Microscope Museum

Collection of antique microscopes and other scientific instruments


Cobweb eyepiece micrometer from Beck (1930s)

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This is a cobweb eyepiece micrometer from Beck, London, and should be dated from the 1930s (Figure 1). This eyepiece has two cobwebs, one of which is fixed and the other is movable by a micrometer screw. The screw has a millimetre pitch and a drum divided into 100 parts, each division reading 1 /100 millimetre. The saw-shaped scale of teeth is so arranged that each tooth is equal to one turn of the screw. R & J Beck occupy an especially important place in the history of the British microscope manufacturing with its beginning established in London, by Richard Beck (1827 - 1866) in association with James Smith (1800 – 1873), and later to be joined by his brother Joseph Beck. Richard and Joseph Beck were nephews of Joseph Jackson Lister, who was a respected British optician and physicist who experimented with achromatic lenses and perfected an optical microscope. In commissioning the manufacture of his improved microscope, Lister worked with James Smith, an employee of the instrument-making firm of William Tulley, to create the stand. James Smith went on to establish his own optical instruments workshop in 1837. Through this relationship, Lister arranged for his nephew, Richard Beck to be an apprentice under Smith in 1843. In 1847, James Smith entered into partnership with Richard Beck, and the company was re-named Smith & Beck. In 1854, the company was renamed to Smith, Beck and Beck, as Richard Beck's brother Joseph Beck joined the company in 1851. James Smith retired in 1865 and the company became R & J Beck and this name lasted for long time. In 1866, Richard Beck died at an early age of 39, and Joseph Beck carried on the business. In 1895 the company became a limited partnership (R & J Beck Ltd). By 1968, the company was a subsidiary of the Ealing Corporation of USA. In 2019, Beck Optronic Solutions Ltd is a descendent of the former R & J Beck Ltd.


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Figure 1. Beck’s cobweb eyepiece micrometer as pictured in a company’s catalogue from the 1920s – 1930s.



LAST EDITED: 22.09.2020