The Model R1900: part 1

Back in the early 1930’s during “The Great Depression” Bausch & Lomb brought a very capable child-sized microscope called the Model R to market. A few posts about the Model R begin here. The original Model R had a short production run that was interrupted by World War II. When production of the Model R was suspended during the war in favor of such military essentials as binoculars, bombsights, and sunglasses it would never resume. Things were far from over as far as diminutive microscopes called “R” were concerned however, and decades later B&L came out with the model R1900*.


The B&L Model R and R1900

In many ways the R1900 was the successor of the earlier microscope in name only. While the original Model R strayed only a little from the look and action of full-sized stands, the R1900 took a far different route. The most significant departure is in the operation of the microscope itself. Where once one turned a dial that acted in every way like a simplified focusing knob (coarse focus only) the R1900 offered a rotating body that moved the optics vertically with a horizontal twist of the optical tube.

Gone as well were many of the versatile conveniences of the old Model R. There was no longer a means of setting the body horizontally as one may wish to when observing algae on the vertical side of an aquarium or shear surface of a cliff face. Gone as well is any means of varying the magnification of the microscope.

What it does have are fine optics, a quite intuitive operation, and simple robust contraction required by any microscope intended for the young (or cavalier adult). Additional features of the R1900 not seen in the Model R include a white obverse surface on the substage mirror, and the ability to be easily operated by either right of left hand—this last doubtless an economically motivated choose of the Model R.

Where the earlier Model R was put out into a world where a microscope might have never featured in the average students education, the age of the R1900 was decidedly different. A few short decades meant that a student could almost certainly expect to see the microscope at school or even at home. It further meant that the generation who would be teaches would have had teachers of their own who had benefited from a world flush with optical companies. The Model R was very much an amateurs microscope and the R1900 was to an even greater extent the microscope of a young student. Limited as it was in it’s utility it well overcame the more significant hurdle, of access.

*Also in the product family:

  • The R8900, Recommended for children over 10 years old and for children who have had previous experience with the microscope.
  • The SSM15, Stereo Microscope for three dimensional viewing of rocks, crystals, marine life, insects, plants, etc.
  • The STZ100, Zoomscope with continuously variable magnification from 25 X through 100 X.
  • The STZ200, Zoomscope with continuously variable magnification from 50 X through 200 X.

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