Rathenower Optische Werke (ROW), Kleinmikroskop B
This model, named "Kleinmikroskop B", in English "small microscope B", may be considered the "Trabant" of microscopes (after a VEB East German auto maker's most ubiquitous, but mediocre car). It was produced in the 1950s in the East German town of Rathenow at the time of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). Instruments of this type were produced until 1965, when they were replaced by another model of low-cost microscope with draw-tube, which is being produced in Rathenow today.
The city of Rathenow has a long tradition of optical manufacture. It began in the 18th century with Johann Heinrich August Duncker, who studied optics and lens grinding in Halle, Germany and started producing microscopes after his return to Rathenow, in about 1800. The prestigious company of "Busch Rathenow" produced high quality microscopes until World War II. After the war and under the Communist regime of the DDR, the company turned into a "VEB" (namely a company owned by the citizens) having the logo "ROW" (Rathenower Optische Werke). The microscope is primarily made of modern materials, Bakelite and aluminum, but the design is completely anachronistic. Many of its features were clearly inspired by various pre-war taschenmikroskopes. It has a sleeve and sliding-tube focusing typical of the 19th century, a two part combination button objective, typical of an earlier era, and the draw-tube for additional magnifications reminiscent of the Tami “family”. It stands, perhaps, as the last of the old fashioned single-pillar microscope made in the second half of the 20th century. In this spirit, the instrument and the objective have individual serial numbers, an unusual phenomenon for a school microscope. Fortunately, the optical quality is good for this category of microscope, preserving some of the lost glory of the prewar days of this firm. A dovetail wooden box, another anachronistic feature for its time, is housing this peculiar but still lovely relic of the Spartan days of the DDR.