Introduction

by

Dr. Brian Bracegirdle

Those working on the history of microscopy in modern times are able to refer to some basic books, and especially to basic journals. Chief among these are those published by the Microscopical Society of London [later the Royal Microscopical Society], the earlier issues of the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, the journal published by the Quekett Microscopical Club, the Zeitschrift fur wissenschaftliche Mikroskopie und mikroskopisches Technik, and some other heavyweights. The first thirty volumes of The Microscope are also of importance: all of the foregoing were journals having the prime intention of publishing original communications, of course.

And then there is Watson's Microscope Record, which was of entirely different character: it was put out free of charge specifically as [relatively unobtrusive] advertising material. There are not too many other similar examples, with the exception of Mikroscopion. Published by Wild to contain details of its instruments, and of work done with them [and with them only] it ran through 41 issues [including two double numbers] between January 1964 and September 1983. It came to be a far more lavish production than the pre-WWII Watson series, but it was published by a far larger and more wealthy company.

Watson's Microscope Record was intended to push Watson products, of course, but also to act as propaganda against Zeiss [and by extension to all other German makers]: W. E. Watson-Baker was a past master at this, and the advertising done by Watson undoubtedly benefited the British microscope industry as a whole.

Full sets of the Record are uncommon, but sought-after. Much of the content, especially the illustrations, is taken straight from Watson catalogues, and is frequently repeated, but some nuggets are to be found in its 47 issues, and a few famous names were persuaded to write for it. The journal has an almost mystical status among aficionados of the instrument, and it has been a labour of love to make my own collection available to all, at a very much more reasonable price than copies of the originals would fetch. Some of my [fortunately unbound] copies were deficient, and it is a pleasure to thank Bill Krause and Brian Davidson for allowing me to make up these gaps from their own runs. I had an original typescript copy of the index made by E. P. Herlihy many years ago, and that has been included to complete the run.

The size of each issue varied between 16 and 32 pages, although the size settled down to 24 during most of the financially-difficult times of the 1930s. The original page size was 6 x 8.75 inches, but many copies have been trimmed to some extent. In digitising for this CD, margin sizes have been reduced to give as much area as possible to the text itself, the contract of which has been slightly increased for legibility.

Steve Gill has done his usual wizardry on the presentation and physical production: it is a pleasure to work with him on our various not-for-profit publications. For the present one he has produced indexes for author, title, issue, and original contents; and included also links to the original Herlihy index pages. It is also possible to search the index for words or phrases.

We have included two other Watson publications. The one was issued for the firm's centenary in 1937: Watson Centenary is a good-quality 46 page booklet, of original page size 7 x 9.75 inches. The text is a little flowery in places, but the lists are valuable, as are the accounts of non-microscopical product ranges. The various pictures of instruments are also useful records.

The other is a quite rare 24-page pamphlet, issued for the opening of the new works in Barnet, in 1951. Milestones had original page size of 5.25 x 8.25 inches, and included an illustration in [slightly muted] full colour. It has to be said that many of the historical illustrations on these pages are merely conjectural!