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Raspail Chemical Microscope, 1835


Initially, based on the aquatic microscope design of the second half of the 18th century, the microscope is mounted on a mahogany box with a drawer and supports a horizontally adjusting eyepiece, rackwork adjusted swing-arm stage, and a pivoting mirror; the drawer holds two additional eyepieces and a dissecting set of tools. This microscope was produced by the Parisian optician Louis Joseph Deleuil (1795-1862), according to specifications suggested by François-Vincent Raspail (1794–1878), as a modified version of the Cuff/Ellis type aquatic microscope. In the literature, it is said to have tourmaline lenses for high magnifications (to reduce aberrations as tourmaline has an extremely high refractive index). Still, my examination of at least the high magnification in this instrument proved it untrue.

This successful design of a portable single microscope was planned by François-Vincent Raspail (1794–1878, picture below with his microscope), a political reformer and activist and a prominent early 19th-century scientist. Raspail (seen in the photo with this type of microscope) was a founder of microscopical methods in chemistry, a pioneer of organic chemistry and one of the first founders of the cell theory in biology. Raspail also pioneered the staining methods in cell biology using iodine to highlight their different parts. As a politician, Raspail was a devoted republican who was active during the restless periods of the First Empire, the Restoration, the Second Republic and the Second Empire, for which he was sentenced several times to prison.

ReferencesSML: 1921-247; Nuttall 1979: 52; Golub: 235; Harvard: 1302, 1905, 1022, 1990-2-0005, 1094; Wissner; Kuhn; Sobel Coll; Balasse; Harvard Univ. 1302, 1095, 1022; Coffeen 2013: 17; Molecular Expressions.

François-Vincent Raspail and his microscope

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