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Edward F. Bigelow’s Compound Microscope

Bausch & Lomb Optical Company, circa 1896

12 x 4 ¼ x 6 in.

Bruce Museum, Gift of Sherman Dean Bigelow, 70.05.01

I have seen the time when I would have said that nothing is more wonderful than the revelations of the microscope: in-deed [sic], when at fever heat over some of my delightful peering at the tiny things of nature, I have said, ‘Here is the most miraculous object in all the universe.’”

—Edward F. Bigelow, 1916

A photograph places this microscope in Bigelow’s possession as early as 1896 and it appears in numerous other portraits of him over the years. Microscopy was Bigelow’s favorite natural history subject. The first microscope he purchased cost him $60 (a month’s salary) in 1882—$1,784 in today’s dollars! He was especially adept at photo-microscopy and acquired state-of-the-art equipment for obtaining highly detailed and intricate photographs of minuscule plants and animals. An accomplished photographer, Bigelow published this work widely in books and magazines.

Edward F. Bigelow (American, 1860–1938) - IMG_2534

Circa 1896 studio photograph of Edward Bigelow (probably a self-portrait) with microscopy equipment and books. This is the earliest known photo of Bigelow.

Bigelow microscopes

Undated studio photograph of Edward Bigelow (probably a self-portrait) with microscopes.

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