Dating a vintage microscope?

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Dating a vintage microscope?

#1 Post by Coc58 » Fri Feb 12, 2021 8:26 pm

I recently acquired a vintage microscope from a consignment store, and was trying to date it. I have not had much success. The imformation I have on it is Empire 100x-750x Japan. If you have any source as to date it please share. Thanks! Falligan
empire japan
empire japan
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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#2 Post by MickH » Fri Feb 12, 2021 8:38 pm

Ah, that looks very much like the same model of toy microscope I had as a kid back in 1970 or 71. It came in a small pine box with a fairly blunt scalpel, some tweezers, a couple of slides and a couple of other bits.
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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#3 Post by Coc58 » Sat Feb 13, 2021 1:02 am

Dispite being a toy, it has quite clear optics that show detail on the specimen.

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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#4 Post by quantum » Sat Feb 13, 2021 1:31 am

Ditto, Christmas present for me when I was 10 years old, 1972.

I discovered salt was cubic with it before anybody told me in school.

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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#5 Post by BramHuntingNematodes » Sat Feb 13, 2021 1:37 am

Some of those older japanese toys do an adequate job particularly in the 100-300x range. Just stay away from the 20x eyepiece if it has one.
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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#6 Post by Rossf » Sun Feb 28, 2021 3:04 am

From the topic tittle I thought it was gonna be a discussion about people who fall in love with inanimate objects-you know the wacky story of the farmer who wants to marry his tractor because he loves it so much..

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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#7 Post by apochronaut » Sun Feb 28, 2021 8:14 pm

If it has knobs that were turned on a lathe and separate eyepieces it probably dates no later than 1970. Those were replaced by moulded base metal knobs and a zoom eyepiece in the late 60's and after, then the knobs went to plastic. Some stencil brands sold briskly at Christmas, so the same essential design showed up each year after a certain point in time with certain components made more cheaply but some jobbers with lower volume sales in order to get a good initial price, had to buy enough, so their stock ended up carrying for a few years. Thus, towards the late 60's early 70's, the same microscope would have separate eyepieces from one brand and a zoom eyepiece from another. One with machined knobs, another with moulded metal knobs.

The paint changed too. A black crinkle paint was the older finish. Grey crinkle followed closely on other brands, then a black enamel, grey enamel, followed by turqoise, then red. Spring clips went from having some spring to behaving in some cases like chromed fettucine. Older focusing tracks were brass, followed by white metal. Stages, from painted cast to plastic.
Tasco had one unique feature introduced just around the time they switched from multiple eyepieces to a 10 - 20X zoom. They had a magnetic slide carrier and no slide clips. The metal stages were cast aluminum. If I recall correctly, this one was too but it had either inclusions of iron or a matte coating that was impregnated with iron. I think the latter. The slide carrier was a formed magnet steel frame, not much bigger than a standard slide that it slipped over. It had a little tab handle on either end, allowing the user to move the slide around fairly smoothly on the stage without touching the slide: smoother than one could with slide clips. The magnet was strong enough that the slide would stay put when left.

There was also a tiny little mechanical stage that could be fitted to the bigger models, probably just the 750X, 900X and 1200X , the latter also having fine focus and several having a condenser lens fixed in the stage aperture. There was a 3v. transformer that could plug into the base to power the penlight bulb illuminator, dispensing with the batteries that were more often than not left in the horseshoe to leak.

Everything was geared towards keeping the price points of the various models fairly consistent for a Christmas gift , so as Japan's economy grew during a time when inflation was ramping, by 1975 they lost the plot and the quality of the scopes had gone from hobby grade to toy grade.

The good early all metal ones were good enough to use in public schools and some were still in use in the 1990's. Canada's premier supplier of scientific bulbs, Microlites Scientific sold enough of the 3v. penlight bulbs used in those flip over combo mirror/illuminator to have formulated a pale blue dip for the lensed bulb tip and still had them in stock 20 years ago. Using one of those scopes with a blue tinted bulb reduces the ca enough that the image is fairly useful up to about 400X, even higher for the model that came with a 60X objective and an 8X W.F. eyepiece.

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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#8 Post by Placozoa » Mon Mar 08, 2021 6:02 am


I dont know anything about it.
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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#9 Post by AntoniScott » Fri May 07, 2021 6:43 pm

This microscope was manufactured in Japan circa 1960. The Japanese microscope manufacturer, the name has escaped me at the moment, produced several inexpensive amateur models that were all standard, with little variation but branded to appear made by different manufactureres.

An example of the above is the professional microscope offered by Lafayette Radio and Electronics and branded as the Lafayette "Micro-Plex" from 1957 to 1965 which was manufactured from the early 1950's by the Tokyo Optical Company and called the Magna E3N. This particular microscope was a truly professional microscope with superb optics and not sold as an entry level amateur microscope.

Today, most of the relatively inexpensive microscopes and microscope objectives available are made in China by Shanghai Optics and are rebranded to appear as if they were made by different companies. This company also makes high grade objectives as well. ... bjectives/
Hope that helps.

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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#10 Post by ldflan » Mon Nov 22, 2021 12:45 am

Try buying it flowers?

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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#11 Post by Dubious » Mon Nov 22, 2021 5:13 am

I remember having microscopes as a kid in the 60s that, while relatively simple (no x-y stage or iris condenser) and no doubt in the "toy" category, still did a reasonable job with protists and other water life. Of course, my eyes worked better in those days.

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Re: Dating a vintage microscope?

#12 Post by EYE C U » Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:18 am

wear protection.

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