The Victorians had a great interest in the myriad varieties of life in the natural world... especially plants! Exotic species from all over the world were brought in to populate large open and glass enclosed gardens, with some of these wonderful creations still in existence today.

 Ferns were of special interest (known as Pteridomania), with some gardens dedicated to their propagation and study. This widespread interest in plants of all types was accommodated by most of the commercial slide mounters (as well as many talented amateur naturalists). A huge variety of botanical preparations were offered, both for scientific study, and the enjoyment of the interested public. 

Also of note, Coal had only recently been discovered to be composed of the fossilized remains of ancient ferns and plants. There was a corresponding interest in the preparation of coal specimens, including the study and classification of those long extinct species.

Above, Cellular structure of Wood, and below, "Leaf of Fern" by J.W. Bond, both imaged using darkfield lighting. 

Stomata (which control respiration) in leaf tissue of Iris; slide by Watson & Sons, London, c. 1890. Imaged using oblique transmitted light.

Tropical Rain Forest, South America

Above, Hornell mount of Ash Leaf Bud, imaged in Polarized light with wave plate (image courtesy of Tony Pattinson)

Cross-section of stem, various magnifications in polarized light, with selenite filters

Above, "Upper Cuticle of the Petal of Geranium", by C.M. Topping c 1850s, with detail, imaged using transmitted light, clearly showing cell walls and chromoplasts.

"Stars of Deutzia", silicaceous hairs on the undersurface of the leaves of Deutzia Scabria, and on a plant stem (below). These are thought to have probably evolved to discourage herbivores. Top imaged between crossed polar filters, bottom image using reflected lighting.

Fungus "Asperum" growing on decomposing wood, imaged using oblique transmitted lighting techniques