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Edward F. Bigelow’s Balopticon Magic Lantern Projection Microscope

Bausch & Lomb, circa 1896

11 ½ x 32 x 7 in.

Bruce Museum, 00513

Bigelow utilized this microscope extensively throughout his career, including on his nationwide lecture circuit, in his nature-study institute, ArcAdiA, and here at the Bruce Museum. Dating to the mid-to-late 1800s, this magic lantern projection microscope was illuminated by a powerful carbon arc lamp, which at the time produced light 200 times brighter than the best light bulb available. It could magnify living protozoans by two hundred thousand times life-size or show a tiny honey bee stinger up to 15 feet across onto an auditorium screen. In the early 1930s, during school tours at the Bruce Museum, this instrument was used to project an image of a living trout fry so magnified as to be able to view red corpuscles flowing through its blood. This must have been a great sight to see by the multitudes of schoolchildren who witnessed it.

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