. 30x. Its imaging quality is comparable to one of those cheap modern "pocket microscopes" (you know, those which are used to look at some printed dots and then stored away forever). The image appears bright, but the contrast rather low, possibly because coated optics were not known at the time of production.

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Fig. 2: The interior of the telescope microscope combination ist beautiful to look at. It has the charm of small series craftswork, with some rasp scratches, a few decent marks for saw work and a fully reversible combination of components. The focus function is working internally, preserving the outer geometry, just by modifying the distance between the two 180° prisms. The microscope function is kind of switch-added by means of a small doublet lens in black fitting (on the right side in the image).

To sum up

This is a beautiful gadget, not so much of a scientific but moreover a contemplative nature. Possibly ideal for those who love metal craftswork and at the same time do not expect new scientific discoveries round each corner. Kind of philosophical instrument ...

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
The Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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