Jason Clarke Antiques

Rare Victorian Cased Premiere Model Binocular Microscope by Henry Crouch London


For sale a rare Victorian cased Premiere model binocular microscope by Henry Crouch of London.

The microscope stand on a “Crouch foot” base with rack and pinion movement for coarse focus and fine focus to the side of the barrel, a rotating stage, condenser and double sided mirror. It is engraved to the foot with, “Henry Crouch, London” and the serial number, ‘1200’.

The polished mahogany case contains numerous accessories including a bullseye condenser on stand, two eyepieces, a long graduated eyetube for micrometrical measurements, a live box. and an additional polariser. The case also includes two original Crouch objective cans for one half and one tenth but they now contains a one eighth R&J Beck objective and a Davon two thirds of an inch.   

This premiere model was advertised extensively in the mid 1870’s by Crouch from which the following information is provided:

“The “Premiere” binocular microscope. In this instrument the stand is of new form, which gives great steadiness, and is unusually convenient and elegant. The binocular bodies are furnished with draw tubes, moved by racks and pinions, so that perfect adaptation to the eyes may be obtained. There is a very smooth working rack and pinion for coarse adjustment of focus, and a delicate screw for fine adjustment. Stage rotates in the optic axis of this instrument, and has also a very delicate mechanical movement giving half an inch of motion in each direction. One plate of the stage has been dispensed with, and the object clips are fitted in grooves in the upper plate, thus facilitating the rotation of the stage with the object in any position. This also allows the entire range of the adjustment to be still available when the paraboloid, or other dark ground accessory is in use.

The mirrors, both plane and concave, are large and of the very finest construction. They have complete adjustments. The underside of the stage is so arranged as to receive any of the illuminating apparatus (paraboloid, polarizer, achromatic condenser, diaphragm with three apertures, etc) named in the list of accessories. The diaphragm with three apertures is furnished with every instrument.

Every adjustment where possible, is provided with compensating adjustment for tear and wear.”

Henry Crouch, the driving force and later sole owner of the Crouch business was originally apprenticed to the famous company of Smith, Beck & Beck but left in 1862 to form his own company with his brother William.

Initially their repertoire consisted of microscopes similar in design and make up to Henry’s previous employers but soon changed their focus to manufacturing lower priced microscopes to cater for an alternative market. This change won them numerous positive reviews from celebrated microscopists of the period and Henry became a member of the Royal Microscopical Society in 1863 and later, the Quekett Microscopical Club in 1866.

Initially trading at Regent’s Canal Dock, the company moved in 1864 to their address at 64A Bishopsgate and it was while the company traded here that the brothers dissolved their partnership in early 1866. Nothing is known of the reasons for the split but Henry continued a successful trade and in 1868 moved again to new premises at 54 London Wall and again in 1874, Henry moved the business to 66 Barbican.

The business flourished for most of the nineteenth century with Henry exhibiting at numerous exhibitions and plying a successful export trade to the US. His student microscope was selected by Carpenter to accompany the HMS Porcupine expedition and such was its fame that The American Journal of Microscopy announced in 1876 that “Mr Crouch intends to make a fine exhibit at The Centennial, and will accompany it to this country in person. Mr Crouch has recently brought out some new and very excellent models of his binocular microscopes”.

It was during this time that the “crouch foot” was invented and was widely copied by numerous makers for years after, from the huge deluge of advertisements running from 1875 to 1877 this must have been the year in which this was invented and from the known serial numbers from his microscopes, this is certainly one of the earliest example of its type.

The firm became a limited company in 1886 and his son became involved in the early 1890’s. Crouch however, found it increasingly difficult to compete in the market due to cheaper alternatives and the firm was eventually sold out to S Maw & Son in the early twentieth century. 

Given the dates of the crouch foot invention, the various advertisements, the serial number and other surrounding extant examples, this microscope dates from circa 1875, one of the earliest examples of the “Crouch foot” to be found.

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