R & J Beck, 31 Cornhill, London c1875

A good Victorian lacquered brass compound achromatic microscope, complete with its original case and accessories, signed and numbered on the foot R & J Beck 31 Cornhill London 6163.

James Smith, a scientific instrument maker, commenced making microscopes in 1839 and took Richard Beck into partnership in 1847 trading as Smith & Beck at 6 Coleman Street, London.

In 1851 Joseph Beck, the brother of Richard Beck, started working for the firm and became a partner in 1857 when the business name became Smith, Beck & Beck. When Smith retired in 1865 the business address was 31 Cornhill, London and the trading name changed to R & J Beck.



The instrument and its accessories retain much of their original lacquer.

This instrument is an example of Smith & Beck’s microscope with ‘The Large Best, or No. 1 Stand’ with binocular body and rotating stage with under stage diaphragm, housed in the original mahogany case together with a good set of accessories.

The lenses and other accessories are generally in good usable condition.


Beck's name and address, and the serial number of the microscope, are engraved on one of the three feet.


Here you can see the accessories in their box.  For the full list of accessories scroll down to the bottom of the page.





The original mahogany box, with carrying handle measures 19½ x 10½ x 12¾ inches.


R & J Beck Microscope, serial no. 6163 - List of Accessories

Best Upright Mahogany Case containing:

Binocular microscope with Large Best, or No. 1, Stand
Draw Tube
Bull’s-eye Condenser on Stand
Mahogany Accessory Box containing:

2 off Pairs of Eyepieces (a 3rd pair is in place on the microscope)
Eyepiece with slot for Eyepiece micrometer
Eyepiece Micrometer
1½” Objective Glass
2/3” Objective Glass
4/10” Objective Glass (55°)
1/5” Objective Glass
1/8” Objective Glass
Erecting Glass
3 off Lieberkuhns (one each for 1½”, 2/3”, and 4/10 objective glass)
3 off Dark Wells and Holder
Stage Micrometer (mounted in brass)
Sub-stage Achromatic Condenser with diaphragm
Side Condensing lens for illumination of objects from above
Parabolic Reflector (for dark field illumination)
Nicol’s prism Polariser
Nicol’s prism Analyser for use over eyepiece
Nicol’s prism Analyser for use above objective glass
Large Live Box
Small Live Box
Glass Trough
Glass Plate with ledge (2)
Stage forceps
Brass Tweezers
Camera Lucida Attachment
Maltwood’s Finder slide, in case
Double Nosepiece (to hold 2 objectives at once)
Small Mahogany Box containing thin glass coverslips
Heavy glass shallow dish

The accessory box has four vacant slots possibly intended for:
Glass tubes (the vacant slot in lid)
Parallel plate compressor (now occupied by Maltwood’s Finder)

The identification and use of the accessories is explained in "A Treatise on the Construction, Proper Use, and Capabilities of Smith, Beck and Beck’s Achromatic Microscopes" written by Richard Beck and first published in 1865. A facsimile edition was published in 1987.



Stock No. C1132

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