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R. & J. Beck Workshop Book ( R. & J. Beck Part I 1864-1866)

Introduction by Brian Bracegirdle

When working at the Science Museum in the 1980s, I was asked to call at the head offices of Ealing Electro-Optics plc, in Watford, to discuss their archives of old Beck documents. The outcome was that I was allowed temporarily to take away for photocopying their earliest sales books, and was given microfilm of their later similar records. This was on the understanding that I myself answer requests for information sent to the company by those wanting dates for instruments supplied in the past, and this I have done until now. I also presented a summary of the material in my Notes on Modern Microscope Manufacturers, published by the Quekett Microscopical Club in 1996: reference should certainly be made to this book in addition to any notes below.

This present CD reproduces pages from the Workshop Book originally formed pages at the end of one of the Production Books. These workshop pages have been published separately as they were not continguous with the main entries in the Production Book itself.
The Production Book is reproduced on the CD - R. & J. Beck Production Book (R. & J. Beck Part II 1867-1898).
To put the dates into context, notes on the history of the Beck firm are required:

Smith & Beck was the successor company to James Smith, essentially a maker of mathematical instruments, but who made J J Listerís famous 1826 microscope for Charles Tulley [died 1830]. Smith then began to specialize in such instruments, and set up shop for himself in 1839 with the assistance of Lister, at 50 Ironmonger Row, Old Street, London. The pages reproduced on this CD begin in this year of 1839.

In 1847 James Smith took as a partner Richard Beck [1827-1866], nephew of J J Lister, whereupon the firm was called Smith & Beck, of 6 Coleman Street in London. Catalogues from 1848 to 1865 exist, and show that the microscopes were well designed, but only part of the wide overall trade.

In 1857 Joseph Beck [1829-1891] was made a partner, and the firm, at the same address, was renamed Smith, Beck & Beck.

In 1865 Smith retired [to die in 1870], and the name became R & J Beck. It is with the beginning of the new firm that the run of pages on this CD begins.

Reference should be made to M Shephard [2003] - The Beck microscope family, Quekett Journal of Microscopy, 39, 577-594.

Also available on this CD are two catalogues describing instruments other than microscopes, which appear in the workshop lists.
Click on one of the title pages below to view the catalogue pages.