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The microtome stands on a square, heavy metal base. There are many different knobs and screws to make adjustments, and a large circular wheel with a wooden handle sticking out from the side of the microtome. On the wheel is a piece of tape labelled “Museum.” Adjacent to the wheel and handle is a piece of metal work with circular and semi-circular designs. There are parts of the microtome that will move either up and down or side to side in order to make the desired cut, which occurs when the wheel is turned by hand.

Accession Number: 2016.zoo.3

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Metal, Wood


On the metal plaque attached to the base of the microtome: “PAT. May 19, 1903; No. 5466; Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, N.Y.”

Dimensions (cm): Height = 23, Width = 19.5, Length = 21


A microtome is an instrument used to create very thin slices of specimens as part of the process for creating microscope slides. This microtome appears to be a rotary microtome, as it has a large circular wheel on one side with a wooden handle meant for turning by hand.


The microtome has some rusting, particularly around the edges of the base and along the screws and knobs. There is also a layer of dust and dirt covering the microtome.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Bausch & Lomb Optical C.

Date of Manufacture: ca. 1903


From the zoology department at the University of Toronto.

Additional Information and References:

From a sales catalogue of the early 1900s: “This is an ideal instrument for rapid serial sectioning, cutting sections with accuracy down to one micron in thickness. The feed-wheel mechanism is protected by a metal guard. While regularly furnished for paraffin sectioning only, this model can be equipped for cutting small [celloid?] specimens. The feeding mechanism, which operates automatically, consists of a micrometer screw revolved by a large ratchet wheel which engages a pawl. The amount of feed is controlled by a cam, the cam disc being graduated in single [?] numbered from 0 to 25, and operated by a knurled bead. The micrometer screw runs in a patent threaded bearing, constructed to provide for instant release. Thereby feed is brought to starting, or any intermediate position, and jaws of bearing make positive engagement under spring pressure which can be released only by a convenient lever. Thus any wear is automatically taken up. The feed wheel is protected by strong iron guard. The object holder consists of a disc 25 mm in diameter, adjustable in mounting, which permits of orientation to give any desired cutting angle. It is securely held in position by convenient screws and moves on a vertical slide actuated by a crank operated by a heavy balance drive wheel with handle and stopped when desired by locking device. The knife block consists of a heavy iron casting which is attached to the base and holds knife in fixed position; adjustable to and from object and from side to side to permit use of nearly entire cutting edge; knife clamp may also be tilted in its support to set angle of cutting edge as desired. The stand, which is finished in crystal black, consists of a heavy rectangular iron base supporting strong vertical column and insuring freedom from vibration. Length 196 mm; width 212 mm; height 214 mm. Without knife, with three object discs, in case…………. 145.00.”


Historical Notes: