Antique cased brass microscope manufactured in 1906 by Ernst Leitz of Wetzar, Germany and retailed by C Baker of High Holborn, London. Solid lacquered brass monocular microscope with black enamelled horse-shoe foot. Rotating turret with two objective lenses. Rack and pinion wheel for coarse focusing and micrometer wheel for fine focusing. Square stage with vulcanite top surface above a fully adjustable planar/concave mirror. Shaft inscribed “Agent C. Baker 244 High Holburn London” and “E. Leitz Wetzlar No. 90420”. Also inscribe “Fishmongers Company” for the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. In original finely crafted, fitted solid mahogany dovetailed box with original nickel-silver handle and with working lock and key. Serial number 90420 stamped to top of door. The fitted case houses: An optional diaphragm with interchangeable aperture. Fitted slide-out rack to left with three Leitz eye-piece lenses (one incomplete) and two additional apertures. Fitted slide-out rack to right with four Leitz brass canisters with Leitz objective lenses no. 1, 3, 7 (period replacement) and 12 – two in canisters and two on microscope. Additional Leitz condenser with mechanical off-centering adjustment. Slide out lidded box containing 25 period pre-prepared specimen slides. Plaque for C. Baker inside door together with original specification (with serial number 90420) and dated 28th September 1906. Case measures 32 cm height by 16 cm width and 17.5 cm depth.
The original company was established in Wetzlar, Germany by Karl Kellner in 1849. Initially the company’s main production was in telescopes however, within a few years microscopes had become their primary focus. In 1865 Kellner hired the engineer Ernst Leitz, who became a partner – fully acquiring the company in 1869 and renaming it the Optical Institute of Ernst Leitz. The company’s reputation for quality optical instruments grew rapidly and they added several new instruments to their range. The company continued in family ownership with Ernst’s grandson Günther, establishing the Leica camera factory in Canada in 1952. Competition from Japan in the 1970s resulted in merger with Wild Heerbrugg to form the Wild Leitz Group. In 1988 the group split-up, forming Leica Cameras as a spin-off with the remainder of the holding merging with the Cambridge Instrument Company in 1990, creating the Leica Holding B.V. group.
Initially established in 1765, by the late 1800s Charles Baker of 244 High Holborn, London is listed as maker of optical, scientific and surgical instruments as well as agents for Leitz. They exhibited at the 1929 British Industries Fair – by which time their range had extended to cover astronomical, surveying, aeronautical, and laboratory instruments. The company was incorporated in 1947 – training as C Baker Ltd. In 1963 Vickers acquired C. Baker Ltd and a new company called Vickers Instruments was formed. This continued as a profitable business for many years, mainly selling microscopes, surveying instruments and micro measurement apparatus.