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Schiek in Berlin, medium microscope, ~1860


This is the middle-sized non-inclining model of Schiek's rod microscope. It has a coarse focusing drive via a toothed rack embedded in the prism bar. Fine focusing is achieved by turning a knurled knob which tilts the stage up and down, a method typical also of Schiek's later trichina microscopes. A flat tripod acts as the base and the stage is equipped with a glass surface over which the objects are held by a sprung brass fork.

Schiek's early microscopes were highly influenced by the high-end products of Georg Simon Plössl of Wien. The signature on the tube reads in decorative writing:

Schiek in Berlin 
No. 1248

Friedrich Wilhelm Schiek was born in 1790 as the son of a surgeon in Herbsleben, Thuringia. Later the family moved to Frauensee. Shortly before 1800 a mechanical workshop was established in the nearby Philippsthal Castle of Prince Ernst Constantin of Hessen-Philippsthal. In it, Ludwig Wisskemann was appointed as the successor to the court mechanic. Between 1808-1811 young Schiek apprenticed there, hailed for his diligence and good behavior. With such references Schiek was accepted as an employee by Carl Philipp Heinrich Pistor (1778-1847) in Berlin. Pistor offered simple physical equipment as early as 1810 and founded his own workshop in 1813 at the latest, in which astronomical and geodesic instruments as well as microscopes were manufactured. The latter followed the English designs, eg., Jones, Ellis, Adams etc.

The oldest known instrument signed "Pistor & Schiek" is an original Prussian scale of 1816. Schiek's founding year is 1819, four years before Plössl (with whose style Schiek's microscopes are often compared) established his workshop. Pistor and Schiek later advertised themselves as the oldest microscope factory in Germany. A detailed price list is known since 1829.

From 1837 and on Schiek made microscopes in his own workshop. Schiek was awarded a gold medal for the construction of his microscopes at the 1844 Berlin Trade Fair. The performance of Schiek's instruments was similar to that of Georges Oberhäuser Paris and Simon Plössl of Wien . It was particularly declared by all three that no exorbitant prices for the microscopes would be required. The average stands of all three companies was around 100 Thaler in 1850 - equivalent to half the annual salary of a well-paid mechanic. 

Schiek and Plössl used strong eyepieces and weak objectives until the mid-1850s - unlike Oberhaeuser and Amici, who have already recognized the advantages of higher resolution with reverse ratio. In addition, the microscopes of Oberhäuser and Hartnack have been delivered with a fixed system from the beginning, while Schiek still employed stacking lenses until 1860.

Schiek was awarded the "Rothe Adler Order 4th Class" in 1858 by the Prussian king for his services in microscope construction. By this time, 954 microscopes have left the workshop. From 1837 to 1864 a total of 1340 instruments had been delivered.

Between 1860-1864 Schiek trained his son Friedrich Wilhelm Hermann Schieck, Who finally took over the workshop in 1865. FW Schieck specialized in the further development of handy yet powerful trichiniscopes and travel microscopes. His father died in 1870.

SCHIEK Berlin 002.jpg

This model of microscope was used by several renowned 19th century German scientists. Matthias Jakob Schleiden (1804-1881) used it for his studies in botany. Theodor Schwann (1810-1882) employed it for his studies, resulting in the idea of the cell as a fundamental, active unit of organisms. The same microscope was used also by his mentor Johannes Peter Müller for his studies of physiology, ichthyology, and comparative anatomy.

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Reference: Part of this review was based on the text in the Timo Mappes' website, originally in German.

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