In addition to the actual prepared slide mounts themselves, a great many accessories and tools were needed that were either used in the manufacture and finishing of the slides, or for their useful and safe storage. There were also a large number of specialty slide types and devices for various uses, including many for the study of live specimens. All of these were produced in great variety, limited only by the need at hand and the imagination! A small selection of these varied and interesting items is shown below.

Above, several types of Compressoriums  and "Live Box" slides... these were primarily used for the study of living specimens. The Pritchard piece has a micrometer engraved in the glass for direct measurements. A 1" x 3" standard size papered slide is included for comparison.

Above (top), an early Maltwood's Finder (3" x 1 1/4"), produced by Smith & Beck from their address at 6 Coleman St., London (and thus prior to 1865). Click here for a description of the Maltwoods Finder.  A more recent description of how to produce a modern equivalent of the Maltwood's Finder can be found here.

Above (bottom) and below, an interesting "Holman Life Slide" (3" x 1", circa 1870s-80s) used for the prolonged study of aquatic microlife. The device consists of a series of deep depressions and troughs cut and polished into the surface of the thick (7/32"!) bottom slide (see below), with a cover glass that can then be placed over to prevent evaporation. Note the small side groove for replenishment of fluid without cover removal, via pipette or wick and reservoir.

Shown below, a slide ringing table.  This tool was often used for various tasks in the construction and finishing of microscope slides, but primarily for placing ringing cements around the circular cover slips to seal and finish them. Coloured ringing cements were sometimes used to give the finished mount a decorative appeal. Many variations of this device are seen, with this particular one provided by Flatters, Milborne & McKechnie from their Longsight address in Manchester (only in business between 1909-1913). It is also notable for having no slide holding clips, and a porcelain working surface. The brass deck consists of movable circular discs with pins to "auto-center" and hold the slide being worked on. Whatever the design, all were similar in use.

Many of the established optical shops and supply houses offered compact cabinets containing all of the materials and equipment necessary to mount slides. The one shown below has the secondary label of C. (Charles) Collins from his 157 Great Portland St., London shop address, thus circa 1875 to 1890.

A selection of tools and materials used in the slide preparation process from the C. Collins cabinet, including a small ringing table, alcohol lamp, slide warming table, various probes, brass forceps, pipette, and a wonderful pair of brass fastened mahogany wood pliers for handling slides on the warming table.

Below, two types of diamond tipped tools used in slide production, of brass and mahogany construction. The top tool was used in combination with a straight edge to etch lines on large sheets of glass in preparation for breaking into smaller slide sized pieces. The two bottom tools are diamond stylus pens (with protective caps), used for engraving specimen descriptions, date and maker details, designs etc. onto the finished slide surface.  Three engraved slide examples are shown below the diamond tools, photographed against dark paper to enhance the engraving. Engraved label commercial slides were more common up to the 1850s, with these examples (one, an early 1840s preparation of fossil sponge in Agate by C.M. Topping) circa that period.

Above (top), a slide preparation tool used for compressing and holding the glass cover slip in place while mountant (normally Canada balsam) hardened. Made of mahogany and brass, available through Smith & Beck. Above (lower) a generic form of the same tool, made of brass rod and cork. (collection of B. Stevenson)

Below, a small hand pump operated vacuum chamber, used to remove air bubbles from the liquid mountant beneath cover slips during slide preparation. This was accomplished by reducing the ambient pressure over the slides, which would have been placed in the covered and sealed tray area.  (from the collection of B. Davidson)

A great variety of cabinets and cases were available in many materials (most often wood), styles, and sizes. They ranged from small boxes holding only a few slides to large ornate floor to ceiling furniture pieces capable of housing many thousands of mounts. Slides were held both flat and "on-edge", with the flat type being generally accepted as the better method for long term stability of the mounts.

Shown above, a selection of the commonly seen hinged box type cabinets or cases, with removable trays. These were usually made of pine or mahogany wood, holding various numbers of trays, with each slide being stored flat in it's own small compartment. The most common sizes were the 4, 6, 8, and 12 tray cases with 6 slides per tray (thus 24, 36, 48, 72 slides respectively), and the larger "double size" 12 slide per tray type, usually seen with 12 trays in each case, storing a total of 144 slides.

Below, a variety of cases, all designed to hold slides in an on-edge position. The chief benefit of this design is the ability to store a greater number of slides in a compact size case. The smallest boxes are a fabric covered wood construction, and were retailed with the collections of slides that each contained (all four of the gray-blue cases have collections of small papered mounts by Amos Topping) The larger cases are beautifully crafted of velvet lined mahogany wood, with inlaid brass fittings and brass latches; each with an approximate capacity of 75 to 100 slides. The bottom image is of an unusual triple level hinged walnut wood cabinet capable of holding 288 mounts (If anyone has any information on this cabinet, as to manufacturer, possible dating, etc., I would be most interested to know more about it).

The four larger wood cabinets shown below, all have hinged front doors, with slide out removable drawers. The two smaller pine cabinets each hold 252 slides (the top one with 21 drawers of 12 slides in each, and the bottom one with 18 drawers of 14 slides). The larger ornate cabinet is very well made of various woods, with a storage area under the domed top, and a hidden storage area in the base. It additionally has 28 drawers, each holding 33 standard size 3" x 1" slides, for a total of 924. The simple but beautifully made mahogany cabinet (on the left in the bottom image) has 35 numbered drawers, with each drawer also capable of holding 33 slides, thus giving a total storage for 1155 mounts.