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Victorian Cased Monocular Microscope by Watson & Son of 313 High Holborn, London


A rare cased monocular microscope by Watson & Son of 313 high Holborn, London.

This early example of Watson’s manufacturing output is comprised of a flat Y shaped base with the makers name engraved to the back, ‘Watson & Son, 313 High Holborn, London.’ The microscope uses the English bar limb system which was originally introduced by Andrew Ross in 1842. The limb which pivots on the base columns has the mirror, the square stage and a rack and pinion mechanism to allow for focusing. The bar at the top of the limb in turn holds the tube which contains the eyepiece to the top.

The case contains numerous accessories including one inch and quarter inch objectives signed to Watson & Son, forceps, live box and a freestanding bulls eye condenser.

William Watson started the business in 1837 as a manufacturer of scientific instruments but did not initially produce microscopes. It was not until 1876 that the first microscopes were produced by the firm, by which time it had become W. Watson & Son with the first of his sons joining the family business. It has also moved to the High Holborn address with which it is best associated.

In 1881, William Watson died and shortly after, the business became W. Watson & Sons with the addition of William’s second son. The brothers continued the business and in 1908 it was incorporated as a limited company. It continued under family ownership until 1949 whereafter it was owned in various guises by Philips until it eventual closure in 1981.

This microscope was made in the very early years of Watson’s production of microscopes and prior to the more famous models such as The Van Huerck, The Royal and The Edinburgh. The partnership of Watson & Son was active from 1867 – 1882 and production of microscopes did not begin until 1876, therefore we can accurately date this piece to a six year period between 1876 and 1882.  

A rare and early piece for the collector of Watson microscopes.

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